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Ulver - Perdition City - Music to an Interior Film CD (album) cover



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Trickster F.
5 stars A Musical Journey

Even for Ulver's standards, Perdition City is an unusual, extraordinary album, and the fact that it is most often regarded as the group's Masterpiece is not a mystery - in my opinion, this is their most successful album, where ideas, inspirations, mood and atmosphere all fuse into one amazing, incomparable experience - something I like to refer to as a Musical Journey.

Lost In Moments, the first track, quickly proves Ulver's reputation of being the masters of shapeshifting - the composition is done impressively well with changes between dark Electronic sound and ballad-like mellow parts with pianos and Trickster G.'s(also known as Garm). Garm's vocal performance deserves its own mention in this review. It is, simply put, his best so far - you can hear emotion, passion in his vocal delivery here, done more professionally than ever - showing that his talent as a singer develops with time. The first track is really a great opener, with its saxophone that suits the mellow parts incredibly well and is very appropriate and "screams" high notes when the next bizarre Electronic part should start. When one song contains so much diverse information in it, is a common question whether a group achieves the transition between the above- mentioned parts successfully or not. Good news here, because Ulver certainly do. Moving on to the next track, Porn Piece Or The Scars Of Cold Kisses, it is also one of my personal favourites. The dark mood from the first track remains here and carries on to the next track, as well as the whole album, however, the sound has changed between the first two songs. It is more minimalistic, melodic, and I especially appreciate the last few minutes of this track where Trickster G. wails with passion. The song is over and the rest is the core of the album - what makes it the journey it is. The first two tracks and also the last one, undeniably make the accessible, more straight-forward side of this recording, whilst the other composition is more minimalistic, at times ambient, at times even catchy memorable, at times beautiful, but more often disturbing. This is where you truly start to understand why it is a Musical Journey, as the sound is not as important as the overall "feel". The Future Sound Of Music, an obvious reference to the Electronic project The Future Sound Of London, as a more quirky track than its predecessors, instantly shifting listener's attention from whatever thoughts he was inspired by the music back to the music itself, later exploding into a heavy Electronic sound. I haven't mentioned it before, but I truly believe that Perdition City is also proof that Ulver are not merely a group that progresses between every album, but also constantly have moments that are rather proggy, though not in a traditional sense, for they are used in an original way nobody had before them. We Are The Dead is a very atmospheric track with spoken word in it and creates a spooky atmosphere before minimalistic Dead City Centres with its return of saxophone and a film sample. Pianos show up here as well, just as they do on many other compositions here. The short Catalept leads into Nowhere/Catastrophe, which is easily the most enjoyable track here and most song-like, with its own chorus, sung by Trickster G. skillfully, and even some guitar work, which was present throughout the album only in the shape of background noise. That, accompanied with use of Electronics, create a remarkable composition.

I could use the same positive adjectives describing the album over and over, but it is a better idea to just form a conclusion. This is truly a masterpiece of progressive music and as innovative as an album released in our century can be. It is neither too inaccessible to scare away the newbies, nor lacking the depth that would last for many many listens. Perdition City is simply one of a kind, an album that should be heard by anyone regardless of their tastes, as it is one of the most important records made in the last few years if not *the* one.

Report this review (#73339)
Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great album!

If you really love experimental music this one eill be one of your favourites. Very dark, with almost electronic-industrial loops, jazzy touches and passages that looks totally improvised. The album really feels like "music to an interior film" from the hard and raw first minute of "Lost In Moments" to the last notes of the pathetic ballad "Nowhere/Catastrophe".

Very experimental, designed to listen alone at night and lights off. Some times reminds me Zoar and Recoil but the sound of every song is totally powerful and even scary... Anyway, I recommend this one totally!!

4.5* in fact...

Report this review (#77143)
Posted Thursday, May 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Perdition City is a successful attempt by Ulver to capture a distinct emotion and feeling to an album, which I would describe as pure melancholy. In this album Ulver ranges through a lot of different styles, mostly electronic-based sound but at the same time venturing into a whole lot of other sounds. Throughout Ulver's discography you will find very little difference between each album, starting as a black metal band, transforming into a mix of black metal and folk, then strangely putting out an entire norweigen-folk album and immidiately afterwards the rawest black metal produced album ever made.. and from then their true avant-garde forum was exposed to the world. Kristoffer Garm Rygg's vocals are simply astounding, penetrating through the listener's heart with its sheer sound of emotion. The album shows very skillfully built melodies and transitions throughout all songs while blending pianos and different orchestral instruments making Perdition City a true gem for anyone with an open mind to new music.
Report this review (#89093)
Posted Wednesday, September 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The city is a cold, desolate place.

