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Record/Vinyl + Digital Album
A limited edition 12" vinyl pressing, produced in the UK. Plus all orders from our Bandcamp store will include a bonus 5-track CD, 'Blackwaterside', including material from the first iteration of Ultramarine's Blackwaterside project, plus an exclusive live track.
Includes unlimited streaming of Send and Return
via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
The moods and movements of an English estuary can be heard running through a stunning and deeply intriguing new album from the electronic duo Ultramarine. Flowing and mutating as it transitions from an Essex river into the open sea, the Blackwater Estuary, north of London inspired this beguiling collection of hypnotic jazz, itching electronica and softly dazzling ambient shapes.
"I've been looking at that space in which ambient music and electronica mingle with jazz, and with their latest album, Ultramarine have firmly moored in those waters.
On this record, they're joined by the jazz musician Greg Heath and the percussionist Ric Elsworth. There are soaring saxophones, alto flutes, and vibraphone all in the mix to make what's a really contemplative ambient sound but with a jazz shimmer." ELIZABETH ALKER - BBC RADIO 3 UNCLASSIFIED
/// About Send and Return ///
'Send and Return' is the result of a live session captured onboard a barge floating on the Blackwater Estuary, recorded in 2020. Paul and Ian were joined by Greg Heath (on saxophones and alto flute) and Ric Elsworth (percussion and vibraphone).
“There’s a very distinctive feel to the Blackwater Estuary, it’s almost Dickensian,” explains Paul Hammond, one half of Ultramarine. “It’s a very quiet, rural area with these mud flats everywhere – I think the river ended up seeping into our music.”
Paul and his musical partner Ian Cooper went to school in Maldon, Essex, at the head of the Blackwater Estuary, the stretch of water that inspired their shimmering, mysterious and gently meandering upcoming album Send and Return.
They began making music together in the 80s, releasing Ultramarine’s debut album Folk on Belgian label Les Disques du Crépuscule in 1990. Over the next decade or so, they recorded two John Peel sessions, collaborated with Robert Wyatt, toured the States with Orbital, then Europe with Björk. After a hiatus, they began recording again in Ian’s home studio, overlooking the Blackwater.
“We referenced the river in song titles, and Ian made field recordings of local birds, or his dog jumping into the water,” remembers Paul. In 2016, a film they made from Ian’s photos of the Essex estuary was screened at the Caught By The River Thames festival at Fulham Palace, London.
“It has grown into an ongoing side project which we named 'Blackwaterside' after the traditional folk song performed by both Bert Jansch and Anne Briggs.” Ultramarine created two new pieces of music inspired by the estuary, released with an accompanying book, published by Random Spectacular, an imprint run by Blackford Hill’s Simon Lewin.
Following a performance on an island in the estuary and a live show in Colchester the day before the first COVID lockdown began, Send and Return is a brand-new installment to the project.
For the 6-track album, Paul and Ian hired a Thames sailing barge moored on the estuary for one day and recorded below deck in the ship’s downstairs wooden saloon; the idea originally inspired by seeing Robin Williamson of The Incredible String Band perform on a similar barge.
“It was a lovely space – where they used to store grain. If you listen closely you can pick up the wooden acoustic from the room. These ocean-going vessels would transport goods between London and Essex, which is where the title Send and Return comes from. It’s also a reference to mixing desk terminology, where you ‘send’ and ‘return’ sounds and add effects. We wanted to avoid a watery title for the album; this seemed nice and functional.”
The duo were joined by jazz musician Greg Heath and accomplished percussionist Ric Elsworth for the day, who added stunning saxophones, alto flute, percussion and vibraphone to the mix. It’s a contemplative, ambient record with gentle jazz inflections and softly pulsing electronica. Paul is pleased with the range of styles on the deliberately pared-back album, but also wary of over-conceptualising the work.
“We named the tracks after Thames sailing barges; Mirosa, Xylonite, Decima, Hydrogen, Reminder and Dawn. We’ve always liked the 6-track album format; the brevity and the way that it forces you to organise the record into two short suites of music. We thought this format would be a good way of setting some limits on the project and restricting any temptation to over-indulge.”
First track, 'Mirosa' has an almost unsettling tone, casually brimming with a low-key dread in its machine-made beats, while the last track, 'Dawn' is a peaceful, mellifluous closer, where warbling woodwind brings a bright, calm optimism. Elsewhere, celestial xylophone swirls around reedy sax lines then echoey guitar melodies drift and swell around bubbling vibraphone; the effect is transporting, meditative; invigorating then soporific in turn.
/// About Ultramarine ///
Ultramarine are the London & Essex-based electronic duo, Ian Cooper and Paul Hammond.
Formed in 1989, their early releases were issued on the seminal Brussels-based label Les Disques du Crépuscule. Their classic second album 'Every Man And Woman Is A Star' (1991) was neatly described by Simon Reynolds in his book 'Energy Flash' as:
'Perhaps the first and best stab at that seeming contradiction-in-terms, pastoral techno... all sun-ripened, meandering lassitude and undulant dub-sway tempos... like acid-house suffused with the folky-jazzy ambience of the Canterbury scene.'
The group's collaborative work has included partnerships with Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Anna Domino, Lol Coxhill & Iain Ballamy. 'Signals Into Space', the duo's acclaimed seventh album (Les Disques du Crepuscule, 2019), features songs written in collaboration with Anna Domino and contributions from saxophonist Iain Ballamy (ECM, Loose Tubes) and percussionist & vibraphone player Ric Elsworth. A companion ambient mini-album Meditations was released in November 2019.
released May 26, 2023
Recorded live on board Thames Sailing Barge Kitty, Maldon, Essex 7th February 2020
Additional production and mixing at Press Play Studios, London March 2022
Ian Cooper | live treatments, guitar
Paul Hammond | keyboard, bass guitar
Greg Heath | soprano sax, alto flute
Ric Elsworth | vibraphone, percussion
Mix engineer | Andy Ramsay
Mastering | Jason Goz, Transition Mastering
supported by 23 fans who also own “Send and Return”
This is as good as the officially released WRNTDP titles on CIS. Very pleased to pick it up, where the pieces here are longer than most on the records they benefit from the slow unwinding they are afforded. The 18 minute live set excerpt is particularly immersive. Wouldn't be the worst idea in the world to release this on vinyl as a companion to the inevitable repressing of This Nation's Most Central Location. Great stuff. Oh and you get a cool magazine to read as well. Awesome. shaun rogan
supported by 20 fans who also own “Send and Return”
This is probably my favourite album..when does it get a repress...soon I hope.. I get the same melancholia when I listen to this as I get when i hear the strains of a well drilled pit band drifting through the ether of my mind... these albums speak of and about the sociology of people and thier places in a crumbling socialistic infrastructure ,and of the industry that employs and shapes thier lives,in the current tense and also a nostalgic magical utopian tense of public information film christopherogley