Monday, April 14, 2008

Best of 2007 - #3

3. ulver - 'shadows of the sun'
When I first conceived this list, 'Shadows Of The Sun' was well positioned, a top ten record, yes, but not this well positioned. However, in the few months since the first version of the list was dreamt up (and that's the coolest thing about lists that people who argue bitterly about them never seem to get - they're not set in stone, they evolve just like we do and any list is just a picture of a moment), this album has been steadily, quietly and very enjoyably listened to on an almost daily basis, and it seems set to stay that way. It's a perfect situation-album if there ever was one - it's the perfect album to put on when you're going to sleep, when you're on a long journey, when you want to make a certain kind of love to your partner, in the early morning when you feel like being quiet, you name it. As a mood-setting album, there are precious few, ever, that can match it. In yet another one in the long list of Ulver style-jumps (we're talking about a band that has made, among many many others, a phenomenally harsh trvekvlt album with 'Nattens Madrigal' or a trip-hop William Blake concept album with 'Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell'), 'Shadows Of The Sun' was initially thought by its creators, and mainly by chief genius Kristoffer 'Garm' Rygg, as the most sombre album possible, with no percussion at all. Although it does feature a little bit of it, this is essentially the theme of this album - 'Shadows Of The Sun' doesn't drive, rock or pound. It floats. By night. Constituted by mostly plaintive passages, never flashy or flamboyant, at first seemingly freeform but with a very deep and slowly developing structure, it's a record that rarely jumps on you and makes you go 'whoa!', but when it's over, you'll probably breathe a long sigh, think about what you've just listened to, and finally draw out that long, inspired 'whoa' anyway. It's almost wrong to talk about this album in a technical way, in a 'this sounds like that' kind of way, because that's not the point. The piano, Garm's always softly and somberly (and soberly) sung voice, the electronic effects, the intelligent and purposefully vague (yet deeply affecting) lyrics, all of it combines into a complete whole that is one of the most quietly and enduring emotional musical experiences that I can think of. Ever. As a sort of bonus, although it does fit the continuity of the album perfectly (it's not the token 'last song', either), Ulver thrown in a cover of Black Sabbath's 'Solitude' that, well, has to be heard to be believed. If it's not the best cover version of any band, ever, it's damn well close. It's hard to pick apart an album that you won't avoid listening to all the way through, but songs like the simply beautiful 'All The Love' or the discouraged 'Funebre' will maybe be some of those that stand out more, but not one thing sounds out of place in this remarkable album. Is it beautiful, like music?, Garm near-whispers on 'Like Music'. And it's not. It's much more than that.

Ulver - 'All The Love'

1 comment:

  1. Hi, this album is really good. I have to recognize and give you the credit, because I had never listened to their music. Nice job man. Thank you so much for the information and review.