| All The Darkness Has Gone To Details | Ultre
Time: December 06
Media: CD & Digital Download
Info: The Ultre debut release presents structured
musical pieces utilising piano, guitar, home made
instruments and electronics. Elegant, delicate,
complex, organic, bold, charming, melancholy,
nervous, or violent….
Artist website: http://www.ultre.co.uk/
|ABOUT | Ultre
Ultre is Finn McNicholas, a 24-year-old musician from
Northern England who started his musical career
performing in “loud bands” in the independent music
scene. His evolving interest in sound design and
composition spawned an obsession for creating solo
computer compositions with the hope of becoming a
film composer. Computer animation, graphic design
and digital media proved to offer a complimentary
avenue for artistic expression.
Over a period of ten years, Finn has progressed
playing home made instruments hewn from metal and
wire, composing music for TV, PSP, short film and
performing audiovisual shows throughout Europe.
Ultre has already made an impact on the live circuit
playing his energised and beautiful sets with the likes
of (Chris) Clark, Tim Exile, Freeform, Carsten Nicolai
and Max Tundra. He has performed live visuals
alongside Squarepusher, Aphex Twin and Plaid with
Flat-e. Finn's animation work is used as a part of the
on going Warp works & 20th Century composers tour
which has reached Europe's most prestigious venues.
Talking about his music Finn comments “I think the
music I make is very honest. I have limitations in all
instruments and this shapes my music, the struggle to
hold down playing or the struggle to keep up with my
ideas. This transfers into the making of my own
stringed instrument, which I have now played live for
about 3 years. Its like a huge metal bow and arrow
and is painful to play. The first performance I did with
this (my first solo performance ever) was in the foyer
of the V&A museum and moments into sound check
(as if I wasn't nervous enough) the BBC news crew
began filming” . Finn's instrument features on tracks 1,
3, 5, 9, 10 & 12.
|PROMO VIDEO | Ultre
|REVIEWS | All The Darkness Has Gone To Details
The animation work of Finn McNicholas - aka Ultre - has been used on Warp's Works & 20th Century
Composers tour, and Warp's influence is certainly in evidence in the rhythmic chassis of All the Darkness,
with its intemperate bursts of squalid rhythm counterpointed by more placid sequences. However, what
lends the album its individuality is his use of instruments made from metal and wire, as well as slightly
bashed-about acoustic instruments such as the untuned piano that weaves unsteadily through "Nobodies
Favourite". There's a nice contrast between the conventionally sleek, futuristic aura of the electronic
components of these pieces and a bustling, clankier DIY element suggestive of creaky doors and busy
Ultre's Finn McNicholas has composed music for games and TV and performed alongside Aphex Twin and
Squarepusher. He takes acoustic sounds into the computer domain and, basically, fucks with them for some
often stunning results. Within this collection of tracks there are gentle riffs, harsher beats, some ambient noise
(in the true sense) and plenty of treated strings adding to the overall mood. It is, at times, a little unsettling but
also quite mesmerising. At only 24 years of age he demonstrates a remarkable understanding of production
and composition and I would have said ‘this lad will go far' if he hadn't already…
This gently brooding debut from sound/visual artist Ultre is a release from the roster of Sheffield-based
Audiobulb Records. Across twelve tracks, Finn McNicholas mixes the violin, piano and guitar with delicate
electronic blips and clicks. It's an elegant combination of organic (the piano has a well-loved, slightly out of
tune timbre) and digital. The astoundingly complex production - even the panning is fastidious - can only be
the result of insomnia. Film composition, jazz progressions and even classical music are all subtle influences.
'Pictures of Piano Notes:' is based on a Romantic piano riff, and we're talking Schumann, not Milk Tray.
Such 'exploratory electronics' (Audiobulb's description) are not for the impatient, but All The Darkness's
experimental ambience has an accessible beauty that might appeal to Mogwai fans. Well, Mogwai fans who
can cope without the rock influences.
Ultre is Finn McNicholas, a 24-year-old musician from Barnsley (UK) whose attention to detail has summoned
the interest of Audiobulb Records . His debut album possesses an immediately well-defined style and confidence
based upon a series of tracks with well-composed melodic, percussive and structural design. Acoustic piano
motifs abound from the beginning as “Pictures Of Piano Notes” progresses across triplets of notes and
crescendos of violin. Whilst the sound palette is distinctly within a modern compositional mode the percussive
elements skitter and roll with a distinct Asian/IDM hybrid force. Ultre works an engaging mix throughout this
album without falter. Track after track of developing melody and rhythmic wanderings produce a steady and
mature narrative. Powerful details emerge through the evolving guitar of “Massive Things In Tiny Hands” that
builds and flows with seamless joy. 'Bricolage“‘s skittering rhythms present a contrast to the stilled ambience
of the textural pads, each wave of percussion rolling like a bongo and tabla piece from classical India. “Phrotos”
presents voices and deep kick drums moving forward with a steady certainty. “In The Nerves” is distinct,
tortured, and unresolved with its strange bowed string guttural sounds merged with distortion and beats.
