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ULVER

Post Rock/Math rock • Norway


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Ulver biography
ULVER are a Norwegian trio who started life as a black-metal band around 1993. They have gradually developed an experimental Progressive Metal style and their avante-garde sound is seen to best effect on their 2005 release, Blood Inside. The current line-up (as of July 2004) is Kristoffer Garm Rygg, Jørn H. Sværen, and Tore Ylwizaker. Former members include guitarist Grellmund who committed suicide in late 1997 and Håvard Jørgensen who contributes guitar on their latest album. Related bands include Coil and Borknagar.

Apart from their latest album, "Blood Inside", other notable experimantal and progressive works include Themes from William Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell", released in 1998 and "Metamorphosis" and "Perdition City" which are even more experimental than the "Blake Album" especially in their use of electronics.

See also:
-Arcturus
-Borknagar




Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Ulver's admission have been agreed by Prog Archives Collaborators.


Discography:
Vargnatt demo (1993)
Split EP with Mysticum (1994)
Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler (1995)
Kveldssanger (1996)
Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden (1997)
The Trilogie - Three Journeyes through the Norwegian Netherworlde (1998)
Themes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1998)
Metamorphosis EP (1999)
Perdition City (2000)
Silence Teaches You How To Sing EP(2001)
Silencing The Singing EP (2001)
Teachings In Silence EP Incl. both "Silence" EPs (2002)
Lyckantropen Themes (2002)
1993 - 2003 1st Decade In The Machines [Compilation] (2003)
A Quick Fix of Melancholy EP (2003)
Svidd Neger (2003)
Blood Inside (2005)

Ulver official website

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BergtattBergtatt
Import
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Madrigal of the Night (Nattens Madrigal)Madrigal of the Night (Nattens Madrigal)
Century Media 1997
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$6.66 (used)
Shadows of the SunShadows of the Sun
The End Records 2007
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$6.31 (used)
A Quick Fix of MelancholyA Quick Fix of Melancholy
EP
The End Records 2003
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$2.56 (used)
KveldssangerKveldssanger
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Head Not Found 2001
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Childhood's EndChildhood's End
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Wars of the RosesWars of the Roses
KSCOPE 2011
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$7.63 (used)
Themes From William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven And HellThemes From William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven And Hell
Import
Jester Norway 2006
Audio CD$13.20
$9.39 (used)
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More places to buy ULVER music online Buy ULVER & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
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ULVER shows & tickets


  • Oslo Psych Fest 2014 on 4 Sep 2014

ULVER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ULVER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.89 | 93 ratings
Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler
1994
3.47 | 66 ratings
Kveldssanger
1995
2.87 | 66 ratings
Nattens Madrigal
1996
3.83 | 81 ratings
Themes From William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
1998
3.86 | 143 ratings
Perdition City (Music To An Interior Film)
2000
3.74 | 49 ratings
Lyckantropen Themes
2002
3.27 | 41 ratings
Svidd Neger
2003
3.73 | 125 ratings
Blood Inside
2005
3.92 | 193 ratings
Shadows of the Sun
2007
3.74 | 137 ratings
Wars Of The Roses
2011
3.21 | 49 ratings
Childhood's End
2012
3.74 | 98 ratings
Messe I.X - VI.X (with Tromsø Chamber Orchestra)
2013
3.33 | 26 ratings
Terrestrials (with Sunn O))))
2014

ULVER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.67 | 3 ratings
Live at Roadburn
2013

ULVER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.17 | 30 ratings
The Norwegian National Opera
2011

ULVER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.76 | 23 ratings
Teachings in Silence
2002

ULVER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

1.89 | 10 ratings
Vargnatt
1993
2.35 | 16 ratings
Metamorphosis
1999
3.08 | 14 ratings
Silence Teaches You How to Sing
2001
3.14 | 13 ratings
Silencing the Singing
2001
3.77 | 28 ratings
A Quick Fix of Melancholy
2003

ULVER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Terrestrials (with Sunn O)))) by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.33 | 26 ratings

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Terrestrials (with Sunn O))))
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by frippism
Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

3 stars Deemed by many as the absolute most anticipated semi-pretentious hipster metal album of the year, the collaboration between Norwegian weirdo ambient former metal-heads Ulver, with the ever most terrifying wall of noise that is the drone metal guitar duo Sunn O))), even I was joining the hype. These two bands are practical celebrities of the underground music world, who have inspired and intrigued the world of modern experimental/underground music. I was finally convinced to go ahead and pre-order the thing when I saw its beautiful artwork. "A portrait of our sun, captured in the wavelength of hydrogen alpha light"- sure, whatever dude. But the cover just sucks you right in, and more or less encapsulates the general feel of the album- an eerie, mysterious, though pulsing and violent ambient live improvisation made by two very progressive bands (one of them, sadly, not on this site).

