Finally! This album is overdue; I’ve been Ulver-thirsty for some time now. I guess I got spoiled with so many EP’s in 2002-2003. Although Ulver’s next musical accomplishment is always unpredictable, this album feels like more of a natural evolution than their previous transitions. “Quick Fix of Melancholy” and “Svidd Neger” started adding more violins, pianos, and things like that to the mix. I didn’t think the band’s production and polished sound could get any better, but it seems like it did on this album. Everything just sounds so acoustically fine-tuned like the architecture of an orchestra hall.
“Dressed in Black” starts out with a heavy, frequency-shifting tone, slowly adding piano, Garm’s voice comes into the mix, eventually transforming into a lavish instrumental section that keeps building up, and then breaking down into a wacky piano loop, slowly fading out with some ambient sounds.
“For the Love of God” this song is just hard to explain. It reminds me quite a bit of the Perdition City style. Somehow it just feels like a big, futuristic, busy city at night, going through a subway tunnel and on the street and Sometimes only the imagination can explain what Ulver sounds like. Maybe the lyrics help this imagery out: “Going down faster than the light / Going down deeper than the dark”
“Christmas” has got to be the best song. It starts out with some faded, almost drab sounding bells, with a very faint, yet warm sounding violin melody. It gives the beginning a very cold feel, like Christmas is too cold to enjoy this year. Then the familiar (but so unfamiliar) wild Ulver beat begins, including Garm’s sailing vocals, continuing with the bells, adding plenty of horns and wild percussion. It is very upbeat and if you liked the more upbeat songs in Perdition City and Theme’s from William Blake’s the Marriage of Heaven and Hell you’re sure to like this. The song ends with some faded vocals and the dull bells reappearing.
“Blinded by Blood” is a very ambient, relaxing track. Reminds me a little of Silencing the Singing. There’s some minimal, yet drawn-out vocals which seem like they’re basically being used as an instrument here. The end of it sounds like a creepy little music box from a haunted attic.
“It is not Sound” is actually kind of noisy. Not much to say about the first portion of the song but then a very interesting little haunted-circus type electronic melody starts forming, ending with a calm violin melody. Guess Garm had to throw that in there after not doing Arcturus for a while. It’s quite entertaining.
“The Truth” is interesting, some parts of this will really stick in your head. Some parts are quite noisy and almost have an industrial type feel, There’s also a real quiet part with Garm’s sort of wailing vocals with a memorable little melody on top. This one is pretty difficult to explain, it goes all over the place. Then it inconspicuously transforms into “In the Red,” what an excellent transition from the previous song. I just love the dark, creepy feeling in this song with heavily echoed vocals and electronic pulses, almost seems like random words are being called out at certain points. All of a sudden the song is “ruined” by bombastic, out-of-control, unexpected horns and I think I even hear a xylophone in there, and it sounds like an old 1950’s magic show or something. This part is extremely wild and innovative, and a blast to listen to, too bad it wasn’t a bit longer.
Next is “Your Call” which is the song everyone will check their cell phone to make sure it isn’t ringing. It starts out very ambient until Garm’s vocals kick in, and the song kicks off with great momentum. It goes through a few different changes, and ends up with just a lone phone ringing for a little while, and then you get the answering machine only for the next song, “Operator” to unexpectedly explode into your ears; this song is probably the most wild on the album.
So, in conclusion, if you like Ulver’s other electronic works, this is definitely going to add to that, and if you want to get into them this is a pretty good place to start. Ulver continues to do what they do best, each new album being as unexpected and innovative, yet polished and well-rounded as the last.