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Well, it may be redundant to praise this album, but here goes.
Ulver pull off a rare jewel with this release, and the entire album is a continuous exploration of beauty and subtlety. Garm has the gift of gracing every project he's involved with (Arcturus, Borknagar, Ulver) with genius, without adhering to any specific genre or style. Kveldssanger perfectly illustrates this.
It took a few times before I 'learned' to appreciate Kveldssanger. Its subtlety requires a patient and somewhat gentle mood. It was night in my forest home when my inner senses bloomed to receive the album, as waves of beauty washed over me. This is *the* acoustic folk album of the century. Listening to the two other albums of Ulver's trilogie provides a background for what Kveldssanger is attempting: metal without extremity. Completely lacking are primal screams, distorted guitars, speedpicking or deafening crescendos. Nonetheless, the acoustic grace and subtlety present could only be created by a metal band; think of it as black metal "unplugged," or stripped of aesthetic theatrics.
Gregorian monk-like chants punctuate the simplistic acoustic melodies that drift on. Garm's vocals have never been so harmonic and enchanting. His a capella harmonies steal one's breath. I am unsure if he has been thoroughly trained in vocals, but his gift is incomparable.
The overall emotional tone is haunting, brooding. There are passages of extreme sorrow & lonliness. Also present is a gentle reverence of Nature, pagan, simple, primeval. A stroll through the woods makes this resonance apparent. The wooden flute transports you to untouched landscapes, far beyond the control of humans. Life-affirming joy also sneaks in at times; a sigh of relief, a spiritual sense of unity with Earth. Listen closely to the a capella of Track Seven if you are skeptical.
Kveldssanger is simply perfection. Each track is a complete microcosm in itself, without indulgent filler. By the end of the album, one intuits a coherent narrative, a story the listener co-participates in. This is primeval storytelling, filled with tales of daring, sorrow, danger, and bliss. At times gentle as birdsong; at other times, violent landslides. This will be an album I can listen to decades from now. True music encompasses the eternal by not being time-bound; and this creation of sheer beauty soars far beyond both space and time.