“Ungirthed” is, at first, a frustrating song. You sense the phantom of a hook-filled, multiply climaxing dance-floor packer lurking just behind it. But this phantom is not allowed to break through.
At various points it nearly does – only to be quickly obliterated by the lurching and halting fact of the matter. Irregular percussion and dub-steppy breaks make this intriguing beast a challenge to move to – a hopeless case for the kinesthetically ungifted.
The song presents an equally aberrant array of sonic voices – all but one of them electronically produced or warped to reach eerily inhuman highs and lows. Meanwhile our human voice, pretty and unassuming, chirps out peculiarly well-crafted repeating phrases that, in the tradition of Gertrude Stein (who probably would have swooned over the non-word comprising the song’s title,) are collections of sounds more than of words.
But these details only come into focus after many listens – once the phantom single that this song might have been has been expelled. Prior to that, other, less becoming considerations take the fore – for instance, that the track feels something like a digital file missing chunks of data which, rather than being properly filled in, are simply removed, condensing the song into itself like an accordion.
An accompanying music video (above, NSFW) is visually analogous, and a helpful tool for understanding the song on its own terms – not on those of the phantom. It shows a woman who, it appears, is dancing. However, the video is sped up and spliced up into oblivion, and thus we are denied access to the graceful, embodied flow that we presume is there. We can either try and mentally reconstruct it from the pieces or take the fragmented movements that we are given.
It is also significant that her nakedness fluctuates throughout the video, making for a frantic, temporally disjointed strip tease that, like the song, delivers flashes of the goods without indulging us in the full-on pornography (that climactic final chorus that doesn’t exist) that we are hoping for.
The song ends abruptly after a short second chorus, leaving us terribly unsatisfied and on our knees, begging for more.
Listen to “Ungirthed” here on Purity Ring’s website.
There is very little information out there about this band, but I am allowing myself to have high hopes.
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