Review - Ultra Gown by Zefs Chasing Cara
Ultra Gown by Zefs Chasing Cara is a fascinating and extremely well executed record that marries a ton of different influences and aesthetics to create something new, unique and exciting within the context of “math-rock”. What is perhaps most striking about the record is the pronounced influence of electronic music and sequenced beats that, while seldom used in the genre, are integrated in an interesting and effective way.
The record begins with Pink Sweat, a driving and techy introduction that recalls bands like The Bulletproof Tiger or Low-Pass. The song straddles the perfect middle ground between complex and catchy; just mathy enough to appease my desire for technicality, but still extremely melodic and straightforward enough to steadily bob my head to. Joal is another perfectly executed example of this, and it is also the first taste of how the artist integrates electronic beats into the record. The highlight of the song comes at 1:52, when after a brief break, the main motif re-emerges to coalesce with the beats in a jovial way.
The third track, Archal-Lodge is possibly my favourite song on the release. The song kicks off emanating Battles vibes in the best way possible, before spiralling into a sea of arpeggiations that lead into one of the best breakdowns I’ve ever heard, recalling the finest moments of Stage Kids. When everything drops at 1:44 I cannot resist going completely buck-wild. Hoss Temple is a significant departure from the beginning of the record. Pitch shifted guitars and a steady beat progress into what can only be described as “ambient-trap” that would not be out of place on a Kuedo record.
Salad brings things back into high gear, showcasing frantic riffs that would not sound out of place on an American Don b-sides release. The artist once again demonstrates his or her adept ability to be simultaneously technical and poppy, concluding the track with a dizzying riff that is extremely catchy. Grader begins with a droney loop that explodes into a stuttery, skippy riff that is easily one of the mathiest moments on the release. In typical Zefs Chasing Cara fashion, the song leads into a driving, melodic, backbeat heavy section before rescinding back into a laid-back, ambient outro.
Ern, a dark, bass heavy drone track gives the listener a much deserved break before diving into The Real Hut, another track that emanates a serious Battles vibe. This track showcases an array of different instrumentation, including what appear to be synths and voice samples. The middle section is extremely hypnotic and entrancing, led by an off-kilter, jangly riff that repeats until the track dies down.
Clay Brother is an extremely jovial, positive track that recalls the happy-go-lucky mood of Fang Island. It is the perfect album closer; upbeat, happy, driving and hopeful, and a synthesis of all the elements that made the rest of the album such an interesting and enjoyable listen.
There are so many reasons to love Ultra Gown. It is catchy, original, complex, adventurous and well-produced. It is pushing the boundaries of math-rock in new and interesting directions, proving that the genre is extremely malleable and defying many of its stereotypes. Highly recommended for any fans of the genre who are looking to engage in a challenging, enjoyable, catchy and rewarding listen.
Words by David Mitchell | Staff Writer | Gulfer