Understated Theory :: Critical Drift EP (Sparkwood)

Understated Theory’s 2015 EP, Critical Drift, is another example of the fine ears on the folks at Sparkwood Records. Must be something special about the Norwegian cold.

Understated Theory :: Critical Drift EP (Sparkwood)

Understated Theory’s 2015 EP, Critical Drift, is another example of the fine ears on the folks at Sparkwood Records. Must be something special about the Norwegian cold.

At just eighteen minutes, the five-track EP is enough to whet your appetite and get you excited for Understated Theory’s further work. The EP is a sampler of sorts. Each track embodies a different archetypical sound in the world of downtempo. There’s gritty and crushed samples and swaying noise. There’s acoustica and pleasant swinging melodies. There’s even a track that echoes trip-hop. It’s very full for being so short.

My favored tunes on Critical Drift are “Shadow Junction” and “Left Behind.” “Shadow Junction” is more in line with what I’ll call Sparkwood’s sound. It’s got that hazy sound and faraway booming percussion that gives me goosebumps. It’s also got a running reversed tape-delay effect throughout that, even though it’s not a drone, behaves as one in a beautiful way.

“Left Behind” is the acoustic-downtempo track, and features a well-recorded acoustic guitar melody that is slowly joined by the backing instruments and more guitar melodies, eventually assembling a full, yet hollow, sound. It’s helped along by heavily reverbed and delayed vocals, giving the track an ethereal, open, melancholy sound. Even though it’s very different from “Shadow Junction,” it fits well alongside it.

Critical Drift is a great sampling of Understated Theory’s style and taste, and even though it’s very short, it’s the kind of thing I can listen to over and again.

Critical Drift is available on Sparkwood.

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