If Ladytron decided that a melodic dance off into despair could be truly groovy.
I discovered Ultraísta’s debut album in a very random way. When I had the time, I’d go through ‘new releases this week’ on Amazon and start at the back and pick out unusual band names or cover art. I’ve only ever done this a few times but it is how I discovered both Ultraísta and Son Lux on debut.
Everywhere online I see Ultraísta described as alternative rock but I beg to differ. The beauty of their music, which covers across in every song on their second album ‘Sister’, is in the way they fuse beats and synth chord progressions to continually circle around effortlessly and madly. Take the track ‘Harmony’ for example. The beats evoke Lamb as they come from a mixture of organic drums and samples. Then psychedelic keyboards dribble in and smudge over the thick bass line. By the time the vocals are in you are primed for a trance-like experience. The song wraps around you and feels slinky and sleek to move to and then towards the end you’ll find hooks repeating over and over as chords patterns slide around you at pace. Ultraísta are the kings and queens of being able to get you lost in a blurred kaleidoscope of groove and sound. It’s unlike any other band I’ve come across.
This type of mood is found in every single track. ‘Anybody’ has a dramatic string arrangement that forms the backbone of the onward thrust. Then as the synths buzz into an offkey blur, Laura’s vocals skit and bobble about sounding effortlessly cool and flexible. Even slower tracks like ‘Save It Til Later’, ‘Mariella’ and the gorgeous closer ‘The Moon and Mercury’ have an endless pulse and pliability to them. For me, Ultraísta is where electronica meets psychedelia.
Fans of their debut will lap up tracks like ‘Ordinary Boy’ and the frantic opener ‘Tin King’ as they could be placed on either album. In fact, with eight years between albums, you’d be surprised at how closely aligned the two albums are. However, the trio does push away to more bass-led jams with ‘Water in My Veins’ which takes a nod at some of the exciting new jazz talents we’ve seen over the last few years. ‘Bumblebees’ also evokes a little bit of Venus Hum’s dramatic album tracks too. It also showcases that they could easily incorporate a symphonic element in the future if they wanted to.
I’ve purposely gushed about ‘Sister’ without really explaining more than the feeling that the album gives me. Ultraísta had us wait many years for their follow up and its an absolute triumph. It is so rare that a full album is able to make me feel like lost in both the groove and the melody. The way things spiral around in the song structure makes each piece flow effortlessly and the craftsmanship of all three make each bar as smooth as silk. If you want to take a chance on a new electronica band for yourself in 2020 – make it Ultraísta.
Recommended track: Ordinary Boy
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