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Ulver Metamorphosis Review

General Information:

Artist: Ulver
Album: Metamorphosis
Genre(s): Ambient, Electronic, Trip Hop
Subgenres(s): Dark Ambient, Trance
Released: 1999
Length: 25 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Jester Records

Track List:

01. Of Wolves and Vibrancy
02. Gnosis
03. Limbo Central (Theme from Perdition City)
04. Of Wolves and Withdrawal

Ulver Metamorphosis Cover

Ulver Metamorphosis Cover

Ulver Metamorphosis Review

Metamorphosis is the first EP by Ulver. Following the release of the diverse “Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” double album a year earlier, Metamorphosis acts as both a stepping stone in the bands musical legacy and as a statement to their fans – more specifically the fans of their metal albums who didn’t like Ulver’s change in direction. Before you get to the music you can find a message in the CD case stating that “Ulver is obviously not a black metal band and does not wish to be stigmatized as such…” to try and cut ties with the heavy metal community as it becomes quite evident that they no longer want to play metal or be associated with the scene any longer since the Themes album apparently didn’t send a clear enough message.

In the event that the written message got overlooked Ulver went out of their way to shake off any lingering detractors and made it as clear as possible by writing an all-out trance song called Of Wolves and Vibrancy to start the EP. After starting with some moody ambience the song proves to live up to its name when it kicks into life and since it is the only trance song in their catalogue, it gives the distinct impression of being a statement to further separate them from the heavy metal scene.

Another twist comes with the second song, Gnosis, which combines dark ambient with trip hop and features lyrics from Bad Blood, a poem by the French author Rimbaud. For Ulver’s take on the poem it is sung entirely in English by Kristoffer Rygg who worked under the pseudonym Trickster G. on this EP. It is the only song to contain any vocals and Limbo Central (Theme from Perdition City) is another trip hop song with a more abrasive and experimental edge. As implied by the songs subtitle, this is the genre that would be embraced on their next album, Perdition City.

Of Wolves and Vibrancy is an up tempo song, as implied by the name, so it follows on that Of Wolves and Withdrawal would be subdued in comparison. This proves to be true as Ulver crafted a 9 minute dark ambient song that is nearly impossible to hear unless you turn your speakers all the way up. You half expect a sudden dramatic shift in sound that will deafen you because of this as well as the eerie nature of the song, which doesn’t do you any favours in this respect. The song ebbs along slowly and proves to be a convincing effort but the decision to make the recording so quiet for one song is still questionable.

There aren’t any stepping stones between Ulver’s black metal/folk era and their Themes album so in this instance the Metamorphosis EP gives the listener an opportunity to look at their transformation and embracement of electronically produced music. If nothing else this EP, which spans 3 distinct genres, proves that Ulver are more like chameleons than their namesake (wolves in Norwegian) at this point in their career.

Performers:

Trickster G: Various instruments
Tore Ylwizaker: Various instruments
Havard Jorgensen: Various instruments

External Links:

Ulver Homepage
Ulver on Wikipedia
Metamorphosis on Wikipedia

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Peeping Tom Peeping Tom Review

Peeping Tom Peeping Tom Review

Artist: Peeping Tom
Album: Peeping Tom
Genre(s): Rap, Rock
Subgenres(s): Rap Rock, Trip Hop, Trip Rock
Released: 2006
Length: 44 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Ipecac Recordings

Track List:

01. Five Seconds
02. Mojo
03. Don’t Even Trip
04. Getaway
05. Your Neighborhood Spaceman
06. Kill the DJ
07. Caipirinha
08. Celebrity Death Match
09. How U Feelin?
10. Sucker
11. We’re Not Alone (Remix)

Peeping Tom Peeping Tom Cover

Peeping Tom is the debut album of Mike Patton’s rap rock music project of the same name. Put into motion in 2000, the album was recorded from then to 2006 and subsequently released that year. A wealth of guest performers and producers including Dan the Automator, Massive Attack, Kool Keith, Norah Jones and Rahzel amongst others are enlisted to bring a different sound to each song.

As this is a pop album of sorts, Mike Patton and his collaborators embracing rap, rock and downtempo music that is then blended into a broad set of rap rock and trip hop/trip rock songs with mostly conventional song structures and fewer of the eccentricities associated with many of his other bands (namely Fantomas, Mr. Bungle and his collaborations with John Zorn).

Some songs (Five Seconds, Mojo and We’re Not Alone) draw back to the rap rock sound of the late 1990s by alternating between rapping and singing to the well-established loud/quiet song structure dynamics. Thankfully the overblown angst ridden lyrics are out of the equation and this prevents it from becoming a pale imitation of the scene it draws inspiration from.

Mike Patton is a flexible vocalist as his long, meandering career has proven time and time again. He puts on a strong performance for the rock-centric parts of the album and while he can rap and beat box, it’s evident that it is not his forte and the guest vocalists often outshine him in this element.

