Ulver is a hard to define band from Norway. The only permanent thing about it seems to be the mastermind behind it: Kristoffer Rygg alias Trickster G. alias Garm, who is also mostly responsible for the band's music these days. Other members at the moment are Jørn H. Sværen and Tore Ylwizaker.
Ulver was started by Garm back in 1992 when he was only fifteen. At that time the Norwegian black metal scene was getting a lot of attention, and Ulver is one of the bands that came out of it. They never played black metal in the most traditional sense, as their lyrics were more about myths and dark things in the human nature than about Satan and church burning and the melodies were more complex, also having a strong folkish feeling to them. Their first three albums (Bergtatt, Kveldssanger and Nattens Madrigal) form a trilogy of sorts as they have common themes, both lyrical and musical.
When Themes from William Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell came out, it was a complete surprise to everyone. Many said that Ulver had become a sellout and betrayed their roots, but many also embraced the new, fresh style, which they have in some ways followed to this day: altough the instruments and musicians change, the feel and general sound has stayed mostly same. It will be interesting to hear what Garm will think of next.
Discography with some of my comments about the various styles (if you disagree or wish to add something, do tell):
- Vargnatt demo (in 1993)
- Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler (Head Not Found in 1995), melodic black metal.
- Ulverytternes Kamp 7" split with Mysticum (Necromantic Gallery in 1994)
- Kveldssanger (Head Not Found in 1996), completely acoustic Norwegian neo-folk music.
- Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne til Ulven i Manden (Century Media in 1997), raw-sounding and more traditional black metal.
- The Trilogie - Three Journeyes through the Norwegian Netherworlde (Century Media in 1997), triple picture LP box featuring Bergtatt, Kveldssanger and Nattens Madrigal.
- Themes from William Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell 2CD (Jester Records in 1999), interesting hybrid of jazz, industrial and rock.
- Metamorphosis EP (Jester Records in 1999), experimental techno and electronica.
- Perdition City (Jester Records in 2001), moody blend of ambient, industrial, jazz and noise.
- Silence Teaches You How To Sing EP (Jester Records in 2001, limited edition, 2000 discs), noise and ambient.
- Silencing The Singing EP (Jester Records in 2001, limited edition, 3000 discs), noise and ambient in a bit more easy-listening form.
- Teachings In Silence (Black Apple in 2002), a single release combining two previous EPs on one disc, released to the US market. Also a limited edition, 1000 discs.
- Lyckantropen Themes (Jester Records in 2002), soundtrack for the short film Lyckantropen by Steve Ericsson. Very minimalistic and moody stuff.
- 1st decade in the machines (Jester Records in 2003), a remix album released to celebrate Ulver's first decade of existence. Includes remixes by names such as Third Eye Foundation, Upland, Stars of the Lid, Jazzkammer and Merzbow.
- A Quick Fix of Melancholy EP (Jester Records in 2003), 4 songs of melancholy. Lyrics on the track Vowels by Canadian author Christian Bök.
- Svidd Neger original soundtrack (Jester Records, 2003), soundtrack to the film Svidd Neger by Erik Smith Meyer.
Ulver's official website is at http://www.jester-records.com/ulver/.
2.2.2003: Updated information on releases and fixed a few small errors.