Ulver - A Quick Fix of Melancholy
Jester Records
Experimental Ambient Music
4 songs (23'04")
Release year: 2003
Jester Records
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

I have had the latest Ulver EP for a while and, at first, I thought I am not going to review it. A – it is only an EP of 23 min long with one song being the remix of an older track; B – this is not Metal in any shape or form, and I recall some readers who cried foul when I reviewed Green Carnation and dubbed it “rock”. “Why are we reviewing rock CDs when this is a Metal site?” Heck, this is not even “rock”, but it is some of the most astounding music you will ever hear. It has an ability both to amaze and surprise the listener at the same time. So, consider yourself warned. If you weren’t going to read a non-metal review on these pages, stop right now. For others I will continue.

Ulver is as far removed from their black metal days of Bergtatt and Nattens Madrigal as Pluto is from the Sun. Maybe they should have considered a name change, their old fans would say, but, maybe, they have undergone an evolution from the tree-climbing primates to upright walking men. Or, maybe, it is backwards they have gone? Either way, these Norwegian masters of sound are not even playing metal, much less black metal, on A Quick Fix of Melancholy. This is ambient, new age (whatever that means), or rather, age transcending music.

Little Blue Bird starts out with disturbing string touches, layers electronics over it, adds a mechanical “heartbeat” percussion midway through the song spiced with the “static buzz” effects. Poetry is not sung, but rather spoken with a somber otherwordly voice of Garm (or Trickster G. Rex as he is known in Arcturus these days). Ever so faint female background oh-ahs accentuate the song. Spacey, making little sense keyboards turn into an all instrumental hypnotic hymn on Doom Sticks, my favorite track on the EP. Cello – electronics interplay is unbelievable, the result of careful layering and sound engineering. Garm shows off his operatic singing style on Vowels. He sounds like a Gregorian monk who just broke his vow of silence and is gingerly trying out his vocal range. Eitttlane is a remix of an older track from all-folk all-acoustic Kveldssanger. Somber cello, timpani-like percussion invoke the atmosphere of a funeral of a great pagan-Viking chief. Yes, it is a funeral, yet, somehow the song represents a new beginning.

If the last paragraph didn’t make any sense to you – don’t feel alone. It takes a while to grasp Ulver. Some, in fact, will call this music “pretentious nonsense” and never will understand it. The best description I can give you is when you come to the philharmonic and the orchestra is “jamming” in the pit. They are warming up, trying some passages from the upcoming performance. With Ulver such orchestral “jam” all of a sudden jells into a one lush, atmospheric structure. I, for one, let my imagination run wild while listening to this EP.

I would not score this EP, because A – it is just only 23 min long, B – this is not Metal in any shape or form. However, if you are in need of a quick fix of melancholy, put this EP on. If you feel unreasonably joyful, the music will bring you back down; if you are hugely distressed it will soothe your pain.

On a side note, The End Records is not afraid of offering us decidedly non-metal acts. Ulver joins The Gathering and Antimatter on its roster. With the former two bands traveling the unusual aural paths, was Trickster G. appearance on the latest The Gathering Souvenirs a coincidence? Or the sign of things to come?

Killing Songs :
Decide for yourself
Alex quoted no quote
Other albums by Ulver that we have reviewed:
Ulver - Messe I.X - VI.X reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Ulver - Wars Of The Roses reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Ulver - Perdition City reviewed by James and quoted 95 / 100
Ulver - Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell reviewed by James and quoted 81 / 100
Ulver - Bergtatt reviewed by James and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 9 reviews click here
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