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Ulver Drone Activity album cover
3.66 | 16 ratings | 3 reviews | 6% 5 stars

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Live, released in 2019

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. True North (16:11)
2. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea (21:48)
3. Blood, Fire, Woods, Diamonds (16:43)
4. Exodus (15:50)

Total Time 70:32

Line-up / Musicians

- Kristoffer Rygg / Vocals, Programming
- Tore Ylwizaker / Keyboards, Programming
- Jørn H. Sværen / Miscellaneous
- Daniel O'Sullivan / Guitars, Bass, Keyboards

Releases information

May 11th, 2019
House of Mythology

Thanks to Lynx33 for the addition
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ULVER Drone Activity ratings distribution

(16 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (44%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ULVER Drone Activity reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is a live album? Could've fooled me! (Again).

Another great album of ambient mood adventures--four epic length ones--once again enlisting the participation of multi-instrumental journeyman and all-around prog all-star, Daniel O'Sullivan (GUAPO, GRUMBLING FUR, ÆTHENOR, MOTHLITE, MIASMA & THE CAROUSEL OF HEADLESS HORSES, CHROME HOOF, CERBERUS CHOAL). (I guess after ten years of work with Kristoffer Rygg & Co. I should be finally accepting as fact that he is a real and permanent part of Ulver.) Upon repeated listens, I find two of the songs draw me in and keep me there while two lose me. That fine line between droning background music and exciting, engaging foreground music is one that Ulver has always had trouble negotiating with me--except in concert format: I've found everything the band does in concert to be mesmerizing and thoroughly engaging. (But, then, the video and light shows accompanying their stage performances--not to mention their enlisted participation of choir and/or orchestral support--definitely add a different dimension to their music--one that is perhaps under-represented in the studio album versions. I guess the point is: see them live or buy their DVDs, that's where you'll experience the real magic of Ulver music!)

1. "True North" (16:11) (23/30) 2. "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea" (21:48) (41/45) 3. "Blood, Fire, Woods, Diamonds" (16:43) (28/35) 4. "Exodus" (15:50) (27/30)

Total Time 70:32

Four stars; a solid contribution to the Prog World lexicon.

I still think this is a studio album.

Review by patrickq
3 stars My first thought on hearing this album was "Wait. This is the same band that did The Assassination of Julius Caesar in 2017?" I guess the title and the very apt artwork should've hinted that this would be a bit different.

As well-executed as Drone Activity is, I'd probably be more impressed if I wasn't already familiar with early Tangerine Dream or with Klaus Schulze's 1970s output. Certainly the twenty-two-minute centerpiece "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" is Schulzian, and while the rest of the album doesn't sound precisely like 1970s ambient Krautrock, it resembles it in spirit. For example, compared to "Twenty Thousand," "Blood, Fire, Woods, Diamonds" is more obviously constructed using virtual instruments on a DAW, but nonetheless, it's a seemingly endless loop with minor variations.

Similarly, although swaths of the opening and closing works ("True North" and "Exodus") are more atmospheric and more amorphous than the middle tracks, it all fits. And it's pretty spacey. Listening to Drone Activity, I get the feeling once in a while that an Ozrics tune or a Barrett-era Pink Floyd number is right around the corner - - although much more frequently, I get the sense that whatever loop I'm currently experiencing is truly endless, and I begin to wonder whether I'm imagining tiny deviations or actually hearing them.

Like Ulver's last full-length album, The Assassination of Julius Caesar, Drone Activity is unspectacular but good. But that's about the only point of similarity. The Assassination of Julius Caesar was popular music: verses and choruses, melodies and rhythms, lyrics and hooks - - that sort of thing. Drone Activity is art music. Rarely does it allude to any sort of traditional western form, and then only vaguely (e.g., parts of the middle and end of "Exodus"). And whereas The Assassination of Julius Caesar was quite evidently a group effort, much of Drone Activity is so focused as to suggest a single vision. And its resemblance to a studio-assembled work further strengthens the sense I get of Drone Activity is the product of a single artist.*

Anyway, this is a good album. The most obvious downside is its length; although I'm not aware of a vinyl LP release, the four songs here are each roughly an LP side long; this is, in effect a double album. And like so many double albums, it might've been better as a single album - - in particular, I can imagine the interior tracks ("Twenty Thousand" and "Blood, Fire") constituting a unified, thirty- or forty-minute work.

Although Ulver is listed as a post-rock group, I'd recommend Drone Activity to anyone interested in a modern take on the spacey side of 1970s Krautrock.


*According to Ulver's bandcamp page, my sense is wrong; via intentionally imprecise language, Drone Activity is presented as a live album performed by a group.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Ulver's musical interests bounce around all over the place - we're talking about a group whose discography ranges from the rawest of raw black metal to dark folk music to synthpop, after all - so it's nice of them to give this release an apt title to tip us off to what to expect.

Though a live album, Drone Activity consists of all-original material. Don't think "drone" in the sense of, say, Ulver buddies Sunn O))) - instead, think "drone" in the sense of some of the mid-1970s work of progressive electronic masters like Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze. Heck, the album is even structured like Tangerine Dream's Zeit, with its four electronic ambient pieces occupying a timespan which would, were this to get a vinyl release, have each track taking up a side of a double album.

Don't think this is a full-on pastiche of Tangerine Dream, however; the aesthetic of Ulver's vampiric cyberpunk works of yesteryear is thick on the ground here, the band simply using a Tangerine Dream-esque format as a springboard for improvisation in their own distinctive style. The end result is another compelling release from a band who are never less than interesting.

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