Matt Mehlan is responsible for some of the most esoteric, tirelessly creative and utterly engaging music through his Skeletons project (and the numerous variations of this moniker). A project that’s sheer audacity and ideals of how music should be made has made it increasingly difficult to do so. As Mehlan described in a recent blog post “Making music the way I (and we as a band) tend to make music (or want to make music) is EXPENSIVE. It takes WAY TOO MUCH TIME. It requires many people and those people need to be interested in it and energized by it. It takes the kind of ambitious creative energy and confidence that is much easier to come by when you’re young and broke and don’ have any other responsibilities other than being creativeâ€¦you spend hours and hours trying to be transcendent, you do your best, you make what you have the resources to make (no record we’ve been able to make has been up to these standards!)”.
Enter Uumans, a project born out of necessity. The result of being limited to synth and a laptop, recording through headphones in the fleeting, spare moments between moving apartments and having a baby.
Despite these limitations the music is nonetheless engaging, navigating its own route to a similarly exciting destination to Mehlan’s previous work.
Reminiscent of early Skeletons – particularly the first widely available album Git and one of the lesser-known predecessors I’m At the Top of the World – Uumans finds Mehlan once again toying with synth-based pop songs with some brief synth explorations scattered throughout for good measure. The songs are underpinned by sequenced rhythms with the playfulness of a Casiotone and a bottom end that threatens to blow out your speakers at any given moment.
Lyrically the album covers themes of growing older and reflecting on the carelessness of youth, as well as the trials of living in a big city (in this case New York). On paper this could allude to a dour, disheartened affair but Flipping Out is surprisingly upbeat described by Mehlan as a “danceable cathartic exorcism”.
Flipping Out Parts 1 & 2 were originally released individually on limited 7″ and cassette. Now with the addition of Part 3 the Flipping Out series is presented here as a full-length album.
Where Parts 1 & 2 comprises the more danceable, hook-laden numbers, Part 3 is less upbeat providing mellower, meditative moments such as the warm ambience of ‘The Less We Talk’ or ‘BOBBY OH’ which combines a phased rhythm track reminiscent of The Books with a soothing, mantra-like vocal.
The title-track ‘Flipping Out’s follows setting a darker tone that is by far the most outwardly despairing moment on the album; with its queasy, pitch-shifted synth and stuttered rhythms that avoid any set groove, purposely eluding the “danceable” moments found elsewhere on the album.
Closing out the album is ‘Over It (Get Learn-ed)’ which offers somewhat of a respite from the doom of the previous track. Bringing back the bouncy playfulness of the first half of the album and leaving us with a slightly less menacing final thought.
Flipping Out is a rewarding album, showing what can be achieved within the seemingly tight confines of pop music, albeit on the outer reaches. Uumans has provided a platform for Mehlan’s creative output, which should satisfy his fan base and hopefully introduce some new fans to his work. And if Flipping Out turns out to be the sole statement from Uumans we can take solace in the fact that Mehlan will be making more music under his Skeletons guise despite the discouraging nature of the aforementioned blog post, which is something we can all be happy about.