Ulver continues the evolution of their sound with a further look inside the world of electronics, and classical based compositions fused with trip-hop to create an intriguing if not moving work of art. Overall, I am much more pleased with the quality of the first half(3 songs) of the album than that of the second, although it is still really strong. A highlight on the second half is the brief but highly entertaining Catalept, which will instantly bring memories of Alfred Hitchcock like suspense. A majority of this album also follows in a similar pattern, evoking feelings of suspense and anticipation.

The strength of the album for me is the opening three songs, all of which are uniquely appealing in their own way. Lost in Moments is highly industrialized with significant tension in the notes. Porn Piece... is extremely modern and innovative, and also includes Garm's/Trickster G's best vocal work on the album at the end of the song; evoking countless images with its contrast to the music. Hallways of Always is the trip-hop concept played out in full, and really builds towards the finish.

Once again we see Ulver modifying their sound. An excellent record that gives a different vibe than Blood Inside, my personal favorite, but still extremely solid. Wonderful music to be experienced, not just heard.

Report this review (#94835)
Posted Tuesday, October 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ulver, monsters of the experimental vein of music, masters of dark textures, lords of sinister atmospheres, outdo themselves once more with their millennium release, entitled Perdition City. Flooded by every experimental technique in the book, along with plenty more new ones, this album is a journey. With the psychedelic vocal ramblings of Trickster, the hypnotic percussion, the filthily ecstatic programming, great production, and the polished ensemble come together to offer a really challenging, but ultimately rewarding musical experience. With very little traces of orthodox musical writing styles (such as melodies, riffs, et cetera) are next to non-existent here, and the experimental edge doesn't just drive the music, but becomes the music. One of the freshest modern bands' most renewing releases is this.
Report this review (#131975)
Posted Sunday, August 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ulver gave the best description of this album right in the title, Music To An Interior Film. Perdition City offers as much for your eyes as it does for your ears. Running parallel with the music Ulver provides a visual world of a sort of post-apocalyptic New York City.

What they do to achieve this shocked me, being only vaguely familiar with Ulver as a black metal band. After a few moments of listening one will quickly realize Ulver fall into the Experimental part of their genre grouping and certainly not the Post-Rock. The album draws most of its sound from an Electronic influence. At times you have a near minimalism sound and at others it explores Trip- hop and an Industrial noise type sound. Don't come expecting to hear some killer guitar solos, or guitar at all really, it's there on a rare occasion but its barely recognizable at that. Drums and piano with programming make up the bulk of the album. Perdition City features some of the most haunting sax work I've heard. It's subtle to the utmost extent and so highly emotive, I was hooked on the whole album the second it came in.

A special mention must be given to Garm's vocals. Incredible is as fit a word as any to describe them. He reminds me of Peter Hammill. He doesn't share Hammill's same dramatic outbursts or weirdness, and the similarity isn't seen in his voice, for he certainly doesn't sound like him. I'm referring rather to Hammill's great use of soft/loud dynamics with his voice and his facility for phrasing, timing, and use of spoken word. Garm's versatility is really a treat though not heard too often as a majority of the album is instrumental. I'd say I wish there was more of it, but I'd be too afraid to change any aspect of this album.

Peridtion City is Perdition City. It needs to be felt, heard, and seen to really understand.

Report this review (#132161)
Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars

I am an avid CD collector, I think one of the best things in life is music in any form or long as it's good, entertaining, complex, intricate, beautiful, gloomy, even funny...every once in a while I also come across average albums that either give me a headache or bore me to death...Ulver's Perdition City is one of them.

I'm not sure what happened, the music is quite acid and sometimes really heavy but the music as a whole just doesn't work, it's like a mix of weird metal trying to sound diverse, it ends up sounding a little boring and dull...there are a couple of tunes that opened my eyes but overall this is something that might be hard to digest for Post-Rock surely doesn't sound at all like GYBE, Mogwai or Sigur Rós...

I'm still not sure if this one is a keeper for it's odd values...I think I'll sell it over the internet soon, I guess I would have been happier if I had just downloaded the album instead of spending 30 bucks on it (yes, things around here are quite expensive)

Report this review (#166022)
Posted Monday, April 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ulvers masterpiece eh? I think I'll stick that label under themes. Really I was pretty disapointed with this one, I was told a bunch of great things about it, it came right after themes blah blah blah, and yet we get this semi minimalistic jazzy electronic album. I was at least expecting a little guitar, or a little more vocals. Don't get me wrong it's a pretty good album, just not the intense pinnacle of experimental Norwegian music we all expect.

