Ulver Messe I.X-VI.X

UlverMesse I.X-VI.X
While it isn't uncommon for metal bands, particularly those of the symphonic persuasion, to commission classical musicians, or even full symphonies, to perform their work, the origin of Messe I.X-VI.X is a slightly inverted version of this: experimental black metal band Ulver were commissioned by Norway's Tromsø Kulturhus to compose a piece with the Arctic Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra. The studio result of that collaboration is Messe I.X-VI.X, first performed with the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra in September 2012, and now reconfigured into its current format, so it's both a live record and studio creation. The soundscapes are eerie and disturbingly alive, as though haunted by the organic sounds of the body: the rhythm of breath, the throb of the circulatory system, all liquid, pulse and need. Yet for all its visceral physicality, Messe I.X-VI.X is a cold, alien record, exploring the sounds of distance and loneliness, inexplicable gulfs and the awful unspoken. It occupies a shivering, liminal space in every possible way; it is neither a metal album, nor a classical composition, but somewhere shifting in-between, just as it isn't live, nor studio, atmospheric nor cinematic. The intimate and interior can suddenly explode outward into the wild and exploratory, such as on "Son of Man," where Kristoffer Rygg's bare voice spirals out into choral vocals, slices of violin and viola, a swelling ocean of strings and limpid percussion. Messe I.X-VI.X is not for anyone looking for the straightforward and aggressive, but for those seeking the beautiful, strange and complex. (Kscope)