Ultramarine Biography

London-based duo Ian Cooper and Paul Hammond. Began life in 1989 initially inspired by early UK House music and long-standing schoolboy crushes on the white funk of A Certain Ratio, 23 Skidoo and Cabaret Voltaire. Their early releases were issued on the seminal Brussels-based label Les Disques du Crépuscule and shortly afterwards by Brainiak Records, a label closely affiliated to The Brain club (an early purveyor of regular House music nights in Soho, London). Their debut album Folk was issued by Crépuscule in 1990 but the group are better known for their classic second album Every Man And Woman Is A Star, initially released on Brainiak in 1991 and given a wider audience with the release of an expanded version on Rough Trade (UK) in 1992; neatly described by Simon Reynolds in his book Energy Flash as:

Perhaps the first and best stab at that seeming contradiction-in-terms, pastoral techno... all sun-ripened, meandering lassitude and undulant dub-sway tempos... like acid-house suffused with the folky-jazzy ambience of the Canterbury scene.

Live appearances included a US tour in 1992 with Meat Beat Manifesto and Orbital and a US/European tour in 1993 supporting Björk. The group's collaborative work included a songwriting & recording partnership with Robert Wyatt, recordings with Kevin Ayers and David McAlmont plus numerous live and studio sessions with members of the London jazz scene, including Lol Coxhill, Iain Ballamy, Elton Dean, Dave Green, Roger Beaujolais, Greg Heath and Jimmy Hastings.

Every Man And Woman Is A Star was followed by the albums United Kingdoms (1993) and Bel Air (1995) – both released on Blanco Y Negro (UK) - and A User's Guide (1998) on New Electronica. LTM Publishing (Les Temps Modernes) released Companion (Every Man And Woman Is A Star Versions) (2003), a collection of remixes and alternative versions from the group’s early-90s period, and reissued A User's Guide (2005). In 2011, Ultramarine broke a 13-year silence with two new singles, Find A Way and Acid / Butch.

Before releasing material as a duo under the name Ultramarine, Cooper and Hammond were members of A Primary Industry, a band that can be considered Ultramarine's direct precursor. API consisted of five members including Jemma Mellerio, the vocalist on Ultramarine's first album Folk. API released an album on Sweatbox in 1986 titled Ultramarine. Despite being quite industrial in style, there are more than a few resemblances to Folk. Ultramarine's EP Wyndham Lewis, released in 1989 on Les Disques du Crépuscule, was originally intended for release as A Primary Industry on Sweatbox in 1988 but before this could happen the label went bankrupt and shortly after Ultramarine's story started on Crépuscule.

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