Ultra is a Dutch post-punk movement that originated in Amsterdam in the early 1980s.[1][2][3] The name "ultra" is a shortening of "ultramodernen".[4] The movement had an avantgarde, experimental, and artistic aesthetic. Many of its participants were students in art schools. In contrast to other countries' post-punk movements, the Dutch experimented with, among other things, toy instruments, chainsaws and de-tuned guitars.

There were four main strands involved with ultra music:[5]

  1. Dutch Punk bands from Amsterdam that embraced experimental music: most notably The Ex and Morzelpronk, led by Dolf Planteijdt, who ran a recording studio called the Koeienverhuurbedrijf (Cow Rental Company).
  2. Amsterdam art students: most notably the Minny Pops led by Wally van Middendorp of the record label Plurex). Plurex also supported Smalts and Stephen Emmer's solo work. Other Amsterdam ultra bands included The Young Lions (1979 - 1981), Tox Modell (1980 - 1982), The Tapes, and Mecano.[6]
  3. Nijmegen: Mekanik Kommando, Bazooka, Vice, and Puber Kristus/Das Wesen.[7] Mekanik Kommando had two bass players, and played electronic music with dreamy style.
  4. Eindhoven: Nasmak and friendly bands, who were interested in repetitive structures, but also produced music that was more fluid and danceable than the Amsterdam ultra bands.

Ultra was associated with the modern music magazine Vinyl, which existed from February 1981 to February 1988, and coined the term "Ultra".[8] Stephen Emmer (the guitarist of the Minny Pops) and Arjen Schrama (the guitarist of the band Tox Modell) were the founders of this magazine. André Bach and Mark Tegefoss (also of Tox Modell) were involved and Harold Schellinx (of the band The Young Lions) served as an editor.[9] The magazine's ambition was to create a new journalism that reflected the new music.[10] Vinyl not only acted as a voice for the movement, but also released the music of ultra bands on flexidisc, with every issue of the magazine accompanied by a free record. The most representative compilation of the ultra movement was the C-90 cassette Ultra, released in 1981 on the Amsterdam label Lebel PERIOD, a Dutch record label associated with Tox Modell, and run by Marc Tegefoss and Det Wiehl.[11] Most of the tracks on this album are untitled.

The band The Young Lions played a central role in defining the ultra movement and distinguished it as an abstract and conceptual musical direction. The Young Lions was active from mid-1979 to early 1981. The band consisted of the art students Rob Scholte (on drums), Ronald Heiloo (electric piano), Tim Benjamin (guitar), and Harold Schellinx (wonder instrument). The group began practicing in the basement of the Rietveld art school. The eleven songs on their cassette Small World were composed in sequence during one uninterrupted, almost 24-hour studio session; these songs were performed live only once. Scholte described the band's objective as "to show punk where it had messed up". The goal was not to produce punk music, but to take a different, more artistic approach to punk. Their rare performances often inspired violence and aggression from the audience, who did not understand their objectives. Scholte has discussed how the audience would throw beer, climb onstage, and try to break their equipment.[12]

The most successful and internationally recognized ultra band was the Minny Pops, founded in 1978 by Wally van Middendorp (who also founded the record label Plurex).[5] The band consisted of van Middendorp, Frans Hagenaars (bass), Peter Mertens (guitar). The Minny Pops toured internationally[13] and opened for Joy Division.

Weekly ultra nights were organized at the Oktopus club in Amsterdam between September 1980 and March 1981.[4] Organizers were Wally van Middendorp, Rob Scholte, and Harold Schellinx.



Mekanik Kommando

Minny Pops


Tox Modell

The Young Lions




  1. ^ Continuum encyclopedia of popular music of the world, Volumes 3-7M
  2. ^ Boots, Jaap (2014-11-06). Donderweg: mijn leven in de fast lane van de popmuziek (in Dutch). Ambo/Anthos uitgevers. ISBN 9789026326202. Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  3. ^ Schellinx, Harold (2012). Ultra: Opkomst en ondergang van de Ultramodernen, een unieke Nederlandse muziekstroming (1978-1983). Overamstel Uitgevers. ISBN 978-9048842995.
  4. ^ a b Foster, Richard (2017). "'Afwijkende Mensen': Understanding the Dutch ultra scene". Postgraduate Voices in Punk Studies: Your Wisdom, Our Youth. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4438-8168-5.
  5. ^ a b Voorvelt, Martijn (2004-01-01). "Dutch Post-Punk Experimentalism". Perfect Sound Forever. Archived from the original on 2021-11-29.
  6. ^ Kritzalis, Markos (2019). "Mecano Interview". Minimal Wave. Archived from the original on 2023-04-30. Retrieved 2023-04-30.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  7. ^ Foster, Richard (2020). "Mapping Subcultures from Scratch: Moving Beyond the Mythology of Dutch Post-Punk". Researching Subcultures, Myth and Memory. Amstelveen: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 215–232. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-41909-7_11. ISBN 978-3-030-41908-0. S2CID 226450254.
  8. ^ Foster, Richard (2017). "'Moderne Muziek': Vinyl magazine and the Dutch post-punk movement". Punk & Post-Punk. 6: 7–20. doi:10.1386/punk.6.1.7_1.
  9. ^ "Transmission Art Archive: Harold Schellinx". Wave Farm. 2008-04-01. Archived from the original on 2023-04-29.
  10. ^ Pisters, J. M. J. A. (2015-01-15). Bachelor Geschiedenis: Ultra= No Future? Een studie naar de Nederlandse jeugdcultuur van de vroege jaren tachtig (Thesis) (in Dutch). Radboud University.
  11. ^ Smit, Oscar (2021). De Paradiso Punk Jaren Deel 4: 1979-1981 Nederpunk(s) En Ultra. Amstelveen: Black Olive Press. ISBN 9789072811271.
  12. ^ FOSTER, RICHARD (2014-05-04). "DIGGING UP DUTCH UNDERGROUNDS: AN INTERVIEW WITH ROB SCHOLTE (ARTIST) AND OF THE YOUNG LIONS AND SUSPECT". Luifabriek/Rob Scholte Museum. Archived from the original on 2023-04-27.
  13. ^ Nice, James (2010). Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records. Aurum. ISBN 978-1-84513-540-9.