To describe the sound would be a bit difficult. Undoubtedly it attains the subtlety and aurora- like beauty of the later Ulver albums- strong in its ambient colors and its warm melancholic sounds. The great thing about Sunn's presence in the album are the underlying tones they give, the strong guitar feedback which quietly reverberates throughout most of the album. You feel Sunn's presence to be more than cosmetic only after a few listens to the album, but in reality they are responsible for giving out most of the atmosphere here. They do their part and they do it well, often sounding like they are standing away in the not-too-far horizon, dishing out their absolutely brutal walls of distortion in an utmost gentle way. The more traditional sounding instruments do the trick, adding more beautiful textures to the album and giving you something more material to hold on to and to focus on.

The first track- "Let There Be Light" is probably my favorite. The slow build up is beautiful, and the trumpet that comes in really carries this track through all the way to the epic drums that come in towards the end of the track, which are heavy and primitive sounding and take the track to a very satisfying finish. "Western Horn" continues with the... horns, for the most part serving up for a very pleasant listen but it does outstay its welcome a bit. "Eternal Return" also builds up nicely, and ends at the only part with vocals on the album, with Kristoffer Rygg dishing out his instantly recognizable voice. It's a really holy moment when he sings, with a simple yet effective chord progression. The song mellows out slowly, with bits of harpsichord and other weird sounds swimming about before the song sinks to silence.

Overall the Sunn O))) & Ulver collaboration could've been better, longer, somewhat more groundbreaking, but the bands still manage to make a very strong ambient album with positive profound contributions from both bands. It is always a fun listen, with bits that are truly awe-inspiring and beautiful. A good listen for any fans of the band, or anyone who has meaning to try them out. 3.5 I'd say

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 Messe I.X - VI.X (with Tromsø Chamber Orchestra) by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.74 | 98 ratings

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Messe I.X - VI.X (with Tromsø Chamber Orchestra)
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Messe I.X-VI.X' - Ulver (8/10)

I can't think of another band that has so constantly and successfully reinnovated themselves as have Norway's Ulver. Like a modern day King Crimson, Ulver have never stayed in one spot for too long, always pushing towards uncharted territory even well into their maturity. While I'll always have a soft spot for 1995's Bergtatt, their decision to swerve away from their roots in black metal has given Ulver a much longer-lasting musical relevance than most of the bands from the Norwegian Second Wave. No matter where Ulver has travelled with their sound, it's always resulted in something interesting and sincere.

Of course, none of what I've just said should come as any surprise to anyone who has experienced Ulver before. The questions then are: where have they gone with their latest opus Messe I.X-VI.X, and what musical stones are yet unturned? Teaming up with the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra, Ulver's latest incarnation is based in minimalist neoclassical music. Slow, brooding and steeped in their unique brand of experimentation, this orchestral approach seems a logical evolution from the band's previous ambient work, particularly the sombre Shadows of the Sun. Messe I.X-VI.X may suffer the pangs of an uneven flow and a few less impressive moments, but its unique marriage of chamber music with dark ambient, electronic and jazz is impressive, and at its best, some of the most sublime material Ulver have ever produced.

Calling Messe I.X-VI.X an 'album' may be improper, as it has more in common with a modern classical work than anything in the popular canon. "As Syrians Pour in, Lebanon Grapples with Ghosts of a Bloody Past" introduces the album with a hauntingly profound soundscape. A hurdy-gurdy carries on a sombre dirge over the crackle of distant gunfire and grim wartime ambiance. Although the exotic atmosphere makes for a slow start to the album, the track ultimately evolves into a more focused modern classical composition. A string section gradually adds layers to a sombre arrangement that immediately recalls Henryk Górecki's "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs". Although first impressions had me yearning for a quicker start to the album, the track is damned near-perfect, both in its composition and execution.

