[Reviewed by stark]
So here it is, a new Ulver album. A year after “Drone Activity” and three years after their previous “song-based” release, that is “The Assassination of Julius Caesar”. “Flowers of Evil”, again released at House Of Mythology, is a fine, truly fine piece of modern pop music with an avant-garde touch.
The album can be treated as a follow-up to “The Assassination…”, but let me be clear, that “avant-garde” aspect is not as straightforward as on “Caesar”, because on that CD along with the “radio hits” (so to speak) you could find longer forms, possibly partially improvised, with distinguishable krautrock influences. Remember the creative insanity of “Rolling Stone” or “Coming Home”? No such moments on “Flowers Of Evil”, basically all songs are catchy and easy to embrace after an initial listening. If you liked “Caesar”, you’ll enjoy them immediately, you’ll be able to whistle the melodies the very first day you get the album. Yet it takes more than a few listens to observe the intricacy of these forms, all these tiny details present in the background, the rhythmic design of the songs.
Perhaps it’s just my impression, but I feel the production is more spatial, as if there’s more breath in the music. It’s so colorful and it floats in the air like these flowers and peacock feathers from the third composition. It’s like you could add another sound or instrument here or there as there’s still room for it, but on the other hand it’s not necessary, the songs are enjoyable as they are.
I don’t know if you agree with me, but to me it seems like that Caesarian balance of their music between the European urban romanticism of the beginning of XX-century’s ninth decade and a mid-80s Miami neonic madness of white suits and Lamborghinis has been moved significally to that latter direction. While the inspirations of bands like Talk Talk and such still are present and the intensity of feelings and emotions is way above average, the rhythmics, melodics and electronic structures seem to be closer to the retro Florida clubbing. And I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing, on the contrary as “Machine Guns And Peacock Feathers” and “Apocalypse 1993” are possibly the grooviest fragments of the album.
Make no mistake though, there’s always a bit more to the story, this is not a mindless feeding on retro nostalgia, as under this flamboyant facade hides a reflection about a contemporary man and his will to perish. It’s like a decadent bal masque before the world turns to flames. Yes, in this subject this is another thread linking “Flowers Of Evil” with “The Assassination of Julius Caesar”.
Yet still, this is a highly pleasant album with tons of historical and popcultural references (from Ingmar Bergman to David Koresh) and above all we get the vocals by Garm. Which are like they always are. That is awesome. I’m a huge fan of this fellow’s voice. Please don’t change.
By the way, along with the release, a book “Wolves Evolve: The Ulver Story” will come, it’s a biographical album with in-depth interviews and exclusive photos. Could be a nice touch to your Ulver collection.
Ulver – Flowers Of Evil
House Of Mythology, HOM023