Album: Messe I.X.- VI. X
Record Label: Jester Records
Norwegian experimentalists team up with some of the North's finest orchestras for a movement of film- score epicness
It's now been so long since Norwegian quintet Ulver can legitimately be considered a Black Metal group that it's a wonder they still get rushed under the same blanket as they did amidst their appearance in the first wave of BM bands in 1993. Over the course of their career they've delved heavily into the worlds of ambient, electronic and experimental music, something which seems to have become even more prevalent since the recruitment of Sunn0)))'s Daniel O' Sullivan. A symphonic arrangement commissioned for the Tromso Kulturhuset in the Norwegian town of the same name, "Messe I.X.- VI.X" sees Ulver team up with two of the North's most revered and talented orchestras, and the collusion that ensues often reaches high into the colossal shadows that Classical music often casts over all other genres.
The opener "As Syrians Pour in, Lebanon grapples with the ghost of a bloody past" immediately showcases worldly consciousness. It's sans lyrics, but as should be the case the music provides all the savage imagery necessary. Eerie, dark rumbling bass and spine- chilling keys accompany you through arid, vast deserts and scorching heat. Expansive, cavernous drones swoon in as the sound of machine gun rattle resounds in the distance. A mournful, despair- ridden violin joins, and from there the instrumentation swells and works in fabulous conjunction to depict the horror of the scene.
"Schri Schneider" marks a different tone in sound and character altogether. Glitzy, Boards of Canada- esque electronics bubble beneath the hazy violin progressions. Buzzing guitar feedback leads the foray into kaleidoscopic layers of synth arpeggios and bleeps.
"Glamour Box" builds from humble, skeletal beginnings into a cyclical fusion of repetitive bleep progressions and pensive, heart- swelling instrumentation. "Noche Oscura Del Alma" is dark enough to soundtrack the tragic final scene of Othello with its tainted, ominous violin melody. The song gets more and more disjointed, and gets unscrupulously uncomfortable towards the end as samples are thrown into the mix and the rumbling, evil flavour of the music takes a turn for the dramatic.
"Son of Man" and "Mother of Mercy" make up the vocal takes of the album, both melancholy in tone. "Son of Man" in particular has the character and narrative of a Medieval monk praying to God for sins committed, specifically "the murder of the innocents." "Messe..." is in equal turns a swelling, cacophonous, majestic and chilling piece of work that delivers plenty of different characters, stories and emotions within its 6- piece run time. Hearing this resound around the Tromso Kulturhuset will be a marvel for anyone who attends.
Key Tracks: Glamour Box, Schri Schneider, As Syrians Pour in, Lebanon grapples with the Ghost of a bloody Past
For Fans of: Clint Mansell, Alexander Tucker