Review: Uboa – The Sky May Be (Art As Catharsis, Oct 18)

If you let your mind wander for even a minute or two while listening to The Sky May Be, you will most certainly be surprised at how much ground it has covered during that time. Not that it’s even easy to lose focus; Uboa’s new record, “a work about poverty, sex, anxiety, and love,” commands every bit of the listener’s attention. It is equal parts nightmarish and comforting, angry and peaceful, pessimistic and hopeful, juxtaposing noise freakouts and brooding drones with lush, even pretty ambience. “Salivate on Cue” is a cut-up masterpiece, blasting the ears with schizophrenic contortions of screeching feedback, while “Dementia,” the first part of the “The Sky May Be” suite, combines backwards-played melodies, reverb, and processed vocals to conjure a uniquely gorgeous nocturnal soundscape. This latter track is just breathtaking, even more so when tortured, distorted shrieks emerge toward the end, cracking the already fragile foundations of beauty and crumbling into the piercing metallic squeals of “Entropy.” Despite its eclecticism, the powerful driving force of Xandra Metcalfe’s versatile voice unifies even the most disparate elements, grounding a monster of an album that threatens to break its chains at any moment. I challenge anyone to find a track this year as cathartic as “Extus.”