Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The return of Ultra Naté: Grime, Silk & Thunder

Okay, I know this is a bit of a detour from what I usually post (there will be more classic disco very very soon, I promise) but I have to say right now that I'm totally in love with some of Ultra Naté's latest stuff. Ever since I was turned on to her "Situation: Critical" (1998, Strictly Rhythm) album six years back, she's been one of my favourite and certainly one of the most consistently satisfying artists working in dance music today. In between now and her last album, she's given birth to a son, added 'house DJ' to her resumé and put together a new album, which is definitely one of my most anticipated releases of the year.. One of the things that I loved about her past work is how quite a bit of it beautifully referenced classic disco, often with Chic-inspired guitarwork and elegant string arrangements capturing the feel of disco in the most classy, genuine sort of way without sounding the least bit dated.. "Incredibly You" off "One Woman's Insanity" (1993, Warner Bros.), "New Kind of Medicine" off "Situation: Critical" as well as "Pretender" and "Dear John" (which featured an El Coco sample) from her last one, "Stranger Than Fiction" (2000, Strictly Rhythm) are a few that come to mind. Though judging from "Love's The Only Drug," the first single (produced by Eric Kupper, Brian Pope and Ultra herself) off her upcoming album, she'll be taking things to a whole new level on the upcoming record.. The whole electro-disco vibe, especially that jagged, robotic Moroder-esque pulse totally sold me when I first heard it, not to mention the video as well..

Ultra Naté - Love's The Only Drug
Uploaded by becstupak

Love the retro touches with the glistening soft focus shots and those multiplying effects.. Much like the track, the video makes some choice disco/retro references, yet does it in such a way that is fresh and visually stunning.. It's a long way from what was evidently the original cut of the video, which somehow reminded me of low-budget amateur porn.. Perhaps that was the aesthetic they were originally going for but either way, unlike this newer version, the original seemed totally mismatched for the track..

I also have to say, I thought that little reference in the lyrics: "you and me, high on ecstasy" was just perfect on this track..

Another track that's supposed to be on the album is "Freak On," her 2005 single with Stonebridge (who also mixed her upcoming record). This one originally appeared on his "Can't Get Enough" (2004, Hed Kandi) album and was one of a few excellent singles that came off that record. Love the glossy synths on this one..

Stonebridge (feat. Ultra Naté) - Freak On
Uploaded by goalgappa

Apparently the next single, a cover of the Pointer Sisters' classic "Automatic" has already hit the clubs and is currently climbing up the Billboard dance charts (see Wikipedia).. I just found the full video on YouTube, which for the life of me, I just can't stop playing.. I must admit, I was initially skeptical of this cover version, but both the track and the video (directed by Karl Giant) totally hit the mark. Harder, bolder, and sexier than the first single, it's almost if not just as good as the Pointers' original.

Just to be on the safe side and 'cause other bloggers have posted similar warnings, this video is probably NSFW... But whatever though, it's on YouTube so it's not like you'll actually be seeing any naughty bits or anything..

Ultra Naté - Automatic
Uploaded by karlGiant

If any of these tracks are anything to go by, and if the official press release is to be believed, and I quote: "from club bangers and soulful house, to electro-boogie to pop gems and hybrid-disco," this is gonna be like a musical wet dream come true.. The upcoming album, "Grime, Silk & Thunder" is due to be released May 22nd in the US on Tommy Boy's Silver Label imprint.. Can't wait!






Eric Henderson said...

That "Automatic" video starts out like the quintessential gay bar video (really hot guy(s), I admit) ... until the blow up doll shows up and it turns into a NIN video directed by Dave Meyers.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the blow-up doll costume totally makes the video... On a related note, I just saw sketch comedy troupe The Nellie Olesons perform here in L.A. last weekend. One of their bits is a guy in drag performing a coreographed, lip-synched number to the Pointer Sisters' orignal version--as a contestant in a teen beauty pageant. Brilliant (even without the blow-up doll).

Tommy said...

Yeah, that Blow-up doll totally threw me for me for a loop. I was a bit far away, standing up dancing my ass off when I saw that.. For a second there I thought Amanda LePore was making a cameo.. Definitely the best part of the video (along with those hot men, of course ;) )

That drag performance sounds like a hoot, Enrique! After reading that, I feel like looking for the original video now..

Anonymous said...

Wow, I too can't stop playing it. It's a very "catchy" choon, and the artist is perfect for it. Karl Giant really knows how to put it together. I am sure this will do the rounds in the clubs and video bars. She's got perfect vocals for the song!. Well done!

keepondancing said...

Wauw, great vids...anyone know the name of that bearded guy?? He looks a bit like that pornmodel, forgot his name... Totally>>>:P:P:P:P:P

Anonymous said...

Two things:

1.I couldn't figure out what was putting me off about Ultra Nate's "Love's the Only Drug" video until I closed my eyes while listening. Musically it's all Grace Jones metal and leatherette, but visually Gloria Gaynor sequins and camellias. They could have gone a little edgier with the styling and art direction to better compliment the feel of the song, no?

2.I have worked with Karl Giant and he is a mad genius! His characteristic crazy huge eyelashes and twisted sense of humour are in full effect in this video (I'm a bit surprised Ultra's nurse character wasn't rocking an eyepatch as well). Can't wait to see more from him as a photographer and video director.

Tommy said...

Thanks for the comments dave v, 1dude and anonymous.

dave, I'm glad I'm not the only one who can't stop playing it hehe.. I'm not too well versed on the technical stuff, but I love how the editing on that video is just so sharp and on point..

1dude, I wish I knew who that guy was, too hehe.. He reminds me of Johnny Hazzard, although I'm sure it's not him..

Anon, I get what you mean about "Love Is The Only Drug." An edgier presentation would have probably suited the track a little bit better, that would have been the obvious direction in my mind, too.. A little less Gloria Gaynor and more Grace Jones, as you say.. Though I have to say, speaking for myself, the contrast in the video between that soft, seventies-style glamour and the hard beats and delivery is one of the the things that makes this one interesting for me..

I'm with you on your second point. I wish I knew more about this guy. After seeing what Karl Giant did with the 'Automatic' video and with some of Ultra's new photos, I too can't wait to see more of his work.. Certainly sounds like a name to watch for in any case.

Kenneth H said...

I love what she's done to Automatic, sounds like a totally different song. I've always liked Ulra Nate although I don't have any CDs by her, but her new one I'll definitely get.

Mike said...

I love Ultra Nate and can't wait for the album. The video for "Automatic" is just too hot! I needed a cigarette and a lie down after watching it!

Tommy said...

Hey Kenneth! I can't get enough of it, myself hehe.. If you ever plan on getting any of Ultra's older stuff, I highly recommend her last two albums: "Situation: Critical" and "Stranger Than Fiction." Both excellent albums all the way through..

trash addict: LOL.. I know what you mean.. BTW, I love your profile pic! Checking emails in her fur coat.. Classic Holidannii! lol

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