The French Ultimae label produces high gloss electronic music and high gloss packaging, with sounds that head into deep ambient space.
Echoes listeners will hear an interview with Aes Dana and Solar Fields a.k.a. Vincent Villuis and Magnus Birgesson on Monday, July 14. They produce a brand of ambient music that has its roots in the 1970s space music made by Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Jean-Michel Jarre. Unlike many artists that fit that description, Aes Dana and Solar Fields aren’t making retro-space music that sounds like it could’ve been synthesized 30 years ago, about the time they were all toddlers. Instead, their music is suffused with contemporary electronica, laptop composing and glitch edges.
They all record for the Ultimae label, run by Villuis and his wife, Sandrine Gryson, also known as Sunny, Sunbeam and when she DJ’s, Mahiane. They’ve got a lot of CDs out. Here’s a few I’d recommend.
Memory Shell is the latest full-length disc from Aes Dana and it’s a nonstop journey of down-tempo kinetic grooves that moves as relentlessly as a train while environmental sounds, undulating synth pads and pulsing bass-lines carry you through these imaginary landscapes.
I’d also recommend Season 5, an enveloping journey with a mix of dark, stalking rhythms that suggest danger around every corner even as they propel you towards it, and bright, major key pads and melodic shards that reveal the wonders beyond.
Solar Fields can create totally free-floating ambient music as he did on Extended or head into dancey, techno terrain, which he does on Earth Shine, a new CD of pure techno trance. But he’s best when he poises himself between the two poles. Solar Field’s earlier music, heard on Blue Moon Station and Reflective Frequencies actually sounds like recent Ulrich Schnauss, with haunting, major key synth pads and sounds run through the electro-distortion mill. But for starters, I’d head to his most recent album, Leaving Home. Leaving Home is more melodic, less dissonant and songs like “Time Slide” are almost heroic, with organic touches like the vina and acoustic guitar.
This is a collaboration between Aes Dana and Solar Fields. It merges both sides of these artists with Aes Dana’s laptop sound design mixed with Solar Field’s more organic, hands on approach. On their only album to date, Distances, they work, slow, ominous grooves on “Rain Geometries” and “Symmetric Lifes” and head into the electronic swamps on “Time Circles.”
They’ve released 6 albums in the Fahrenheit Project series, anthologies with all original music that defines the contours of Ultimae’s down-tempo ambient space approach. Part Five might be the best one to leap into with great tracks from Jaia, Cell and Carbon Based Lifeforms.
For the complete Ultimae experience, go to their website.