- Ultrademon's second album comes with some baggage. His first, released only last year, was called Seapunk, and was meant to define the accidental internet movement that quickly became the butt of ridicule, and has since been widely dismissed as a fad. When I spoke with him last month, Albert Redwine defended seapunk, claiming it was distorted beyond its original intention. It's hard to view Voidic Charms—where the focus turns to "a kind of fucked-up jungle landscape, with deteriorating cities, giant robots, people trying to use magic in their everyday lives"—outside the shadow of seapunk's rise and fall. Musically, not all that much has changed. But while it's still informed by deep house, breaks, grime and trance, Redwine's songwriting has become tighter and more confident.
Voidic Charms is a bustling, diverse record, but its building blocks are consistent enough that it doesn't feel fragmented. Like seapunk itself—which was always hard to pin down, but had consistent attributes—Redwine's sound is inherently hyperactive, seizing on the dumb happiness of the donk note as a central device. Most of his melodies are delivered in its distinctive bomp-bomp-bomp cadence. There's a zaniness to this music: the honking brass on "Full Moon" sounds mischievous, and the cartoonish basslines on the catchy "Drive U Crazy" surge forward like they're too excited to bother keeping in time. He touches on grime with the more reflective "Wasteland (44,000 Years In The Making)"—along with cocking gun sounds and Instra:mental's "No Future" sample—and the harder title track, which mixes Boxed-style abstraction with the rough edges of early Neptunes productions. Other times he just sounds like himself—"Fantasy House" is like a vintage Chicago house track, with wacky percussive accents that sound like woodpeckers.
There's a frenetic charm to Voidic Charms that, funnily enough, looks back to the appeal of early seapunk when it was new and exciting (especially Ultrademon's first few mixes), even as it shies away from overt references to the movement. Where his last album felt slow and hesitant, this one zooms through each track, blurring the borders between them and climaxing with a jungle blitz in "Step Into Liquid (Wayback Mix)." Then we get the closer, "Flash," which samples a low-quality clip of the Queen song of the same name. It's knowingly sloppy, and a sarcastic wink at the end of an album that consistently juggles seriousness and humour. Energetic and lighthearted, Voidic Charms shows off Redwine's unique personality. As for that baggage, well, you don't need to know—or care—what seapunk is to enjoy it.
01. Wake Up
02. Desert Star
03. Drive U Crazy feat. The GTW, Zombelle
04. Full Moon
05. Ultrademon Killin’ It
06. Wasteland (44,000 Years In the Making)
07. Vine Hung Horizon
08. Voidic Charm
09. Nautical Elves
10. March 29 – Viral Host
11. Fantasy House
12. Step Into Liquid (Wayback Mix)