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Ulver - Messe I.X - VI.X Award winner

Messe I.X - VI.X
by Vasilis Odontidis at 19 September 2013, 5:39 PM

As if it was not enough with the great surprise of “Childhood’s End”, ULVER return with another album that is very different from what they have done before. “Messe I.X - VI.X” marks the collaboration of the band with Tromsø chamber orchestra for a commission work requested by the Tromsø Kulturhus. In other words ULVER were requested to right music from the Tromsø (a Norwegian town) House of Culture. The musical style of the record can be described as a mix of symphonic, electronic and rock music with a very minimalistic attitude. As with the recent works of the band it has nothing to do with Metal as a sound but yet the musical approach remains heavily rooted to the essence of heavy metal music. If you want to check the album you can find it in bandcamp

The Norwegians have separated “Messe I.X - VI.X” in six acts, or messes, as the title suggests, which is similar to mass in Catholic church that is also separated in parts. The opener “As Syrians Pour in, Lebanon Grapples with Ghosts of a Bloody Past” is a majestic part of symphonic music with a tremendous violin part as distant sounds of war surround the speakers. Also the title is strongly political and a check on Google would reveal an interesting article from Reuters. “Sri Schneider” is mainly electronic minimalistic music with some orchestral parts in the end. “Glamour Box (Ostinati)” functions as an ostinati, meaning a repetitive musical pattern which changes over a few times. The next song is the first one to feature vocals and remind the listener that this is ULVER. However in “Son of Man” the orchestral parts prevail. In the next song the dark night of the soul (“Noche Oscura del Alma”) appears in a very psychedelic song with distorted sampled dialogues and songs. The album ends with the PINK FLOYDesque “Mother of Mercy” which is the only part of the album that could be really close to a rock album.

“Messe I.X - VI.X” is a very interesting blend of various musical idioms. Though it has very specific and varied parts in its essence it is a very unique album with a constant flow through the musical soundscapes that the band and the orchestra are creating. Though the record is not a live one there are extensive parts of it that were recorded and then used. The production of the album is exceptional and everything is sounding as it should be.

Overall ULVER has delivered another musical masterpiece unlike any of their previous works. However it demands from the listener tremendous dedication but the result is really rewarding. Do not expect any easily digestible parts or memorable riffs. “Messe I.X - VI.X” is something beyond all these. With every listening there are small parts that I find out for the first time and in general there are parts of the album I need to decipher, as for instance who is actually “Sri Schneider”. To close this article, I would say that ULVER is a band that dares to try different things all the time and does not stuck on a tested recipe of the past. Not a lot of artists do that and even fewer eventually succeed but as it seems the Norwegian have with them all the lucky charms. 

4 Star Rating

1. As Syrians Pour in, Lebanon Grapples with Ghosts of a Bloody Past
2. Shri Schneider
3. Glamour Box (Ostinati)
4. Son of Man
5. Noche Oscura del Alma
6. Mother of Mercy
Kristoffer Rygg – Vocals / Programming
Jørn H. Sværen – Various Instruments
Tore Ylwizaker – Keyboards / Programming
Record Label: Jester Records / Kscope Music


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