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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 194 - 07/03/12

Ulver
Childhood's End
Jester Records/KScope

Here's yet another unexpected turn from the once so black metalic, post-rockin', floating electronic etc. Ulver. By the end of the band members' childhood they seem to have heard a lot of music from the psychedelic 1960s through their parents, voluntary or not. Eventually, they grew to enjoy the music and wanted to pass the heritage on. So, here's a collection of 16 more or less well known jewels of the era from both side of the Atlantic in Ulver disguise. From the time when popular music developed into being something more than pure innocent entertainment. We got a notice when Ulver released the seven inch vinyl Roadburn EP to commemorate the band's performance at the Roadburn Festival in Holland last April coupling Electric Prunes' "I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)" with "Reverberation (Doubt)" by 13th Floor Elevators. Two songs from two quite legendary American bands of the latter half of the 60s.

We dive into the original versions of the songs in our From Head To Heart July special where Ulver's versions also are commented on to some extent. The song selection is excellent and quite unexpected, dating from 1966 to 1969 with one exception. Some are quite famous, others quite obscure gems. Not all of them of the psychedelic kind. A few are closer to garage and some closer to pure ballad/quiet pop or folk music of the era than could be expected from a band of Ulver's ilk. All songs are reasonably faithful to the originals, but treated in an Ulver manner, played with Ulver's normal instruments and ditto sound effects. It means too much reverb, echo etc. for my liking, especially on the vocals. The album works better if you only play one song at a time and leave it at that. Playing the album from start to finish, I think it sounds as if was recorded in a concrete bomb shelter and wrapped in some woollen blanket that drown the songs to some extent.

The front cover depicts a 9 year old naked Phan Thi Kim Phúc running away from her village. She had teared off her burning clothes after being napalmed. This is not quite the most famous anti-Vietnam war picture of them all. There is another one where she and the boy to her right screams more and where you might discern the skin about to fall off her body. Anyway, of course it's a sign of the times, but the songs are far from the hippie, make love not war kind. So, Ulver's intentions seem to be the very best, but the accomplishment could've been better with a more varied production, especially the vocal sound, and maybe instrumentation, too. It might be more rewarding to take a closer listen to some of the original versions. The big question is where Ulver is heading after this.

Copyright © 2012 JP e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Ulver articles/reviews: A Quick Fix Of Melancholy EP, Blood Inside, Childhood's End, Lyckantropen Themes, Messe I.X-VI.X, Metamorphosis, Perdition City, Shadows Of The Sun, Silence Teaches You How To Sing EP, Silencing the Singing, Svidd Neger, Teachings In Silence, Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell, Wars Of The Roses.

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© 2012 Luna Kafé