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




Post Rock/Math rock

4.01 | 224 ratings

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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
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.

TGM: Orb | 4/5 |


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