Satellite Party

Ultra Payloaded

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Ultra Payloaded is nothing less than a Perry Farrell-helmed concept album about global warming that stars a "musician" and a "beautiful night nurse," who may or may not be dreaming when their souls are beamed up to join an intergalactic party presided over by "Jim," who has refined sexual delight into fragrances and likes Earth because he uses it to sculpt ice caps (this is where the global warming comes in). Fortunately, the story is in the liner notes, so it's easy to just get comfortable and examine the music for what it is. Satellite Party is Farrell on vocals and programming plus Nuno Bettencourt on guitars, with help on various tracks coming from New Order's Peter Hook, Red Hot Chili Peppers' John Frusciante and Flea, the poetry of the long dead Jim Morrison, plus beats on a few tracks by Thievery Corporation and Hybrid. With the exception of Hook's bass work on the opener, virtually all of these contributions are smooth to the point that they barely register as musicians with distinctive personalities; Farrell's production and Bettencourt's co-production and Steve Lillywhite's executive production serve to keep any speck of grime (or style) well hidden. Farrell's songwriting is quite good for this project, and his vocal range is greater than he ever showed with Jane's Addiction or Porno for Pyros, but from the evidence here, it's clear that he needs a little roughness and earthiness -- from Dave Navarro or others -- to make his music dynamic and commanding, and also to bring his concepts down to earth where mere mortals can enjoy them. Peter Hook is able to do this on "Wish Upon a Dog Star," but it's one of the few highlights. The Jim Morrison poetry track is especially embarrassing, more because of Morrison's lack of rhythm than Satellite Party as a band.

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