Experimental collective, and occasional Sunn O))) collaborators, Ulver have created an intense new record edited from 12 live performances. ATGCLVLSSCAP relies less on sheer brutal heaviness and instead uses the group’s subtle rock and electronic improvisation. Editing these performances in the studio has allowed them to create something grand and dense. Available on double vinyl LP and CD.
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The bells chime through the opening salvo of ‘ATGGLVSSCAP’ (nice), and for a moment you’d be excused for thinking that the Ulver of old were back: reverent black metal dirge, played with the blastbeats and the muddy riffs and the ridiculousness. You are excused, but you are wrong. Far removed from their days as the ‘Bergtatt’ band, or even the fellows who sublimated metal into the medieval folk of ‘Kveldssanger’, Ulver don’t even really sound like their electronic selves anymore; this record moves away from ‘Shadows of the Sun’ and even sparks a difference between the drones of ‘Terrestrials’ into a collaged and more psychedelic approach to their second sound.
‘ATGGLVSSCAP’ (still not tired of that yet I swear) is comprised of twelve live works, so varies plenty: the opener is ultimately a saccharine drone that flirts with ideas of Kosmische, rising into something celestial but never peaking. Closed out with scoped choral vocals, it somehow blends into ‘Glammer Hammer”, a track that sounds like it’s stolen the airy aesthetic from Sting’s solo albums and placed it alongside a couple of locked in riffs (engineered like one of London Grammar’s), a touch of brass and a desperate drum march. If anything’s kept Ulver going through their journey out of time and genre, it’s their desire to be emotive: this shit is all about emphasising and intensifying melody ‘til your face has creased through each and every expression. Unfortunately a couple of the key human emotions are revolusion and amusement, both of which factor into the fucking hilarious midpoint of “Glammer Hammer”, where a doomy drum riff intersects with one of the stupidest drum breaks of all time (the whole scene described by Laurie as a cartoon character running on the spot from a metal band) and the sound of glass breaking.
The word you’re looking for is overbearing, a tag ‘ATGCLVLSSCAP’ (there it is) earns and then some. Sometimes the best moments are the silliest, and we’re all going to pay for our prog rock sins when we reach the not-so-pearly gates, but Ulver make Motorpsycho look reserved on this thing. “Cromagnosis” is wrapped up in psychedelic furor, letting guitar riffs spill over the page as others hold it firmly shut, coating the whole thing with as many different side-effects as possible. The probably with aligning twelve purportedly epic tunes next to each other is that they were meant to stand alone, and here, despite some utterly lovely moments, they don’t so much.
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