Updated: Jan 28, 2021
Avant-garde is something of a term of abuse in music. It can mean a lot of different things but the main feature of it is that it is something different. If that sentence was confusing to you, then I invite you to enjoy Ulterior Frequencies by moduS ponY. It is a complex and brain-tingling experiment in avant-garde/art-rock/jazz that is worth the listen.
The entire album consists of nineteen short songs that are characterized by extremely off-kilter jazz aesthetics. It combines all manner of strange and seemingly discordant ideas together into a curious and intriguing whole. Most of the tracks keep the experimentation within limits while still giving a very complex experience such as tracks like “Sine Here,” “A Healthy Mix,” and “Aft Analogy.” However, some enjoy taking the experiment to greater extremes such as “Tantrum Pageant” which seems to eschew any kind of consistent rhythm. All tracks, more or less experimental, utilize a unique assortment of abstract electronic sounds combined with more conventional instruments such as guitar, piano, and a small jazz drum kit.
But it is not just the music contained that is particularly unique regarding this album. Peppered throughout the album, there are odd and enjoyable voiceovers by a man who sounds as though he has been pulled straight from the first half of the 20th century. It is almost as if he is emceeing a concert of sorts, making announcements and causally interviewing members of the supposed audience. It makes for quite an engaging and engrossing experience, almost as if you stumbled upon an old tape with a full concert recorded on it.
Then, there is a backstory to this whole album. Allegedly, this is not the music of the artist who produced it. Rather it was the music found it the recovered notebook of an aging hipster who was very active in the avant-garde scene years ago. Is any of the story true? I’m not sure honestly, but I recommend you read the description from moduS himself and come to your own conclusions.