Ulver


Ulver

Infobox musical artist
Name = Ulver


Img_capt =
Img_size =
Background = group_or_band
Alias =
Origin = Norway
Instrument =
Genre = Black metal/Folk metal/Neofolk (early) Experimental music (later)
Years_active = 1993–present
Label = Jester Records, The End Records, Century Media Records
Associated_acts =
URL = [http://www.jester-records.com/ulver www.jester-records.com/ulver]
Current_members = Kristoffer Rygg Jørn H. Sværen Tore Ylwizaker
Past_members = Håvard Jørgensen Torbjørn Pedersen Grellmund A. Reza Erik Olivier Lancelot Carl-Michael Eide Hugh Steven James Mingay

Ulver (Norwegian for “wolves”) is a multi-disciplinary musical trio from Norway. Since their first, folklore-influenced black metal release in 1993, Ulver’s musical style has been fluid and increasingly eclectic, blending genres from avant-garde rock and trip hop through symphonic and chamber traditions, right to noise and experimental music, with heavy reliance on electronic recording techniques.

Acclaimed and controversial film director Harmony Korine once remarked that “There's a real lineage from a composer like Wagner to a band like Ulver”. [Craig McLean, "And the Ass Saw the Angel", "The Face", July 2000. [http://www.harmony-korine.com/paper/int/hk/assangel.html] Access date: October 4, 2008.]

And in 1999 the group declared:

Musical overview

Black Metal Trilogie

Although Ulver’s first three albums are often called their “Black Metal Trilogie”, they are quite different in style, with only two of them belonging at all to the black metal genre. The archaic Dano-Norwegian lyrics were inspired by Baroque poets such as Ludvig Holberg and the hymn-writer Thomas Kingo. The themes of the lyrics were greatly influenced by Scandinavian folktales.

The album "Bergtatt - Et eeventyr i 5 capitler" is placed in the folk-themed black metal genre for its occasionally fast tempo, distorted electric guitars and croaky screaming vocals intermitted with melodious acoustic passages with clean vocals, and for having a fantasy storyline. The title "Bergtatt" literally translates as “mountain-taken”; in Norwegian folklore the word refers to people who wander off into mountains, lured by trolls or other mythic creatures. The narrative of the album’s lyrics follows a maiden as she becomes so mountain-taken. The subtitle translates as “A Tale in 5 Chapters”. "Bergtatt" features a melancholic, fully acoustical song “Een stemme locker” (“A Voice Beckons”).

"Kveldssanger", Ulver’s second album, contrasts with "Bergtatt" as it uses classical guitars, cello and chamber chants, completely eschewing the metal elements of "Bergtatt", while still having a folk theme. Garm has since remarked that "Kveldssanger" was an “immature attempt at making a classical album”, later adding that the performance was immature, yet the content is strong when their youth at the time is taken into account.cite web | url = http://blogs.guitarworld.com/metalkult/videos/ulver-the-metalkult-interview/ | title = ULVER: The MetalKult Interview | date = 2007-11-12 | publisher = MetalKult.com]

The third album, "Nattens madrigal" (“ Madrigal of the Night”), saw the band returning to a black metal style similar to "Bergtatt". Unlike on "Bergtatt", however, the only acoustic instruments appear in a brief interlude in the first track. The album is intentionally underproduced, akin to Darkthrone’s "Transilvanian Hunger", with buzzing guitars and rather muffled drums. There are rumors surrounding this album and its recording, the most famous being that the band recorded this album in a forest. A lesser-known rumor is that the band purposely recorded the album on a four-track cassette recorder and used the money that Century Media gave them for other things, like Armani suits, haircuts, cocaine, beer, and/or a new car. When questioned on this matter, Garm only affirmed that the band have expensive tastes.

The Blake album

"Themes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell", released in 1998, was different from what Ulver had made before. Tore Ylwizaker, a new composer and sound architect, added to Garm’s expanding artistic visions, and together they stepped over the boundaries of black metal aesthetics, creating a genre-defying work. In this album, the musicians blended electronics, industrial music elements, progressive metal and avant-garde rock, adding ambient passages. Lyrically, the album incorporates the entire text of William Blake’s poem "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell", and relies on guest vocals. Despite confounding and perhaps alienating many fans of the band’s first three albums, the album received widespread acclaim from critics within both the rock/metal and alternative music press. For instance, it was reviewed as album of the month in several high-profile magazines such as "Terrorizer", "Metal Hammer", and "Rock Hard". It also ranked very high at many year’s best polls that same year.

