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  1. Just got this on Vinyl. So Lush. Just as good as the day it came out(in the US) back in '92. Totally stands up. (Plus bonus Peel Sessions!) http://ultramarine.uk.com/Every-Man-and-Woman-is-a-Star Every Man and Woman is a Star is reissued by Rough Trade Records on 3rd November 2014. Available as a heavyweight vinyl double LP in a gatefold sleeve Includes a bonus 4-track 12" of a previously unreleased 1992 John Peel BBC radio session Includes free digital download code Packaged with brand new artwork by Dennis Busch and design by Therese Vandling. Every Man and Woman is a Star was initially released on Brainiak Records in 1991 and then in expanded form on Rough Trade in 1992 and now stands as a classic of its genre. "This record is an undiscovered masterpiece... Englishness at its most inventive." Geoff Travis, Rough Trade "Perhaps the first and best stab at that seeming contradiction-in-terms, pastoral techno." Simon Reynolds http://www.qthemusic.com/6510/every-man-and-woman-is-a-star-a-short-film-about-ultramarine/
  2. This is the article chronicling the Britronica festival in Moscow, which featured Ultramarine, Seefeel, Bark Psychosis, Autechre, Banco De Gaia and Reload performing (among others), and Richard James, Alex Patterson and Paul Oakenfold among DJ's. It is from the New Musical Express and is reprinted without permission. COMRADE FEEL THE NOISE by Rupert Howe "Only a revolutionare dictatorship supported by the vast majority of people can be at all durable." --VI Lenin "What?" - Richard D. James It's Thursday April 14 and we're somewhere around Moscow on the edge of nowhere when the weirdness begins to take hold. Straight off Aeroflot and into full-on, no-holds barred disorientation. The Aphex Twin is ready to puke; Alex Patterson is telling him - for no particular reason - that his music will only be appreciated in 15 to 20 years time; the ground staff at the airport want $50 before they'll get Ultramarine's gear off the plane. Shit. Then we're on a coach, 60 of us in varying states of disrepair. The driver keeps stopping, for no apparent reason, at the side of the road. On one side there are unbroken rows of tower blocks with tiny squares of light. On the other, darkness. After a time we veer suddenly off the unmarked tarmac that passes for motorway and onto what feels like a potholed farm track. Maybe we've all been kidnapped and are being taken to some secret rendezvous. No, no. Stop it. Tell yourself: Everything will be OK. We're in Russia for Britronica, an ambient-techno/electronic music festival organised by British promoter NIck HObbs and greying Russian music guru Artem Troitsky. The basic idea is to show young Muscovites that there is life in the contemporary music scene beyond FM rock and MTV, beyond the Nirvana and Sam Fox bootlegs stacked up in the kiosks which line the dirty streets as constant reminders of the burgeoning cult of 'free enterprise' - a relaxation on controls of sale which has had some obvious and disastrous results. Not the least of these is the growing power of the Russian mafia. In less than a century, Russia has moved from chaos, through rigidly enforced dictatorship, and back into chaos. In a recent poll for the _Moscow Times_, people were asked who they thought was in control of their country. The largest proportion, 24 percent, plumped for the mafia; Yeltsin managed a mere 14 percent. It's the harsh reality of Mao's old adage about power growing out of the barrel of a gun. We drop off the band's gear at the hotel and most of us travel on to a reception for Britronica being held at a central club called Manhattan Express. It's in an anteroom of one of Moscow's largest Western-style hotels, situated just off Red Square. There's a camera crew outside filming us as we get off the bus. Inside it looks like any other London/New York/Tokyo rip-off joint, one of those places that exists for one purpose only: money. And it's not exactly the techno underground either, since the people inside are almost entirely mafioso in ill-fitting suits and prostitutes in their hard-currency designer glad-rags. It costs $40 to get in, so there aren't many punters around - who knows what they'll make of Banco De Gaia, who are supposed to play later in the evening? The rest of us don't bother to hang around and find out; half-an-hour after we arrive, everyone is back on the bus. FRIDAY, APRIL 15 In the grey morning light we take stock of our surroundings. The hotel is basically an old Communist Party conference centre on the outskirts of Moscow, a run-down collection of high-rise buildings parked between two expanses of scrubby, litter strewn wasteland. At the end of the road outside the gates is a Metro station surrounded by kisoks selling vodka, Snickers bars, cheap lighters, cigarettes, keyrings, copies of _Penthouse_ and German heavy metal magazines. Old women sell carrier bags to those with no means of carting off their purchases; old men drink vodka straight from the bottle; and kids saunter around showing off their Metallica T-shirts. This is the face of late-20th Century Russia