Thursday, June 17, 2010

And more..

"Technically, Ultra chose Roman Holiday as the title for their 1997 album first but it makes sense to see this reissued, along with a huge chunk of material from 7-inches and a 7-inch of unreleased material, at a time when there is another Roman Holiday floating around—is this a sign of our continued descent into Roman style cultural decadence?—and the world’s tolerance for unsavory yet alluring noise-cum-rock records is at an all time high. Bring on the women issues wrapped in noise! All joking aside, this is a great record that avoids completely falling into so many of those trite and sometimes jokey power electronics tropes while still being disquieting and vicious. If you like those tropes though, and sometimes I really do, they are here. After all, there is a whole song, “Letter of Introduction,” about tight orifices, ejaculation and violence. There are two things which are immediately appealing to me about Ultra’s Roman Holiday. First, Ultra uses a variety of methods to express, as per the reissue insert, each track’s “disturbingly prickly quality.” There are piano-based and synth instrumental tracks which are unforgiving and dour. Sometimes they are paired with vocals, like on the industrial chill of “Wad” and “Perfect Pitch and Manchester United.” Simply, the whole thing is very eerie and disturbing and worthy of hours spent examining each track. The ambient tracks are often more troubling than the straightforward power electronics songs and thankfully the second LP of this reissue is composed almost entirely of them. The more straightforward tracks, like “New Centurion,” the aforementioned “Letter of Introduction,” and Ultra’s cover of “I Can’t Stand a Bitchy Chick,” with lyrics like “You bitch…you won’t survive my fury…male dominant, that’s the way I like it,” launch into deranged rants with a wall of noise behind it. Lesson learned: malevolence does not come in a single form. Second, Ultra’s frankness about the content of its music and its effect on listeners is interesting to someone like me…you know, a little white girl. The insert to the reissue, written of Tyler Davis of the Ajna Offensive, features this top notch line, “I’m sure there are a few women who might find this titillating, but not as many as the men who will get off.” If a band is going to run around preaching a masculinist discourse, let’s all acknowledge it and admit that yeah, some dudes are probably going to jerk it to this record. Are we embracing the perverts or critiquing them, and when Ultra makes such striking and disconcerting music, does it even matter?"-Jamie Johns/Fader Magazine


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