Trying to pin down Ui’s minimal approach with words is as frustrating as trying to grab a handful of Jello. There’s a certain dedication to the beat, balanced by unusual choices for sound sources. Lifelike projects a live feel without dispensing with meticulous studio work. If you could mix Aphex Twin’s zeal for convoluted subtlety with Medeski Martin and Wood’s instinct for groove, you’d have something that would eventually sound like Ui. The beautiful “Undersided” intertwines two basses in a tangling of melodies and pedal tones, an argument against a backdrop of diverse rhythms that is quickly moderated by a gentle trumpet. “Green of the Melon” mixes an introspective bass line with excitable percussion and a calm and self-assured harmonica.

Lifelike is labyrinthine in scope and complexity. The many elements on here are united with little regard to source, and more concern for effect. Inventive and avant-garde without degenerating into the difficult and abstract, this is an album that evolves into something different with every listen. Southern Records, P.O. Box 577375, Chicago, IL 60657; http://www.southern.com

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