Getaway, Your Neighborhood Spaceman, Celebrity Death Match and How U Feelin? favour a heavy helping of hip hop influences to balance out Peeping Tom’s sound while We’re Not Alone (Remix) is a brilliant summary of what Peeping Tom offers: hard guitar sounds, relaxed trip hop beats, diverse vocal performances and enough song progression to feed Mike Patton’s eccentric tendencies without alienating the listener.

Mike Patton never loses track of what he set out to accomplish with Peeping Tom and while it is certainly not a jarring effort, the breadth of styles used do give the album plenty momentum and a real sense of unpredictability.

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Ulver Perdition City Review

Ulver Perdition City Review

Artist: Ulver
Album: Perdition City
Genre(s): Electronic
Subgenres(s): Trip Hop
Released: 2000
Length: 54 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Jester Records

Track List:

01. Lost in Moments
02. Porn Pieces or the Scars of Cold Kisses
03. Hallways of Always
04. Tomorrow Never Knows
05. The Future Sound of Music
06. We Are the Dead
07. Dead City Centres
08. Catalept
09. Nowhere/Catastrophe

Ulver Perdition City Cover

Perdition City is the first full electronic album by genre hoppers Ulver. After dabbling with electronic music for their experimental album Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, they followed up with the aptly titled Metamorphosis in 1999 and a year later released Perdition City, the culmination of their musical progression.

Ulver settled on trip hop to form the foundation of Perdition City and being the experimentalists that they are, they weren’t able to settle for a single sound and chose to incorporate elements of jazz music on certain songs that make for an interesting fusion of genres that work to the advantage of Perdition City.

Unfortunately the knack Ulver has for experimenting goes awry with the introduction of We Are the Dead, a haunting dark ambient/spoken word song that spills over into Dead City Centres to make a 2 part song that ends with the audio of a fake film trailer. While not inherently bad on their own, they disrupt the flow of Perdition City and you’ll want to skip over them on future listens.

Ulver then goes off at the deep end with Catalept, which is just a retitle of the song Prelude from the 1960 film Psycho with a simplistic drum beat slapped over the top. Much like the fake film trailer at the end of Dead City Centres, it is poor quality filler material and does nothing but hinder Perdition City.

Thankfully The Future Sound of Music shows Ulver’s experimental tendencies moving in the right direction. It starts out as another unsuspecting trip hop song that suddenly explodes into an overdriven barrage of intense hammer-like percussion and warped noises. It lives up to its name and there is no other song on Perdition City or any other album that comes close to mimicking it.

Ulver explored and even reinvented the trip hop sound in some instances on Perdition City. It is a shame that they never made a follow up trip hop album to refine and expand on this sound before moving onto another genre. They let the music do the talking for the most part and in doing so, they flow between rich and varied instrumental passages complemented by the jazz tinged moment that explore their introverted moods, or interior music as the albums subtitle allures to, in great depth.

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Team Sleep Team Sleep Review

Team Sleep Team Sleep Review

Artist: Team Sleep
Album: Team Sleep
Genre(s): Electronic, Rock
Subgenres(s): Trip Hop, Trip Rock
Released: 2005
Length: 54 minutes
Language(s): English, French
Label(s): Maverick Records

Track List:

01. Ataraxia
02. Ever (Foreign Flag)
03. Your Skull is Red
04. Princeton Review
05. Blvd. Nights
06. Delorian
07. Our Ride to the Rectory
08. Tomb of Liegia
09. Elizabeth
10. Staring at the Queen
11. Ever Since WWI
12. King Diamond
13. Live from the Stage
14. Paris Arm
15. 11/11

Team Sleep Team Sleep Cover

Team Sleep is the self-titled debut album and end result of an extensive collaborative project that manages to pull together a myriad of influences ranging from shoegaze, post rock, dream pop, instrumental hip hop and glitch music. When combined, these influences are used to create a low key trip hop/trip rock album that focuses on ambience and textures with an experimental edge rather than big choruses or flashy instrumental leads.

The trip hop/trip rock songs that make up about 2/3 of the album are abruptly broken up by the more experimental and challenging songs littered through the track listing. The post rock/shoegaze styling of Your Skull is Red and Blvd. Nights will make you feel like you’re being swept under by a tidal wave of noise.

In contrast, the hip hop and glitch inspired song Staring at the Queen features programmed percussion that clangs around like a lumbering machine and is rounded off with skipping and looping effects in an effort to make it sound as dysfunctional as possible. King Diamond on the other hand uses samples of Chino Moreno and Mary Timony to create an odd spoken word collage with a similar musical style. While arguably not the highlights of Team Sleep, they are certainly memorable.

Paris Arm is a straightforward love song that is unexpectedly sung entirely in French by Sandy Lakdar, who is not credited in the album booklet but does get mentioned on the Team Sleep homepage. It is also one of the shortest songs on the album, only outstretching the interlude Delorian by 9 seconds.

While the brooding ambiance makes Team Sleep a suitable soundtrack for the small hours, the noisy post-rock/shoegaze and glitchy hip hop inspired songs will provide enough variation to stop the songs from running together.