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Ulver ATGCLVLSSCAP album cover
4.00 | 51 ratings | 3 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 2016

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. England's Hidden (7:43)
2. Glammer Hammer (4:49)
3. Moody Stix (6:45)
4. Cromagnosis (9:48)
5. The Spirits That Lend Strength Are Invisible (3:16)
6. Om Hanumate Namah (7:42)
7. Desert/Dawn (8:27)
8. D-Day Drone (9:22)
9. Gold Beach (4:58)
10. Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen) (5:57)
11. Ecclesiastes (A Vernal Catnap) (9:02)
12. Solaris (2:12)

Total Time 80:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Daniel O'Sullivan / bass, guitar
- Ivar Thormodsæter / drums
- Ole Alexander Halstensgård / electronics
- Kristoffer Rygg / electronics, percussion, voice
- Tore Ylwizaker / keyboards, electronics
- Anders Møller / percussion
- Seth Beaudrealt / audiovisuals
- Jørn H. Sværen / voice

Releases information

CD House Of Mythology HOM 002 (2016 UK)
2LP House Of Mythology HOM 002 (2016 UK)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
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ULVER ATGCLVLSSCAP ratings distribution

(51 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by 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 . . . .

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. ULVER are a band who can't seem to sit still, they need to change the style of music they play on a regular basis. The title "ATGCLVLSSCAP" is an acronym for all of the astrological signs in order apparently. I didn't know that Daniel O'Sullivan from GUAPO was part of this band. Actually he and ULVER's electronic expert Kristoffer Rygg and SUNN O)))'s Stephan O'Malley have been part of band called AETHENOR for many years. Rygg was quoted as saying this about ULVER performing live, "It took us 15 years to muster the will and want to interact with society, that is to perform live...". So I can just imagine how nervous they all were when they did the series of live shows in Norway that this album was culled from. Nervous because it was sort of an experiment by the band to play these shows by playing improvised music. The music here is dark and features lots of electronics and a fair amount of droning. Experimental is the word and the band I thought of the most when listening to this was SWANS.

"England's Hidden" opens with church bells and this will go on for a long time until joined by sparse sounds before 1 1/2 minutes. These sparse sounds will eventually take over. This sounds like orchestral drones, maybe electronics. It sounds like mellotron after 6 minutes and it sounds amazing! It blends into "Glammer Hammer" where it changes quickly into more of an instrumental "rock" mode with drums, guitar keyboards and more. It calms down before 2 1/2 minutes but then this powerful sound drops like a bomb before 3 minutes. Some great percussion work here as these powerful outbursts come and go until they stay almost to the end. "Moody Stix" is percussion galore not so surprisingly considering the song's title. It's an interesting tune with other intricate sounds that help out, but percussion dominates.

"Cromagnosis" features experimental sounds that build while the guitar and other sounds come and go. This is pretty cool. It turns louder with drums around 2 minutes, man this is good. It's very repetitive but I love this stuff. A change after 6 minutes as it picks up in tempo and becomes catchy. "The Spirits That Lend Strength Are Invisible" because they are spirits? Sorry, couldn't help myself. Sounds echo and there's lots of atmosphere and it's somewhat haunting. An adventerous track that is really out there". Also a great headphone track as most of these are. "Om Hanumate Namah" is also haunting and experimental. It sounds like electronics but it's hard to tell. We start to get a guitar melody over top before 2 minutes then it kicks into gear with drums and more as the guitar continues. Some vocal expressions too. These guys have some really good ideas.

"Desert/ Dawn" is dark with nature sounds like frogs etc. These high pitched sounds come in almost squeaking as a beat follows then experimental sounds as it builds. So good! The organ starts to drone at around 4 1/2 minutes and eventually the droning starts to over-power everything else. It's incredible the way they change things up ever so slightly while keeping the same theme. "D-Day Drone" is exotic and full of atmosphere to start as yes it starts to drone. Suddenly after 5 1/2 minutes it feels like danger is near, a dread is about to fall on us. Then a sampled voice can be heard before 7 minutes and it will continue until after 8 minutes.

"Gold Beach" again has lots of atmosphere that seems to hover and slowly pulse. The organ shines here creating atmosphere. "Nowhere(Sweet Sixteen)" is a re-working of their "Nowhere/ Catastrophe" song from their "Perdition City" album. This is the first true vocal track where the vocals are the focus as we get a beat with electronics. I really like the chorus where he sings slowly with his deep voice "Catastrophe" repeatedly. "Ecclesiastes(A Vernal Catnap)" opens with the atmosphere rolling in as deep spoken words arrive then piano. Another headphone track. The book of Ecclesiastes starts to get quoted in the singing after 3 1/2 minutes. Powerful stuff. "Solaris" ends it but I thought the previous track would have been the perfect closer. Sounds drone and it sounds like strings as well and they do get aggressive or maybe it's just sped up.

If you like your music dark and experimental like SWANS you should really check this out. Man this took a lot of listens before I started to really get into this. Another fantastic album from Norway.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Ulver, of course, is a band that has no specific style, other than art rock, only because that is the closest anyone can come to giving their style of music a name. Never a band to stick with any one single style, the only genre they could fit under is progressive rock. Always unpredictable, yet almost always producing and creating the best music possible. They are probably the most diverse band out there. Yet, not many people know who they are, even with an impressive discography as they have.

