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Ultramarine – Acid review

Even in the era of looking backwards to move forwards, Ultramarine are not one of the most familiar names, one of the forgotten gems of 90s UK house. The post-punk, live band approach Ian Cooper and Paul Hammond took to house music earned them quiet reverence amongst more switched on listeners from the early 90s, while the Real Soon label they curate has always stood strong as a bastion of the highest quality 4/4.

Thank your lucky stars for the switched on ears of Bob Bhamra, as he snaps up the newly invigorated duo for a release on his ever-strong WNCL imprint. From the offset it’s clear why the West Norwood Cassette Library man would be feeling these tracks, as the quirky strains of “Acid” bubble into action.

Aqueous flecks of synth and a lean broken beat provide the crust to a molten 303 filling. The title obviously indicates the order of the day, but this really is a worthy excursion into that most well-worn of dance tropes. Rarely has that resonance tweaked sound come on so expressive and fluid as it oozes in amidst the laid back funk of the track.

“Butch” meanwhile goes further out into the otherworldly realms that Ultramarine inhabit. The 303 is back again, in a more perfunctory role alongside all manner of sci-fi bleeps and squeaks. The beats are hardly present at all, and yet everything moves with such force it would be hard to fit any more rhythm in there. The end result is a kind of classic techno approach, sporting a wide-eyed fascination with the freaky noises and transcendental moods that incessant hardware tweaking can bring.

Oli Warwick