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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let there be Light., 4 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Terrestrials (Audio CD)
Sunn O))) and Ulver are two of the most important bands in experimental music of the last decade, with Sunn O)))’s drone metal redefining what it really means to be heavy in the 21st century, while the ever-changing Ulver, since abandoning their early black metal beginnings, have mixed their own style of electronics with a diverse mix of genres such as trip-hop, ambient and even classical chamber music over the years. With this shared penchant for experimentation, this collaboration just makes sense, and my excitement for this release was huge.

Let there be Light features Sunn O))) playing their trademark droney guitars, but not in their usual bludgeoningly heavy style, instead providing some dark and haunting textures as a base for Ulver to play off of. Their contribution continues in the vein of 2012′s Messe I.X-VI.X, with brass and string instruments played over the top, creating a sense of uneasiness and melancholy, the sound of the horns particularly adding to this. It would seem the title “Let there be Light” isn’t fitting at all, until near the end when slow drums come in over the top, and the brass instruments grow louder in the most epic of manners, while all the while the drones play on and on, and it hits you like the sun suddenly coming over the horizon over a dark landscape, illuminating everything around in a sea of light and brightness.

Western Horn brings back the sense of darkness. With rumbling monolithic bass tones, electronic weirdness, ambient guitar riffs drenched in delay, haunting string sections, brass instruments, and even sparse piano and drums, there’s a heck of a lot going on in this track. It takes several listens to fully appreciate, but it’s excellently complete, and despite it’s dark atmosphere, it almost feels serene at the same time – it fits in the dark ambient bracket rather well. It drones and rumbles darkly, but it’s also wonderfully beautiful and melancholic. It’s perhaps the best piece on the album, despite it’s short length.

The closing track “Eternal Return” is the most ambient track of the lot, with a lot of emphasis on the strings instruments over the rumbling bass, with Ulver’s trademark electronics coming in at the half way point along with Garm’s only vocals of the album delivering a dark and haunting performance, possibly his best one ever. It’s the longest piece on the album, and it has a beautiful atmosphere to it.

If there’s anything negative to say, it’s that its simply too short, clocking in at only 36 minutes. Sunn O))) have longer singular pieces of music in their catalogue, and there are so many great ideas, particularly on Western Horn, that they could have been fleshed out further over a longer playing time. However, despite it’s short length it doesn’t feel incomplete, and most good albums should leave you wanting more.

A lot of collaborations don’t seem to work, but like Sunn O)))’s earlier collaboration with Boris, this is incredible, with both artists gelling together well and delivering an excellently dark and melancholic release. This is a perfect follow up to both Ulver’s Messe I.X-VI.X, and Sunn O)))’s Monoliths and Dimensions, and is an exciting, vibrant album which doesn’t fit neatly into any genre, taking it’s cues from Drone, Electonic, Dark Ambient and Chamber Music. Definitely not one to be missed by fans of either band, or experimental music in general.

Originally written for [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monoliths with new dimensions, 8 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Terrestrials (Audio CD)
This is a genuine case of A+B=C rather than just A+B. The Sunn O))) pudding is so wonderfully leavened by the diverse fruits of Ulver that you wonder how you had managed the pudding on it's own before. There are many justly positive reviews of this collaboration, both here and in the press, and they are spot on - this is a glorious concoction, greater than the sum of the parts to the extent of creating new territory.
My only quibble is that another 10-15 minute track could have been added to Terrestrial's bare 35 minute length to complete the immersive effect - this may be short and sweet but it's spell is over far too soon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A subtle masterpiece, 4 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Terrestrials (Audio CD)
I very much recommend this album, I've only had it one day and I can see it'll become a regularly played. It's akin to a film soundtrack and will most certainly require multiple listens However sadly it's rather short compared to much of Sunn O)))'s output. However looking at this in a positive light, it doesn't drag and will just leave the listener wanting more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Drones for a New Age, 24 April 2014
This review is from: Terrestrials (Audio CD)
The recent Sunn O))) & Ulver collaboration is intense, although surprisingly restrained. The bands have created a mysterious, ominous and rather minimalistic musical landscape, which is both possible to enjoy at very loud volume and turned down quietly as an atmospheric background. Even though it doesn't have sudden dynamic shifts, the musical tapestry is rich enough to engage throughout.

The Japanese 2CD is a double vinyl replica type of package, and quite beautiful. The second disc is even shorter than the first, with only two tracks - about 25 minutes of music. The first track is another version of the most melodic piece from the main disc, "Eternal Return", in a slightly sparser rendition from 2009. The last track is called "Fidelio (Experiment 2009 feat. Attila Csihar)". It's heavier and darker than the other tracks, and I would say a great addition and conclusion to the album.

I could defend a four star evaluation, because it's baffling that one of the best tracks is kept off the album proper, when it could easily have fit in and enhanced the single disc edition. I wonder if they have kept "Fidelio" out because it doesn't fit the calm, almost new-agey atmosphere elsewhere?

Still, I have become entranced with this record and feel that it's an essential addition to my collection, so there it stands - five stars, and a few qualifications.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very strong music, 26 Feb 2014
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J. Mul "W." (europe) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Terrestrials (Audio CD)
Fast delivery and good package.

the music on this album is siren and threatening at the same time. Very intens. Saw Ulver in Holland a few weeks ago. Just before the concert this album played through a huge PA. Very impressive !!!!
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Terrestrials by Sunn O))) and Ulver (Audio CD - 2014)
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