Although Messe seems predominantly inspired by neoclassical composers, it most strongly gives the impression of being the soundtrack for a film that exists only in the listener's mind. "Shri Schneider" and "Glamour Hole (Ostinati)" would be fitting scores for a tense espionage thriller. Blending electronic experimentation with the neoclassical template, Ulver are exploring a fusion of genre I haven't had the pleasure of hearing before. The resulting atmosphere is immense and futuristic. While Ulver may have been influenced by tradition and longheld conventions on Messe, the music is anything but.

In homage to Western classical tradition, Messe I.X-VI.X adopts a liturgical theme, reflected in the work's solemn atmosphere, use of choirs, and minimal, religiously-oriented lyrics. Kristtofer Rygg's voice has remained a constant throughout Ulver's work, and the common utterance of Rygg as one of the most powerful, diverse vocalists out there does not go unfounded. Especially on Shadows of the Sun, his deep, gloomy vocals were profound and emotionally penetrating. Having been a fan of just about every vocal performance I've heard from him, it was all the more surprising and every bit unfortunate that Rygg's vocals seem out of place here on Messe. Although the first half of the album is nearly-perfect in its instrumental ambiance, the vocals on "Son of Man" have never struck me the right way. Maybe it's a result of the lyrics- the religiosity of which feels contrived and minimalistic without being particularly profound- or perhaps I simple became so immersed in the atmosphere of the album that lead vocals of any kind would have hurt my enjoyment. "Mother of Mercy"- the album's other vocal track- fares better both lyrically and musically. Rygg's voice retains its trademark depth and resonance, but the band's neoclassical direction doesn't fit his voice nearly as well as the electronic approach of yesteryear. Although I wouldn't dismiss the possibility that Ulver will find a way to make lead vocals work for this neoclassical style, I'm left with the (possibly) unpopular opinion that Messe I.X-VI.X could have been even better if it had been kept purely instrumental and ambient.

"Noche Oscura Del Alma" is a solid ambient piece, with warped samples of Helen Forrest's "Mad About the Boy" conjuring an impression of the post-apocalypse. Especially compared to the three other instrumental tracks however, it's the weakest offering here and doesn't really work without the two vocal tracks around it. Really, I'm left with two impressions of Messe. While the first half of the album is downright masterful, the second side is disappointing by contrast. The misguided vocals aside, Messe loses its sublime sense of pacing after "Son of Man". To the album's credit though, it would be difficult for any music to follow up the near-perfection heard on the first track and "Shri Schneider". The second half of Messe I.X-VI.X is quite good, but I'm left longing for a more consistently satisfying experience.

The title Messe I.X-VI.X implies the coming of a second installment to comprise the last four movements. If that's true, then I have high hopes for more of Ulver's neoclassical-electronic fusion. While the album does not impress me as much as their best ambient work in Perdition City or the devastating Shadows of the Sun, this next evolution leaves plenty of room for Ulver to create something worthy of awe and wonder.

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 Messe I.X - VI.X (with Tromsø Chamber Orchestra) by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.74 | 98 ratings

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Messe I.X - VI.X (with Tromsø Chamber Orchestra)
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Teaming up with Tromsø Chamber Orchestra, Ulver use the classical backing offered by the orchestra to their advantage in adding weight, power, and gravitas to their post-rock compositions. Ulver have regularly dabbled in orchestral atmospheres ever since they steered away from the black metal of their early albums, with increasing confidence, and here there's a sense that a lot of these experiments dating from their William Blake album onwards are coming to fruition with these stately compositions. The title implies a VII.X-X.X to follow, and if that's the case they've succeeded in exciting and intriguing me. Recommended if you like the idea of a more classical, less electronic take on Ulver's post-rock era.

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 Blood Inside by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.73 | 125 ratings

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Blood Inside
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This has to be one of the most oddball records ever conceived by any artist let alone released and distributed. I only know of Ulver's history without delving too much into it, but this version of the band through BLOOD INSIDE sounds rich in electronic experimentalism.

