Yes, pure is the most overused word of all time, but there’s something just solidly, reliably, pure about Ultra Material. They’re terrific musicians and good people. They also have lots of other shit going on, so they can make consistently interesting and beautiful music and play the occasional great show around Brisbane without burning out or getting bored.
‘Borderline’, off their latest EP II, is about the poppiest song they’ve released to date. It’s less meandering and abstract, with more catchy vocal melodies and forward motion. They’ve embraced that ‘dream pop’ label bands have to take on so they can lose the ‘shoegaze’ baggage and made something that’s … dreamy and poppy. Vocalist / bassist Sarah Deasy is letting her vocals come through, without being drowned in effects. It’s a great move; while having a classically ‘good’ voice can sometimes be seen as a detriment to this kind of music, her singing is darkly lovely and resonant, elevating the whole song.
Almost everyone in this band is some kind of accomplished artist or designer in their real life, so you know they’re not going to slack off on a walking down Brunswick street eating a pie music video. Enter the queen of green screen Helena Papageorgiou, the Brisbane director who made, among others, this delightful video for Dag late last year (go watch it if you haven’t already, I’ll wait).
While the look for that clip was weird and ramshackle, this one is all moody cool, moving fast to keep up with Matt Deasy’s impeccable drumming. Patterns and silhouettes, neon colours and constellations fly by the surface of the moon and anime-style waves. Though Papageorgiou knows where to linger – like on the X-Files-y ending and the coolest use of dogs in space since 1986.
You can find this song and lots of other winners on II. If you buy a physical copy of the cassette if comes in a beautiful case with a fold-out poster design by keyboard player Zuzana Kovar, printed by Matt Deasy at his screenprinting company no. 7 Print House (I told you they were arty). People come and go, but objects are forever.