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NPR Arts & Life

Read The Overwhelming, Tragic Story Of Makeunder's 'Great Headless Blank' EP

Makeunder's Hamilton Ulmer
Makeunder's Hamilton Ulmer

One of the most outstanding and challenging new bits of music I've heard this year comes from Makeunder, the project of Hamilton Ulmer, an Oakland-based musician with a penchant for exploration. "Great Headless Blank" was the inspired track we played on All Songs Considered back in April, now it's the title track to Makeunder's latest EP, which we are proudly premiering here, along with track-by-track thoughts from Hamilton Ulmer.

I'm a firm believer in falling for music on its own terms. I often listen to music not knowing who I'm listening to, since knowing often comes with personal bias. What I heard felt like it could have come from Dirty Projectors, only this got even weirder than that. "Great Headless Blank" is punctuated by sax and claps that glue the off-kilter soaring vocals like fingers holding onto a cliff. I sensed the song was about desperation and hope but honestly I was simply fascinated by a sound filled with choral harmonies and influences that could include Béla Bartók or Ornette Coleman or Talking Heads.

Well, Hamilton wrote to us to tell us the tale of this remarkable debut EP, and oh god, it's simply full of tragedy and reflection. Thankfully, it's not depressing; musically it's quite inspiring. So dig in. If you're like me, listen first and read Ulmer's words after. Whatever works. This is thoughtfully crafted music with a good soul at its heart.

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