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All Music Guide:
Ultra Vivid Scene is Kurt Ralske like Nine Inch Nails is Trent Reznor. Although Ralske's atmospheric art pop could not sound less like Reznor's thudding industrial disco, the two are not that far apart in terms of aesthetics; Ralske's lyrical obsessions with such gothy standbys as sex, religion, and death make the band's three albums naturals for the mopey black-clad teenager in us all.
Ralske was born and raised in New York; something of a musical prodigy, he was accepted into the Berklee School of Music in Boston at the age of 16. Though Ralske was an accomplished keyboard player, he found new inspiration in the determined amateurism of the late-'70s New York no wave scene, which took the "anyone can do it" ethos of punk rock to its logical extreme. Thus inspired, Ralske quit music school and moved to London in 1986, picking up the guitar and observing the city's new dream pop scene (Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, etc.). Ralske formed a short-lived group called Crash, named after the J.G. Ballard novel, before returning to New York in 1988 and signing to 4AD Records under the band name Ultra Vivid Scene. Despite the band name, the first two UVS records, 1988's Ultra Vivid Scene and 1990s Joy: 1967-1990, were basically solo albums. 1992's Rev found Ralske playing with other musicians for the first time, but shortly after the release of that album, Ralske retired the band name and spent several years working as producer and studio musician for the likes of Ivy, Lloyd Cole, and Richard Davies. In the late '90s, Kurt Ralske returned under the band name Cathars, releasing the ambient electronica work Amorphous in 1999.
Ultra Vivid Scene was an American alternative rock band, started by Kurt Ralske.
Former Nothing But Happiness and Crash guitarist Ralske started Ultra Vivid Scene in 1987, was signed to 4AD Records in 1988, and released his first UVS EP, She Screamed, in 1988. The debut album Ultra Vivid Scene released October 1988, was written, produced and performed entirely by Ralske, whose influences include The Velvet Underground and The Jesus and Mary Chain. The second album, Joy 1967-1990, was released in April 1990. The same month they played their first tour dates in the UK.
The last album, Rev, was released in October 1992, and was performed by a band comprising Julius Klepacz (drums) and Jack Daley (bass) with Ralske on vocals and guitar. This album was picked up by the Chaos imprint of Columbia Records (Sony Music Distribution) during the time rival Warner Bros. was having some success with its imprints' 4AD relationships (4AD/Sire, 4AD/Elektra, 4AD/Reprise).
As a live act, Ultra Vivid Scene performed only a handful of US dates in support of the first album in 1989. The second album in 1990 was supported by one month of touring in Europe and two months in the US. 1993 saw one month of US tour dates for the third and final album.
Ralske has gone on to do solo work, and has also produced albums for such artists as Rasputina, Ivy and Charles Douglas. His last known musical endeavor was the solo release in 2001 Amor 0 + 01. Since that time, Ralske has achieved acclaim as a visual artist.
In the "Mercy Seat" video, a young Moby appears playing the guitar, at around 3:23 minutes into the video, as he performed with the group at the time that single was released.
The 1990 video for the song Special One featured guest singer Kim Deal from The Pixies.