Review: Bust Out Your Nice Headphones For Utajahs' Submersive Self-Titled Debut

By: Jesse Sandoval

Denver newcomers utajahs (who deny any set pronunciation) have just dropped a very impressive self-titled debut. The three members identify as Dan Galansky, Rooster Jake, and nikata, and in the two years they have been together, they have engineered a beautiful collage of sounds. Perhaps fairly described succinctly as groove-based-psych-post-rock-trip-hop, utajahs are eclectic, intimate, and deliciously subversive.

The tape cover for Utajahs.

The tape cover for Utajahs.

I actually met nikata by chance at Half Fast Subs. I was trying to rush home with some sammies but someone intently gazing at what I realized was music production software captured my interest. I tapped on him to ask if I could listen to what he was working on and I am so glad I did.

What I heard ("a metallic sunrise for distant lunar shores") has to be shared:

Some of my favorite lyrics on the whole release come from this track:

“Make something. Something else. Then something else. Make friends. Make plans. Get dirty, use hands.”

Personally, I feel there is something very special about music that encourages us all to grow into better, happier people, and this one does just that. Thank you for the encouragement utajahs.

Listen to the band’s self-titled record:  

Each transition between tracks on the self-titled debut is seamless and smooth. The many sounds that flow in and out and across the songs combine to create a sense of space and depth that many albums lack. But never is it too busy or overproduced; never too loud or too demanding. Listening to it is like sinking into an abyss of well-spaced and artful soundscapes. The production work on this album is very impressive.

Utajahs does not take itself too seriously either. The fifth track, "clicggle," sounds more like the product of a random, silly moment in the recording studio than it does the result of a written song. It really exemplifies the manner in how the record feels: lively, genuine, and fun, yet very chill, very patient, and very comfortable. You can listen to it while you’re making breakfast, while you’re hanging with friends, driving around, hanging out at a park... It complements many activities very well. Even so, as their instructions advise, “this recording has been optimized for use on headphones… for best results, use with extreme secrecy.”

My only qualm with this album is that I wish it were longer. But even with a runtime of just under 30 minutes, utajahs delivers. It’s easy to listen to, has high replayability, and is, from start to finish, natural, fluid, and completely enjoyable. These tracks do develop slower than traditional pop or rock songs, but your patience is well rewarded.

Utajahs are already working on their next release, which is set to drop this summer. Also, there are as-of-yet no set dates to produce these sounds live, so on that note, we are left waiting and wanting.

Utajahs, if you ever book a show, please let us know. I would love to see this live.

RIYL: Blockhead, The Books, Boards of Canada

-Jesse

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.