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Ulver's Kveldssanger has gotten praised to the skies, not just on this site, but basically by anyone who's heard it before. It's why I feel kind of bad about writing this review, because even though it doesn't seem all that great, I definitely get the feeling that I'm an idiot, and the genius of Ulver goes way over my head.
What we have here is some very minimalistic and stark folk songs, with some very sparse guitar, the occasional other instrument, and a heap of Garms singing all at once. It is definitely a nice, pleasant sound, but that's where it ends for me. Most of the songs stretch on, with little purpose and little to engage the listener. The production doesn't do too much to help this album, with some parts really suffering from shoddy mastering (some parts being distorted from compression, etc..), and the whole thing generally being a bit too hi-fi and compressed for the type of music. The guitars do sound terrific, but a little bit of reverb would've helped the record heaps.
While this record may simply not resonate with me, there are a few terrific tracks, there's no doubt. When Ulver nail the proper atmosphere, it sounds terrific. Honsjeldfbilde has some really great guitar lines and fingerpicking patterns, while the first song, Ostensor Sol.., is really beautiful, with some great minimalist violin playing other some sparse guitar, and some amazing layered singing by Garm. It's probably one of the best song that Ulver have ever done.
Yeah, there's some great stuff here, but so much leaves me all dry. Many of the songs are just too minimalist for their own good, and there's definitely some filler material here. The title track achieves nothing, and Nattens Farget is fairly forgettable, with some pretty awkward vocals from Garm. There's the other problem of the songs tending to blend together after a little while, but that's to be expected with this style of music, so that's fair enough. A bit less minor key stuff would've helped too. I'm not expecting a super happy collection of songs, but it's a long, depressing listen.
It's a shame about this record. Kveldssanger should sound great, but I just can't seem to really enjoy it, no matter how hard I try. Maybe I'm not Norwegian enough. While I didn't like this record too much, I still suggest you pick this up, because chances are I'm a philistine who doesn't know what he's talking about.