Ulver

Shadows of the Sun

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Shadows of the Sun offers a new slant on the sort of electronic art pop sound that Ulver have been developing off and on since 1999‘s Metamorphosis EP. Along with 2005's return-to-form Blood Inside, it is one of their stronger efforts this decade, following several years of experimentation with instrumental electronic music. Those experiments have informed both of these albums, but they have been incorporated into more or less songlike structures (although one would struggle to find any verse-chorus-verse patterns here). That is a good thing, given that leader Kristoffer Rygg's vocals have always been a strong point of their music. Shadows begins with a tranquil, almost ambient organ figure, followed by the entry of Rygg's close-up vocals, which later float off into the distance. Standout "All the Love" follows, beginning in similar near-ambient fashion before percussion enters for the first time on the album near the one-minute mark. This song has a fantastic arrangement that includes a dense carpet of keyboard tones along with some well-placed trumpet flourishes, electronic glitches, and piano melodies toward the end. Subsequent songs maintain this blend of electronics, intermittent (and very subdued) percussion, and other "real" instruments (or are those samples?), including some nice cello and string-section touches. All in all, this is an enjoyable, at times hypnotic album that consolidates a lot of the different strands of Ulver's music over the previous decade. They have developed a unique, quickly identifiable sound during that time, and this album is a nice variation on that signature sound.

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