Ultramarine are an English electronic music duo, formed in 1989 by Ian Cooper and Paul Hammond.
Cooper and Hammond first worked together in the band A Primary Industry during the mid-1980s. Following the split of that band, they formed Ultramarine and released their debut album ‘Folk’ in April 1990 on seminal Belgian label Les Disques du Crépuscule. The duo found critical acclaim with their second long player, ‘Every Man And Woman Is A Star’, initially released in 1991. 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 Estuary in Essex.
The moods and movements of this English estuary can be heard running through the duo’s stunning and deeply intriguing new album ‘Send and Return’.
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.
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 was originally inspired by seeing Robin Williamson of The Incredible String Band perform on a similar barge.
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.