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It's a label showdown!
Metronomicon Audio vs. Jester Records - Round 26
coverpic coverpic Center Of The Universe: Bellydance Nation
  (2005 Metronomicon Audio: MEAU.0026.CDR)
vs.
Ulver: A Quick Fix Of Melancholy EP
  (2003 Jester Records TRICK-026)

Welcome to round 26 in the label showdown series between Metronomicon Audio and Jester Records! Since we've more or less totally missed out on reviewing the output of these two great labels, we are going through their entire catalogues, matching the releases from each label consecutively against each other. Humorously counting goalsIt's a GOAL! and giving out yellowOooops, a yellow card! and redOooops, a red card! cards, soccer style - but first of all reviewing the music. For more introductory information on this label match, see round 1.

Match preview
Bellydance Nation is presented in the typical Metronomicon fashion - a CD-R packed in a flexible plastic sleeve with a cardboard folder and a booklet containing art & information.
coverpic coverpic

The Ulver release comes in a jewel case.
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The match

Sissyfus vehicle C.O.U. are no strangers to eastern influences, but this release goes a couple of steps further in that direction than earlier releases, even listing the song titles in Arabic handwriting (only!). Sissyfus himself plays instruments like oud, saz, sitar, darbouka, surna and mrdangam, while a handful of musicians helps out here and there, adding violins, more darbouka and bagpipes. The up-tempo "This Love Will Last 4ever" successfully blends eastern and western melodic traditions, sounding at times like an Irish-Arabian folk tune. We've heard similar melodies before from C.O.U., but the busy arrangement is adventurous without getting confusing or tiresome, even when stretched over more than 7 minutes, a length which seems to be the norm for songs on this album. "So Lets Just Forget About It" starts by pushing the tuning of some instruments beyond the western comfort zone, and probably also challenging anybody's concept about being "in tune". Sissyfus' voice seems to adjust well though ... and after a while the song's skewed melancholy flows into "Bellydance Nation Part 1", another peculiar mix of neo-medieval, british and eastern folk musicIt's a GOAL!. "The Seed" is calmer and slower, almost a ballad, again a rather sad melody along more western traditions, with rather sparse arrangements. Nice, but here the 7 minutes seem longOooops, a yellow card!. "Sleep" is also slow and sparsely arranged for the most part, at times sliding into a psychedelic dub experienceIt's a GOAL!, while the more acoustic "You've Got No Idea!" steps rather deep into melancholia before "Bellydance Nation Part 2" takes over, this time dry-sounding and dominated by cheesy synths, 7 rather uninteresting minutesOooops, a yellow card!. "Doppelganger" introduce a pop refrain, but here Sissyfus' singing falls through, and as the toylike synths and rapid electronic rhytmics join in, the album sadly ends with a low pointOooops, a red card!. Not counting the nonsensical "Hidden Track Part 2".

To sum it up: C.O.U. goes Arabic on this somewhat reflective and mostly melancholy album, but there seems to be a lack of quality control when it comes to both songwriting and arrangements. At its best western and eastern melodies are melded into something that suits Sissyfus' singing, but other times the results just sound cheesy, lackluster and careless. So like with other C.O.U. releases, it's pick and choose.

By the time this EP was released, it seemed like Ulver approached melancholy in a way that could hardly be described as neither quick nor a fix, but the title is a fitting description anyway. The opening "Little Blue Bird" is symphonic and operatic, after a while coloured with elements of glitch and other broken sounds. Since I've been bashing Sissyfus' singing on occasion, it feels appropriate to note that Kristoffer Rygg perhaps stretches his capabilities a couple of times hereOooops, a yellow card!, although his voice itself has qualities that I in general appreciate. The instrumental "Doom Sticks" is overall more synthetic, but when harp arpeggios and strings join in, the tension increases from sleepy reflective to the more mysterious and eerieIt's a GOAL!. "Vowels" in some ways continue this, but this time with a vocal with more of a gothic and medieval feeling, like from a dark monastery. Otherwise it is sparsely arranged, leaving room for the strings to resonate, to great effectIt's a GOAL!. The EP ends with another instrumental, "Eitttlane" (sic), a more floating piece, where only the obscure and faded samples of rock drums at some point intrude, before it floats away, drifting towards darkness on mellow trip-hop rhythms.

To sum it up: Overall I would say this release displays more cinematic drama than pure melancholy. The lyrics are esoteric and can be interpreted in many directions, leaving the Ulver mystique intact. But all in all a little disappointing and directionless interlude from Ulver.

Match result: Metronomicon Audio 2 (It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!) - Jester Records 2 (Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!)

THE LABEL TABLE
# Metronomicon Audio (MA) Jester Records (JR) MA JR
01 C.O.U.: Darklow Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Ulver: Themes From William ... Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! 1 4
02 C.O.U.: Sellout EP It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! Esperanza: Esperanza Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card! 2 1
03 C.O.U.: Bestboy Electric Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Arcturus: Disguised Masters It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! 1 1
04 Cyrano & C.O.U.: s/t It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! When: Psychedelic Wunderbaum Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card! 2 1
05 Täppas Strepens: Beans, Bacon ... Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Bogus Blimp: Men-Mic It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! 2 4
06 Center of the Universe: Curious .. It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! Ulver: Metamorphosis It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 2 1
07 C.O.U.: Taking a Nap With It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL! Ulver: Perdition City It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! 2 4
08 Täppas Strepens: The Future ... Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Bogus Blimp: cords. wires Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 3
09 Magnus Moriarty™: Drive Fast ... It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! When: WriterCakeBox It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 5
10 Various Artists: 1.0 It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL! Star of Ash: iter.viator. It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card! 3 1
11 Now We've Got Members: Le Jardin It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! Virus: Carheart It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 3
12 C.O.U.: Promotional Copy Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Ulver: Silences Teaches You ... It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 1
13 Magnus Moriarty™: ...And The Hippos... It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! Origami Galaktika: Stjernevandring It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! 3 4
14 Cyrano: You Sensualize My Soul Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! When: The Lobster Boys It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 3
15 Koppen: Truckdriving Songs Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card! Rotoscope: Great Curves Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 1 1
16 Täppas Strepens: Dance, Dance ... It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! Ulver: Silencing the Singing It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 1
17 C.O.U.: Staying Up All Night ... Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a red card! Kåre João: Captain Trips It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 1 1
18 Magnus Moriarty™: U R On A Radar It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Head Control System: Murder Nature It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 2 2
19 Now We've Got Members: Tiny Disasters It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! Single Unit: Family of Forces It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! 5 3
20 Various Artists: 2.0 Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! [unreleased] 1 0
21 Koppen: My Fashion Statement ... Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a red card! Kåre João: Sideman It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 1 4
22 Täppas Strepens: The Great American ... It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL! Upland: Upland It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 4 1
23 Magnus Moriarty™: Sky-Fi Beatitude It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card! When: Sunshine Superhead It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 1
24 Cyrano: I Cannot Smell It It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a red card! Ulver: Lyckantropen Theme It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! 3 2
25 Hanny: Moderning Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Ulver: 1993-2003: 1st Decade ... Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card! 1 1
26 C.O.U.: Bellydance Nation It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card! Ulver: A Quick Fix Of Melancholy EP Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! 2 2
Total 60 55

Next match
Next head-to-head meeting is the Meta Forever CD Astroid Antics from Metronomicon Audio which is up against the 1349 Rykkinn CD Brown Ring Of Fury from Jester Records.

Copyright © 2011 Knut Tore Breivik e-mail address

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