Ulver

Perdition City

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    8
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Ulver's fifth album, Perdition City, continues in the more modern, electronic-oriented direction of their previous two releases, Themes From William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and the Metamorphosis EP, the latter of which stated in its liner notes that "Ulver is obviously not a black metal band and does not wish to be stigmatized as such." This album hammers that point home, since it really has nothing to do with metal, musically, visually, or lyrically. Instead, Perdition City is an album of moody, atmospheric electronica, built up around basic down-tempo beats and noir-ish electronic piano harmonies, and then fleshed out with various blips and bleeps, static noises, samples, and occasional vocals. Surprising moments include the lonely soprano saxophone solo on the opener, "Lost in Moments" (which comes dangerously close to adult contemporary/smooth jazz territory); the gravel-voiced Ken Nordine-sound-alike reciting what sounds like a voiceover from a '60s detective show during "Dead City Centres"; and frontman Christophorus Rygg's slick blue-eyed soul (!) singing on "Porn Piece or the Scars of Cold Kisses." Still, the highlight is the album's closing track (and its only real "song"), "Nowhere/Catastrophe," with its climactic vocal harmonies and purring, liquid-like electronic accents. There are questionable moments, such as the arguably pretentious narration during "We Are the Dead," but, on the whole, Perdition City evokes just the sort of desolate, rainy-night-in-the-city atmosphere it sets out to create.

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