|Everything falls. World history is an endless process of failure and falling, forced forward by opposed powers. In this twilight Ulver hovers, somewhere between Beast and Man, noise and silence, the golden summits and the dead centre. Their first fall was into the satanic metal scene emerging in Norway in the beginning of the 1990's. Their songs were manifestations of rebellious romanticism, combining elements from Old Norse folk music with the primal brutality of black metal.
The first three albums form a trilogy exploring the sinister aspects of Norwegian folklore. The beastliness begins with Bergtatt (1994), is balanced with the all acoustic, neo-folk album Kveldssanger (1995), before returning with even more impact on Nattens Madrigal (1997), where the pure anger and anguish is a consequence of the quintessential lycanthropic lyrics. Ulver's uncompromising and enigmatic attitude made the band one of the most influential of the Norwegian subculture. Nonetheless they recognized that these early endeavors were stepping stones rather than conclusions - a thought that most bands of the scene did not care or dare to think. Ulver has always been in radical opposition to all forms of restriction and habit. "I think we quite early discarded all convulsive attempts at being dark and evil in any common sense of these words", states G., "When it comes to darkness, I find it much more fascinating when applied subtly." Ulver fell further with their fourth album, Themes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1998).
This double CD is an epic recital of the book where Blake evokes the power of imagination against the restrictions of the human ratio. Musically it explores a wide range of sound disciplines, including ambient soundscapes, industrial, cinematic jazz and rock/metal hybrids. Given this diversity, the response from the metal media came highly unexpected: 10/10 points in Rock Hard (D); 7/7 points and Album of the Month in Hammer Magazine (D); Album of the Month in Terrorizer (UK); 15/15 in Deftone (D); 15/15 in Legacy (D); 10/10 in Psycho (IT); 12/12 in Thrash'em All (POL). While some genre purists were taken aback by the violation of their boundaries, a new audience now discovered the band. Ulver started interacting with a broader range of people on the cultural fringe: modern heretical philosophers and musicians, writers on conspiracy, chaos magicians and the likes. In Norway the band has been involved in books, movies and multimedia projects, enjoying rising acclaim from a downright diverse lot. Ulver posters started appearing in everything from dumb smash box movies such as Senseless to the TV series Sopranos. The controversial director of the motion pictures Kids and Gummo, Harmony Korine, recently commented, alluding to The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: "There's a real lineage from a composer like Wagner to a band like Ulver". This confirms Ulver's outstanding status - a status that has resulted in proposals from world-class engineers for production of future albums, remix requests from other musicians, as well as invitations to multimedia projects. Then followed the aptly titled Metamorphosis ep (1999), a dark cultivation of the electronic experiments introduced on the Blake album.
The EP served as a foretaste of what awaits us now: Perdition City. Ulver's fifth full-length album shows the band retreating even further, into observations of beauty and decay and the loss of innocence. However disillusioned the band may appear today, there are still these keen visions, still these withdrawn and picturesque atmospheres. Subtitled Music to an interior film, this is indeed music to evoke images in the mind. Perdition City presents Ulver more confident and subdued than before, at moments challenging the conception of what music usually encompasses. Here everything falls from absolute form in an unending process of decline, fragmentation and decomposition. What is stable today may fall apart tomorrow - Tomorrow never knows. Yet there is more to this than the will to bring the world to its end only. The band regards themselves as magicians, and in making music an alchemical act Ulver goes beyond mere nihilism and decadence. They enter regions of loss and oblivion anxiously anticipating what awaits beyond the veil of eternal night. Their compositions draw waning and waxing galaxies before the listener's inner eye, encircling that strange expanse beyond the tones and the drones. Lost in Moments linger there, in The Hallways of Always, between all and nihil, beginning and end, where all is one and one is all. Repeat it a thousand times: One is all; all is one. The dead centre is nonetheless left undefined. Perdition City offers no conclusions, it is an ether only, a soundtrack to a film unmade and impossible. Ulver belongs to a rare breed of musicians who fall with strict consequence on album after album. And Perdition City is a stunning manifestation of all this within a framework of artistic perfection and mature aestheticism. It is also an album that will convince those in search for modern and sophisticated music without hearing the wings of angels and demons beating beneath. Perdition City includes the Limbo Central video and a 46-pages booklet with pictures and manifesto.