Ultimate Fantastic – “Gadzooks”

Ultimate Fantastic and the members that it is comprised of are new to me, so if they are old news you’ll have to excuse me while also allowing me to be grateful that I found them and have endeavored to share them with others.

According to their bio: Ultimate Fantastic is comprised of Julian Fritz (Dropical) on production, Deja Solis on seductive, soulful and intriguing vocals, and Pharroh and Wink delivering intricately laced word-play and emcee vocal precision. All four members are seasoned artists who have toured extensively world wide and been involved with a versatile line-up of influential musical groups including Albino, Hamsa Lila, Vagabundos, and Pega5u5 to name a few.”

As far as a review goes, let’s just get it out of the way – this is a fucking great record, it is absolutely meant to be listened to from front to back in one sitting, and I hope I get to catch Ultimate Fantastic performing live before I die. Suffice to say – highly recommended!

I hear many shades of Diplo in the production, but only references to the best and most banging of his catalog. M.I.A. can’t go without mention, both in relation to Diplo as well as her vocals on her own material, as there is definitely some influence happening there. There’s moments where it’s almost like listening to latter day Outkast, you know – when Outkast was more like The Andre3000 & Big Boi Show than it was Outkast. Some of the way this record was produced and the flow of the tracks reminds me of the the King Britt project called Sylk 130, specifically “When The Funk Hits The Fan”. I’m reminded of a couple of house and R&B mixtapes from Mark Farina and Trevor Lamont. Then there’s moments when you hear the dancehall influences or flavors developed from listening to lots of so-called “festival culture” or “EDM” music – both of those terms make me cringe to even utter, but they are pretty effective, as I am pretty sure you probably know exactly what I’m talking about when I use them, despite either terms not being terribly defined. “Planet F.L.O.” from Planet Asia and F.L.O. comes to mind. I hear some of The Black Eyed Peas before they took a shit, even, in some places. And obviously, all those mentions were influenced by the greats that laid the groundwork.

Even with all those references to existing music, existing works of art, existing masterpieces Ultimate Fantastic still manage to somehow be their own specific thing. Pharroh and Wink are truly gifted MCs who manage to navigate bouncy club bangers and sublime murked out beats with equal talent and finesse, each with voices entirely their own that also compliment one another perfectly. Deja Solis has a remarkable voice that is powerful and soulful enough to stand on it’s own while it effortlessly weaves between the bars from Pharroh, Wink, and Deva Believa when she appears. The production from Dropical, hinted at by the number of names mentioned as obvious and/or potential influences above, is top tier regardless of mood and intent.

The images from their live performances have me wanting to be in the crowd big time. It looks like Dropical mixes produced/programmed electronic music, by way of computer and gear, with traditional instrumentation as evident by any number of percussion instruments that surround him. The way the stage is set up for their performances and the obvious involvement and performance levels on display in the live photos by all three handling the vocals, coupled with the Dropical setup, just makes it look like an awesome and rewarding live music experience.

Anyhow, while this thing seems well outside my wheelhouse for many of those reading this, I am sure, I can’t impress upon everyone enough that you all should give this album a whirl. “Gadzooks” is a clubby, housey, jazzy, bass music slapper that presents itself as an unwritten story in sound.

It’s popular music for unpopular radio, it’s hip hop for clubkids, it’s house music for jazz heads, it’s R&B for IDM folks, it’s leftfield dancehall for stadiums. It’s EDM for hip hop heads, it’s club music for goth kids, it’s good music for great people and it should probably be your backyard BBQ soundtrack all summer long. Heads will nod, the booty will shake, and you’ll have something to talk about.

“Gadzooks” is a sexy, intelligent, rump shaker and you should own it.

Ultimate Fantastic – “Gadzooks” [download]

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