K Scope, 2012
Norwegian metal band Ulver has managed to do several things with the now requisite album of covers. First off, they have dug deep and documented 16 virtually unknown or nearly forgotten songs from the psychedelic age of music, many by bands more legendary than well known. And secondly, they have largely been purists in their approach, not adding updated spins, inherent personal touches or new millennial, technological re-interpretations on songs which were once the cutting edge of their day.
Psychadelia is an easy thing to goof on for some of the dated lyrical imagery, but at its best, it pushed the technological capabilities of studios and musicians of the time. Making maximum use of instrumentation and often experimenting with recording techniques, the creative period often produced stunning results.
The show stealing number and best known track on the disc is a cover of The Electric Prunes, “I Had too Much Too Dream Last Night.” Everything about the song is a powerhouse. From the delicious swirling guitars, fading backing vocals, the second hook of the chorus; all of it demands your attention and a permanent place on your playlist.
Ulver’s take on The Troggs B-side “66-5-4-3-2-1” sounds like a Sean Connery era James Bond theme that gets tarted up, slapped up a bit and sent to the wrong side of town to earn its keep. Featuring the dirtiest guitar tone one could ever hope to hear, ever; this song is begging to be picked up for a big budget action flick immediately.
The 13th Floor Elevators “Street Songs” is a window on just why the band was so influential. Transformative and trippy before their time, it affords the players a chance to strut, and show off their chops.
“Magic Hollow” originally by The Beau Brummels is a dark bit of witchy songwriting, where the folkier aspects of the era are on display.
Ulver has recorded a remarkably memorable and highly listenable, heartfelt disc of music. This is what they grew up hearing in their homes, which led them to pick up instruments and start writing their own songs.