[22 February 2005]
The crown prince of niche kitsch continues his pattern of album-mix, returning with his fourth aural delight, Ursadelica, a martini party soundtrack for the ring candy set. With little flourish outside of simple pans and blends, Ursula 1000 makes a neat concoction that reveals after successive shots a peacock’s bouquet of flavors. His reverence for color and fizzle make for easy digestion, while his wild and wide selection is initially filling. The buzz fades, but unknown pleasures are not the emphasis this time around; by choosing mostly from contemporary tastemakers, such as Kraak en Smaak and Fort Knox Five, Ursula has banged out a quick party maker/favor that just screams of fun.
By using records from like-minded producers and musicians, Ursula consistently blends his style throughout the mix. After a brief sound snippet introduction, Dr Rubberfunk’s “Bossa for the Devil” properly opens the set, swinging an O’Day-ish “Old Devil Moon” vocal over a crisp break. The track’s seamless blend of the old (bop, bossa nova) and the new (big beat, breaks) characterize Ursula’s vision of music; with Ursadelica-goggles, stylistic parallels pulse and scream to be thrown in the same spin cycle. The party up jumps with a flurry of congas and a slap-happy bassline by Flea’s doppelganger in Carlos Jean’s “Mr. Dabada”. The breaker’s fantasy, complete with horn stabs and wah guitars, runs head-long into Sergio Mendes-revisioned-for-Cadillac-commercials, a.k.a. Ed Royal’s “Born to Funk”. From the onomatopoeic play names of Hal 9000’s “Bay Bay Bay” (as in, “Baby, ba…”) to playful turns of phrases in the Royal track, Ursula demonstrates the sheer fun of the mix. Case in point? Lemon’s “Won’t You Join Me For a Drink?” jerks the mix out of the regulated fours, switching to an updated mambo that drops in ska-paced organ stabs and a lazy bass. Yet, all these tracks bring to mind a bikini romp in a sea of coconut rum, back when your moms was still a dime, of course. He chases beats relentlessly, but he reminds the listener: this affair is more about broken Engrish, less broken beat.
Ursula shows a predilection for the big beat of Fatboy Moby, but keeps it not so big, so as not to let the mix get out-of-hand. Kraak en Smaak’s “One of these Days” borders on such hackneyed over-the-top dramatics, but the mix remains grounded in its transition to Frank de Jojo’s dirtier “Come Home Baby”, with its understated chanteuse over a mix of steady fours, and samples of cymbal washes and snare rim click clocks. Ursula deftly fades the track in and out, bringing out the subtle aspects of the vocal performance. He returns to the e-tastic party with the bigger beat of Nasty Tales and their Orchestra, but displays a nugget amongst the genre’s standard gospel/soul sampling, this time centering on a Trinidadian novelty-style singer. With a not-so-subtle play on “house” and Bond-scale explosive effects during the arena-sized choruses, the track once again pushes the mix to its peak limits before being mellowed beautifully by another mambo breakdown.
Ursula does dig up some gems amongst the gloss en floss, notably in the latin and throwback departments. The low rider-paced boogaloo of Gaijin A Go Go’s wonderfully titled “Tempura Mental” nestles cozy Kylie vocals atop cheers, flamenco guitar licks, and stops and gos for drum breaks ‘aplenty. Beatfanatic re-works Tata Vasquez’s “Suite Guaracho Pt. 2”, leaving much of the percussion workout intact before going to four-on-the-floor town. Ursula injects Settebello, going quasi-carnaval over an adrenal break. After a strong hook line’n sinker with the contempo selections, Ursula wisely steps back in time to introduce some new older steps. The Bees’ “Chicken Payback” is a hilarious go-go that smacks of laugh tracks, hula hoops, Bazooka Joe snaps and this and that. The requisite breakdown calls to the dancers, “All the animals break it down, lemme hear ya!” followed by a hootenanny of cat, monkey, dog, and lamb calls. An open break provides a brief respite before Joe Bataan’s ragged voice pummels through with “Chick a Boom”. A recent 7” on Vampisoul, the purportedly recent edit job once again exemplifies Ursula’s marriage of past and present, always keeping the past dances fresh for the kids of today.
The mix begins to peter out three-quarters of the way through, only rising up again during Moston and Malente’s “In the Sky”, which actually grabs for finely-accented-biker-shorted ass with its Electric Avenue bassline (luckily, no Eddy Grant wannabe actin’ ‘tard). Unfortunate considering that two remixes with Ursula touches—Fort Knox Five’s “The Big Score” and Don Tiki’s “Other Side of the Moon”—close the set. Nevertheless, Ursula leaves the listener on a characteristic note, complete with cheeky tiki torch floor tom fills, timpanis in tandem, Trekkie transporters, and Brasilian tongue twisters in brief(s). Ursadelica emphasizes the fun, being ideal for working out, driving down open highways, and shoveling snow. It’s a pop culture mash-up, complete consummation, digested and regurgitated with krylon highlights. Take a sample, roll it around, simmer, marinate. It’ll do for now, until he hits us off with his latest invention later this year.