“Baby” is the latest Ultraflex single, out now on Street Pulse Records.
For previous generations, it was much more common to meet a core group of kids in grade school who would become your closest friends, and remain so into adulthood. These days, however, it’s just as likely to “lose touch” with your once-best friends as it is to make new ones well after one’s formative years. For better or worse, people come and go throughout our lives, and some days you might even find yourself wondering how a work colleague understands you so much better than one of your bridesmaids.
In the case of Ultraflex, the collaborative project of Farao (Kari Jahnsen) and Special-K (Katrín Helga Andrésdóttir), the duo came together relatively recently in their lives, after each artist was already well-established. And it’s proven to be a special kind of collaboration that one hopes will continue to deepen and develop as it’s done for the past couple of years. If you’re a regular HighClouds reader, you’ve undoubtedly seen the name Ultraflex pop up a number of times—each new single being a cause for celebration—and their latest release “Baby” is one of their best yet.
Similar to other jams “Olympic Sweat” and “Never Forget My Baby” from the debut Visions of Ultraflex album, new single “Baby” plays like a dancefloor dream with its trademark breathy vocals, crisp, high-register bass, and symphony of arpeggiated synths. But more so than anything on Visions, which filtered icy electro-pop through a Soviet-disco lens, it’s a bit easier here to detect some of their more direct 80s influences: the sparkly, melodic chimes that open the track are straight out of New Order‘s instantly classic “Round & Round,” while the unexpected chord change at the 3-minute mark calls to mind the moodier songwriting of early Pet Shop Boys. Even lyrically, there’s a passage of such flirtatious confidence that’s reminiscent of “gonna use my sidestep” Chrissie Hynde:
“I see you across the room / And you’re not looking at me? / I’m gonna fix that / I’m gonna sneak into your / peripheral vision / And you’re gonna notice me / When I dance”
Of course, Ultrafex‘s come-on is imbued with humor—the singer’s incredulousness that the subject hasn’t yet noticed her, followed by her plan to inch into their sightline. The track’s charming accompanying video could have easily leaned into this humor, as the duo has done with previous visuals that tend toward being simultaneously serious yet absurd, sexy yet gauche. But instead, the video for “Baby” consists primarily of footage of Kari and Katrín just hanging out together: dancing at a party, walking around Cairo, posing in front of pyramids, and of course, performing onstage. This completely makes sense here, especially when considering Ultraflex‘s take on the tune:
“Although the song is about romantic endeavours, we realized afterwards that it is also about our artistic collaboration. It emphasizes the importance of taking risks and indicates that whatever happens tomorrow, we’ve got each other right now, and that’s what counts—the power of the moment is worth whatever the future brings, whether it’s happy-ever-after or heartbreak.”
Which brings us back to the friendship between Kari and Katrín, and their partnership that is the Ultraflex project. When you look back at their work over the past couple years, one thing becomes abundantly clear: these two just get each other. They seem to be so in-sync—both musically and aesthetically—it’s hard to imagine any other pair producing the music and videos that Ultraflex does. It’s a rare thing to find that kind of connection; we should all be so lucky.