MODUS PONY “Ulterior Frequencies” (Strategic Tape Reserve)


I wonder, when it comes down to it, how much of anything we say to one another, including the stories we tell, is real. ModuS ponY came into possession of a mysterious notebook, filled with all kinds of things: grocery lists, Spanish lessons, weird poetry … musical ideas. ModuS ponY tracked down the compiler of the notebook, a man named “Richard Something” (obviously fake), and got handed a bunch of tales of the “fractured 1970’s avant-garde scene in and around Los Angeles.” Turns out Richard Something is a bit of an unappreciated genius, so much so that people took his ideas and built careers based on them … or, uh something like that. Also, he took these people to court. And unequivocally lost every case.
ModuS ponY, perhaps sensing that he was pretty much in the clear legally (beyond his legal losses, Something seems to be the kind of “bullshit” peddler we should all be wary of), decided to create some of the musical ideas discussed in the pages of the notebook – well, he was at least inspired by them. Whether the stories were true or not, they were good, and moduS ponY wasn’t about to waste a good freak-pop jam sesh. So he hunkered down and cranked out Ulterior Frequencies, a paean to the heady days of LA art experimentalism. It’s a sneaky noir document shot through with German science jazz, proggy but not indulgent, cinematic but not incidental. As is the moduS ponY way, he’s able to stick with the concept throughout the tape’s entirety, punctuating the tunes with snippets of conversation here and there – samples from Hollywood’s freaky age? Maybe.
Can’t exactly be sure what moduS ponY is telling us. What if he even made Richard Something up, or even – gasp! – the notebook itself? The good news is that it probably doesn’t matter, because your enjoyment of Ulterior Frequencies does not depend on things like “accuracy” or “truth.” It does depend on moduS ponY’s compositional skill, and in this we have no doubt. He is able to spin yarns and tall tales of the city and the night, of characters of ranging nefariousness, of scenes where ideas germinate and bloom, no matter how sideways or unnaturally. Beneath it all beats the heart of a weirdo, keeping an eye out for other weirdos. Weirdos like you and me.