I'd first like to say, that sometimes I like music with a beat with a groove, sometimes it really adds that extra push to a song to help climax it, make it more catchy, and just pop up the interest a bit more. But, when it comes down to it, I don't like music that is all about the same 4/4 beat, I don't care how souped up it is, it's a beat and will get repetitive eventually, like 99% of Hip hop, Rap, Techno, and you guessed it, electronica. This album is not much different, I don't care how many saxophones you put in, or how cool you synths are, a beat is a beat, and you can only make it's groove last for so long. Now on the first song, we are distracted by some extremely sexy sax, and some gorgeous vocals by garm, or in this case, Trickster G, and this even goes into the second song where the vocals are even the focal point for a minute or two. From this point on Perdition city is dominated by the climactic trip hop beat, where the song will star with basically no beat, then weird electronic sounds will come together to for some kind of rhythm, then actual drums will come in to establish an actual beat, then the synths, and electronic noises will crescendo to a climax, then drop til' the end of the song. And that is how perdition City rolls.

The climaxes are truly rewarding, but really, it's not worthy of four stars, it just doesnt catch my attention like Themes. My favorite song is the second, where the vocals are most prominent, porn pieces or the scars of cold kisses, an absolutely beautiful song. Apparently my opinion is skewed, cause a lot more people like this album more than, and most of which I rank high in musical tastes, so go ahead and give it a spin, if you're into jazzy, avant garde electronic stuff.

Report this review (#168806)
Posted Sunday, April 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Listening to "Perdition City" is like taking a journey through the streets of a city at night. The electronic beat with lots of atmosphere, augmented with piano and sax help create a dark mood as we explore the city. And that really is what makes this album so rewarding, the search, seeing and hearing new things, especially when it seems like there is little going on.

"Lost In Moments" opens with heavy drums and electronics before it settles down quickly to an eerie calm. Sax comes in followed by piano and spoken words. A beat returns after 2 minutes with some sax. Some vocals with sax and piano after 5 1/2 minutes. Spoken words a minute later and a heavy beat ends it. "Porn Piece Or The Scars Of Cold Kisses" opens with piano and lots of atmosphere. We start to get a beat. Electronics after 2 1/2 minutes. Piano and vocals 4 minutes in. "Hallways Of Always" is lead by piano and a beat early. A heavier, louder beat takes over 2 minutes in. It settles with piano 3 1/2 minutes in. The beat is back a minute later. "Tomorrow Never Knows" opens with some atmosphere and piano as a beat with electronics comes in and starts to build. It gets heavier after 3 minutes, but calms down to end it.

"The Future Sound Of Music" opens with electronics as piano joins in. This sounds really good. Synths come in around 3 minutes as the previous soundscape fades away. It kicks back in though before 4 minutes even heavier than before. "We Are The Dead" is experimental and atmospheric as spoken words come in. This is haunting as it blends into "Dead City Centres". The experimental and eerie sounds continue. The song comes to life 4 minutes in with a beat and sax. Spoken words 5 minutes in sound like the narration out of a Batman movie or something, piano a minute later. "Catalept" opens with violins and a beat. Great sound throughout. "Nowhere / Catastrophe" is the most melodic track on the cd, it's almost bright. Vocals and piano with electronics and a beat lead the way. Even some guitar after 4 minutes.

Not for everyone that's for sure, but I really like what they've created here. This is music for the mind.

Report this review (#186833)
Posted Saturday, October 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
4 stars Perdition City, Ulver

A revelation about the potential of trip-hop; the mood of each piece is pretty much always hit (though I have to admit the snarling gangster soundtrack thing may be welcome relief from the rather absorbing coldness of the rest of the album but it's also so stereotypical and tacky that it sort of collapses under its own weight). If every piece were quite as good as the opening Lost In Moments, which perfectly contrasts a chilly background with the bursts of warm saxophone, loose paraphrasing of Kerouac, very defined vocals, and the human vibrancy of the wonderful escapist conclusion. If this is still available on PA as a sample, give it a listen. I suppose having too obvious a favourite is a bad idea for a mood album if that favourite is very self-sufficient.

Thereafter, most of the album remains very consistent and, more importantly, consistently very good. Take the following Porn Piece: half minimalist-driven dark mood music with a cello, leading up into a very warm and haunting song which a savage groove interrupts followed by a return of the main idea. Very well-structured and internally logical. Hallways of Always is, I suppose, where your appreciation of the music's content over its aesthetic is most tested; I think it's wonderful. Tomorrow Never Knows might well represent some of the album's best musical fusion, with the contrast of a slightly industrial and very modern music with some shimmering film-score-type backgrounds ? however, I'm not quite as convinced about this one as the album so far, it sounds a bit thin on ideas whenever the 'leads' drop out, though the concluding catharsis is absolutely wonderful.