After breakfast we discover that Richard 'Aphex Twin' James has been taken to hospital. Travellers beware: if you start running a temperature in Russia they'll take you in as a matter of course. We're told he's being held at Hospital Number One. Trouble is, no-one seems to know exactly where it is. The rest of the crew head off for the Youth Palace, the main concert venue and a classic piece of lumpen Soviet architecture which contains an 1,800 seat concert hall where Youth Party members used to be herded to offer up their allegiance to the State. At the afternoon technical meeting everyone agrees it's a great venue, decorated with fake marble, gold trim and heavy Revolutionary-style stage curtains. Across town at a club called Pilot, major problems are emerging. Ultramarine and Autechre are supposed to play there that night, only the necessary PA equipment hasn't turned up and no-one seems to know when, ior even if, it will arrive at all. It's almost showtime at the Youth Palace, but Pilot remains in silence. It's emerging that Sasha, the dark-haired, chain-smoking, ageing Nureyev-alike promoter, is losing control of the situation. He's sent Alex Patterson over to DJ at jet another club, called Jump. only for him to arrive, walk down endless, badly-lit corridors and stand around for two hours in a converted sports hall waiting for anyone to turn up. Even when they do there's only 200 of them and the capacity exceeds 1,000. Toby Marks(Banco De Gaia) is the next victim. AFter the fiasco of the Manhattan Express 'reception' he finds himself roped in to play an unsheduled gig alongside Alex. He's knackered, has had hardly anything to eat and doesn't relish the thought of going on in a half-empty venue. "If this was England I'd have walked long ago, but ovbiously you want to play to the people here if you possibly can," he muses. "I had a real go at Sasha last night, though it's difficult trying to have an argument through an interpreter. You have to talk slowly when all you really want to do is scream, 'You fucking bastard!'" Dreadzone, meanwhile, have been taking it all in their stride. Being one of the only dreads in town, bass-player Leo has attracted a certain amount of curious attention. A girl he met at Manhattan Express took him and keyboard player Dan Donovan along to an art 'happening' at the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, which involved a guy dropping his trousers in front of a painting by Van Gogh, crouching down and shitting into his hand. Back at the Youth Palace they dub it up for the 150-strong crowd, who shout back their appreciation in the echoing hall. One wired Russian guy is so moved that he passes one of our entourage a little package and insists that it be given to Leo. Inside are five meticulously rolled joints, his gesture of appreciation. Most of the Russian kids we meet are similarly generous with what they have, even if in practice they have very little. DJ Eric from Moscow has lent his precious Technics turntables for use at the Youth Palace; Alexei from St. Petersburg gives out little handfuls of dried mushrooms. Eugene and Artur (also from St. Petersburg) want to start up a record shop and label, only they don't have any money and the one means of getting it, going in with the mafia, would put them right in over their heads. and Vadim, who works on the Estonian national radio station in Tallinn, DJ's on tape decks (there aren't any turntables to be had), reads NME in the library at the British Council and spends every spare penny (much to the chagrin of his hard-pressed mum) on the few records which filter over from the West. He hands out a few tapes made up in the Baltic by a guy called Marko Sula, sticks it on a rewired record player and reel-to-reel tape deck. "It's got some really weird noises on it," comments Richard James, in recognition of its value. "Maybe I'll sign it up for Rephlex." Over at the Pilot there's no gig. Paul Oakenfold has been kicked off the decks for not playing commercial tracks, so the Russian DJ takes over and slips on the theme from _The Crying Game_. As the mafia and their molls start pairing off to smooch on the dancefloor, questions like "Why are we here?" are asked. But when Julian Liberator (a Megadog regular from the Bedlam sound system posse) is finally allowed to take over, clearing the floor for the Brits with one sweep of The Rising Sons' burbling 'Afghan Acid', the question is turned around: "What are *they* doing here?" The main reason, of course, is money. In Moscow, life and vodka are cheap; everything else you have to pay for. Tickets for the Youth Palace cost around ten quid. Those who want to go on to one of the clubs have to pay again. For most of the kids this is more than they'd have spare in a month. The result: a club audience of rich assholes who'd rather stumble around drunkenly to Culture Beat than really get their rocks off. Ian from Ultramarine is understandably disappointed. "It's the sort of bill you could take anywhere in the world and have a success with, but here there was also the chance to open people's ears and minds a bit. So it's a shame it had to fall