Ultraísta are a trio comprised of Nigel Godrich, known for his ‘super producer’ status with Radiohead, session drummer Joey Waronker (REM, Roger Waters, Elliott Smith) and Laura Bettinson (FEMME, Lau.ra). Godrich and Waronker have also worked together as Atoms For Peace. When they come together as Ultraísta the trio mix afrobeat and electronica. ‘Sister’ is their second album.
Vinyl LP £15.75 PTKF2172-1
LP on Partisan Records.
- Includes download code
CD £7.99 PTKF2172-2
CD on Partisan Records.
'Sister' by Ultraísta is an invigorating and dynamic sophomore album that's full of hectic percussion, afrobeat rhythms, and a monochrome post-punk sensibility. Ultraísta are made up of electropop artist Laura Bettinson, session drummer Joey Waronker, and producer Nigel Godrich. Although I'm unsure how the group divides writing responsibilities, I really like how you can hear the various qualities each member brings to the record. Waronker's inventive and off-kilter drumming anchors Godrich's warm production and muted analogue synthesizers, while Bettinson's dulcet, almost disinterested vocals float ethereally above.
Godrich's abilities as a producer really shine on 'Sister'. In less astute, this record could have sounded over-processed. As it is, there are little quirks and irregularities which means ‘Sister’ feels organic and alive. The backing is the perfect foil for Bettinson whose voice has the same quiet power as Alison Goldfrapp on an album like ‘Seventh Tree’.
I love the single ‘Tin King’. It’s got a ferocious energy and almost disturbs the rest of the album which is much less propulsive. I’m reminded of ‘The Rip’ by Portishead. ‘Bumblebees’ has a marvellously impassive, blank quality, with hushed synthesizer washes and the merest hint of a string section.
It’s a sparse record, never feeling like more than drums, a handful of synths, and vocals (including a few well-placed tape-style loops) but ‘Sister’ alchemises all these perfectly chosen elements into something that's always varied, hugely enjoyable, and occasionally hypnotic.
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