One Umbrella
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One Umbrella

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"Multi-instrumentalists Sarah Lipstate and Carlos Villarreal only like to give out a little at a time. Solve is a small composite of parts taken either from their self-released Consider the Opposite or from a forthcoming album due out on the Tell All label. It pushes back a tiny set of barriers over a very constricted period of time, deploying kalimba, theremin, synthesizer, and stylophone, alongside more traditional string and keyboard instruments on eight tracks with a collective running time of barely 25 minutes. However, it's on the longer tracks, such as the constantly evolving "OIOI" and the mournful "Eintrocinc", that they really take the time to show what they can do. You may find it's worth waiting for" - Ken Hollings - The Wire


"If there is one strength to pull from this Austin, Texas duo’s repertoire, it’s their ability to build an entirely different place for you to inhabit while you listen to their music. That place, it up to whoever’s experiencing it, it could be an empty closet, a thicket of dead shrubs, a cobweb-ridden attic, or a purgatorial space of grays and whites that change no warning or noticeable seams. One Umbrella creates what from the outside could be summed up as noise, but on the inside, it’s cold and atmospheric ambience that’s as tapping as it is haunting.

The root of One Umbrella’s sound lies in electronic samples, live instrumentation, and a ripe unpredictability. Many folks appear cock-eyed when music like this comes on, there’s no beat, hardly a timing signature, and there’s no sign of any sort of directed arrangement anywhere. I’ll admit that this sort of music (some might not even call it that) isn’t the most approachable stuff out there, but this pair’s effort is inviting, it guides you into a more storied cache of sounds, emotions, thoughts, and hopefully, more groups like them.


The opening track “itxitxx” (all of the songs have such fittingly nonsensical titles...unless I’m missing something, which I probably am), combines plucks of strings with echoed theremin cycles...’least I think that’s a theremin. Every song strikes a different chord with you and places you somewhere else, making you feel different emotions and comforts. After the rainy sprawl of “itxitxx”, “0101" throws you into a haunting clutter of whirrs and backward synths. Picture an old living room with grimy wood floors and walls overcome by moss and rot, in the middle of the room there’s a dirty card table spinning on one leg, keeping a steady speed. Welcome, are you moved yet?


Perhaps the most enveloping and most traditionally musical of the eight tracks on this EP is the final “eintrocinc”. A yearning collection of synths, strings, and samples that immediately snaps a photograph of a rainy 1930's neighborhood on the minute that every man who’s worked almost all of the life out of himself is coming home from the unforgiving factory. They’re all walking slowly, the rain’s a light drizzle, enough to be an inconvenience, it’s cold, their faces all smudged with grime and riddled with premature age due to their sixty-five hour weeks of heat and labor. Rough hands, thinning hair, cracking skin. Feet trapped in work boots, anticipating their albeit brief release. And then the sun comes out, only for an abbreviated “hello” before the clouds crowd back around it.


If there are any Tarentel, Brian Eno, or Eluvium records in your sling, this is your new baby. " - Indieworkshop.com


"Austin experimental two-piece One Umbrella opened the evening with instrumental weirdness. Created with various electronics, theremin and E-bowed and violin-bowed guitar, the songs seemed mostly improvised--loosely arranged to build gradually to a climax of ear-splitting computer squeals. There were few discernible melodies, not much on the low end and the only thing I thought approximated a drum track later proved, shattering my pretense of musical expertise, to be a rattling A/C unit in the club's ceiling. And yet we were all transfixed." - Jesse Hughey - The Dallas Observer



"The evening portion of Saturday began in a small coffeehouse theater with instrumental post-rock duo One Umbrella from Austin, who recently signed to San Francisco's Tell-All Records. They basically make lots of beautiful post-rock noise armed with a laptop and a theremin (and often other instruments). Their improvisational technique makes for a unique and unexpected performance each time out, and you can tell the pair feeds off each other fluidly. A well-done visual accompaniment kept the small audience captivated during the ambient 30-minute performance. It was great to see something a little different after a week filled with so much indie rock, and I can't wait to see them perform out in San Francisco (probably this summer)." - SFstation.com


"Some of the best bands of the past several years call Texas their home. Whether we’re talking about Conrad and the Trail of Dead or Explosions in the Sky or many other native-Texan musicians, it is simply a hot state for music that defines what people will remember about the 00s. In that sense, One Umbrella, a duo from Austin, certainly qualifies to be respected as a Texan band just like their peers that have already gained considerable amounts of fame. I’m surprised everyone isn’t talking about their lush, constantly shifting approach to creating honest feelings through sound. So before Canada (with Arcade Fire, Frog Eyes, Hot Hot Heat, and many more renowned names) takes over Texas as the premier independent band workshop, give these guys a chance and listen to “Eintrocinc.”


Atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere. That’s what this song is all about – it feels much more like an actual place that you’re stopping to gaze at rather than a song created by instruments. It’s actually hard to imagine that instruments were even used to craft something this otherworldly and majestic. It seems that any form of an instrument melts away in the duo’s hands, and there’s no more buttons or strings or knobs or pipes; the instruments seem to lose those restrictive features and sincerely channel exactly what the musicians want. And when an artist’s relationship with his or her tools is that passionate, the effects are magnificent. As “Eintrocinc” runs its course, it’s constantly giving off a mood that you can feel changing beneath the layers and layers of beautiful ambience and harmonies. This is one composition that I am blown away by.


If you’re a fan of Tarentel’s sprawling and noisy soundscapes or Brian Eno’s ambient masterpieces, or if you’ve been waiting for that genre to really click with you, you should not miss out on One Umbrella. This dynamic duo skips the tiresome white-noise and keeps it interesting as the line between having structure and completely winging it is blurred to an unrecognizable state." - Adequacy.net


"Without question, this is the most ambitious album I’ve heard this year. Sure, I thought Fatboy Slim was ambitious at one time, but the sounds that One Umbrella creates are more than just things for your ears to enjoy. The lofty goals that such a band sets for itself and the listener deserve the highest of congratulations.


Perhaps ironically titled, Solve solves nothing. It is an ostentatious album that’s sure to leave a lot of people confused and scratching their heads. Let them scratch their heads and let them be confused because beneath all songs, beneath even the glossiest of pop hits, are sounds that embody all that music starts as; they embody the concepts of sound and aim to recreate noises and beats long gone from popular music and it’s this endeavor that makes the album even more spectacular.


‘XESTYL’ is the musical equivalent of a dentist drill filtered through an outer space modification pedal, and while such a scene may not seem to be particularly attractive listening, it is. ‘8TRS’ is an all too-short, beautiful piano piece with vocals samples. Coming out of the schizophrenic madhouse that was the transition of ‘XESTYL’ into ‘8TRS’ is like moving from the dentist drill to the full anesthesia, and the effects it creates are both gorgeous and haunting. ‘EINTROCINC’ layers itself with droning synth notes and other lulling instruments. Coming across as the soundtrack to a decades old Scottish battle that left millions dead and many more injured, it brings to mind rolling hills and the rising sun. The song continues for 5 minutes, collecting more noises along the way and adding more images to the hills and the suns. Perhaps birds enter the fray, perhaps the baker makes his morning walk to the store. It abruptly ends 5 minutes into the song, cutting off as if, like the sound representation of one’s heartbeat, a fatal heart attack pulls the plug on any remaining noise. It’s nothing less than a perfect ending for an album that triumphs in balancing on the edge of noise and sound, as if bringing to life the sense of this confusion. It’s the musical representation of thought becoming sound and like musical Luddites, there’s no gloss added to the product. The sounds just are, and that’s all one needs.


To aim for such heights with theremins, Kalimba, and stylophone (instruments most people don’t even know, let alone know the sounds they create) is not just brave in so-called ‘indie’ music – it’s perfectly insane. But One Umbrella is more important today than ever; it’s these sounds that one must search out and grasp onto as more of what we buy, see, smell, and hear is so packaged and so programmed for us that to actually think our own thoughts is downright illegal. These albums that leave so much to the listener are the most important albums of a generation completely engrossed in pre-packaged everything. Country music sells because there’s no thought required, as does pop music, but it’s bands like One Umbrella that should be selling because it’s bands like this open our ears and therefore, open our minds." - CDreviews.com


"Wednesday night at Oslo features 6 bands that deliver the sounds of the world without necessarily falling to the genre of world music. Tres kicks off the night with romantic latin jazz followed by the haunted cinematic sounds of Noahlewis’ Mahlon Taits, a Japanese outfit that appropriately scores the night. As the evening progresses it takes a turn for the ethereal as One Umbrella inundates the audience with soundscapes that weave noise and beauty by way of Tyondai Braxton and Glenn Branca. Barbez follows with songs that sound like the folk standards of an Eastern European country that has yet to exist. The night may already seem eerie but Make A Rising continues this strange siege with a solid mix of drone and psychotic orchestral tinges featuring a variety of instrumentation and styles. Ending the evening are The Friends of Dean Martinez who provide all at last call a good shot of desert highway bliss." - SXSW.com


