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Ulver - 1993-2003: 1st Decade In The Machines CD (album) cover

1993-2003: 1ST DECADE IN THE MACHINES

Ulver

 

Post Rock/Math rock

2.89 | 8 ratings

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TCat
3 stars This compilation album, which is really a remix album, was released as recognition to Ulver for their first decade of music. The remixes here were carefully done by artists selected by Ulver, and are all glitch, noise and ambient artists, plus one new Ulver track. The sound is quite similar to the minimalist approach that Ulver was taking at the time with their music. The remixes take small snippets of past Ulver tracks and turn them into something new, but, for the most part, don't expect to recognize the originals, because these tracks have been changed up into completely new tracks by the remix artists. Most of the tracks are based on source material from 'Perdition City' and the 3 EPs that came out around the same time. But there is also source material from the 'William Blake' album, 'Lyckantropen Themes' and 'Nattens Madrigal', but the remixes don't just concentrate on only one track, but incorporate aspects from various tracks within an album. I'm not going to attempt to tell you where the source material comes from on each track, because, quite frankly, it is very hard to determine in most cases. I will try to tell you what to expect though, on a track by track basis.

The album starts out with 'Crack Bug' which is the Ulver original. Starting with some percussive sounds, a moody and dark non-melodic and processed sound plays and this evolves into a sudden loud orchestra of tonal noise. It's interesting, and quite different from where the band was at at the time, because they were experimenting with minimalism and ambience, but this almost the opposite of that.

''A Little Wiser Than the Monkey, Much Wiser Than Seven' (Alexander Rishaug) begins with a high pitched metallic noise/drone with clicks and ticks. Finally, a tonal pattern starts from a synth which establishes a quasi melody, then a rough, industrial guitar sound begins and it seems to pulsate more than strum. The glitchy quality that surrounds the otherwise constant sound gives it an interesting personality. Suddenly the sound stops and things turn more ambient. The heavy sound returns later, but a bit more subdued, but it soon expands into a noise drone. This again diminishes before the end.

'Track Slow Snow' (Information) starts ambient with fluttering clicks and staccato percussive noises. Manipulated tones try to break through and this established a pattern a found and lost again quasi-melody. For a while it goes quite minimal before a processed bass begins to bring it back again. The manipulated pattern recommences. This is very cool sounding and has a slight funk/jazz feel to it even while being mostly minimalistic.

'Lycantropen Remix' (The Third Eye Foundation) utilizes processed snippets of the theme from the soundtrack surrounded by clicks, pops, and processed bell-like sounds. This is probably the most melodic of the tracks thus far, but even then, it is quite sporadic sounding. Later, swirling sythns and guitars give an almost dreamy, dronelike quality that stays in the background.

'Lost in Moments (Remix)' (Upland) has a drone in the background, some various noises like whispered voices, and some percussive glitching. The drone swirls around everything and a drumming pattern lurks subdued in the corner.

'Bog's Basil & Curry Powder Potatoes Recipe' (Bogden Raczynski) has a chip-glitch melody and style that sounds like a humorous video game soundtrack of sorts. It's a nice light-hearted track among a lot of dark and brooding ones. The frantic 1st half gives way to a more laid back 2nd half.

'Der Alte' (Martin Horntveth) starts with German dialogue, possibly from a movie maybe (?) while a string-like melody plays in the background. A soft percussion pattern starts when the dialogue stops and the melody continues. The spoken word starts again, and then suddenly everything else breaks down except for a minimal synth sound and the dialogue continues. Soon the strings come back and establish the melody again.

'He Said ' She Said' (Neotropic) is quite ambient with various noises for the first 2 minutes, then a sudden loud and heavy processed riff takes over with a steady rhythm. At 3:30, it breaks down to atmospheric sounds and a static style drone with occasional percussion. After a minute, the heavy riff and rhythm returns. There seems to be a heavily processed voice trying to sing out, but it stays muffled. The last minute returns to ambient sounds.

'I Love You, But I Prefer Trondheim, Pts. 1 ' 4' (A. Wiltzie vs. Stars of the Lid) begins with a nice, processed yet full orchestral sound, with an introduction that sounds quite familiar. After 3 minutes, this is replaced by a beautiful piano/electronic passage that moves along slowly. After a few minutes, there are some slight orchestral swells and the keyboards fade as the swells become a dynamic drone that ebbs and flows. Soon, a shimmering sound accompanies the loud to soft wave-like pattern. Definitely a stand-out track at over 10 minutes of beauty.

'Only the Poor Have to Travel' (Fennesz) is a mix of glitchy sounds with occasional keyboard snippets and atmospheric sounds traveling from one speaker to the other. It's a good one to hear with headphones and has a nice apocalyptic or otherworldly atmosphere to it.

'Ulvrmxsw5' (Pita) is the first of the last 4 tracks which are all noise oriented tracks. This one is more of a organized noise track that breaks up the source material into a virtual sound collage. All of this is under-layered by a somewhat high-pitched drone. All of the snippets seem to be sucked into the vortex of the drone becoming part of it, layer upon layer.

'Wolf Rotorvator' (Jazzkammer) is a short, dynamic noise piece that can get rather loud for short bursts. It's like 'Nattens Madrigal' was put into a blender. 'The Decent of Men' (VM) seems like a continuation of the previous track, with more noise and less dynamics. Once again, it is rather short and is probably a great track for those that like the sound of a vacuum cleaner on the fritz.

'Vow Me Ibrzu' (Merzbow) is another 10 minute track. It starts out with a repeating musical pattern that sounds like all of the sound has been flattened. It's not long before a huge layer of noisiness comes in. Among the noise drone, you can hear shadows of mostly unintelligible Ulver tracks, all mixed together. This finally stops after 4 minutes and it turns into a more minimal sound of repeating patterns but quite subdued and much fewer this time. At 6 minutes, you can hear a familiar section from one of Ulver's classics with some female vocals in the background. All of this is mixed somewhat flat, and soon, evil sounding noises come along and eat it all up, and then new repeating riffs and patterns create another noisy drone.

This is an interesting mix of styles. There are only a few places where you can recognize snippets of Ulver music, but it is mostly so processed that it all becomes new. I like most of it, but some of it can drag on a little long, and I get tired of the noise tracks quite quickly. Except for a few tracks, I would consider the Ulver original tracks much better. It is interesting to hear what you can do with recycled music, but I would put on an Ulver album over this anyday. There are some nice tracks and passages throughout though, so I believe everything evens out into a 3 star collection/collaboration.

TCat | 3/5 |

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