Photo credit: OKAY KAYA
Ultraflex is made up of Norway’s Farao & Icelandic musician Special-K. Who have announced their debut album ‘Visions of Ultraflex’ is set for release Oct 30th. Packed with playful disco pop, the new single & video from the record “Work Out Tonight“ is online now.
Speaking about the video, the band said “‘Work Out Tonight’ is the first in a trilogy of Ultraflex videos directed by genius artist and our good friend OKAY KAYA. Bathing, sunshine, pickles… We decided to give our fans a special glimpse into our everyday lifestyle.”
‘Visions of Ultraflex’, the self produced album by Icelandic/Norwegian duo Ultraflex is a joyride through a disco theme park. The conflux of the individually accomplished artists, Farao (NO) and Special-K (ISO), channels the cheekily frank Icelandic nature through Norwegian acuteness and reason, resulting in an interdisciplinary artistic collaboration that oozes charisma.
The pair met when they were both living in Berlin and had mutual artistic crushes on each other. The opportunity to collaborate arose when they were hired to make a piece for the Scandinavian electronic music festivals Insomnia and Extreme Chill in 2019. After a few short, intense writing sessions in the remote Westfjords of Iceland, the arctic Tromsø and Berlin, they managed to construct their sound, image and debut album.
‘Visions of Ultraflex’ is a cocktail of contemporary disco and futuristic boogie, the production style falling somewhere between Peggy Gou and The Rah Band, topped with lyrics and vocal performances reminiscent of Easter, Saâda Bonaire, and Janet Jackson. Live, they perform exercise routines in synchronisation with visuals largely based on 80’s Soviet aerobics, which goes well with their overall fashion output, a look that would make Lotta Volkova proud. The project has an easily detectable background in fine art, an everpresent tinge of wit and self irony enveloping everything.Their music videos, many of which are made by fellow Norwegian pop artist OKAY KAYA, are a sophisticated blend of camp and chic and their internet presence is as nonsensical as it is carefully curated.
The album gently glides open on a lingering high-pitched string sample, which little by little blossoms into the fully formed synth bouquet that is “Get Fit”. Along comes a bouncy and borderline corny bassline accompanied by a pumping 80’s drum beat. The only vocals are the band’s watermark ‘Ultraflex’ and the occasionally repeated phrase: “Get fit, get ripped, get a lover, get kids”. This inviting opener establishes the lush and mischievous world we are about to enter.
After this appetiser we’re hit full force by “Work Out Tonight”, a track that fully showcases the band’s brashness. Overtly sexual sport metaphors are whispered atop a naked drum beat and thrusting bass line, and via a breezy pre-chorus we take a dive into the deep and sensual chorus: “I’m gonna make you work it tonight, gonna make you work out tonight.” The ever present cheekiness climaxes with a lewd dialogue between a man who wanders into the women’s dressing room and the person he encounters there.
Sunny instrumental “Papaya”, with its glittering saxophone solo and a dell’Orso-esque interlude, perfectly sets the mood for the melancholic dance anthem “Never Forget My Baby”. The effortlessness with which the girl’s voices blend together in the chorus and the sentimental, verging on saccharine, lyrics make this song stand out in an already delicious assortment.
This luminous dreamboat sails and sinks into the next track, “Man U Sheets”, which contains considerably more shade. A remorseful saxophone opens the door to a roaring bassline and heavy beat as we are told a merciless tale of adolescent sexual debuts. The slightly dissonant chords and the deadpan delivery of the lyrics enhance the awkwardness of the subject. The next track “Olympic Sweat” lightens the mood with a Michal Rother-esque harmonised solo and a slow yet triumphant tempo, allowing us to lean into the bright stream of synths and chimes feeling like we’ve just crossed a finish-line in slow motion.
Right before the end we reach the final energetic crest – the bold and seductive “Full Of Lust”, with exaggeratedly sensual vocals and bratty lyrics like “When I tell you I’m tired, you light up a smoke, tryna fill up the silence when I don’t laugh at your jokes”. The album concludes with the repetitive and wacky “Secret Lover” with sentences spoken by Farao in a thick Norwegian accent from the perspective of a private investigator. The last words of the album are accurately: “So we’ve done a good job. Very happy with our work”.
Musically and conceptually, ‘Visions of Ultraflex’ is a seductive and inventive debut. Glimmering through it all is the warm and playful relationship between Special-K and Farao; they seem to have found a home in each other where they can progress musically while feeling relaxed enough to be nonsensical. “With our solo projects we are both miserable and lonely, so we are coming together like step sisters or lovers to keep each other warm when it’s cold outside”, they say about their unification. Ultraflex brings us a bundle of joy, self-irony and snarky attitude wrapped up in danceable beats – it’s a breath of fresh air in today’s intricate landscape, reminding us that we must not forget to have fun.“
‘Visions of Ultraflex’ track list:
1. Get Fit
2. Work Out Tonight (Youtube)
4. Never Forget My Baby
5. Man U Sheets
6. Olympic Sweat
7. Full of Lust
8. Secret Lover