This album is a masterpiece.
I wish I could just leave it at that, but for the sake of a "review," I will elaborate a little. For those who don't know, Ulaan Khol is a name which Steven R. Smith has been working under to craft dense psych-rock and drone music for the past couple years. This album is the third part of series of albums released by Soft Abuse. Unfortunately, I haven't heard the previous two (this will soon be reconciled, I assure you), so I can only comment on this final installation.
What Smith has created with "III" is a multidimensional approach to experimental psych-rock that goes far beyond any sort of cliche that the genre might bring up in your mind. Sure, there are nods to some of the greats, but what is presented here easily rests on its own merits. Smith displays multiple strengths on this disc: an acute attention to texture, a delightful ear for melody, the ability to bombastically wail when needed, and the wisdom to balance all these elements into a seamless whole.
Throughout this instrumental disc, Smith uses his strengths to great avail. He comes through as an artist who is self-assured in his vision. Every move he makes seems organic and complete. Though the disc wanders through both introverted drones and raucous freak-outs, Smith always maintains a feeling of balance which is tied in with his vision. The cover drawing and inner photograph are a good indication of the hues of the album—deep blues and oranges representing both ecstatic and subdued moods, each emerging from a hidden inner world. This is album of the year material to be sure. If you haven't dived into the world of Ulaan Khol, I'd invite you to take a dip to test the water. 10/10 -- Charles Franklin (18 August, 2010)