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Perdition City.. Seen by some as a confusing slab of electronica, others as a masterpiece, others as a pretentious attempt to be moody and creepy. Hearing these very varied comments left me eagerly awaiting what I assumed would be something crazy and generally whacked out, maybe a (more) electronic version of Blood Inside. Unfortunately, this record is a lot tamer then I expected, but it's still got a nice atmosphere and is a somewhat enjoyable slab of noir-ish electronica, with a bit of variety here and there.
The whole 'trapped in a city' vibe has been commented on by a few reviewers, and that's definitely here, no doubt. I definitely feel that this would be a great soundtrack for Sin City or something like that. There's plenty of spookay strings and brass here and there, and in some songs, like Dead City Centres, all attempts at being subtle are thrown out the window and there's a big movie style voice over going on about 'The Underworld' while a brass section squeals away underneath. However, don't start thinking that it's all a one track, one atmosphere sort of album. Porn Piece starts of all solemn and minor key, before Garm comes in with some quite soulful singing. It's probably the best song on here, very atmospheric, but balancing the atmosphere with enough sound and melody to keep you interested. You've then got tracks like The Future Sound of Music, which start of all ambient and relaxing, before exploding into a pretty huge, industrial-infused climax.
Yeah, there's lots of variety here and for the most part it's really well executed. There's a few problems here, though. Actually, there's only one problem, but it's a very big, very annoying problem. Put simply- the samples are REALLY FREAKING BAD. I don't think I've ever heard drums sound this bad. They sound like they were played on a ancient casio keyboard.Just because you're using a drum machine doesn't mean that you don't have to use decent samples! Unfortunately, the poor samples extend to other areas of the music too, whether it's the poor, thin piano, the synthetic, weak strings, and just most areas of the music in general.
Still. despite the somewhat poor sampling here there's a lot going for it. While most later Ulver efforts seem to suffer from an apparent lack of songwriting here and there, this album is quite focused. Unlike some of their EPs, Ulver don't wander off half way into a song. That's not to say that this is structured like a pop song- I don't think there's any verse/chorus kind of stuff here. Nonetheless, the songs move onward with a purpose and direction that definitely lacks in some of Ulver's later period stuff
This isn't quite the strange, mind-bending bit of music I'd hoped for. Nonetheless, it's a solid, inspired piece of electronica which is surprisingly atmospheric and bleak. If you want amazing electronica then I'm afraid this isn't it, but it's a good album nonetheless.