The album 'ATGCLVLSSCAP' is no exception. The title is derived from the first letter of the signs of the zodiac. The music on this album is considered 'free form'. All of the music is improvised and recorded live during one of their recent tours. The improvisations are all based on previous songs released by Ulver from various albums. The band collected the best of their free form experiments for the album and in the process, created new songs out of old songs.

The first track is 'England's Hidden' which is very drone like and atmospheric. It is based off of the track 'England' from 'The War of the Roses'. Vocal samples are used and manipulated to create the drone-like feel of the track. 'Glammer Hammer' is more upbeat and more traditional than the last track. It is an improvisation from 'Glamor Box' from 'Messe I.X ' VI.X'. This recording is excellent and dramatic full of strength and extremely dynamic. I have never heard a 'newly realized' song to sound so good, especially improvised. Amazing. 'Moody Stix' is based off of samples of 'Doom Sticks' from 'A Quick Fix of Melancholy'. This is another dramatic and cinematic track. The percussion drives the track which is excellent and so is the overall mood of the piece.

'Cromagnosis' takes it's sweet time to establish itself with atmospheric and psychedelic sounds, but it all culminates eventually in a rhythmic and melodic track eventually. When it does, it feels like coming out of a forest into daylight. It is very krautrock sounding when it settles into it's spacey groove. There is a sudden change at the 6 minute mark, a more frantic beat and bass line take over, almost reminding one of early 'Hawkwind' instrumentals. Everything speeds up during the last minute and then stops like everyone has fallen to the floor exhausted.

'The Spirits That Lend Strength Are Invisible' is a shorter, experimental track. The sounds at the foreground are harsh and metallic, but in the background you can hear a melody playing, but it is mostly drowned out by the noises in the foreground. This one is a spooky sounding track, but is homage to the talent and imagination of the band. 'Om Hanumate Namah' utilizes soundscapes that can remind one of being in the cold arctic, standing at the top of the world listening to the sounds reflecting off of the surface of the Earth and echoing back to you. After 2 minutes, percussion kicks in and there are distant whispered vocals (whispering the title of the track) along with a nice guitar that has a very distinctive mid-Eastern flair. Again, the hints of krautrock become apparent. It grows in intensity as it continues. It might seem repetitive, but that is only if you listen to it on it's surface. Deep down in the mix, there is a lot of activity going on. Only those paying attention will notice.

'Desert Dawn' builds slowly on soft sounds that could actually be sounds of the dawn approaching on the desert. As the volume increases, you start to pick up new sounds and textures. This track is very hypnotic. You could easily get lost in this sound. All of the sounds eventually get lost in the sound of sustained notes from an organ. After it fades some, it comes back very orchestral and majestic. Beautiful! 'D-Day Drone' is a soft drone, possibly created by syths I believe, is layered under a mysterious sounding instrument, something like a processed sitar and guitar feedback, but staying ambient and sparse-like. I swear I can hear voices or singing way down deep inside the drone. Eventually, you will hear voices being transmitted just keep listening closely. 'Gold Beach' is a 5 minute, ambient electronic piece, very pensive and quiet.

'Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen)' is a rearrangement of 'Nowhere/Catastrophe' from the album 'Perdition City'. It is quite a surprise as it is the first track on the album to have lyrics. The vocals are probably the most perfected vocals that Kristoffer Rygg has ever recorded. They are sung at full voice, no whispers or subdued vocals. This is probably the closest thing to a radio friendly track on the album. It even has the majestic flair of some of the best Pink Floyd songs. 'Ecclesiastes (A Vernal Catnip)' is a reimagining of parts of 'Tomorrow Never Comes' also from 'Perdition City'. There are spoken vocals in another language. It is driven by a beautiful piano loop and swirling ambient sounds. Later, Kristoffer sings in English, the lyrics are the words from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. I think that the melody might be improvised, but it is melodic enough that it is hard to tell and could easily be composed, not improvised. The vocals are surprisingly emotional. 'Solaris' is a short 2 minute epilogue to the album. It is a atmospheric piece, with processed effects and sounds. Very peaceful and calming.

This album reveals new things everytime you listen to it. Every new realization and improvisation completely re-writes the source material that it comes from. If there is such a thing as Progressive Remixes, this is it. Everything about this album is new, even if it came from older sources. You can call this hypnotic, psychedelic, art rock, avant-prog, ambient, or whatever and you are right in all cases. The final result of this experment results in a dynamic, ever changing landscape of music that is exciting and new everytime you listen to it. I would go so far as to say this is one of the best Ulver albums in my opinion, and with the range of their discography, that says a lot. There is so much variety here among the tracks, and a surprise at every turn. And there is plenty of variety so that there is something here for everyone. This is an experiement that can be considered a huge success. Ulver continues to surprise and excel at almost everything they do. Their output has not always been perfect, but it has always been intriguing if nothing else, but this one is close enough to perfect to be 5 stars.

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