Joy 1967-1990Album | Ultra Vivid Scene By T. Cole Rachel
Kurt Ralske's second album endures as one of the early 90s' hidden gems.
Ultra Vivid Scene was essentially the solo project of songwriter Kurt Ralske, who sings and plays almost every instrument. Following a spotty self-titled debut, 1990's Joy 1967-1990 would ultimately be the high point of his musical career, arriving at a time when American college rock was starting to pique the curiosity of more mainstream audiences. The album is a mashup of noisy guitars, drum machine beats, and Ralske's semi-heretical lyrics (sex and Christianity weigh heavily on his mind) delivered in a vaguely faux-British accent. Unlike many of his 120 Minutes contemporaries, Ralske buried great pop songs underneath the processed guitars and disaffected vocals. Tunes like "It Happens Every Time" and "Special One" (featuring memorable backing vocals from Kim Deal) would grace many a mixtape in the burgeoning alternative nation. Ralske went on to make one more UVS record (1992's Rev) before saying goodbye to music entirely and focusing on a new career as a sound and video artist, whose work includes a piece in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.