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Ulver could've easily made this without Sunn - 60%

MasterOfDissonance, May 13th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2014, Digital, Southern Lord Recordings (Bandcamp)

I might not be the best person to review this, because this feels much more of an Ulver album than Sunn album, and I always found Ulver's use of ambience to be lacking in direction. Most of the time, I can't figure out what it is that they are trying to create with their mixes of audio layers, so maybe I just don't get it, but at the same time, it's a perfectly valid criticism: I don't get it.

I don't understand what they're trying to do here. All 3 songs create a fairly bright layer of ambience, which has some degree of sophistication to it, I'll grant it that, but doesn't really emote anything either. They just sit there, waiting to for their sonic qualities to be examined, but don't seem to be assembled with a purpose in mind. If this album were a story, it would have a setting and characters, but no plot. Because it's Ulver we are dealing with, you can expect some unusual sonic additions that are odd to the point of feeling random (for example, there's a sax on the first song. Bet you didn't see that one coming in an ambient/drone album), and this is the album in a nut shell. Oh yeah, and Sunn is somewhere in the mix too.

Sunn's input consists of soaring leads infused with delay. Their guitars are blended so well with the keyboards that you almost don't notice that there are guitars in that sonic spectrum, so if you came here to enjoy Sunn's trademark monstrous guitar sounds, you won't find it anywhere on this release. I also can't say that I feel their songwriting input in any of the tracks either. Basically Ulver could've made this album on their own, and it's just another case of Sunn outsourcing the creative part to someone else because they don't have new ideas to contribute to the genre anymore.

The third track is where the album shines. Sunn get to do something besides backing the keyboards for a while, and the strictly ambient feel of the album is broken by a melodic section with some vocals. It's a nice way to finish off the album, and it leaves you wanting more. Perhaps if the whole album was like this I could've rated it higher. As it is, I have to rate it low because it's not really a Sunn album, and I also have to rate it low because it's an Ulver album.