In summary Ultre's work is mature and engaging beyond his years. However, maybe this is not so surprising
when you read his press release. With a pedigree in animation his work has featured as a part of the ongoing
Warp Works and 20th Century Masters tour which has reached Europe's most prestigious venues. He has
played live with artists from Planet Mu such as Tim Exile, Max Tundra and has featured alongside Battles and
Clark on the recent Overkill compilation (LittleBig). All The Darkness Has Gone To Details is a very good debut
and clear indicator that Audiobulb has its eye on the up and coming talent of tomorrow and today.
Central to many of the tracks on 'All the Darkness Has Gone to Details' is Ultre 's home-made instrument,
one he describes as being "like a huge metal bow and arrow that's painful to play". Its sounds hurt, the harsh
shriek of the strings wailing through Being Invincible. It's not uncomfortable to hear, it resembles the darker
side of a violin sound, a violin that was not carved or cared for and never played in an orchestra.
As 'All the Darkness Has Gone to Details' progresses it morphs and twists into something more electronic
and less organic than it began as. It opens with harsh strings and dusty piano in Pictures of Piano Notes and
progresses seamlessly to the electronic breakout of breaks and beats in quiet/loud ensemble Bricolage. This
progression separates the tracks, but also cements the album as a solid entity.
The piano pieces are what I find most striking about Ultre, the small melodies, repeated and moulded around
the laptop sounds and programmed beats, they soften the sharp beats and clicks, without either being
drowned out or dominating.
'All the Darkness Has Gone to Details' has an accomplished sound, not unlike a lot of other things, but
retaining a definite identity and well-developed tracks. McNicholas displays a sympathetic ear to the acoustic
side of things alongside bold use of meaty programming.
Much is to be expected from Finn McNicholas in the near future, with visuals for Warp and sets with
Chris Clark and Freeform already under his belt, now complimented by this fearsome debut.
Multi-hyphenate Finn McNicholas, a 24-year-old musician, computer animator, and digital artist from
Northern England, hasn't yet become the film composer he at one time aspired to be, but he has succeeded
in developing a distinctive musical persona (Ultre) and crafting an equally distinctive musical debut ( All The
Darkness Has Gone To Details ). His Ultre style is distinguished not so much by its electronically-assembled
beat patterns but by the dusty piano playing and a crying string sound produced by a home-made stringed
instrument that he describes as being like “a huge metal bow and arrow.” The album's string and piano
playing references an eralier era, something like the 1930s, unlike the clicking beats and electronic
treatments which align Ultre's work to current computer-generated production methods; an equally compelling
tension emerges via McNicholas's precise structuring of decayed sounds.
The opener, “Pictures of Piano Notes,” establishes the album's character by exhuming an old piano from
someone's attic and pairing its tinkles with the swoop of a creaking violin. The keyboard sings out a vaguely
out-of-tune song in “Nobodies Favourite” while a bushel of percussive clicks clatters underneath, generating
a slightly warped tango rhythm. Some pieces align Ultre's sound more closely to that of his electronic
contemporaries (“Hearings,” with its morphing mass of bell tones, smears, clicks, and strings, and “Useless
Nervous Minutes” where a heavy funk beat slows to a crawl), and the throbs and scrapes of “In The Nerves”
show that McNicholas isn't afraid to get his hands dirty either. An excellent addition to the Audiobulb
discography, Ultre's assured All The Darkness Has Gone To Details manages to be both uncompromisingly
experimental and melodic.