"[Tony Conrad's] smile was but a reflection of the room's atmosphere, which had morphed as early as the night's first performance: One Umbrella-- the Austin duo of Sarah Lipstate and Carlos Villarreal who plan to release future work on TOTE-- crept into its set and then leaped into it, barely coming back for air in 30 minutes. The moment instantly raised the bar for the label's old guard, most of which stood in the wings and watched as Villarreal stood stage left, bent over a table full of knobs and diodes and strings. He and Lipstate had coordinated the set and its changes perfectly, but it seemed guided by a spontaneity that the festival had lacked hitherto." - Pitchforkmedia.com


"For an experimental/ambient/drone-type thing, this was fairly entertaining. Austinite One Umbrella lurked in a semicircle of keyboards, laptops, percussion instruments, and assorted noisemakers with a glint of fury in his eye, hungry to pounce on this knob or that key at any moment. The result was fairly compelling, but most of the gathered-- who were waiting for the next act, one Tom Morello-- weren't having it.

I thought it was pretty cool of One Umbrella to incorporate a sample of a baby crying into his apocalyptic mix, but nope, that was a real baby, with a real mom who had a bunch of tattoos, just a few rows back. Parental advisory: explicit noise, dudes!" - www.pitchforkmedia.com


"While searching in Myspace, I found "Solve," a hypnotic work. Sarah Lipstate, aka Novella, is a texan Maja Ratkje, and she teaches with optimal results in experimental video production. Carlos Villareal is a dual instrumentalist in Austin. He operates the kalimba, theremin, synthesizor, stylophone, and other non-traditional instruments used in this type of music. The violin, cello, and harmonium are among the others used to make a vibrant atmosphere. The sound is subliminal and rich with an abrasive cello sound that results in a harmony with an ambient suggestive sound. The mantra humming of “Eintrocinc”, the dawning glitch of “OIOI”, the melancholic piano of “8trs” enunciate in “Solve”, with parts drawn from the self-released “Consider the Opposite” and from the upcoming full-length release on Tell-All Records, a San Francisco label to hold under constant observation. Eight tracks that last the space of a breath and that, leaving a sense of developments meant for the immediate future, awaken much curiosity in merit to the wide performance of the project, at least promising." (translation) - Nero Magazine


Discography

Ombres Disséquées (forthcoming on Table of the Elements/Xeric 2007)

G#: generative syntax feedback clarification (Tell-All Records 2006)

Solve (Tell-All Records 2005) - Featured on WMFU dj Fabio's "Best of 2005" annual list.

Tell-All Records Sampler (Tell-All 2004)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

One Umbrella is Carlos Villarreal and Sarah Lipstate, an Austin/Brooklyn-based duo who have made a name for themselves in the local experimental scene and beyond. An amalgam of improvisation, melody and dissonance, structure and abandon, One Umbrella's sound blurs the line between ambient beauty and chaotic noise.

The two plan on releasing the follow-up to their well-received 2005 release, Solve (Tell-All Records), on the prestigious Table of the Elements label in March 2007. After impressing avant-garde icons Tony Conrad and Rhys Chatham with their performance at the Table of the Elements Festival in September, One Umbrella were welcomed aboard by label owner Jeff Hunt.

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NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

-Performed at SXSW 2007 w/ Jandek, Bill Callahan, and Gary Lucas.

-Performed at CMJ 2006.

-Performed at Table of the Elements Festival No. 4 w/ Rhys Chatham's Guitar Army (Sarah also performed in the group) & Deerhunter.

-Live TV appearance on Great Day SA in San Antonio, TX, August 4, 2006.

-Showcased at the 2006 SXSW music festival

-Sarah Lipstate performed in the Glenn Branca Ensemble for Symphony No. 13: Hallucination City for 100 Guitars in Montclair, NJ (Feb. 2006)

-Performed at La Femme Qui Rock Fest in Dallas, TX (Nov. 2005)

-Showcased at the 2005 SXSW music festival

-Toured the west coast summer 2004 playing at
venues such as The Alterknit Lounge at The Knitting Factory, and San Francisco's Hemlock Tavern.

-Live in-studio performance on 91.7FM KVRX Austin's award-winning radio program Local Live (April 2004)