The music of Canterbury duo Ultramarine resists easy classification, drawing as it does from ambient, techno, folk, and eclectic '70s Canterbury art rock artists like the Soft Machine, Caravan, and Robert Wyatt, who occasionally performed live with the group and appeared on their United Kingdoms album. The group, which is made up of Paul Hammond and Ian Cooper, has a distinctively British feel and employs a wide range of instruments and sounds.
Hammond and Cooper first collaborated in the avant-garde band A Primary Industry during the mid-'80s. When that band split, the duo named themselves Ultramarine and recorded Folk in 1990. Their second album, Every Man and Woman Is a Star, appeared in 1992 and earned praise for the duo as one of the first home-listening electronic groups. Sire signed Ultramarine in 1992 and issued their first U.S. release, United Kingdoms, the following year. Despite a high-profile collaboration with Robert Wyatt (and with Kevin Ayers for the accompanying Hymn EP), the album practically disappeared both home and abroad. Nevertheless, Hammond and Cooper continued to record in a quirky electronic folk-pop vein for 1995's Bel Air. Three years later, User's Guide saw Ultramarine's sound approaching the trip-hop/electronica mainstream. After a long break, the duo returned in 2011 with two singles (“Find a Way” and “Acid I Butch”), while 2013 saw the release of their sixth studio album, This Time Last Year. ~ Steve Huey