Ultre is the musical alias of Finn McNicholas, who apparently began his musical career performing in various
bands among the UK indie scene. Along the way, McNicholas' growing interest in graphic design and animation
led him to explore digital visuals as a parallel medium, a complimentary path of artistic exploration that's seen
him perform live visuals with Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, and Plaid as well as for Warp's recent 20th-century
Composers tour. An evolving interest in sound design and film composition also fuelled McNicholas' interest in
solo electronic composition, the results of which bear fruit in the form of his debut album as Ultre
Meticulously structured and composed of a mixture of both digital and acoustic elements (including McNicholas'
own self-made instrument, apparently something like a huge steel bow and arrow that's physically painful to
play), much of All the Darkness certainly veers towards the sorts of contemporary classical explorations evident
on Warp Works & Twentieth Century Masters . What sets it apart from that collection, however, are the
unmistakably indie-tinged shades lurking at the very edges, something that's particularly evident on the delicate,
Pedro-esque "Hearings.” Also particularly striking is the richness of McNicholas' sonic pallette, with Oval-style
clicks, cuts, and digital detritus merging beautifully with treated pianos, guitars, and strings, the entire fusion
giving off a strangely aged and time-eroded feel. The incorporation of McNicholas' self-built instruments as yet
another discernibly present element lends much of the music here an intangibly individual timbre that easily lifts
it above the hegemony of the latest plug-in. Replete with eerily intense stuff that suddenly rears up from
comparatively placid piano atmospheres into a whirlwind of treated orchestration, All the Darkness represents
something of a challenging listen at points, though persistence is rewarded amply.
This CD from 2006 offers 53 minutes of melodic illbience. Ultre is Finn McNicholas.
Delicate piano streaming like a transparent foundation upon which violins burst with passionate flurry,
generating a harmonic buzz that seems to unify with the understated keyboards. This tune sets the stage for a
curious sonic experience.
Add in quirky guitar and cybernetic weirdness, and the music commences a determined journey deep into
uncommon territory. Notes are stretched and scraped, transforming sounds into alien vibrations. Agitated
percussives of an artificial nature seep through the mix, lending a strange cohesion that defies description.
The guitar presence alternates from fanciful strumming to outright abuse, the latter producing a bevy of
teeth-rattling punctuations that fit nicely in the overall weirdness.
McNicholas' eccentric manner of combining traditional piano with synthetic rhythms is engaging. His application
of acoustic guitar to the mutant structure creates a strangely old school flair to the highly modern tuneage.
The beats cavort with often erratic patterns, while the guitar and piano provide an earthy grounding for the
wildly unconventional pieces.
One almost gets the feeling that McNicholas is channeling an arcane fusion of folk music with Autechre.
The result is a unique peek into an alternate dimension of sound.
Just when we thought Audiobulb were only releasing MP3s, they arrive with a new CD release by Ultre,
also known as Finn mcNicholas, who despite his young age of twnety-four has been active in music since
ten years. Before he played in 'loud bands', but spends his days now behind the computer, creating his music,
for this release, but also for TV, short films, PSP when not on the road to play live. If I understood right, all the
music on this CD was made by sounds of piano, strings, guitar as well as some metal bow he built himself. It
took me some time to understand what this was all about, as upon initial listening I put this CD away as another
attempt to connect to the melancholic intelligent dance music, from the likes of Expanding Records or Highpoint
After repeated listening I must say that I enjoyed it more and more, but still can't escape the fact that it sounds
like those labels. Maybe at times, Ultre sounds even more ambient, or perhaps even a bit more experimental,
such as in 'Orchestre Neutron', but throughout the beats rolls over eachother. The interesting moments of
Ultre is where piano is heard and some processed guitar or strings and things are less beat oriented. There he
breaks away from the somewhat rigid idiom that this kind of music has, and shows the original sound (although
it might move towards ambient music). It's a fairly good album, which certainly holds possibilities for the future.
Nuovo lavoro su cd della Audiobulb , che da tempo propone interessanti leve dell'elettronica contemporanea
nel formato mp3 che meglio si presta alla diffusione a macchia d'olio nella rete. Questa volta gli sforzi produttivi si
concentrano su Ultre , alter-ego artistico di Finn McNicholas , giovanissimo manipolatore sonoro (ha appena 24
anni e smanetta con macchine e strumenti da circa dieci, passando parecchio tempo appresso il suo pc e il suo
equipaggiamento "sonorifero" da cui ha tirato fuori anche vari lavori per la tv, il psp e per dei cortometraggi). Ad
un primo distratto ascolto di All The Darkness Has Come To Details , verrebbe da cestinarlo classificandolo come
l'ennesimo maldestro tentativo di combinare beat astratti a melodie disgregate; prestando maggiore attenzione alla
parte compositiva si notano molte più sfaccettature che lo rendono un disco piuttosto interessante.
