UMFANG Symbolic Use Of Light Technicolour
Of all the collectives seeking to rectify dance music’s gender imbalance, Discwoman might be the most visible. Co-founder Umfang embodies much of their strengths: deftness as DJs, talent as producers, an academic appreciation of theory. Most notably, her Riffs EP on 1080p last summer cemented a growing identity in her productions.
Umfang talks of how she makes music, not through dense conceptualisation, but for cathartic release. Indeed these tracks – recorded in live takes – do exude a kind of grim determination and inner struggle. Like Riffs, Symbolic Use Of Light flows with a muted power. Riffs forwent the use of drums; here hi-hats are few and far-between. It has a strange effect – leaving isolated kicks without a foil or swing. This is simple, purposeful music.
More often than not, Symbolic Use Of Light feels close and suffocating. The title track’s blunted bassline rains like an incessant shower of rubber bullets and muffled kicks crowd in, conjuring a panicked heartbeat. The two tracks where hi-hats do play a central role feel like bangers. Where Is She’s warbling acid swims along beneath a huge dusty kick drum, while on Wingless Victory the sense of groove added beneath a gloomy drip of a melody is seductive. It’s hard not to crave more moments like these, as they’re refreshing when they arise. When the closer Full 2 (a variation on opener Full 1) rolls around though, the satisfaction gleaned from this compact piece of work is significant. By this point Symbolic Use Of Light has wrapped you up like a warm embrace, and its austere techno framework is somehow full of humanity.