Norway - Full Moon 198 - 10/29/12
It's a label showdown!
Metronomicon Audio vs. Jester Records - Round 41
Center of the Universe: Apokryfa
(2009 Metronomicon Audio: MEAU.0041.CDR)
Ulver: Shadows Of The Sun
(2007 Jester Records TRICK-041)
Welcome to round 41 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 goals
and giving out yellow
and red cards, soccer style -
but first of all reviewing the music. For more introductory information on this label match, see
Apokryfa is presented in a double fold-out digipack with a booklet with lyrics and art.
The Ulver release comes in a CD jewel case with a folded insert with art & info.
The liner notes states: "The songs on this album are based on excerpts of written music and traditionals, found
on travel to Serbia, United Kingdom, Syldavia, Bosnia Hercegovina, Belgium, Spain, Sweden and Norway, year
3170-3172 YOLD.", the dates referring to the
Discordian Calendar, which translates to years 2004-2006 in the Gregorian calendar, I think.
As usual, Sissyfus plays most of the instruments himself, but is helped throughout by Sara Lena Yri Cools, on
vocals, accordion and synth. The album starts a row of somewhat sketchily arranged tunes, the upbeat, mid-tempo
and banjo-driven "A Period of Time" is followed by the slower "A Tune!" that almost comes to a halt midways, but
picks up as percussion and bass is added. "Sing It Again" works well with its light balkan-twangy theme, while
the more uptempo "The Way Things Work" has a great positive vibe. The Arabic mellow-mystical "Indecicion" featuring
Øyvin Yri on clarinet is great. "Wherever You Are" stands out in this collection being the only song
based on more traditional pop chords, although with an indie-folk feel, beautiful. The title track
shakes off some dust with its faster klezmer-like riffs, but is a rather forgettable instrumental among the
other and stronger tracks surrounding it. "Time-Space Continuum" has a rather intriguing and skewed rhythmic pattern
which is repeated to a trancelike effect, increased by nice echoing vocal effects. "Drawn Outwords"
is in fact rather inwards looking and reflective, a slow and somewhat sad ending song, with nice oboe playing by Emily Wasp,
adding to the blueness.
To sum it up: Apokryfa is without doubt the best Center of the Universe album so far.
This time Sissyfus has gone for less-is-more and rather restrained arrangements, almost making them feel sketchy,
but the collection of lighthearted songs shines better this way, especially the second half of the album is
The ever-changing face of Ulver shows a new side with Shadows Of The Sun, diving
into the reflective and melancholy. The music is floating below the surface of a cold arctic sea where
only glimpses of sunlight reach down. It's deep and rumbling, almost ambient at times. The lyrics
are centered around light and darkness, life and death, often understated and short on words, and
sung with a monk-like slowness, almost imploding of solitude. One song glides into another, even
the cover of Black Sabbath's Solitude melts into the overall mellow sounding production.
Creaking and distorted sounds blend in from time to time, like remnants of machinery slowly moving
in the deep. It sure is an ambitious album, some would say pretentious, I guess, but at
the same time the lyrics may stir up some thoughts, if you let them. Going through this album is somewhat like
watching a funeral. Although there may be light and hope, there certainly also is bleakness, which I
feel dominates the album to an almost uncomfortable level.
Match result: Metronomicon Audio 4 () - Jester Records 3 ()
Next head-to-head meeting is the Center Of The Universe release Remixes/Remixed Ether Force Unit Seven from Metronomicon Audio which is up against
the When release You Are Silent from Jester Records.
Copyright © 2012 Knut Tore Breivik