The Universal Thump: Peculiar, Exciting Alchemy

In "Opening Night," The Universal Thump is an   ambitious, overstuffed banquet of musical styles and instrumentation. i

In "Opening Night," The Universal Thump is an ambitious, overstuffed banquet of musical styles and instrumentation. Vincent Douglas/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Vincent Douglas/Courtesy of the artist
In "Opening Night," The Universal Thump is an   ambitious, overstuffed banquet of musical styles and instrumentation.

In "Opening Night," The Universal Thump is an ambitious, overstuffed banquet of musical styles and instrumentation.

Vincent Douglas/Courtesy of the artist

Wednesday's Pick

Song: "Opening Night"

Artist: The Universal Thump

CD: Chapter Two

Genre: Pop

This past November, The Universal Thump's core team of Greta Gertler and Adam D. Gold attracted attention in their Brooklyn hometown by staging a rhapsodically received tribute concert to honor the 40th anniversary of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, featuring the likes of John Wesley Harding, My Brightest Diamond singer Shara Worden and Amy Allison (daughter of jazz icon Mose Allison).

Experiencing Gertler and Gold's original material, it's easy to see where the affinity for Harrison's three-disc masterpiece derives. The Universal Thump is an ambitious, overstuffed banquet of musical styles and instrumentation, with influences ranging from deep psychedelia to prog at its must evolved, convoluted and unapologetic. The Universal Thump's latest release, Chapter Two, is one in a series of four chapters, which will eventually comprise a grandiose, eponymous 80-minute orchestral pop-song cycle. (The final chapters will be released later this year.)

"Opening Night," which takes its title from the John Cassavetes film of the same name, begins with a cacophony of instruments and operatic vocals and culminates with strings and what can only be described as futuristic whale noises. In the space between lies a psychedelic journey of multiple identities as told by Gertler in her transporting, angelic soprano, backed by layers of organs, girl-group harmonies, strings, brass and percussion. The song is by turns exotic and familiar, evoking modern envelope-pushers like Animal Collective, as well as the progressive influence of early Genesis and nascent Pink Floyd. Such is the peculiar and exciting alchemy of the Universal Thump's accessible but avant-garde pop.

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