The metamorphosis

Ulver’s next two releases, the EP "Metamorphosis" and full-length album "Perdition City", were even more experimental and pensive than the Blake album. The band moved further away from rock and metal and into a more ethereal style, much like that of Coil. The use of programmed sound and atmospheric arrangement is dominant here, unlike the previous albums. Neo-classical composer and film scorer Craig Armstrong may have been an influence on Ulver as his use of electronics and trip hop beats over strings and pianos is somewhat reminiscent of Ulver’s later works.

"Teachings in Silence" and soundtracks

The band followed up these two releases with two minimalist/ambient/glitch works "Silence Teaches You How to Sing" and "Silencing the Singing". These works featured minimal melodies and often had subtle, weird and unnatural noises within the song structures. Due to their individual rarity, they were later amalgamated as "Teachings in Silence".

Having proved their proficiency at making atmospheric music, Ulver were hired to make music for cinema films like "Lyckantropen" (see "Lyckantropen Themes"), "Svidd neger" (see "Svidd neger (soundtrack)"), and "Uno".

econd decade in the machines

Since 2003, Ulver graduated into a more symphonic style. They released the EP "A Quick Fix of Melancholy", which kept the minimalist, sparse styles of their previous albums, albeit adding more dramatic and symphonic elements, with various string sounds and operatic vocal styles.

In July 2004, the band had recorded their sixth album, "Blood Inside", which was released on June 6th, 2005. Bringing back more traditional rock instruments like guitar and acoustic drums, combining them with classical instruments, brass horns, and their rich electronic inventory.

Ulver later joined the drone band Sunn O))) on a fifteen-minute track which appears on Sunn O)))’s "WHITEbox" box set, released in July 2006. Additionally, the trio had announced back in 2002 that they had been working on a string remake of "Nattens madrigal", but Garm later stated on the message board of his alternative rock band, Head Control System, that the project “is in a state of total dormancy.” [quote was taken from [http://www.headcontrolsystem.com/thesektor/viewtopic.php?t=109 Head Control System page] (link is dead now)]

The band’s seventh album "Shadows of the Sun" was released on the 1st of October, 2007. Garm described it as “our most personal record to date.” [cite web | url = http://www.jester-records.com/ulver/ulver.html | title = ULVER official site | date = 2007-07-13 | accessdate = 2007-07-13]

Discography

Full lengths

*"Bergtatt - Et eeventyr i 5 capitler" (1994)
*"Kveldssanger" (1995)
*"Nattens madrigal - Aatte hymne til ulven i manden" (1996)
*"Themes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" (1998)
*"Perdition City" (2000)
*"Blood Inside" (2005)
*"Shadows of the Sun" (2007)

Other releases

* "Rehearsal demo (1993)
* "Vargnatt" demo (1993)
* split EP with Mysticum (1994)
* "The Trilogie - Three Journeyes Through the Norwegian Netherworlde" (1998)
* "Metamorphosis" EP (1999)
* "Silence Teaches You How to Sing" EP (2001)
* "Silencing the Singing" EP (2001)
* "Teachings in Silence" EP (includes both "Silence" EPs) (2002)
* "Lyckantropen Themes" (2002)
* "" (2003)
* "A Quick Fix of Melancholy" EP (2003)
* "Svidd Neger" soundtrack (2003)
* "" tribute album (2007)

Contributions and guest appearances

* "Feuersturm" – Century Media Records compilation (1997) – "Soelen gaaer bag aase need"
* "Souvenirs from Hell" – compilation (1997) – "Synen"
* "Ablaze Compilation" – "Ablaze Magazine" compilation (1998) – "Hymn VIII"
* "Lords of Chaos: The History of the Occult" – Lords of Chaos compilation (2002) – often called "(untitled exclusive track)", but in fact it is a rehearsal of "Hymn VI" from "Nattens madrigal"
* "Frog Remixed and Revisited" – Merzbow remix compilation (2003) – "Denki No Numa (Frog Voice mix)"
* "The Lotus Eaters" – Dead Can Dance tribute compilation (2004) – "In the Kingdom of the Blind the One-Eyed Are Kings"
* "Uno" – soundtrack (2004) – "Uno", "Avhør", "Brødre", "Brødre Rev.", "Flukt", "Gravferd", "David til ulvene"
* "Salto, salmiakk og kaffe" – soundtrack (2004) – unreleased
* "Gods of Thunder" – Kiss tribute compilation (2005) – "Strange Ways"
* "Sunn O)))" – "WHITEbox" (2006) – "CUTWOODeD"
* "Shockadelica" – Prince tribute compilation (2008) – "Thieves in the Temple" (feat. Siri Stranger)
* "Pay For It (Single)" – Mindless Self Indulgence - "Pay For It [RMX] "

