Alas, the ubiquitous Ultra imprint finally makes its way out of the cheeseball trance clubs of South Beach and takes its everlasting beat-fest to darker, sexier surroundings.
While critics and hipsters alike sounded the death knell for electroclash years ago, Ultra — yes, a little late to the game — still believes it’s a medium with legs that can withstand the 15-minutes stigma and fallout. Surprisingly, they’re right.
Though the label has a predilection for more mainstream fare, Ultra Electro features a surprising number of remixes from familiar names and a bevy of underground electro floor-burners — both nicely split up into two discs here. Side A is a solid compendium of techno-lusting, retro-biting re-works, including the always-on Jacques Lu Cont’s revved-up take on Depeche Mode’s “A Pain That I’m Used To,” Jagz Kooner’s sweaty, strobe-light upheaval of Ladytron’s “Sugar” and DFA’s (obligatory) cowbell-flecked rave-up of N.E.R.D.’s “She Wants to Move.”
In an era where iPods are making DJs out of bedroom idealists, Ultra enlisted the mixing services of its own A&R director David Waxman, a renowned national DJ himself who couldn’t have a more appropriate name for this compilation. Plundering his crates and utilizing his tastemaking abilities, Waxman provides a hefty blend of what’s current, both in a megalopolis like Crobar and in the teeming backrooms of NYC downtown dives. Side B offers much of the latter, as deeper, more urgent, more aggro electro-funk and new-wave is presented by the likes of Armand Van Helden, Mylo and others.
While it’s usually this writer’s MO to ignore Ultra compilations at a record store, this fine mix proves to me that the label shouldn’t be fully discounted. In effect, it’s also proved — as well as it should to the millions of hiptards who’ve turned their back on such music — that electro has overcome the silly “electroclash” tag, thriving well beyond its purported shelf life and still indulging our tastes for retro.
Ultra Records: www.ultrarecords.com