Norwegian shape-shifters Ulver are releasing a box-set with remastered versions of their early albums: Bergtatt, Kveldssanger and Nattens Madrigal. The three albums had formed the collection The Trilogie – Three Journeyes Through The Norwegian Netherworlde in 1997 and, although each in a very different musical direction from the others, the three together show a very different face to that of Ulver in 2014. Intrigued by the move, we contacted the band to find out more.
Ulver formed in 1993 in Norway and, in those early days, they played music as evocative of the Forest as few other bands have conjured. Be it the avant-garde metal of Bergtatt, the acoustic brilliance of Kveldssanger or the savage black metal of Nattens Madrigal, the three albums exude the pinetree and early morning mist- nothing remotely similar to the urban soundscapes of Perdition City or the subtle sound palettes of Shadows Of The Sun.
Despite all the efforts the band has put over the years to distance themselves from black metal, they now return with a re-release of these early albums. Kristoffer Rygg, a.k.a. Garm, Ulver’s mastermind, begins: “It is no secret that I have ‘battled’ a bit with my past, black metal ideology, or culture… the general follies of youth; but man it’s a great moment when you have enough distance to look back at your teenage self and laugh with him. Welcome to middle age (laughs). There’s a passion and persuasion in that stuff that I definitely appreciate a lot more now than I did at, say the turn of the millennium. So yeah, it’s been an amusing time travel, just looking back at the period, where the music and the mythos were coming from, and kinda realizing actually how the seeds for future UIver music and maturation were already in place. I also see clearer than ever why there was really no good reason for us to make any more albums like that after Nattens Madrigal… It sounds pretty damn decisive (laughs).”
Nattens Madrigal has to be one of the harshest and most chaotic sounding albums in the second wave of black metal. Given the focus on sound quality that defines later-day Ulver, the remastering on that album apparently was the most special of the three. “The new mastering sounds absolutely wicked. The most obvious ‘news value’ is perhaps in that album (Nattens Madrigal); it has been worked quite exhaustively on, drums and bass a lot more audible now. It’s still fierce as fuck though. You might not believe it, but I’ve been clutching invisible oranges numerous times listening to that one again. The first two sound great as well, but they never sounded that bad to begin with. The first demo and an instrumental rehearsal is in place more as curiosa – to complete the picture.”
Invisible oranges is definitely not a thing I could imagine Garm doing these days! That speaks volumes for the importance of re-discovering parts of oneself. “It’s been a totally worthwhile trip down memory lane for me, collecting and restoring and putting all this material together in a “as good as it gets” package for new listeners. It’s been long overdue.” Garm finishes.
The box-set will include the demo tape Vargnatt (1993), the rare compilation track “Synen” (Cthulhu Records 1997) as well as a recently unearthed 4-track rehearsal recording featuring tracks from Nattens Madrigal as bonus content. The layout has been done by Metastazis who was for this project given access to lots of never-before-seen archival material.
With the exception of Nattens Madrigal, which is still the ferocious beast it always was – but now with a slightly more compassionate re-mastering courtesy of Tom Kvålsvoll at Strype Audio, Oslo – all the material has been considerately remastered to analogue tape by Jaime Gomez Arellano in Orgone Studios, London, and consulted by Kristoffer Rygg. “The test pressings have been wholeheartedly approved by all involved and we here at Century Media think they sound amazing.” Century Media comments.
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