Ulf Söderberg

Tidvatten

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AllMusic Review by

The second solo outing from Sephiroth frontman Ulf Söderberg is a further step into electronic gothic ethnocore. Sephiroth's music had a trademark Swedish austerity about it; the chanted vocals, keyboards, and drums were all inherently drenched in an expressionistic aural collage of myth, folklore, and history of the darkness of the northlands. Söderberg's solo material is more exotic and warm and less territorial. While all the liner notes and information may be in Swedish, there is no question that in all its gothic mystery and shadowy darkness, a larger world soundscape is being evoked. The presence of djembes, sampled rainsticks, bamboo flutes, and didgeridoos -- along with the sampling, keyboards, and wordless vocals -- create something so far outside the ethnocore norm it can only be considered to be Söderberg's own interior sound world. Nowhere is this more evident than on "Nittstaden," with its bass vocals, tripartite percussion, found sounds, and nearly chanted drumming. This is what Steve Roach might sound like if he lived in Sweden instead of in the sunny desert. But Söderberg's vision doesn't appear to be as holistic as Roach's, either. This is music that is not about investigation remotely; it is about projection and expression and as such it is more tense, more dramatic, full of a unique pathos that is startlingly original. The title track, which is in two parts with three sections in the second, traverses the landscape of dark intention, but is in its own way redemptive, reverential, and transgressive of blindly accepted norms and belief systems -- it exhorts the listener to take the music inside him or herself and let it work its own transformation. Tidvatten's greatest accomplishment, however, is that it has made, in its hauntingly hunted, beautiful way, electronic music truly scary again.

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