Since their beginnings in the Norwegian Black Metal landscape back in 1993, Ulver have never been much for resting on their laurels. They’ve constantly pushed at genres boundaries, and looked to move their music (and artistry) into as many different and new arenas as possible. ATGCLVLSSCAP is perhaps their most ambitious work to date, and finds them out on the peripheries expanding their sonic palette whilst moving into the space beyond post-rock.
Review Summary: Having folded and condensed a dozen times over the course of their evolution. "ATGCLVLSSCAP" sees the band collapsing in on itself in order to become something new and otherworldly."Ulver are cataloguing the death of our culture two decades before anyone else has noticed its inevitable demise." It's a quote that one can really get stuck on. With scorched beginnings Ulver has transformed a dozen times to become this amorphous and transcendent collective that defies musical constraint.
In February 2014 Ulver embarked on a tour during which they intended to experiment and explore new ideas. Recordings from these shows form the foundation of ATGCLVLSSCAP, for which live improvisations were augmented in the studio and sculpted into a series of transportive vignettes. Beginning with the sound of church bells, opener England’s Hidden is a tranquil yet charged toe in the water.
Ulver Delivers Dark, Spiritual Music Rooted in Improvisation and Imagination Ulver has been on one long and hypnotic journey since it crawled from the depths of black metal two decades ago. The group’s fixation with blending progressive rock, the avant garde, electronic music and, to some degree, world music in a rich cauldron of inventiveness has yielded more positive results than negative ones and so it should be the case that this collection arrives in 2016 to persuade us that Ulver has once more created something memorable, something that will appeal to several audiences but compromises none of the group’s initial darkness for the sake of acceptance. The basis of this new double LP, ATGCLVLSSCAP, comes from a dozen shows the band performed in early 2014, not long after the unit had issued its postmodern requiem mass Messe I.
There will always be a strong contingent of fans imploring Ulver mastermind Kristoffer Rygg to stay sequestered in some dark, Norwegian wood, blessing his acolytes with abundant black metal masterpieces. And who could blame them? After all, the chameleonic outfit are responsible for two of metal’s greatest albums: 1995’s folk-steeped, hellish Bergtatt, and 1997’s Nattens Madrigal: atte hymn til ulven i manden—a searing, lo-fi suite devoted wholly to the mighty Canis lupus ("Sopranos" fans might recognize its cover art from a poster in Meadow’s room). By the end of the '90s, the band moved on from black metal to albums influenced by Wagner, Massive Attack, prog futurism, and modern classical, belying their sole stylistic constant: inconsistency.
To say that Ulver have evolved over the past 20 years would either be a colossal understatement or a significant misjudgement of the band’s qualities, depending on your point of view. Taking the latter perspective it might well seem that Ulver arrived fully formed. Debut full-length Bergtatt remains a second wave Norwegian black metal classic, primarily because nothing else that emerged from that same scene sounded quite like it.