Members

Current members

* Kristoffer Rygg (aka Garm/Kris) - vocals, guitars, drums, additional programming,
* Jørn H. Sværen - miscellaneous
* Tore Ylwizaker - programming, keyboards

Former Members

* Grellmund – guitar on "Vargnatt" (committed suicide on 31 Dec 1997)
* A. Reza – guitar on "Vargnatt"
* Robin – bass guitar on "Vargnatt"
* Carl-Michael Eide (aka Aggressor; Czral; Exhurtum) – drums on "Vargnatt", guest drums on "Blood Inside"
* Håvard Jørgensen – guitar ("Vargnatt" through "Themes…"), session guitars on "Metamorphosis", "Perdition City" and "Blood Inside"
* Hugh Steven James Mingay (aka Skoll) – bass guitar ("Bergtatt" through "Themes…")
* Erik Olivier Lancelot (aka AiwarikiaR) – drums, flute ("Bergtatt" through "Themes…")
* Torbjørn Pedersen (aka Aismal; Tykje) – guitar ("Bergtatt" through "Nattens Madrigal")
* Knut Magne Valle – guitar on "Themes…"

ession and guest musicians

* Lill Katherine Stensrud – vocals on "Vargnatt" and "Bergtatt", flute on "Bergtatt"
* Steinar Sverd Johnsen (also known as Sverd) – piano on "Vargnatt" and "Bergtatt"
* Alf Gaaskjønli – cello on "Kveldssanger"
* Jan Axel Blomberg (aka Hellhammer) – drums (on the song "Synen", released on the "Souvenirs from Hell" compilation)
* Stine Grytøyr (aka "her") – vocals on "Themes…"
* Tomas Thormodsæter Haugen (aka Samoth) – vocals on "Themes…"
* Vegard Sverre Tveitan (aka Ihsahn) – vocals on "Themes…"
* Gylve Nagell (aka Fenriz) – vocals on "Themes…"
* Rolf Erik Nyström – saxophone on "Perdition City"
* Ivar H. Johansen – drums on "Perdition City"
* Kåre J. Pedersen – drums on "Perdition City"
* Bård G. Eithun – drums on "Perdition City"
* Øystein Moe – bass on "Perdition City"
* Bosse – guitar solo on "Blood Inside"
* Jeff Gauthier – violin on "Blood Inside"
* Mike Keneally – guitar on "Blood Inside"
* Andreas Mjøs – vibraphone on "Blood Inside"
* Maja S. K. Ratkje – choir on "Blood Inside"
* Knut Aalefjær – drums and percussion on "Blood Inside"
* Mathias Eick – trumpet on "Shadows of the Sun"
* Christian Fennesz – supplemental shimmer on "Shadows of the Sun"
* Espen Jørgensen – acoustic and electric guitar on "Shadows of the Sun"
* Pamelia Kurstin – theremin on "Shadows of the Sun"
* Hans Josef Groh – cello on "Shadows of the Sun"
* Dorthe Dreier – viola on "Shadows of the Sun"
* André Orvik – violin on "Shadows of the Sun"
* Vegard Johnsen – violin on "Shadows of the Sun"

Related bands

*Coil – Probably the band by which 2000-2002 era Ulver is most inspired by and analogous to. This British-based experimental band has redefined the essence of electronic and minimalist music
*Arcturus – Another project of Ulver members Garm and Skoll, as well as Ulver session members Sverd, Knut Magne Valle, and Hellhammer, which started as symphonic black metal and transitioned into avant-garde metal. Garm left the band in 2003.
*Borknagar – Norwegian folk-inspired black metal band that featured Garm on vocals on their first two albums.
*Ved Buens Ende – Side project of Skoll and Carl-Michael Eide. Since disbanded, reunited and disbanded once more in early 2007
*Head Control System – a duo of Garm and the Portuguese metal musician Daniel Cardoso.

References

External links

* [http://www.jester-records.com/ulver/ulver.html Ulver’s official page] at [http://www.jester-records.com Jester Records' website] . Contains general information about the members, release history, and interviews.
* [http://www.theendrecords.com/ The End Records] , Ulver’s North American label.
* [http://www.metal.ee/rain/b222/ulver/ulver.php3 "authorised Ulver website"] , not updated since 2004.
* [http://www.sonicfrontiers.net/php/story-24.html "Interview with Jørn H. Sværen"] , from SonicFrontiers.net (Nov 2007)
* [http://panacea.msk.su/ulver/ Ulver international tribute website] "My Own Wolf: A New Approach" (released Dec 2007)


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