Gli oscuri grovigli, che Ultre piazza in copertina (avrà preso spunto dai capelli che rimangono attorno allo scarico
della doccia?) e che rimodella nel suo sito ricavandone per lo più fantasiose entità entomologiche, sembrano
prendere vita sonora nelle sue composizioni in cui vengono annodati frammenti di piano, chitarra, archi e rumori
metallici -molti dei quali generati da strumenti che Finn si diletta a costruire- in scrocchianti inviluppi. Le pieces più
interessanti sono rinvenibili in quei passaggi in cui il flusso dei predetti suoni in ingresso si sovrappongono in
movimenti artrosici slegati dalla ricerca del tempo e della battuta, come avviene in Orcheste Neutron o In The
Nerves , mentre avranno mediato certi ascolti "warpiani" alcune derive -probabilmente inevitabili- verso l'ambient.
Per chi conosce i Mum e per chi -senza molto sforzo- prova a trasfigurarli in tanti pinocchietti (i pupazzi non i capi
d'abbigliamenti), Ultre potrebbe essere pensato -nonostante la giovane età- come il loro Geppetto sul piano
stilistico; difatti tutti i casuali chiamati in causa per tradurre in un sentimento la sua musica hanno risposto tirando
in ballo la malinconia o la fragilità. Saranno questi gli aspetti che hanno ammaliato i partecipanti al Sinus festival di
Basilea, che l'hanno promosso come uno dei migliori performer in quell'occasione? Ad ogni modo, definire questo
un album di elettronica "organica" -come è stato fatto- ci pare un po' una contraddizione in termini. Mettendo da
parte le questioni terminologiche, comunque può affermarsi che lo stile Ultre contiene svariate elementi di
originalità, passibili di ulteriori sviluppi e integrazioni, che ci fanno sperare in possibili collaborazioni con altri artisti
e musicisti dell'entourage elettronico sperimentale! Un aspetto che probabilmente nessun recensore avrà preso in
considerazione: ci piace molto il gioco con i grovigli e il codice a barre che il McNicholas grafico ha ripreso sul
A label that hitherto seems to have released most of its material in the mp3 format presents its fourth foray into
the "physical" form of music distribution and consumption. Ultre´s niftily-titled debut presents structured
musical pieces utilizing piano, guitar, home made instruments and electronics.
Finn McNicholas is already a respected visual artist, producing work for the likes of Squarepusher and The
Aphex Twin. Only twenty-four, he used to play "loud bands" before discovering the joys of spending days alone
at home at the computer. However, the music on this CD was made with piano, strings, guitar and some kind of
homemade bow alongside more sophisticated technology. As a result, "imprecision" - his own term - is built into
the music itself; a refreshing embrace of the rough hewn, unfinished-ness of our own natural lives, alongside
smooth-edged computer generated sound.
I hear Ultre´s music as being very broad across the back, bumping into glitchy ambient and experimental dance
music with one shoulder, and postmodern composition with the other. It´s overwhelmingly jittery, with most tracks
being supported by well-crafted, idiosyncratic beats. In fact, the listener could do with a bit more space to recline
and catch his breath now and again.
The most interesting moments on the album are those featuring piano - he seems to command this instrument best,
and makes the most of his attacks on it, especially those that are quite close-miked. Feels intimate.
Ultre: All the darkness has gone to details CD Finn McNicholas operates under the banner Ultre, combining
electronics with acoustic instruments such as piano, strings and guitar. This combination is energetic, due to
deep beats, crystal clear sounds and a nice drive. But the music presents a filmic and tender side as well.
A lovely playful album that fits the Audiobulb Records roaster just fine.
I do like Audiobulb. They're a thoughtful and interesting label who put out some really good work. This CD
from Ultre definitely falls into that category with its very likeable blend of abstract Electronica and lovely
organic sounds that add a whole host of melody to the proceedings. It references numerous acts and styles
whilst carving out a very nice little crunchy niche for itself. Have a listen and I reckon you might be rather taken
with this. Lovely stuff.
Audiobulb ist eins meiner Lieblingslabel. Sie sind technisch so versessen in allem was sie releasen, dabei
aber doch immer aussergewöhnlich musikalisch und vor allem bereit einen Sound zu releasen, den man sonst
fast nirgendwo findet. Das Album von Ultre passt deshalb auch perfekt. Sehr deepe Tracks aus
elektroakustischen Fragmenten und feinen Beats, vertrackten aber nicht Komplexität suchenden Beats und immer
wieder Piano und andere Dinge aus der Vergangenheit so gut eingefädelt in den glitzernd knisternd spannenden.
Sound, dass man die Tracks wie kleine melancholische Songs hören kann. Eine Platte die einem sehr nah geht.
Sofort. Ohne Umwege. Und dennoch keinen Funken von Folkdeppen-Neocreatürlichkeit braucht.
Audiobulb Is an exploratory music label designed to support the work of innovative artists.
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