Entertainment » Music

Alchemy: G.S.T. Reloaded

by Rick Dunn
EDGE Community Editor
Wednesday Sep 24, 2008
Alchemy: G.S.T. Reloaded

It was a fairly long - and somewhat cruel - wait between Ultra Nate's last two full-length CDs, 2001's "Stranger Than Fiction" and last year's "Grime Silk Thunder."

During that period, the recording industry turned up the volume on one of its classic cop-outs dismissing dance music as a less-than genre with diminishing commercial appeal. Illegal file sharing crippled dance music sales moreso than other genres and record companies were increasingly reluctant to consider long term career investment in dance artists, even those with proven track records.

So where did that leave Ultra? Maybe in the best place to be. Her last label (Strictly Rhythm) dissolved in 2004, leaving Ultra to negotiate with other labels, where she was usually met with indifference. Taking her cues from Ani Difranco and a few other vanguards, she established her own boutique label, Blufire, as a vehicle for her own music as well as other artists. And she did this while raising a family and adhering to her rigorous work-out addiction.

The Baltimore-based singer/song-writer continues to produce her five-years-running weekly Friday night party "Sugar" featuring resident DJ Ultra Nate. You read it right. DJ Ultra Nate. And no, she didn't get the DJ job just because she's the boss. She took careful measure of her skill level and passion, and the math just made sense. And the fans liked what they heard. She secured hard won gigs spinning in Australia, Montreal, Brazil, London's Ministry Of Sound and France, where she broadcasts a weekly radio mix on, Radio FG every Sunday at 9 p.m.

Just 15 months after the release of "Grime Silk Thunder," Ultra - partnered with Silver Label and Tommy Boy Records - has issued the two-disc set, Alchemy: G.S.T. Reloaded, which is an altogether different collection than what was previously released. This isn't one of those reconstituted Mariah Carey/Rihanna "special edition" patch jobs where two or three new tracks are shotgun-married to a hit-starved CD that's already lost its looks, but still needs a few more customers to satisfy the label's expectations. It's like adding new tits to an old whore. Well, that's Mariah's game, but a class act like Ultra doesn't believe in nickel and diming her fans by double-dipping or serving something stale. Alchemy fulfills its promise with more of the good stuff she seduced you with last year, but literally twice as much. Those already familiar with G.S.T. will experience something familiar but fresh, like a threesome with your still hot ex and his new boyfriend.

Disc One features G.S.T tracks re-mixed by Kenny Dope, Quentin Harris, Morgan Page, Craig C., Mood II Swing, DJ Spen, TIkaro and DFA. Most DJs would agree that it was the Bimbo Jones remix that delivered "Give It All You Got" to top spot on Billboard's Hot Club Dance Play chart. "Give it All You Got" has that motivating "just do it" vibe experienced by Olympic hopefuls who've been scripted into three-minute inspirational sob stories. Marketed properly, "Give It All You Got" could return unexpected dividends as an expensively licensed motivational theme song for the next Oprah challenge. Now that most pro-sport outfits have distanced themselves from convicted child sex predator Gary Glitter's anthemic "Rock & Roll," its easy to picture sports fans doing the wave to "Give it All You Got." Ultra has already fingered the next single: "Twisted (Got Me Goin' Round)" which is featured on discs one (Lost Daze Club Mix) and two (Kenny Dope Mix).

Disc Two - The Sugar Sessions 01 - is an entirely different animal made up of the same parts. It's a DJ set mixed by Ultra featuring songs by Ultra, which just might be a first. While it's hard to discern the full scope her spinning capabilities based on a 70+ minute sample, rest assured, when she's spinning, Ultra demonstrates the same commitment she exhibits when singing. She's tapped into her source and ready to give. Yes, she's still concerned with the publicity shots - giving us Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill in pink-neon boob enhancers and comic book wigs on the cover - but her priority is always the music. As a rule of thumb, established entertainers looking to re-brand as a pro DJ should be approached with same level of suspicion and caution reserved for new friends of Tom Cruise, because too often it's just calculated career move when the modeling/acting thing didn't work out. ("Where can I plug in my iPod Shuffle? Don't you love Tiesto? I'm gonna call him at home in Ibiza.") Anyway, authenticity personified, Ms. Nate is just serving notice that she'll entertain you from every angle as she sees fit, when she sees fit. And she's always up for a challenge. Here's one. During her next DJ gig, let's see her throw down a vocal-less dub track, grab a wireless mic, run to the dance floor, belt out a quick one, and just barely make it back to the booth to mix into the next record? Yeah, she's done that as well. In regard to her peers, she's two up on just about everyone else. Ultra, 3; Mariah, 1. I love the sound of that.

Ultra Nate - Alchemy: G.S.T. Reloaded is available in stores now or via download at Masterbeat.

An EDGE Founding Editor, Rick Dunn’s writing has appeared in Bay Windows, The Windy City Times, Washington Blade, among many others. He also initiated The Boston Globe’s very first (and last) gay column, Out & About in 2001. He was the editor of In Newsweekly from 1996 to 2003.


Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook