A mostly instrumental New York group with an insatiable appetite for musical cross-pollination, Ui construct compelling worlds of sound atop a lean but muscular funk foundation. The trio's root sound evokes the relentless bass-heavy grooves carved out by such New York early minimal avant-funk groups as Liquid Liquid and ESG. Yet in a broader sense they're reviving the spirit of the general environment from which those bands sprang--a time in the early 80s when a convergence of sounds (hip-hop, no wave, hardcore) seemed to be the order of the day. Frequently aligned with local stars Tortoise--they've toured together and both feature a twin-bass setup--Ui offer a more visceral rhythmic attack and a subtle, organic eclecticism. On "The Sharpie," a tune from the recent 12-inch The Sparkie (Soul Static Sound), percussionist Clem Waldmann adds drum and bass rhythms to the churning, driving bass lines of Sasha Frere-Jones and Wilbo Wright, without consuming the group's signature off-kilter funk sound. Ui's terrific debut album, Sidelong (Southern), adds lots of flavorings to their funk base and shows a keen appreciation for international dance-music culture--adding to that early-80s NYC musical stew. Staunch proponents of remixology, they issued a fine collection of radical remixes, Unlike (Lunamoth), prior to Sidelong's release. Live Ui must offer more straight-up goods. It doesn't seem to be a problem for them. Friday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Alex Hayden.