The Future Sound of Music is initially more driven by the depth and range of sounds that augment it than the rather dry piano chords that hold the piece down. From the choral/piano contrast around three minutes in, the whole piece is absolutely essential modern progressive music. I suppose you could have made the first section a bit more self-sufficient without ruining the (utterly brilliant) contrast with the following half. We Are The Dead is the most uncomfortable thing on the album, I guess, unsettling the listener with its rich, crisp vocal delivery, dark and resonant lyrics and most of all the unsettled background contrasting with a repeated ghostly choral sound. Dead City Centres contains the lapse in taste referred to above, and while it largely represents an excellent development from the former track, I can never decide whether the jazz interlude/Chicago Gangster parody works out very well. It is well executed and is a musically solid choice, but conceptually it rather disturbs the immersion.

Catalept is another classical/trip-hop fusion though this one has a definite forwards trajectory. The washes of anarchic noise are a very neat effect indeed. The closing Nowhere/Catastrophe merges the album's trip-hop/minimalism with a genuine song, and a very decent one at that. Anyway, the conclusion is wonderfully bleak. One non-musical quibble: 1) 'Trickster G'... maybe it's no sillier than, say, 'Furry Lewis' or 'Slash' or 'Sting' but I think those names are ridiculous too.

In short, Perdition City is a superb result for a 'let's get a random album from a random genre I know nothing about' moment. It doesn't get a perfect score because I feel there are some cracks in the overall construction and a couple of parts that feel a little lazier than the album's best cuts. A very original and powerful album, which is exceptionally well-constructed and which perhaps might change your views on the validity of certain strains of music as it did mine. Needless to say, you should get it.

Rating: Four Stars, 12/15 (or maybe a 13) Favourite Track: Lost In Moments, though any of the first three would do.

Report this review (#284376)
Posted Monday, May 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ulver had become more settled into their new electronic post-rock direction on this album, which combines ethereal jazz and electronic influences to create - as the subtitle suggests - a film noir soundtrack to a movie you are invited to imagine for yourself. It's like late-period Talk Talk got together with Mogwai to come up with a tribute album to Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack, and whilst that combination might be surprising, it works remarkably effectively. With the band's previous extreme metal influences more or less vanished at this point, Perdition City is the ideal starting point to explore the latter half of the band's discography, and is a great improvement on the rather messy William Blake album which preceded it.
Report this review (#639270)
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Perdition City: Music To An Interior Film" is the 5th full-length studio album by Norwegian music act Ulver. The album was released through Jester Records in March 2000. It´s the successor to "Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell" from 1998, although the two full-length albums are bridged by the 1999 "Metamorphosis" EP.

The "Metamorphosis (1999)" EP is important to mention here, as it marked a significant stylistic change for Ulver being an experimental electronic music release. "Perdition City: Music To An Interior Film" continues down the same electronic music path (although much more structured and featuring more memorable moments), featuring an experimental, ambient, and atmospheric electronic music style. There´s an Angelo Badalamenti (composer of the soundtrack for the Twin Peaks tv-series) influence here, when it gets most lounge jazzy, but combined with a dark, melancholic urban atmosphere. The subtitle to the album "Music To An Interior Film" is a very accurate way of describing the music and its impact on the listener. It is the type of music which creates cinematic images of dark, rainy urban environments, sleazy back alleys, and noir type settings.

The music is predominantly instrumental, but does on occasion feature subtle melancholic male vocals, which reminds me a bit of the most quiet vocal parts on the latter day Talk Talk/Mark Hollis albums (and sometimes "like on the opening minutes of "Hallways Of Always"" appear a bit more mainstream accessible). There are also some female vocals on the album, but they are even more sparse. Saxophone is used on opening track "Lost In Moments" and on "Dead City Centres", and to great effect. The sound of the saxophone creates a feeling of desolation, isolation, and longing for companionship in the decayed urban atmosphere created by Ulver.

"Perdition City: Music To An Interior Film" features a well sounding electronic oriented sound production filled with programmed drums, synths, piano, bleeps and bloops, samples, and other effects. Upon conclusion Ulver have created an intriguing, dark, and melancholic electronic music album, which at times may drag a bit too much while building atmosphere (tracks like "Tomorrow Never Knows", "We Are The Dead"), and "Dead City Centres"), but other times shine quite a bit with great atmospheric moments of gloomy cinematic beauty. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Report this review (#2871208)
Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2022 | Review Permalink

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