Masterful manipulation of an astonishing improvised set.

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The music here was largely improvised onstage in a deliberate move to stop Ulver, in founder Kristoffer Rygg’s words, from becoming “set in their ways”, and the set was then “manipulated” by the band’s Daniel O’Sullivan.

The group have made an extraordinary move from hyperspeed metal to quasi-religious vocal chorales to psychedelia, and ATGCLVLSSCAP is an inspired and powerful manipulation of live recordings. If there’s a unifying factor that links Ulver’s diverse music it’s a feeling of size and space, and this is huge. England’s Hidden emerges in a carillon of multi-tracked church bells that gradually fade to a landscape of drone notes and eerie voices with hints of the ecclesiastical grandeur of Popul Vuh’s Vuh. Moody Stix is more animated, an extravagant processional based on revolving percussion patterns. With its drums, hand percussion and driving Eastern sounding guitar, Om Hanumate Nama has the flavour of early Amon Düül II; distant voices chant the title like a mantra. It’s a surprise to hear an actual song, Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen), but as guitars stack up to the skies it ends up as dramatic as the rest of the material on this astonishing record.

Mike Barnes

Mike Barnes is the author of Captain Beefheart - The Biography (Omnibus Press, 2011) and A New Day Yesterday: UK Progressive Rock & the 1970s (2020). He was a regular contributor to Select magazine and his work regularly appears in Prog, Mojo and Wire. He also plays the drums.