An accomplished, moving record from the purveyor of IDM-influenced soundscapes arrives with a little help from his friends
It is striking that after 2013’s Drone Logic, producer and composer Daniel Avery moved so far away from the crisp, metallic house beats with which he first made a name for himself. Ultra Truth focuses instead on the IDM-influenced soundscapes that have become his wheelhouse, with some assistance from collaborators like Kelly Lee Owens, HAAi and Sherelle.
The slower songs here are warm in tone despite their otherwordly synths, as the title track’s Aphex Twin-esque melody snakes its way around a lo-fi, bassy beat. Spider’s lead is more ponderous but accompanied by beautifully harmonious pads, while the waltz metre of Collapsing Sky feels impossibly distant, beamed out into the galaxy like cosmic noise. The more uptempo tracks get their energy from jungle and rave music, with classic breaks aplenty and a sense of euphoria leading to a couple of album highlights.
Devotion impresses with syncopated sample triggering as foggy, reverb-laden chords dominate the mid-range and a riff struggles to break through, and elsewhere Chaos Energy rides a hugely enjoyable crescendo from low pulsing sine tones to a gnarly, grinding bass drop, part of a pattern in which Avery finds joy in gradually adding layer upon layer of distortion.
Ultra Truth is punctuated by brief spoken-word interludes which prove to be evocative and tasteful, such as the introduction to Ache’s ominous ambience (“I don’t know why… I’m in the middle of something I can’t wake up from… and you’re part of it”). Only features a rare example of sung lyrics, Jonnine crooning surreally over a downtempo but oppressively intense backbeat, trip-hop gone industrial.
Whereas some Avery albums have struggled to convince, the work here is fleshed out and artistically vibrant, the only noticeable weakness being an overly goofy ostinato on Lone Swordsman, though IDM had a few of those in its time. All in, Ultra Truth is an accomplished, moving record.