Ultra Naté‘s reputation following her classic 1989 vocal house anthem “It’s Over Now” was more or less built on near-anonymous, pile-driving club accumulation than the breadth of talent. So, though Naté‘s husky delivery is certainly pleasing, if you could legitimately differentiate between Naté and Amber and Jocelyn Enriquez among the bathetically bombastic 1998 remake of Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind”—i.e. the “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” of the ‘90s— you have obviously listened to “Joy” and “Free” about a hundred times more than I have. Naté‘s new LP Grime Silk Thunder (a nice triptych title, though given the real lack of grime I would’ve reordered the three elements’ billing) collects some of her material that’s been floating around for the better part of the decade along with some new tunes and even newer covers of old ones. The less said about many of them, the better. Naté‘s specialty has never been dance music for headphones; rather, she excels at providing the soundtrack to yet another round of speedballs. Some of the album’s better tracks are, ironically, the more leisurely, such as the Italio-tinged “Love’s The Only Drug” and the mysterious “Lethal Shot.” (Also of note: the near absence of a bassline in “This House.” Mitigating factor: it’s there, but just way down in the mix.) But what’s amusing about the entire enterprise is how easily one single kink in the assembly line can render an otherwise generic effort unique and memorable. Take “Automatic”—not the admittedly compelling (in a corny sense) Eurotrash trance cover of the ‘80s Pointer Sisters classic but, rather, its glossy accompanying music video. For the first two or three minutes, it’s nothing if not a stalwart representation of your standard gay-bar video-jukebox fixture. Shots of Naté encased in what looks like rhinestone-studded liquid Lycra juxtaposed with shots of a buck nekkid, entirely fuckable buck (or maybe two, since all gym bunnies look pretty much alike) kicking back—conveniently accentuating his abs a la John Basedow—with a laptop covering his pointer sister. Then Naté or someone lip-synching to her voice shows up in a freakazoid, perhaps CGI-enhanced blow-up doll costume and sends the entire video into legitimately weird territory, as though David Meyers were asked to direct a video for Nine Inch Nails. Not hot, but it’s sure kinky, the aspect most sorely lacking throughout Grime Silk Thunder.
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