Equatorial Ultravox sits somewhere between an album and an EP, a mere seven tracks in length. It’s a tentative first release from Chad Valley, a.k.a. Hugo Manuel.
There’s a strong start with first track “Now That I’m Real (How Does it Feel?)”, with its complex layers of synth and echoed vocals, even the brief bursts of steel drum can’t spoil it. This should pave the pave for the rest of the album, but everything that is promised falls flat when the second track begins. Reminiscent of a ‘90s slow jam, “Reach Lines” meanders along sounding vaguely seedy. The rest of the album carries on in the patchy way. “Acker Bilk” is rather beautiful, and through it Manuel successfully creates an electro ballad, a very tricky territory. But, true to form, the album looses its way straight afterwards with “Faster Challenges”, which has the backing of a bad ‘90s dance track.
Many of the tracks lack emotion, which leaves them lifeless and just a bit boring. Lack of feeling is not something Manuel can be accused of during his live performances, but on record something has definitely been lost.
With only seven tracks to its name, Equatorial Ultravox should really be of a higher standard, especially when the better tracks are so promising. Perhaps this is just a warm-up and the next release from Chad Valley will work on the problems of this albumette.