Agitated Atmosphere: Ulaan Markhor – Ulaan Markhor

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Ulaan Markhor .

The last time, we caught up with Steven R. Smith; he warded off the loneliness of isolation through his own hand-built guitar.

As Ulaan Markhor, Smith chooses new tools to accompany his ferocious guitar cracks. Heavy with pulsating percussion, the self-titled debut for Smith’s latest solo guise is a social ode. Though crafted in the same isolation that delivered Old Skete, Smith has not neglected the energetic yin to despair’s yang.

Ulaan Markhor is ripping riff after ripping riff, snare and bass pounding out the heartbeat of Smith’s harsh attacks. Where Old Skete is passive, Ulaan Markhor is aggressive. Electric static and overpowering distortion punctuated by Smith’s syncopated rhythms. In other words: catchy.

Ulaan Markhor always on the move, song after song feeding into the kinetic fury before thinkers “City of Lakes” and “Dancing” turn a furious hunt into reflective praise. But it is the feudal trudge of “Plague of Farewells” (travel music for Daenerys Targaryen) and the ancient psychedelia of “100 Birds” that will fuel your fire.

Smith’s versatility continues to place him in the upper echelon of guitar composition—a lofty place but a few live and where all are largely ignored in favor of classic rock gimmickry and the worship of false idols. Ulaan Markhor is thunder from the heavens. These are your marching orders. You can’t avoid them forever.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. You can also find him on Twitter.

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