Cold Transmission Music
Ultra Sunn has been having a pretty solid 2021. The reissue of their 2019 club single “Night is Mine” in a remixed version by techno-body impresario SARIN (and a bonus new beat mix released shortly thereafter) put international eyes on the Belgian duo. Now with the release of their Body Electric EP, listeners have the first longer form expression of their very specific take on dancefloor flavoured electro-darkwave.
It has to be said before we go any further: Ultra Sunn sound very close musically to Boy Harsher, to the point that it’s not really possible to ignore the resemblance. Every track on Body Electric owes something to the latter act, structurally, and from a sound design standpoint – check out the rubbery, syncopated analogue basses that Ultra Sunn favour, and the minimal use of synth melodies with further texture added via vocal processing and delays. That said, Ultra Sunn are very good at making songs from that template, and Body Electric is full of smaller touches that elevate the material from pure homage.
One of Ultra Sunn’s most unique assets is the voice of Sam Huge, and it’s one they’re able to deploy for good effect. Listening to his smooth performance on “Sorrow and Tears”, it’s his lower register performance that lends the track some classic dark synthpop vibes. A similar delivery fills out the gaps between the bassline and drum machine bells on “Silver Smile”, alternately carrying the song’s verse or adding punctuation in the style of the track’s copious orch hits. With electronic-darkwave being so dominated by women vocalists, Huge offers something that helps Ultra Sunn a bit more distinct.
While Body Electric is certainly in line with out expectations for Ultra Sunn. There are some hints of new ideas lurking around the edges it would be interesting to hear explored. Hidden near the end of the title track there’s a flurry of acid programming, its rusty filter adding some edge to the otherwise smooth composition. And on “Two Snakes” you can hear some variation in how the drums interact with the bass, creating some elasticity to the groove. In spite of the obvious points of comparison, there’s plenty of hints that Ultra Sunn are more that our first impressions.