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1st Decade In The Machines

1993-2003 1st Decade In The Machines
(Jester Records)

Although they've been putting out music for nearly 10 years, this is the first that I've heard of Ulver. I imagine that it doesn't help matters when I live in the middle of the United States, and they hail from Norway, but from everything I can gather about the group, they've put out a plethora of albums under differing styles and have been highly influencial in the process. Given the high quality of names on this remix disc (packed with 79 minutes in 14 tracks), they've no doubt touched a lot of artists.

A simple spin down the liner notes on the disc will be enough to interest most picky listeners. Bogdan Raczynski, Matt Elliot (appearing as Third Eye Foundation for the very last time), Fennesz, Neotropic, Pita, Jazzkammer, Merzbow, and Stars Of The Lid (amongst others) all show up here, and the results are varied as can be expected after reading such a list. Nicely enough for people like me, the disc leads off with a track by Ulver themselves, and it's enough to make me want to delve into more of their work. "Crack Bug" starts out as glitchy ambience, but soon a rhythm chugs into the mix and soon overtakes nearly everything, pounding away as the electronics are shattered into broken modem sounds and squeals of white noise.

Although I don't have the vantage point of the original tracks to compare to the remixes, my best guess is that the artists involved have done a lot of reworking, as the music definitely tie to the individuals involved. Elliot follows in his tradition of stellar remixes (last year's I Poopoo On Your Juju compiled 8 others) with a spooky remix of "Lyckantopen," while Upland obliterates "Lost In Moments" into swirling piles of cut-up squelched beats and drifting drones (exciting me more in 2.5 minutes than on the majority of his debut album). After the darker tones of the beginning of the disc, Bogdan Raczynski brings the cheez-whiz with some spastic blip n' bass while Stars Of The Lid drop a brilliant epic in "I Love You, But I Prefer Trondheim." Leading off with their familiar gauzy textures, the track actually encorporates some subtle rhythm, and makes one wonder what direction their next release might take given some of the same flavor.

Elsewhere, there's a lot of noise and deconstruction on the disc. Alexander Rishaug crunches numbers and splinters of high tones and crackling electronic data on "A little wiser than the monkey, much wiser than seven men," while V/VM and Merzbow close the disc with a one-two punch of almost 13 minutes of head-splitting noise (you can't escape them). While the middle of the release offers a brief respite, this disc is mainly for those who like a bit more of the electronic workouts and noise (although Fennesz keeps his offering fairly tame). Given that Ulver has released everything from a black metal album to glitchy electronics, I guess that really shouldn't be a surprise. If you enjoy the aforementioned artists, you'll no doubt be excited by this release, but most will find it pretty hard to sit clear through.

Rating: 6.75