Alienation is the fourth non-soundtrack studio album by Matt Hill's Umberto project, and his third for Not Not Fun. Sticking to the VHS-quality fidelity of past efforts, the disc is one of the more diverse Umberto recordings to date, ranging from atmospheric pieces to ambient ballads to haunted disco. Beat-driven electro cuts like "Drifters" and "Dawn of Mirrors" are some of the most direct and punchy tracks Hill has recorded. New collaborators Edward Tonoyan and Viktoria Gokun provide vocals throughout the disc, and on tracks such as "Black Sea" and "White Night," they come close to resembling the ethereal darkwave of Black Tape for a Blue Girl and other Projekt Records artists. The album is a bit of a change of direction for Umberto, and it takes a few listens to get into, but ultimately it's one of the project's most rewarding efforts. Hill is clearly every bit as skilled as peers such as S U R V I V E and labelmate Xander Harris, and while his albums (particularly his first two, From the Grave and Prophecy of the Black Widow) have acquired cult followings, it would be nice if he got lucky and scored something that ends up going viral the way Stranger Things did. ~ Paul Simpson
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