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Ultramarine \ A User's Guide [LTMCD 2430]

A User's Guide is the fifth album by Ultramarine. Originally issued in 1998, this eclectic and intriguing set marked a return to the independent sector after five years on major label WEA. Largely electronic, the album also represents a partial return to the ambient-techno textures of signature work Every Man & Woman Is A Star.

Recorded and produced by Paul Hammond and Ian Cooper at their London studio in 1997, reference points include Autechre, Carl Craig, Eric Dolphy and Scientist.


1. All of a Sudden
2. Surfacing
3. Sucker 4U
4. On the Brink
5. Zombie
6. By Turns
7. Ambush
8. 4U Version
9. Ghost Routine
10. What Machines Want

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A User's Guide [LTMCD 2430]
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"Like the ambient-techno scene they headed in the early 1990s, Ultramarine were hailed as visionaries. A User's Guide attempts a return to their Detroit-influenced techno roots, and there's a lot to like. Futuristic chill-out" (Q Magazine, 12/2005)

"Sounds like a different era altogether, when chill-out had yet to be commercialised and Boards of Canada were barely shimmering on the horizon. Dubby interlude 4U Version is the highlight" (Uncut, 01/2006)

"After a few years of silence, Ultramarine returned with a sound more akin to the understated ambient-techno of Every Man and Woman Is a Star rather than the electro-folk of 1995's Bel Air. It's an intriguing sound, just as wildly varied as you'd expect from these musical eclectics, but A User's Guide holds together much better than previous LPs like Bel Air and United Kingdoms" (All Music Guide, 2005)

"By this album there was still plenty of mileage and inventiveness in Ultramarine. Intelligent chill-out that actually stands up to Boards of Canada's Music Has the Right to Children, released in the same year. Surfacing and Ambush certainly share the same gifts for haunting ambience. Other standouts are the noir-ish Ghost Routine and On the Brink, where a lovely melody persists underneath the clanking metal. These unfussy, inventive instrumentals certainly make up a surprisingly excellent send-off" (Leonard's Lair, 10/2005)

"This is a key visionary piece in the timeline of the post-club music scene that still stands up to close scrutiny today. A User's Guide concisely and brilliantly highlights the most interesting route that came from the ambient perimeters of techno and which is still being mapped today by the likes of Boards of Canada" (Whisperin' & Hollerin', 02/2006)

"The fifth and (at the time) final Ultramarine album closes the journey with purely electronic and programmed perfection. The acoustic elements from the earlier releases - especially clarinet and accordion sounds - are all gone and they hardly use any vocals either. A User's Guide still sounds warm and soulful though, in all its futuristic machine jazz glory and that is one of the great achievements of this band and something they did better than any of their peers on the 90's electronica scene. Ultramarine developed a totally unique and original sound. On A User's Guide it is perhaps perfected to such an extent that some listeners might find it a bit anonymous and, eh, bland? Myself, I love this and find it to be one of Ultramarine's most complete and coherent pieces of work and definitely the best electronica album of 1998" (Rate Your Music, 2008)