It's like singer Garm wanted to make the music of the future. Most of the instrumental credits go to programming even if more ''sane'' instrumentation is used throughout the album. Up until now, I only knew of Israeli group Ahvak trying their hand at this ''programming'' instrumentation, but Ulver makes this ''instrument'' quite blatant in their sound.

Almost too blatant. The over-wrapping and intertwining of all these buzzing, humming and underlying metal sounds (produced by guitars proper) give me a migraine. I can enjoy what Garm is doing only in theory; in practice, while this isn't a mess, I'm having a good problem trying to pluck out the compositions here.

This album is what I would call an example of an ''art first'' album, where the primary goal of an output like this is to make an artsy statement. I could follow the artsiness more if there was some memorable riff or hook that could grip into the inner psyche of what BLOOD INSIDE is trying to do. Only ''Christmas'' and ''Dressed in Black'' can pull that feat off in a ''somewhat'' fashion. Else, I feel like I'm trying to listen to my pulse when I listen to BLOOD INSIDE.

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 Childhood's End by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.21 | 49 ratings

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Childhood's End
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

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.

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 Shadows of the Sun by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.92 | 193 ratings

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Shadows of the Sun
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Ulver's Shadows of the Sun is a slower and more sedate album than the neurotic and twitchy Blood Inside, and personally I can't help but think it's a bit of a step down for the band. I can't imagine why they chose to include a rather dull and lifeless cover of Black Sabbath's Solitude on the album (never one of Sabbath's better tracks), unless it was a simple matter of just not having enough good material to fill out the album. Certainly, the compositions here, whilst effective in a melancholy and minimalistic way, lack the distinctive richness that made Ulver's electronic post-rock phase so intriguing.

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 Blood Inside by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.73 | 125 ratings

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Blood Inside
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Blood Inside presents a murky electronic nightmare, a dark and troubling territory that provides a sinister counterpart to Sigur Ros' light and airy brand of electronic post-rock. Slipping in classical themes in the synthesiser lines here and there, the band create soundscapes which somehow manage to be even more dense and multilayered than those of Perdition City - and are more complex as well. Veering away from the minimalism characteristic of much post-rock, the band instead go for an everything and the kitchen sink approach to stuffing as many different influences into their sound as possible. Garm's vocals make a return after the all- instrumental soundtrack efforts and complete the picture. Blood Inside might be Ulver's best album of their non-metal period yet.

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 Svidd Neger by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.27 | 41 ratings

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Svidd Neger
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Another short and sweet soundtrack album from Ulver sees the band shifting into less electronic and more classical-based musical approaches than much of the material from Perdition City to this. Not that this is an unplugged album per se - it's just that there's a wider range of souds the band dip into, and more overt influence from classical music than on their recent releases. (You can hear actual stringed instruments from time to time, whereas those where rarities on Perdition City or Teachings In Silence). I suspect their experience working with this soundtrack led to the incorporation of more classical themes into their music on the subsequent Blood Inside, so as a transitional album between the Perdition City/Teachings In Silence era and Blood Inside it's a fascinating listen.

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 Lyckantropen Themes by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.74 | 49 ratings

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Lyckantropen Themes
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars With albums such as Perdition City and Teachings In Silence already reminiscent of an ice cool post-rock interpretation of the Blade Runner soundtrack, it was only a matter of time before Ulver moved on from recording soundtracks to imaginary films to soundtracks to real ones. Lyckantropen Themes is the brief soundtrack to a film 8 minutes shorter than this album is, and sees Ulver once again bringing forth a melancholy, spooky, almost noirish electronic sound. Lacking any abrasive audio samples or dialogue snippets - in keeping with its role as background music for a film - this is one of the better fully-instrumental albums of Ulver's non- metal career.

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 Teachings in Silence by ULVER album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2002
3.76 | 23 ratings

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Teachings in Silence
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This compilation - originally released as a limited edition, but now available on general release - brings together the Silence Teaches You How to Sing and Silencing the Singing EPs to form what is in effect a complete album of all-original material. Really, this is the best way to experience the material in question, since the two EPs flow together marvellously and both take more or less the same musical direction. Combining creepy, almost symphonic instrumental playing with harsh electronic noise, this is the sort of music which plays over the radio to let you know the ghosts have taken over the set.

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Thanks to tony r for the artist addition.

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