Ultramarine \ Biography
Ultramarine formed around Essex duo Paul Hammond and Ian Cooper in 1989, and issued their debut album Folk on Les Disques du Crépuscule before recording landmark set Every Man and Woman is a Star, released by Rough Trade in 1992. Sometimes dubby, sometimes upbeat, the album met with widespread acclaim and was eulogised by Simon Reynolds in Energy Flash: "All sun-ripened, meandering lassitude and undulant dub-sway tempos, like acid-house suffused with the folky-jazzy ambience of the Canterbury scene."
Every Man and Woman is a Star blends light but infectious rhythms with mellow vibes, recalling lazy afternoons and bright summer seascapes. Largely instrumental, the album nevertheless features lyric snatches from Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt, while on single Stella the found voice speaks to the "deepest part of the soul."
"It isn't really techno music," Ian Cooper told NME. "We use the shape and form of dance music but use different acoustic sounds. It's the sort of stuff which seeps into you."
Subsequent Ultramarine albums include United Kingdoms (1993), Bel Air (1995) and A User's Guide (1998). As well as reissuing Every Man and Woman... in 2002, LTM also released remix album Companion (EMAWIAS Versions), which features a host of re-boots, alternate versions and out-takes.
Ultramarine re-grouped in 2010, performing select live dates before releasing two new singles in 2011. Their return sent Clive Bell of The Wire into raptures of delight: "Fondly remembered by many, Ultramarine released five albums of occasionally exotic electronica, a wistful meeting point of acoustic instruments, synthetic sheen and low-key sample detail. It was music you could enjoy at home without feeling your intelligence was being scorned, or that if you were not physically in a club, you were wasting your time. Ultramarine have released nothing new since 1998, so this single marks a stealthy return to recording following some recent live dates.
"Now bolstered by new technology, Ultramarine renew their engagement with marrying electronic beats and acoustic percussion skills - whether from Africa, Cuba or Brazil - an area recently explored by the likes of Ricardo Villalobos and Carl Craig, who has remixed Ultramarine in the past. Will this have you salivating in anticipation of the group's future work? Possibly - though Ultramarine are far too nice to be associated with anything as vulgar as saliva."
A new album, This Time Last Year, arrived in 2013 on Paul's own boutique imprint Real Soon.
Visit the Ultramarine website: www.ultramarine.uk.com
"Ultramarine have released five albums of occasionally exotic electronica, a wistful meeting point of acoustic instruments, synthetic sheen and low-key sample detail. It's music you can enjoy at home without feeling your intelligence is being scorned, or that if you're not physically in a club, you are wasting your time" (The Wire, 2011)