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I initially was completely won over by Perdition City. While I considered myself openminded, I associated electronica with 2 things: rave music and ambient. I liked ambient, but thought of it as rather repetitive, i.e. there was no point in listening to the whole album because all the songs sounded alike. I hated rave music, and still do, so I was prepared for boring ambient music, since I figured Ulver wouldn't make something I hate (yeah, I love Ulver that much.)
(As a disclaimer, this review is in a roughly song-by-song format. I usually don't do song by song formats, because as the rules say, they're usually very amateurish, but since Perdition City is an album where every song is markedly different and possesses an identity of its own, it's appropriate).
Well, this completely blew me away at first. I LOVED Hallways of Allways, and one of my ghetto-fabulous friends from central Richmond even recorded a rap over it, which, even though I hate rap, I loved. The melodies were original yet relatable, and the beat was relaxed yet driving, it seemed. Lost in Moments and Porn Piece were great nocturnal songs, being atmospheric but never repetitive. They were low key, yet greatly emotional and evocational at their best. The Future Sound Of Music was an epic that evoked great moods in me, and went well with psychedelics when I was in my psychedelic phase, especially with the intro. Tommorrow Never Knows was a subtle noir piece that was great for driving around at night, smooth and very dark. We Are the Dead was a chilling piece that made my neck shiver when I listened to it, consisting of various radio static noises and a chilling choir, with Garm whispering over it. Dead City Centres reminded me of those drug trips where everything disintegrated into a chaotic mess as you approached the end, and when you woke up on monday you weren't sure of what happened, and your memory recalled only nonsense and insanity. Catalept was a short breather in between the insanity of Dead City Centres, and the masterpiece that was Nowhere/Catastrophe. Now, Nowhere/Catastrophe, though by far the most "normal" song, almost pop-like, won my heart instantly. The singing, the music... it was all orgasmic. While more normal, it still possessed the nocturnal, laid back feeling the rest of the album had.
Now that I have had some chance to listen to more music and get more familiar with what Perdition City was trying to do, it's not quite as stellar. Mind you, it's still good, and I still listen to it with no problem whatsoever. But a few things changed: Lost in Moments became too start-stop for me, and didn't really get good until the end. Ditto went for Porn Piece, which, although both are still good songs, are a bit too all over the place for me. Hallways of Allways I still love with a great intensity, and find nothing wrong with the song. A similar pattern emerged with the next few songs, where they are still good songs to listen to, and Perdition City is still an awesome CD, they aren't FUKKEN AWESOME anymore. Just good, no more. One thing that I don't particularly like anymore is Dead City Centres. Maybe it's because I got clean, or maybe it's because while it still reminds me of those weekends that seem to evade my memory except in parts most bizarre. Frankly, one of the reasons I got clean was BECAUSE of those weekends, and to tell you the truth, going to excess that much and living such insanity is not a pleasant experience, and listening to Dead City Centres is not that pleasant of an experience either. As well, Catalept is pretty much filler, and doesn't help Perdition City in any way.
If it weren't for Dead City Centres or Catalept, after a couple years of owning Perdition City, I would've given it a 95 or therabouts. It's not perfect, but with the exception of those two songs it's a very rewarding listen and conjures up many different moods and many different atmospheres. It lost its perfectness after several listens, but it's still a great collection of songs. But DCC and Catalept just screw up the atmosphere like you wouldn't believe. And that prevents Perdition City from achieving a lot of its potential.