through because of a few missing wires and boxes." All, however, is not lost. SATURDAY, APRIL 16 This is the big day. If nothing goes right now then the whole thing is off. A bizarre arrangement has been worked out where by the electronic bands at the Youth Palace will play last so that the drum kit can be driven over to Pilot for Ultramarine. A nervous Sasha, who looks like he's been down on his knees all night praying this works out, lights another cigarette. Pilot is, naturally, run by the mafia, who paid him for the right to hve the bands and DJ's play at their club. If he goes any deeper in hock to them he could wind up in the Moskva River with concrete blocks on his feet. The other news is that Richard James is out of hospital. So, what was it like? Did they give you any weird drugs? "Yeah," comes the slurred reply. "It was really strange. Stranger than acid. I'm still seeing double now." Apparently they'd locked him in a room on his own, thinking he'd infect the whole place if they let him wander around. There were bars on the window, so no chance of escape that way. He'd just have to get well. And to help him, the doctors would stride in, turn him over and stick a needle in his arse. The gig at the Youth Palace that night is a revelation. More people have shown up than for the Friday show, word-of-mouth here proving stronger than advertising, and they're not disappointed. Seefeel play the gig of their careers, with the frustrations of the last few days (guitarist Mark Clifford is a vegan - not a good position to be in in a country where fresh fruit and vegetables are both scarce and wildly expensive) paying off in a mind-warping display of sonic pyrotechincs. "Typical that it had to be in Moscow in front of 300 people," he opines later. But the crowd love every spiralling second of it, especially the moments when Darren hoists his bass above his head and stomps around the stage wearing an open-mouthed grimace of primal intensity. Bark Psychosis pull off a similar feat, even managing to get a few of the less hardy souls cowering behind their seats during their brutal, white-noise opening. What these people can't see, however is the developing drama backstage, where Richard, Ultramarine's tour manager, has appeared looking like he's been led on one wild goose chase too many. The upshot is that if the drum kit (currently onstage with Bark Psychosis) isn't at the Pilot in two hours there won't be anly gig happening there, period. Around 1am, Ultramarine finally come on, and for a while it looks as if everything is going to plan. Their easy-paced grooves go down well with the dressed-up clientele (just as Banco De Gaia's had earlier at the Youth Palace); the trouble starts once they've come offstage and Bruce Gilbert starts to DJ. Suicide are not these punters' preferred choice of Saturday night listening. Wires aren't only getting crossed now, they're tying up in knots. The Russian DJ comes over and tells Bruce enough is enough, then watched hawkishly as Richard James puts on a record. Finally he's doing what he's flown 2000-odd miles to do and, as a few inoffensive, vaguely acidic noises are released from the PA, it looks as if we might have a party on our hands. The management, however, have other ideas. A pair of soldiers appear, Richard is manhandled from behind the turntables and the Russian guy puts on East 17. This news is transmitted upstairs to the dressing room. Alex Patterson grabs his record box and barrels downstairs. As he approaches the DJ booth more soldiers appear and start jostling him away. Being no stranger to a bit of argy-bargy (he is a Chelsea supporter, after all), Alex tells the guy to fuck off. The guy won't back down. Alex looks him right in the eye. "Fuck you," he says. "Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you..." The DJ fades in 'The Crying Game' again. Our intrepid photographer tries to take a picture. Things go rapidly from bad to very bad indeed. It transpires that you're not allowed to take pictures of the Russian Army. They don't like it. Especially not if they're jumped-up squaddies hired as security by the mafia. The camera is passed back to Paul from Ultramarine, who then hides it under a coat. Alex, making good use of the distraction, picks up his record box and storms back up to the dressing room. Bruce is up there shaking his head and looking apologetic. "I'm sorry Alex, this is all my fault." "No,no. Come on, what the fuck are we here for?" Good question, Alex. Someone's hammering on the door. A soldier walks in looking for the camera. Silence, the way it always is when extreme antagonism's in the air. It seems, though, that the possibility of there being blood on the floor has been averted. One of the interpreters does some quick talking and the soldier leaves. Time to crack another bottle of vodka and wait for the coach. Two hours later it arrives. Alex has donned a head-band and, looking for all the world like a stocky version of the _Beano's_ Little Plum, is handing out various atricles of Orb merchandise to various delighted Russians. We down the last of our drinks and prepare for a swift exit. It's