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Formed in London in 2011, Ultraísta is a multimedia trio founded on a mutual love of Afrobeat, electronic and dance music, visual art, and tequila. Its members are Parisian vocalist/fine artist Laura Bettinson, and multi-instrumentalist/producers Nigel Godrich and Joey Waronker (whose collective resumes read like a guide to groundbreaking and continuously influential modern music).
Top Customer Reviews
"Bad Insect" is both the first track on the album and the lead single promoting the album - it's a good track (one of the best on the album), and it sets the tone musically for the rest of the record. This album was created "from a love of afrobeat, electronic, art and inspired by tequila." This tagline from the band is a pretty apt description of their work - especially apparent here is the influence of electronic and afrobeat. Much of the song Radiohead has been using lately is reproduced here, but in a much more accessible way. "Bad Insect" uses the similar choppy drums and synthesizers that a song like "15 Step" has, but here it isn't used in an alienating way. The music itself serves best as a backdrop for Laura Bettinson's vocals. There are a few moments when the music is especially captivating ("Our Song,") but for the most part, its repetition helps create an atmosphere for the vocals to capitalize on.
The second half of the album seems to focus less on melody in favor for atmosphere, and in these tracks the synthesizers come to life. "Party Line" is able to create walls of sound with a piano and a few looped vocals. Final track "You're Out" and its cascading synthesizers provide a great deal of texture. The first few tracks on Ultraísta's debut are filled with wonder - it feels like the members of the band are excited to be making music together. This feeling is lost as the album goes on, and that sense of wonder is replaced with a more serious sense of introspection.
Ultraísta's debut is best when Bettinson is given center stage to work out her melodies; there are some truly highpoints on this debut, but it still feels often a little sparse. While listening to the album, I couldn't shake the feeling that this was just a side-project of sorts. There is great chemistry between the three musicians, and when their strengths come together, the music can be exceptional, but many points on this album feel like people exploring their own musical directions. Essential tracks to sample/download: "Bad Insect," "Gold Dayzz," and "Our Song." It took a while for this album to warm up to me, but it's definitely worth a purchase for fans of electronic-pop, and if you came here out of curiosity of Nigel Godrich's involvement, go ahead and give it a try!