ARTIST: Ultra Material
RELEASE: Cosmic Anti Stuff
RELEASE DATE: 29th August 2019
RECORD COMPANY: Black Wire Records
Brisbane-based quartet 'Ultra Material' first tweaked our attention back in 2016 when we reviewed their debut album 'Double Date' and swooned at their beautifully entrancing soundscapes. Permeating different layers of shoegaze, passages of haunting dream-pop, bouncing post-punk and subtle undercurrents of psychedelia, 'Ultra Material' create a modern sound that skirts the outer echelons of quaint experimentation whilst doffing a curt nod to the originators of the shoegaze genre. Their sublime sophomore full length entitled 'Cosmic Anti Stuff' was officially released back on August 29th 2018 via 'Black Wire Records', instantly catapulting it into one of favourite releases of this year. It's available to buy/download right now on various formats from ultramaterial.bandcamp.com
With a twang of repetitive guitar and the luscious pull of reverb the opening bars of ‘Belong’ usher in a steadying air of optimism. It’s not long before we’re catapulted headlong into a wall of charging noise as throbbing bass frequencies meld with aggravated guitars and senses pummelling percussion that's more akin to a cumulative krautrock/modern psych gem than a shoegaze odyssey. The arrival of subtle swells of synth only add to the giddying onslaught before those haunting vocalisations float into audible range and my night is complete! ‘Belong’ is absolutely stunning, a monstrous track and a magnificent opening salvo. Up next, ‘Rhodamine’ rocks on a steady metronomic beat as swirling layers of guitar and synth hover above the throb of cascading bass. Sublime vocals arrive in a cloud of atmospherics as catchy chord structures rise and fall through twinkling runs of keyboard and that hypnotic ‘Ultra Material’ vibe takes hold. There’s something altogether magical tumbling through this track that keeps your attention fixed as you follow the individual instrumental layers, listening as they spiral and flow with ease. ‘Rolodex’ is filled with jangling melody that bounces on top of a humming bass signature and those gliding layers of synth with just enough room for another impressive vocal performance whilst ‘Ivory Curl’ has subtle post-punk connotations hidden in amongst it’s beautifully entrancing clouds of dreaminess.
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‘Discorporate’ arrives strapped to a fizzing guitar progression before layers of glistening synth dipped in reverb pull steadying percussive patterns and catchy instrumental hooks into earshot, wrapping brilliantly around an impressive vocal take and the continuous sting of lead guitar. This track tumbles effortlessly, melding shoegaze with dream-pop and an undercurrent of psychedelia just for kicks. It’s absolutely beautiful and an album highlight for me. ‘Torpor’ is mesmerisingly beautiful. Swirling lines of guitar rise with the swoosh of cymbal noise and slow pull of bass frequencies and that shimmering vocal meanders alongside allowing the hypnotic pull of reverb to carry the entire track. The arrival of a busy percussive pattern shatters the momentary lull before swells of synth bubble up from below the mix to lift the track skywards, carrying this listener along into the tracks final throws. ‘Transfer’ deploys a heavier atmospheric edge as dark frequencies merge with layers of synth and ‘Ultra Material’ dig deep to unfurl their impressive post-punk side. Busy percussion and a big brooding bass lines lay a deep furrow into the mix as reverb drenched guitars jangle and the haunting refrain of the vocals take flight. It’s another impressive track and a definite album highlight.
The albums penultimate piece arrives in a heavy shoegaze drenched cloud as ‘Reduction’ unfurls it’s fuzzy tendrils and charges into the sonic ether on a throbbing bass line and a repetitive flurry of synth. A steady bedrock of percussion keeps things grounded as we jangle through the verse parts before absolutely exploding into those immense chorus progressions, it's immense vocal and that wall of blissful noise. The album close out with something magical. ‘Parachute’ swirls into action on dreamy waves of synth, the throb of bass and the haunting call of vocal. Slow moving and sporadic percussive hits emerge through the glistening haze as duel lines of vocal ricochet of one another and the fizz of sonic frequencies meld with refractions of reverb to create a multitude of hypnotic melodies all funnelled into one magnificent sonic assault. It’s a wonderful ending to what could be my favourite album of 2018 so far.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last five years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, postpunk & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting genres of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.