“So we’ve done a good job. Very happy with our work.” You have to admire Ultraflex for ending their energetic debut with such a self-assured assessment.
Visions of Ultraflex is a kaleidoscopic insight to the duo, comprised of Norwegian singer Farao and Special-K from Iceland, informed by exhilarating synth-pop, 1970s disco, and over-the-top lusty innuendo. Driving these motifs is a regimented beat that does well to evoke both the aesthetic and sonic palette of the 1980s fitness industry. For anyone slow to pick up on this over-arching narrative, song titles like ‘Get Fit’, ‘Work Out Tonight’ and ‘Olympic Sweat’ will certainly send the memo. Throughout, the songs are sweaty and brighter than a Day-Glo spandex leotard. It’s no surprise then that Ultraflex choreographed their shows with exercise routines set to visuals inspired by ’80s Soviet aerobics.
Their collaboration began after the pair were commissioned to compose a piece for the Scandinavian-based electronic festivals Insomnia and Extreme Chill in 2019. In the short space since that initial project, it’s impressive to hear how dexterous they are across their arrangements. Amidst their captivating glacial vocal harmonies are contrasting scuzzy synthosized bass riffs, pulsating drum beats and alluring saxophone lines. The latter often resembles the mood of Destroyer’s Kaputt on ‘Olympic Sweat’ and ‘Man U Sheets’. Elsewhere, echoes of Chaka Khan’s infectious ’80s output provides a foundation for ‘Work Out Tonight’ while hints of Salt-N-Pepa’s ‘Push It’ are detected in ‘Full of Lust’s breathy performance.
For the most part, Visions of Ultraflex is a passport to teleport the listener to dancefloors in hot climates. However it isn’t all sunshine and smiles. ‘Never Forget My Baby’ provides the record’s sole reflective moment where the crowded dancefloor disperses to fill solitary spaces. The ice-cold synths and harmonies result in an engaging centrepiece. Overall, there’s no denying that Ultraflex have indeed done a good job with their succinct debut – the throwback soundscapes and tongue-in-cheek aerobics pastiche make for a fun escape.