Norway - Full Moon 209 - 09/19/13
It's a label showdown!
Metronomicon Audio vs. Jester Records - Round 50
Magnus Moriarty™: Kodachromerockopera
(2011 Metronomicon Audio: MEAU.0051.CD)
Ulver: Messe I.X-VI.X
(2013 Jester Records TRICK051CD)
Welcome to round 51 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
Kodachromerockopera is is presented as a CD, or better, on red vinyl.
The Ulver comes in various formats, from exquisite deluxe vinyl packages to simpler CD packages.
Perhaps Interior Heart Politeness was a little disappointment, not because it was bad, but because
he seemed to be repeating a (admittadly well-working) formula. Just like last time, Marius Ergo is helping out on a row of instruments, percussion
and backing vocals. "Citadel Etc." is lifted by some dirty saxophone tones by Dag Stiberg,
and Sissyfus joins in on flute on one occation, otherwise the two multi-intrumentalists together cover just about
everything you'll ever think of dragging into a studio. Moriarty™ violin is a trademark feature, adding a folk fealing to several songs,
and the organ also has a fairly prominent place in a few songs. "She Lingers In The Grandest Of Fields" has a nice Arabic twist to it,
but "I've Been Purcelled!" is even better, going for an English medieval feel . The synth-driven "KnightsCryRocketTears" is fun , and
"With Regards To Her Royal Lateness" is probably a stunt, but still a welcome calm and somewhat sad piano/organ instrumental.
Some of the up-tempo songs feel kind of saturated as arrangements go,
but "less-is-more" is hardly Moriarty™'s subscribed studio-philosophy, even
if the album ends nicely with the rather nakedly arranged and somewhat atypical "Forever In Circles" .
To sum it up: Moriarty™'s songwriting is still largely based on the same chord progressions and melodies we're heard in other
incarnations before, but it has sharpened a bit, and shows great variety within this album. The arrangements are also varied and
add to the feeling that this is an album of diversity not matched by any of Moriarty™ previous albums.
Ulver is certainly not among the most predictable bands, you never know what to expect from a new release.
From their post-metal days they have drifted from experimental electronica, dark soundscapes to slick progressive poprock and
even made a recent detour to 60's psychedelia. For their new release Messe I.X-VI.X they have teamed up with Tromsø Chamber Orchestra,
which along with the title (messe meaning "mass") suggests a revisit of the more "serious" and somber output of their past.
Shadows of the Sun would be an obvious reference, but I find Messe I.X-VI.X to have
more facets, the mix of electronics and acoustics creating images that are not only just spiraling down into darkness. Perhaps some of this
is due to the new album's mostly instrumental nature, as the Shadows of the Sun lyrics' were very dark. The two tracks that
have lyrics here takes the form of prayers, Christian in parts, but cryptic and dark enough to not totally offend their fans
of black metal origins. "Noche Oscura Del Alma" has the same kind of unsettling atmosphere that you'll find on some of Scott Walker's
later releases, elsewhere Ulver's ambient and glitchy electronica melds well with the natural sounds from the chamber orchestra,
only occasionally adding rhythms and chords to make "songs".
To sum it up: Certainly an album that needs time to sink in , but still a good place
to start if you want to familiarize with the mellower and experimental electronica side of Ulver.
For their progrock, metal or psychedelia incarnations, look elsewhere.
Match result: Metronomicon Audio 4 () - Jester Records 4 ()
That's it! History's longest (and probably only) label match-up has come to an end. For now. There might be another clash
when Jester is out with their next release.
Copyright © 2013 Knut Tore Breivik