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Ulver - Childhood's End - Lost & Found From The Age Of Aquarius CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.47 | 68 ratings

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2 stars Castrated classics

Listed here on PA as a genuine studio album, Childhood's End by Norwegian chameleons Ulver is really an ode to the late sixties. All of the 16 tracks here are among the first wave of psychedelic rock that hit the airwaves some 45 years ago, so if you're looking for new material from this shape shifting rock group - you'll have to wait awhile until the release of the upcoming album, which in turn should be in the making as we speak.

I refer to Ulver as chameleons because of their inability to stand still musically. Starting out as an experimental black metal band with one foot buried in ancient Norwegian folkloric music, these guys have since then played all electronic, post rock, post metal - and some rather indefinable genre-less sounds that have cemented their position as one of the few truly progressive bands of the modern rock scene.

Childhood's End should be an album made for yours truly - it really should. Back when music really started to unfold beyond the mundane to me, it was mostly the sounds of the sixties that spoke to me. Here was music that was wild and untethered - free as a bird and all that jazz, and it hit a nerve with me in a most peculiar way that still resonates with me deeply. I can still put on a Jimi Hendrix album or a Grateful Dead jam and loose myself for an hour or so and come up on the other side of it and feel rejuvenated and alive in that hippie-peace out-love conquers everything type of way. It's naive, yeah I know, but I love it - and I can feel it right down in my bones!

Add to that, I think I have every album from where these tracks have been lifted off - and some of them still remain personal faves. So when you then count in just how fond I was of Ulver back in my metal days of Obituary and bonfires, you may get an idea of how much this album should work for me..... But it doesn't! Sadly no. Maybe it's because I've heard the original tracks to death and back and have trouble seeing them in a new dressing, but I sincerely doubt that is the sole reason for my disappointment. Personally I think it's all about production and how some musicians seem to be incapable of leaving 'mistakes' alone. Letting the odd howl and screech be as it is. Childhood's End is far too clean and sterile to these ears, and that is in itself an error Ulver should have been able to track miles ahead of it actually occurring - seeing as they once ditched the studio antics in favour of raw unadulterated power, back in their black metal beginnings.

The original songs here, like The Pretty Thing's Bracelet on Fingers or Street Song by 13th Floor Elevators fed off the rawkous garage drive. -A thing that literally pushed the tracks into another dimension altogether, and yet on here they seem like mere shadows of themselves - reduced to lukewarm indie rock with mellow tasteless vocal delivery. It's much the same one faces with songs like Living in the Past by the now legendary Chocolate Watch Band and Velvet Sunsets from Music Emporium. The music seems like professionally recorded tracks inspired by Steven Wilson techniques and studio multi tracking gone completely berserk. Don't get me wrong, I happen to love Steven Wilson as well as his producing skills, but would I really like them transcribed onto my favourite psychedelic rock music from the sixties? No way in hell! Big mistake.

All of the songs lie uncomfortably close to the originals, which again shaves away any real room for improvisation or multifaceted imaginative b pieces interwoven in the old school batter. No siree! If they indeed had done something to that effect, I would better have understood their production choices, but alas - this was not to be.

I may sound tough, and I guess I would be lying if I said that I didn't find some form of enjoyment in this release, but if I really have the urge to listen to these brilliant classics, I'll pull out my old record collection any day over this. Childhood's End does have its more breathtaking moments, and especially the modern twist on Jefferson Airplane's delicate and fragile love song Today, sounds oddly beautiful and robust all at the same time here with its low bass vocals and doomy atmospheres. Still, I'd rather have the real McCoy thank you...

My guess is that the younger crowd here on PA will find a lot to love on this tribute album, and that is probably mostly down to them not knowing the originals like the rest of us. If such is the case, then I heartily recommend this recording, and I sincerely hope it will ignite a fiery sonic journey back through the wild and soulful annals of psychedelic rock that once flew like milk and honey in the skies of marmalade, where Lucy once sat cross-legged in amazement with a splif hanging from her lips.

Guldbamsen | 2/5 |


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