Rioting quieter than most, Uzi and Ari seems to essentially be the solo project of one Ben Shepard, of Salt Lake City - It Is Freezing Out is his second long-play collection following last year’s Dont Leave In Such A Hurry. These songs are well fleshed-out by an assortment of accomplished musicians, each lending their own nuances to proceedings, but at this album’s core beats the heart of a single man only.
Tracks skirt around the edges of acts like Mogwai and The Postal Service – beats are supplemented by drones and twinkles direct from the outer reaches of the solar system – but the overall impression left by It Is Freezing Out is one previously associated with The Album Leaf. Its these echoes that characterise the album’s latter stages – beginning buoyantly, it drifts into dreamscape territories with wonderful grace and assured compositional confidence. Shepard’s never hurried: his songs are allowed to expand at a casual pace, with ne’er a too-spontaneous spark of inventiveness or awkward change of direction to be heard.
Although a couple of efforts can be accurately categorised as background fodder, highlights are well worth repeat plays – ‘Influenza’ is a crackling and convulsing number that eventually shifts down a few gears and fades quite wonderfully to an understated conclusion, while ‘Drowsy, Drowsy’ and ‘Trainwreck’ come across like lost outtakes from Radiohead recording sessions conducted between albums three and four. At times, too, Shepard emotes affectingly with startling similarity to Thom Yorke – no bad thing at all.
An unknown act on these shores for sure, Uzi and Ari here demonstrate enough creativity and arrangement know-how to have a good few ears bending the way of their/his luscious offerings. Fans of any of the aforementioned artists, investigate immediately.