1. umami theme
3. shawerma ramble
4. day (solresol)
5. 676 steps
6. mesmer’s monkey
8. spooky strut (evp)
9. bahia sloth
10. tunguska blues
11. moonroof ride
12. mormyrid bubble
13. strowger running
“At first, it seems the most amazing thing about Umami is its sound. The album’s packaging is about as homemade as you can get, and its recording and production were done in a home studio, so it should be a foregone conclusion that Umami will sound, at best, amateurish.
Apparently no one took the time to pass this message along to Rob DeNunzio — or if he was informed, he seems to have completely disregarded the notice. Rather than being buried under layers of sludge (a fatal flaw for most albums, and for electronic music in particular), Umami’s sound is clear and crisp, rivaling the work of established artists with loads more money and the best technology that money can buy.
As countless major label acts have proven over the years, good production means nothing if it serves only to reveal an album’s utter lack of inspiration. Such is not the case with Umami. Each listen reveals new layers of sound, suggesting that DeNunzio is one of those rare talents who can squeeze top-notch sounds out of low-end equipment. For example, take album opener “Umami Theme”, which crackles with the burgeoning energy of an orchestra warming up. Modern technology certainly allows bedroom producers to sound like they’re working with a lot more than they actually have, but you can’t download extra inspiration. DeNunzio has it in spades; it’s hard to listen to “Umami Theme” and not be impressed with the sheer expansive scale of its sound.
The music is insidious; each song hooks you with an intriguing introduction, then reels you into its luxuriantly rich soundscape. There’s the jazzy “Mudluscious”, the Middle Eastern-tinged duo of “676 Steps” and “Mesmer’s Monkey”, the creepy vibe of “Spooky Strut (EVP)”; in each case, DeNunzio quickly creates specific, compelling ambience, and the listener is powerless to resist its charms.
Umami is engaging, intimate and danceable, and will sound as good on your home stereo as on a booming nightclub sound system. In fact, once larger audiences discover Umami, DeNunzio will undoubtedly find his way into the electronic music mainstream. Here’s hoping that he retains his inventive edge long after his “no-budget” days are over.”
— Matthew Pollesel, Splendid Magazine