left for Paul from Ultramarine to deliver the final blow. While their tour manager distracts the DJ's attention, he moves along the back of the sound system pulling out all the connecting wires. With a resounding pop! he finds the power cord, the sound in the club goes dead and they dash for the coach pursued by an irate army crew, an equally irate management and a gaggle of bemused onlookers. Smart. We travel back to the hotel buzzing. A few of us go up to Rob from Autechre's room to watch his TV throw hallucinogenic patterns up on the screen. "It's techno, this telly," he says, admiringly. Apparently they do this all the time at home in Manchester, in various altered states of consciousness. Around 6am, having drunk all there is to drink and talked out the strangeness of the earlier confrontations, we head for our rooms to sleep. SUNDAY, APRIL 17 Next morning the strangeness is still there. People are beginning to go fuzzy at the edges. There's semi-humourous talk of a giant snake following people around on the Metro. Character traits are changing - Tom from Reload(whose partner Mark is the second person on the trip to be hospitalised - no more gigs for them) has grown almost completely into Baron Munchausen and twists the ends of his gravity-defying moustache with renewed vigor. Words like 'weird' begin to seem pathetically inadequate. That night's gig at Pilot is written off. Bark Psychosis are banned for being "too strange" and Toby doesn't want to risk Banco De Gaia there after the previous night's fracas. The Youth Palace shows, last minute hitches permitting, will go ahead as planned. Autechre decide they're taking no prisoners. They come on in near-total darkness and let the machines do the talking, the hard-edged electronic rattles and squeaks smoothed out by rolling electro-style beats. Lasers mounted behind the stage swing into life and start drawing spirograph patterns on the darkened back wall; people climb down into the camera pit in front of the stage and start flailing around. At just the right moment, madness has arrived. Ultramarine manage to increase the Russian's ecstasy to the point where the venue's security guards position themselves on either side of the stage and start swinging their batons. Most of the crew retire to the dressing room for a bottle or two of 2 pound Russian champagne and a chance to relax. This is denied by Artem Troitsky, who calls an impromptu 'conference' in the hallway to inform us that a keyboard has been taken hostage by the stage electricians, understandably miffed at not being paid. The offending item is later 'stolen' back out of the promoter's car. Confusion reigns. Standing outside the Youth Palace Richard James points to his record box and says "There's bits of dead people in there. Look." He opens the clasps so it falls open to the night air. There's nothing in it but records. "Smell it," he insists. "It smells of dead people." It does smell vaguely musty, like it's been stored in a cellar. Is that what bits of dead people kept in a record box smell like? Nobody knows, including Richard probably. He's warmed to the task though. By the time we get on the bus he's talking dirty, telling us how he shagged his mum and killed her. Then he remarks that it'd be smart if it plane crashed on the way back "'cos i'd be the only one to survive and then i could eat your limbs". He's smiling now. It's suggested that we go back to the Pilot, where the management want to apologise and offer us a banquet. The general consensus is that if we went back to the Pilot we'd risk getting ourselves into some very deep sewerage. Eventually we make it back to the hotel and set up camp in a lounge on the 17th floor. More drink is served. Suddenly one of the red-cushioned chairs appears on the balcony. Members of Seefeel, BArk Psychosis and Ultramarine are preparing it for a crash landing. Everyone knows it's going over the edge, it's just another one of those inevitable things, like gravity or not being able to find a post office in Moscow. We all just stand there as it plummets. It's surprising how little sound a chair makes hitting the ground when you're standing on the 17th floor. Some more good ideas emerge - looking down the lift shafts, trying to get out on the roof - under the spell of Russian vodka everything has to be explored. The party doesn't break up until around 8.30am. We've gone this far, so why stop now? MONDAY, APRIL 18 Time to go. Sasha has reappeared despite one of the Russian-English liaison team's assureances that he would "dissappear into thin air" as a result of his dealings with the mafia. In a world where all certainties have collapsed, where the only things that can offer any form of security are US dollars, it's hard to hold out much hope for his long-term safety. On the plane home there's a sense of relief tinged with disappointment. It's in the bag, evryone achieved more or less what they set out to achieve, but as Nick Hobbs points out, "No-one out there will try anything like this again for a very long time." And that's not only their loss, but ours.
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