Three years after the monumental William Blake album Ulver have finally released there new opus. Moving yet further away from their black metal roots and embracing a more cinematic and soundtrack style via the sounds of trip hop and more esoteric sounds.
The album consists of nine tracks only the last of which has the standard chorus verse structure. The other eight have a more free flowing experimental feel about them. The piano features heavily in many of the songs and the slow melancholic beats are often reminiscent of Portishead or Massive attack at there most dark. Glitchy sounds and ambience also play a large part in the sounds found here.
The first track Lost in moments sets the tone of the album beginning with dissonant and relatively heavy beats before fading out to leave a lonely atmosphere filled with the sounds of night time metropolis and Rolf Erik Nystroms superb drifting saxophone. More lazy trip hop beats and ambience swirl around before the beautiful choral ending. Hallways of Always is a piano and beat led offensive while Tomorrow never knows is a mostly ambient piece focusing most on atmosphere rather than structure. The future sound of music is one of the albums highlights.
It begins with more glitchy textures morphing into a rhythmic structure which is joined by gorgeous synths and choral sounds before the fantastic drums crash in and sent the track into the outer limits. We are the dead is more ambience coupled with distant radio transmitions and Garms eerie Recitals. “Ghost music in the radio at night, I can’t sleep”.
Dead city centres is similar to Tomorrow never knows except halfway through you are plunged into a bizarre Soundscape which sounds like a scene from a seedy Jazz club in 1930s Chicago complete with stylised narration, of “the underworld”. Catalept serves as an interlude before the final act consisting of more bass beats and sampled strings, sounding strangely like the music in the infamous Psycho Shower scene.
Finally Nowhere/Catastrophe which as I said is the only traditional styled song on the album. Garms vocals are great and the superb music is complemented by the inclusion of all the elements of the album plus the inclusion of some guitar backing. So Ulver have completed their Metamorphosis, but into what? While this album is indeed a very focused and engaging work exploring urban darkness, the sounds are not really ground breaking and I feel the obvious Coil worship once escaped will yield even greater results.