Urulu Across the Sky
At this point in his still-young career, Urulu doesn't seem to be concerned with making any sort of "groundbreaking" music. Instead, the Los Angeles producer appears intent on continuing to dive deeper into his classic house-informed sound, most recently appearing on the dancefloor-focused Exploited imprint for the first time with three soulful, metro-minded house tunes.
As compared to Urulu's 2011 EP, Goodbyes, there is a much sharper aesthetic present on Across the Sky. The elements here are noticeably cleaner and more crisp, clearly outlined within their different spaces, an exacted sonic approach that places Urulu in a bit of a different category than he had previously existed. Where his older output was looser and more biting (one could have even used the term "ghetto"), this EP places him somewhere on the path between these rougher productions and more Crosstown Rebels-type club fare. Yet the three songs here are hardly peak-hour jams, as each floats along at a swimmingly mild tempo and chooses to keep its grooves just below the surface. Armed with rolling rhythms and an imbued warmth, the tracks seem better crafted for summer nights and more intimate dance parties than big club rooms.
The title track employs a skittering house beat and filtered, sequenced chords to get its point across. Having no shame in taking its time to build and move, "Across the Sky" makes for the outing's longest effort, indulging in two separate breakdowns, including one that bobs along without a kick drum for almost two minutes before the full beat drops somewhere well into the song's second half. To his credit, Urulu is capable of making these transitions between sections intuitively smooth, and the hefty track length never seems to drag on (especially considering these tunes were no doubt put together with DJ sets in mind). "Don't Dare," the record's second—and most infectious—effort, moves in a similar, albeit more condensed, fashion and at an almost identical tempo to the opening cut. Filtering up from just a kick drum, "Don't Dare" rolls along with a garage-like pattern, locking in its floating progression around an expert assemblage of percussion. Here, as on the rest of the EP, Urulu unobtrusively implements vocal phrases to move the arrangement along, used less to provide melodic lines and more to serve as markers for the patterns embedded in the tune.
Across the Sky is a solid EP, but ultimately, it isn't much more than that. The songs here are listenable from beginning to end, and will certainly find an appropriate place and time in their share of DJ sets, but each tune verges on being too derivative of the classic house idiom—generously nodding towards the American Midwest as well as classic London-style house. Clearly, Urulu's production talents are becoming more and more honed, but his ability to imprint his own musical personality on his tracks seems to be lagging a bit behind. Still, Across the Sky is a worthwhile stop along the path of an artist who's still finding his stride.
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