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Ulver - ATGCLVLSSCAP CD (album) cover

ATGCLVLSSCAP

Ulver

 

Post Rock/Math rock

4.06 | 40 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars Have I mentioned before that I LOVE ULVER! I love the creative, adventuresome, unpredictable, ever-evolving spirit that is this band. To me, this is an essential feature of the most creative bands/artists'the willingness and drive to constantly try new things, the curiosity and fearlessness to experiment with new media and new styles and new techniques. I don't know if it's driven by a desire to grow, by insatiable curiosity, by envy and respect of other musical styles, or the mental discipline to always try to test oneself, but Ulver seem to constantly reinvent themselves. (Which is one of the reasons that Ulver should be the poster-child for the campaign to get ProgArchves to let go of the system of categorizing a band/artist into one and only one sub-genre'forever and ever'based upon a one-time decision-making process.) While many reviewers of this album are citing a turn in direction toward a German Kosmische Musik influence coming through on this one, I would go a bit further and urge people to consider the influence of the entire career of Holger Czukay'soundscapes and radio sampling being the special focus. Garm and mates must be huge fans. The life-work of ambient music pioneer Brian Eno is also heavily drawn upon here, no doubt.

1. 'England's Hidden' (7:39) opens with sample recordings of church/cathedral bells ringing (how Brian Eno!) over which an odd glockenspiel arpeggio and some Beatles-esque dissonant string orchestra chords are sustained into slow crescendo. As the strings take the fore and begin playing in real chord sequences, the bells and glock fade away. I am strongly reminded of Eno's Discreet Music album as well as some of the Fairlight CMI work Peter Gabriel incorporated into his 1982 eponymously titled album (also called 'Security'). Truly an awesome, stunning, masterful song. (10/10)

2. 'Glammer Hammer' (4:49) opens as a bleed over from the previous song before taking on a kind of X-Files theme played by U2 and THE CURE. Cool, awesome, moving song. The break at the 2:15 mark is so creepy as they engineer the tunings of the sounds/instruments before entering into a heavier rock phase of the song'one that is very familiar to those of us who have heard a lot of Ulver's discography. Awesome song with some awesome drumming and a great build up to the contrasting pastoral ending. (10/10)

3. 'Moody Stix' (6:44) has a kind of Asian feel and sound to it, with many percussives, tuned and untuned, contributing to the mix in the first minute. The arrival of electric guitar power chords, deep heavy bass, and heavily treated psycho-babble from the lead guitar cannot quite offset the kind of circus atmosphere created by the percussives and drum kit'the later of which become more dominant as the song progresses to its end. This could be a great contribution to a soundtrack to a film scene. (8/10)

4. 'Cromagnosis' (9:48) is a two-part, two-tempoed song, the first very psychelic yet engaging in a lilting Kosmiche kind of way, the second more like a driving WHO or MOTORPSYCHO song. It is great. It all works'bongos and all. (9/10)

5. 'The Spirits that Lend Strength Are Invisible' (3:16) bleeds over from 'Cromgnosis' like an interlude the band need to tune instruments and reconfigure keyboard and computer programs. About 1:40 in some heavily treated percussives and then a little later some pitch-modulated synth sounds play over the base-line mix. Very EnoAmbient, Apollo era-esque. (8/10)

6. 'Om Hanumate Namah' (7:42) is pure Kosmiche Musik complete with awesome chanting, Edge Evans guitar style, and some great drumming a la Vespero. Awesome and enthralling! (10/10)

7. 'Desert/Dawn' (8:34) is dominated by the immense palette of a church organ though simple bass, drum and multiple synths play their weave over the top in a Math Rock kind of way. (8/10)

8. 'D-Day Drone' (9:21) has an apocalyptic Shadows of the Sun-like feel to it with multiple synth washes and tympanic-bass laying solid foundation of doom and ominosity for a Holger Czukay-like radio sample of some traditional Persian-like instrument played over the top by a synthesizer. During the second half the organ takes over as provider of base/background while radio voice samples take over for the lead instrument. (9/10)

9. 'Gold Beach' (4:52) continues the theme of peaceful organ-play over which radio samples are slipped in and out. Don't know why, but this song really gets me. So cool, so relaxing. In a David Sylvian kind of way. Awesome chord progressions used by the organ. (10/10)

10. 'Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen)' (5:56) is a more 'normal' song in that it has an ABACAB structure and traditional four-piece rock band lineup. I find the song most interesting for reminding me how much I like the vocal talents of bandleader Kristoffer Rygg. (How does he hold that note for so long in the fifth minute?) More Post Rock in the ANATHEMA-style'though I really like the way the drums are recorded. (8/10)

11. 'Ecclesiastes (A Vernal Catnap)' (9:01) is a treated piano and heavily synthed background over which someone is reading for the first 3:30 in what I presume to be Norwegian while in the second half Garm sings the English version of the New Testament's famous verses from Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, verses 1-8. Over bongos. Kind of cool but unnecessary (though I love the parenthetical title). (8/10)

12. 'Solaris' (2:12) is a very odd and edgy ambient piece with a strings-synth chord sequence and female operatic singing providing the background within which a heavily oscillated volume controlled instrument (or instruments?) of undetermined name (drums?) weaves its railroad-like melody into the mix. Fascinating in a Baroque music listening quiz kind of way. (9/10)

I have to agree with several of the reviewers who have already made their judgement over this album that it is one of the best Ulver albums I've ever heard'certainly one of the most interesting and intriguing. Too early to know if this will be considered one of their masterpieces but we'll certainly know by next December.

4.5 stars, rated down, for now, for no good reason that I can think of . . . .

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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