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Ultra Fuckers - Beyond the Fuckless

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Artist: Ultra Fuckers

Album: Beyond the Fuckless

Label: Public Eyesore

Review date: Apr. 28, 2003

Culture Shock

There is a human tendency to fear that which is totally foreign, hence most of the sociopolitical problems in the world. However, if the foreign is combined with the familiar to make it more palatable, the opposite is true. It becomes “exotic,” and we praise ourselves for our tolerance and understanding of other cultures. Ultra Fuckers come from Japan, home of the delightfully quirky (the broken-English slogan “We are psychedelic warrior” is emblazoned across the cover). Their aesthetic is not particularly foreign, as the desire to play guitars really loud and piss off old people apparently transcends culture. But they seem perfectly willing to hide behind willful inaccessibility, content to be “exotic” instead of good.

I refuse to spend more time writing about the music of Ultra Fuckers than they spent writing and recording it, so I’ve got about fifteen minutes to summarize. The songs straddle the line between the traditional and the experimental. They are structured like garage punk numbers, verse chorus verse chorus, but whereas punk depends on immediacy and directness to grab the listener, the music of Ultrafuckers seems vague and formless, hidden by a miasma of poor production (more on this later) and a total lack of dynamics. The overall effect is a constant blare, an almost ambient drone of distorted guitar, flailing drums, and hoarse shouts. They are straining to be loud and obnoxious, but the music is almost impossible to pay attention to. It begs to be ignored. Things pick up slightly in the middle, when the tempo slows and the singer shuts up for a few minutes. “German Rock Radio II” adds keyboards, “Lets Go Space Beach” features surf-signifying reverb guitar, and “Long Number #2” is essentially the guitar player teaching himself how to use the delay pedal. The sonics of these songs are an improvement over the frantic monotony of the rest, but since Ultra Fuckers still neglect to write any actual songs, they’re just fancy frosting on a sugar-free cake.

Beyond the Fuckless contains some of the most truly awful production I have ever heard in my life. Not in a gritty, in-the-red kind of way, but in a $20 boom box wrapped in a blanket kind of way. The album sounds like every piece of equipment used in the recording process, from instruments to microphones to tape to vinyl, was made of cardboard. It takes either a tremendous effort or a complete disregard for the process to make a recording sound this bad, and since Ultra Fuckers took the trouble to get their album released, I’m inclined to believe the effect is intentional.

The whole thing stinks of a scam, a lure for those who believe that if it’s Japanese, “psychedelic,” loud, on a tiny label, and sounds like crap, it’s inherently good. From the minimal packaging to the primitive music contained within, this album by Ultra Fuckers seems tailor-made for those indie rock fans who fetishize the obscure and unpleasant. Thanks to stellar exports like Boredoms and Acid Mothers Temple, “Japanese” has become synonymous with “genius” in the minds of many who appreciate noisy, acid-soaked rock music. But Ultra Fuckers are evidence that every culture has its share of nimrods and hucksters.

By Nick Ammerman

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