In a world where each breath of every person is documented a million times over on the internet, an enigmatic presence like Unit Black Flight is refreshing. It’s also forces music critics to really listen to the music in order to write a review.
That’s not to say that Unit Black Flight is a total tabula rasa. Evocations, the latest release from the musical alter ego of Bryan Lane, is available from Giallo Disco records, a label synonymous with moody, synth-heavy soundtracks to movies that don’t exist (and some that do; they recently released a vinyl soundtrack for Turkish film Baskin). Yet within this niche genre, there is still quite a wide variety. There’s the dance music of DKMD, the concept album Black September from Vercetti Technicolor (who also provided music for neo-giallo parody The Editor), the Kavinsky-esque the Hunt, the raw, industrial sounds of Broken Arrows, and the New Romantic flair of Alessandro Parisi.
Unit Black Flight has been around for over a decade, with albums on Bandcamp going back as far as 2004’s Infiltration and Abstraction. In fact, it wasn’t until 2014 that Lane hooked up with the Giallo Disco label, who released Tracks From The Trailer. Label co-founder Maiovvi describes Lane’s music as his “John Carpenter worship project, especially his LinnDrum period.”
This is an accurate assessment of Unit Black Flight’s sound, but things shift somewhat with Evocations. Originally released in 2016, the album has recently been remastered and reissued with two remixes. The cover cleverly reinforces the album’s title. A shadowy figure stands atop a decrepit house, seen from the point of view of someone inside another house. It’s the dark counterpoint to the art from the self-titled 1980 debut of Aussie New Wavers Icehouse, a cover that, like Evocations, also features a tentative hand and an open window. Such imagery is a good indicator of the sounds on Evocations, which are more minimalist than anything Unit Black Flight has released to date. Chord progressions and tempo changes are at a minimum, which makes the album a thoroughly immersive, hypnotic experience.
In “Preternatural Convergence,” a darkly pulsating bass thumps relentlessly in one’s throat, with echoes of Lipps’ disco smash “Funky Town” turned sadistic. Bursts of synthesized explosions, an electronic xylophone, and a spooky melody soon enter the fray. An even heavier synth line, reminiscent of early ‘80s Ultravox, is introduced in the Umberto remix of the song, along with booming bass that could break hearts and burst eardrums on the dance floor.
“Immaterial Reality” utilizes those LinnDrum beats and a squishy synth as its base, before leveling up about halfway through with unexpected bits of spacey noise. The Antoni Maoivvi remix of this track is glorious Neue Deutsche Welle and industrial filth, perfect for zoning out and hugging the speakers.
“Apparitional Conveyance” boasts more LinnDrum, while bass pummels and a dance rhythm slinks along. Everything slows down to a sickening crawl in “Imprint Manifestation” which boasts a drum beat like that found in Fabio Frizzi’s Zombi theme. There are two melodies, lurking in the background, constantly threatening to take over. As such, this is the hookiest track on the EP.
Whether you want to chill at home with the lights out or gobble Ecstasy at the club, Unit Black Flight’s Evocations brings the goods, and then some.
Evocations was released by Giallo Disco Records on 24 April 2017 and can be purchased from the label’s website at https://giallodiscorecords.bandcamp.com/album/evocations.
Ford, Nathan. Unit Black Flight’s “Tracks From The Trailer.” The Active Listener, 27 Apr. 2014, https://active-listener.blogspot.ca/2014/04/unit-black-flight-tracks-from-trailer.html. Accessed 28 Apr. 2017.
Brophy, Richard. “Giallo Disco: Tracks of our Fears.” Juno Plus, 16 Feb. 2015, https://www.junodownload.com/plus/2015/02/16/giallo-disco-tracks-of-our-fears/. Accessed 28 Apr. 2017.