UMFANG - Symbolic Use of Light


Co-founder of the Discwoman collective and holder of the monthly Technofeminism residency at the Bossa Nova Civic club in Brooklyn, producer and DJ UMFANG has founded her career not only on the principle of her love for techno but also on the demand for greater representation in an all-too white and male industry. In her work with Discwoman, she has played a large part in promoting the diversification of line-ups in recent years, helping to make the club a space for cis and trans women and the genderqueer community, on the dance floor as well as in the booth.

For a career founded on the celebration of difference, UMFANG’s own music puts forth a singular identity of consistency. Her music doesn’t engage with overt politicism because it speaks for itself, or perhaps it doesn’t need to speak for anything – it is what it is. Following on, then, from a set of introspective and subtly insidious releases on labels such as 1080p, Allergy Season and Phinery, UMFANG is now set to drop her debut LP, Symbolic Use Of Light on Ninja Tune’s Technicolour imprint.

Fans of UMFANG’s previous work will note its capacity to draw in the listener without capitulating to a bass-heavy payoff. Tracks like ‘Need Yr Luv’ and ‘Pills’ are percussively insistent and form their entrancing appeal through this insistence; the listener pays attention to the subtleties present within this grid-music, rather than spacing-out, ready only for the ‘drop’. These fans will be pleased to hear that ‘Symbolic Use of Light’ is no different in its constancy of production. Opener ‘Full 1’ makes use of synth triplets seemingly taken from the Windows ‘error’ sound, looping the same phrase over brief stabs of improvised keys. Improvisation is key to UMFANG’s work, as she states that the record was made mainly in live takes, using only a minimal palette of synths and hardware, prioritising instead a sense of catharsis latent in the normally austere sounds of the genre.

Read the rest of the review in Clash Magazine.

[This piece was originally published on 09/05/17]