As leader of the seapunk movement, Ultrademon aka Albert Redwine aka Fire for Effect based in Chicago releases his first full length album under Fire For Effect Records (a subsidiary of Rephlex Records, started by Aphex Twin). Also a Midnight Shift artist and owner of his own label Coral Records Internazionale, Ultrademon has been stirring controversy and commotion with names like Rihanna and Azealia Banks thrown in the mix. The crux of it is how seapunk has been co-opted and commercialised by the music industry without giving props to its proper founders: Ultrademon and his sidekick, Zombelle.
For more on the seapunk wave, you can refer to articles written here, here and here, and the H∆SHTAG$ video series by Red Bull Music Academy. But for now, let's dive into the music.
This album, from start to finish, is quite a ride with lots of fun. On first listen, its unabashed youthful energy and apparently short attention span might put off the serious, high-brow listener, but give it a chance to refresh your senses and let you get acquainted with an entirely imaginary world.
The album has a mix of energetic numbers such as 'Dolphin', 'The Bayou' and 'Bahrain' and more pensive tracks such as 'Rare', 'Dreamo' and 'Post Solstice'. Like the deep blue sea that can be tumultuous in a storm or calm before one, this album flows well like a DJ mix. While some artists prefer to cover and mask their inspirations, Ultrademon is unafraid to show in full technicolour what he is influenced by: the sea, dolphins, 8-bit, computer games and acid. This album is afterall an amalgamated expression of who he is and what he stands for; an uniquely hybrid product borne out of modern living in a virtual world.
The first track, the self-referential 'Chatroom with Enya', puts the entire album in the author's context. Directly addressing the seapunk genre, chatroom style, it marries cheeky vocal drops with a bass house formula, soaring to a sweet climax before falling back in line.
The next wave is followed seamlessly by 'Rare', reminiscent of deep house but rescued by Ultrademon's distinctive bloopy beats. Next, 'Dreamo' goes deeper still into the chillout realm, with decaying soaring synths taking one to somewhere lost at sea.
One of the more unique tracks in storytelling is 'Bayou'. Changing its beat structure several times over the track and with an overly emotive synth sounding like dolphins crying, it manages to pull the heart strings and keep the mental faculty entertained with a simple vocal chop going: "What can I say?"
'Post Solstice' is an all-out epic number that would not be out of place at sunrise, or used in a car commercial. The layered melodies playing out over and on top each other repeatedly is even breathtaking. Admittedly, 'Post Solstice', the height of the album, may be my favourite track here.
After this middle repose, the album leaps into frenetic footwork, dubstep territory, with tracks like 'Bahrain' and 'Spun' as standouts. The former with its big room house leanings and the latter for its well-executed melodic computer game samples. The finale '1996' brings the album to its rightful closure, showcasing Ultrademon's knack at pulling together various influences from RnB to trap into a coherent whole.
Emotive, self-referential, fun and undeniably talented, this album should not be cast away. Outwardly colorful packaging and distractive sideshows aside, careful listening and deeper digging reveal a sensitive artist wanting to be heard and make a difference.
01. Chatroom With Enya
05. From Birth
06. The Bayou
07. Post Solstice
08. Yr Own Personal Demon
12. Beached Marauder
Listen to Midnight Shift Podcast 009:Ultrademon or read his exclusive interview here