Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ulver - "Wars Of The Roses" album

Few bands have evolved so drastically (or intelligently) as Norway's Ulver. Beginning life in 1993 as a fairly typical black metal act, Ulver have, in recent years, embraced electronic music, ambient, folk, post-rock, and film soundtrack work, all with equal respect and reverence. "Wars Of The Roses" is the band's 8th studio album, and the evolution is striking and effective.

The surprising and brilliant Krautrock/pop of "February MMX" opens, complete with melodic chorus and hooks. Definitely a long way from the band's roots, but quite good. The rest of the album is similarly textural and layered, yet not at all lightweight. Co-production and mixing by John Fryer (known for his work with the early 4AD Records label) surely contribute to the album's ethereal moodiness, but Ulver's visionary psychedelic soundscapes are deep and almost magical. Their heart is still blackened, but their process and tools are much more colorful and diverse.

Other standouts include "Providence", a gorgeous (but dark) piano-led piece featuring female vocals, and the epic "September IV". The closer, "Stone Angels", runs 15 minutes and is an ambient narrative featuring new member Daniel O'Sullivan reciting poetry alongside lovely meditational ambience and a powerful percussive finale. Fitting. An incredible album from an innovative and unique group. (Kscope Music)

Ulverspace (not official?)

Ulver's own label and official band site

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