Album Review: Ultraista – Ultraista

The De Mello Rating: 

I am no fan of the electronic music movement. It is one of vices I suppose, my narrow mindedness toward a movement that in recent years has picked up steam. I was a big fan of hip-hop when it was still relevant and spoke to the conditions within the African American community instead of just bling. If this makes me old fashioned or just plain old then so be it I accept my lot in life. However, I have heard a new album by a new band comprised of Nigel Goodrich, Joey Waronker, and artist Laura Bettinson.

The band is Ultraista and the debut album is a self-titled gem. It is ambient and beautifully constructed. It reminds me of Isao Tomita’s debut Snowflakes are Dancing a take on Debussey’s “tone paintings”. Tomita, long considered the father of electronic music, would be proud of this brilliantly composed album that feels like a dreamscape. For one of the first times in my life I completely consumed by an album.

There is a subtlety to Bettinson’s vocals where she doesn’t overreach trying to hit some impossible notes, merely blending into the sound of the music. Nowhere is this more evident than in “Our Song” where her airy voice seems to merely float along as the drums beat almost out of time and the synthesized sounds motor through. It is spacey and innovative and musically precise. It hits at all the right times and never shoots too high in terms of trying to be overpowering. In two words this ambient album is exactly what it sets out to be: ambiently perfect.

Best Song: Small Talk – This is the symbol of everything I’ve said about this album here. It is ambient, beautiful and really showcases Bettinson’s amazing voice.


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