USS Rising

Thursday, 04 February 2010

It's difficult to imagine that there might be anyone on Earth more genuinely happy with where he's at in life than Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker (aka USS) singer/guitarist Ash Buchholz. While he and turntablist/hypeman Jason Parsons may have started making noise under the name Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker in 2007, the notice has really been on the rise of late, and the increased exposure has been a huge inspiration to the band. “I decided what I wanted about five or six years ago, and a lot of that involved a really serious process of self-transformation – almost like a self cognitive behavioral therapy,” explains the singer from his home in Toronto. “So far it has really paid off; I'm a lot happier and it doesn't hurt that people have really accepted what we're doing in the band. We went national with two of the songs from the first album, Questamation, and it's really flattering how well they've been received. It's actually kind of funny because, now, it has been one year that our song “Laces Out” has been in medium-to-heavy rotation on modern rock radio, and our song “Anti-Venom” has been in medium-to-heavy rotation since the summer.

“It's amazing to me because it just happened," continues Buchholz. "The enthusiasm has just been incredible. You can talk all day about how you can't buy enthusiasm and that's absolutely true, but we've just been observing this manifestation of what enthusiasm does and it's really incredible and inspiring to think that we've had something to do with it.”

As amazing as such a positive reception for USS might be for Buchholz, it's also very easy to understand as Questamation lays out a thrilling party for listeners to absorb. On the record, Buchholz is presented as the excited centre of a raving performance as Parsons swirls up a torrential maelstrom of electronics and samples around the singer's consistently uplifting but modest vocal melodies and grunge-y guitar figures. The design of songs like “Laces Out,” “Better Living Centre” and “3 Purple Butterflies” has been characterized (both by the press and by the band itself) as similar to being at “Nirvana Unplugged but there's a drum and bass party and glow sticks all around you” which, while it sounds funny, is actually pretty accurate; Questamation represents a fantastic synthesis of solid rock songwriting into drum and bass dynamics that doesn't allow either to really take the forefront (as was the case with acts that previously attempted such a mix, like The Prodigy and Propellorheads). The result is an album that plays like two stereos blasting separate kinds of music but somehow balancing harmoniously at once – beats careen off of guitars and the effect is a chime rather than a thud – which leaves the collective head of listeners buzzing and excited rather than frustrated and confused. Ironically, all three of those sensations (excitement, frustration and confusion) were key ingredients to how the music came together, according to the singer. “Most of the roots of what was going on were kind of stemmed in a frustrated psychosis,” explains Buchholz on the methodology that ultimately yielded Questamation. “Have you ever seen that movie A Beautiful Mind? It was sort of like that – the insanity of wanting to have an original idea. You know what that's like? You're trying and trying to come up with something that works and is still satisfying to you and you actually drive yourself a little bit crazy trying but then something clicks, you let go, and the most beautiful thing happens. That's sort of what it was like when I got introduced to drum and bass music; I started hearing this sort of punk/jungle/ska hybrid going on but from the stance of being at a motivational, science-based, learning seminar at the same time. That's what we tried to commit to tape when we made Questamation.”

Inspired by the response that the album has received so far, as the band continues to bring the party to people live, they've also begun work on a new record that will deepen the plot with listeners, according to Buchholz. “Questamation was only our first step toward the sound we're aiming to create,” laughs the singer ominously. “We ended up working with a producer more into aggressive rock on Questamation and this new album that we're working on now has that vision becoming much, much clearer. Again, we went into the vein of that more aggressive rock producer so the album came out a little more rock – a bit more of a true hybrid. While we were making it, we were working on one of those insane, twenty-three days to record so we didn't sleep kind of deals. It was fun but pretty surreal and we found that, when we were done, we woke up and listened back and we couldn't believe that's what we made.

"It's been really inspiring for us too," beams the singer, "Now  I want to work with Pet Shop Boys and I'd love it if Trent Reznor mixed a song for us.

"I'm just thinking huge and unstoppable now.”



USS – "Anti-Venom" – Questamation


is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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