Escape from Terminal Island is the second release from Ubre Blanca on Clan Destine Records, following up their 2013 release, Polygon Mountain.
The purple sunset that adorns the cover of Terminal Island is a good representation of what sets this release apart from the latter; the ingredients are the same synths, layers of them, and drums, however deployed differently from the icy and mechanical sounds of Polygon.
I was actually calling the record shop asking if they had EFTI in stock yet, this is how strong a hold the prospects of this EP had on me.
I am quite a fan of the releases of 80s synth soundtracks from labels like Death Waltz and One Way Static.
So, a new band that plays original material live would always have appealed.
Similarities in set up can be made to Zombie Zombie, but Ubra Blanca is far more direct in their output.
Lucky enough my band, Halfrican, has shared a stage with Ubre Blanca a number of times and it is interaction with their live set, this summer especially, that pumped up the excitement for Escape from Terminal Island.
Both Joel Stone and Andy Brown have a great pedigree, the latter drumming for such bands as Michael Dracula, Divorce and Remember Remember.
Stone was one quarter of nu-rave outfit ShitDisco, this was confirmed to myself when an audience member flashed a fluorescent glow stick and Joel fell into some sort of panic-attack/flashback.
No track slips below the five-minute mark, which would seem to be the minimum necessity for the tracks to build their sense of cinematic tension.
The title track kicks off with a rapid sequenced line and once reinforced by Brown’s drumming, is flooded with a creepy hollow lead line.
Cooler still, ‘Red Skies’ is immediately far more melancholic, with the climaxing bridge one of the stellar moments in Ubre’s live show.
Side two ‘Muscles in the Jungle’ and ‘World on A Wire’, the latter’s beat the band themselves describe as “so solid you can hang your coat on it”.
These songs, like the covers between Polygon and Terminal, display a different side to the band.
The way emotions can be drawn out of the listen, albeit primal ones in the first half, are authentic to the influences, yet the personality of the group is apparent through the mechanical limitation they have set themselves.
The second half presents the optimistic ending, tongue not quite firmly placed in cheek, the humour is there to be interpreted on a listener-by-listener basis.
Still a fan after repeated listens, I am already excited about the bands next take on the format.
Words: Paul Choi