Perdition City

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Perdition City
Ullver Perdition.jpg
Studio album by Ulver
Released 19 March 2000 (2000-03-19)
Genre Avant-garde, electronic, trip hop, ambient, jazz
Length 53:31
Label Jester
Producer Ylwizaker, Audun Strype
Ulver chronology
Perdition City
Silence Teaches You How to Sing

Perdition City (subtitled Music to an Interior Film) is the fifth studio album by Norwegian collective Ulver, issued in March 2000, via Jester Records. The album was recorded and edited by Kristoffer Rygg and Tore Ylwizaker, mixed by Ylwizaker at Beep Jam Studio and mastered by Audun Strype at Strype Audio.

Perdition City continues the experimentation seen on Themes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Metamorphosis, containing elements of trip hop, jazz, ambient music, spoken word and electronica. Described on its release as moody, atmospheric electronica,[1] cinematic in scope,[2] evoking a soundtrack for an imaginary film. Kerrang! praised the album, noting "This ain't rock 'n roll. This is evolution on such a grand scale that most bands wouldn't even be able to wrap their tiny little minds around it."[3] Musically, Ulver not only explores new genres, but also shift from extroverted, into more introverted moods, or interior music.[4]


The Metamorphosis EP, issued in September 1999, showcased Ulver's new electronic sound, delving into what would become the foundation for all future records,[5] thus acting as a musical trailer for Perdition City.[6]

Now consisting of only two members — Rygg and Ylwizaker — the duo started to incorporate field recordings into their work. During the making of Perdition City they would hang microphones outside the window of Tore’s 5th floor apartment, to capture inner city street sounds, car horns, people chattering, etc.[7]

The potential Ulver was discovering in digital sound manipulation with The Blake Album would have a clear effect on the evolution of Perdition City. It was obvious that the various new alleys they had walked down with the Blake album had given them enough satisfaction that their curiosity to see what else they could do with computers was too tempting to ignore. As Garm explains, “We wanted to focus on the electronic aspects of The Blake Album. We’ve always cultivated the opposites of things in a sense. So Perdition City ended up being a very electronic record. We kind of use all the music knowledge that we’ve acquired.”[8]

“For every record we make it takes more and more time and more and more in the way of thinking,” notes Garm. “We have higher standards that we have to live up to, not exactly commercially or to the audience but to ourselves. We have pretty strict demands on ourselves. It’s easy for us to make music but very difficult to make music that we think is interesting. Every record is failure. It’s a relative failure. It’s always a failure. But you go on when you fail. And there’s some comfort in that idea. That kind of getting close to that own space or musical personality but it’s still relative failure in our book. In that sense it’s a struggle for us to make music. We are our own worst critics.”[8]

Subtitled Music to an Interior Film, Perdition City, and companion EP’s Silence Teaches You How to Sing and Silencing the Singing, represents a natural bridge to their work in film scores. Musically, the collective shift from extrovert, into more introverted moods, or interior music.[4] In response to the subtitle, Rygg adds, "We mean just what we say, an abstract "inner movie". It wouldn't be wise to comment on anything afterwards in case there would be a hidden message."[9] Some reviewers have stated that Perdition City is “much more than background music, which is capable of adding atmosphere to a film but taken out of context as a standalone piece is ultimately worthless. This music is too obtrusive, and to be frank, too good for a soundtrack.“[10]

Expanding on the photography included in the Perdition City booklet, Rygg comments, "We didn't consciously think of taking the listener into a concrete city, it's more of a metaphor and abstract. A friend of mine who has written books and taken many photographs inspired me to capture weird pictures. We then compiled the best of them to support the story the lyrics make. We tried to make an anti-aesthetic whole that would create a documentary feeling."[9]

Printed in the sleeve note is states: "This is for the stations before and after sleep. Headphones and darkness recommended."[11] Kristoffer Rygg adds, “Darkness is always fascinating, as well as the great void. It doesn’t matter under which aesthetic circumstances this void appears. It is always there and that was important for us to realize on Perdition City: the void is even over the voice. (…) It is funny you call us criminal alchemists. Indeed in our lyrics there are enough criminal and alchemical aspects, or fascinating borderline topics, to be more concrete. That all takes place in the dead city, or better: in a centre, an imagined location of nowhere and nothing.”[12]

Rygg, commenting in Unrestrained magazine in 2007, said, "It's like I say, we only have three consistent albums. I think Nattens madrigal is one, I think Perdition City is one, and I think this new one. They all sound pretty dead set. We were heavily into stuff like Amon Tobin, Warp Records, et cetera, and that certainly influenced the sound of that one." Continuing, “[Making film soundtracks] was more painstaking work than we thought. It's exciting work, but it's also more commercially orientated. You can apply your own tastes and your own vision, of course, but only to a certain extent. It always comes down to what the director and producers have in mind. And I respect that, as they are the ones with lots of money at stake. As a musician, it's an advantage if you get involved early in the process, before the editing is done because then you can cross edit sounds and images for better momentum or what have you. Whereas if the stuff is already edited, it can be difficult to get it to fit. Also, you have to learn to put your ego aside because the film itself is obviously the priority, so it's not like making an album. It's not music on its own terms. It's an underscore, aimed more at the subconscious experience. In a cinema context, you're not really supposed to listen to the music, but feel it."[13]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[14]
Pitchfork 2.6/10[15]

Writing for AllMusic, William York comments positively, “Fifth album, Perdition City is an album of moody, atmospheric electronica, built up around basic down-tempo beats and noir-ish electronic piano harmonies, and then fleshed out with various blips and bleeps, static noises, samples, and occasional vocals.”[14]

On the other hand, David M. Pecoraro from Pitchfork rated the album 2.6/10 and commented, “Who knows? Maybe Perdition City was nothing more than a well-intentioned but ultimately ill-advised experiment for these guys. ... Ulver might want to consider a return to their metal roots.”[15]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Lost in Moments" 7:16
2. "Porn Piece or the Scars of Cold Kisses"
  • 2.1 "Piece One"
  • 2.2 "Piece Two"
  • 3:58
  • 3:11
3. "Hallways of Always" 6:35
4. "Tomorrow Never Knows" 7:59
5. "The Future Sound of Music" 6:39
6. "We Are the Dead" 3:40
7. "Dead City Centres" 7:10
8. "Catalept" 2:05
9. "Nowhere/Catastrophe"" 4:48
Total length: 53:31

"Catalept" is a remix of Prelude from the film Psycho.



  1. ^ York, William. "Ulver Perdition City". AllMusic. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Ulver Perdition City". AllMusic. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  3. ^ "ULVER BLOOD INSIDE". Jester Records. June 2005. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b York, William. "Ulver Perdition City Review". Johnathan Hill. Retrieved May 29, 2014. 
  5. ^ Side, Oliver (December 20, 2008). "Ulver - Metamorphosis". SputnikMusic. Retrieved June 1, 2014. 
  6. ^ York, William. "Ulver Metamorphosis". AllMusic. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  7. ^ Beaudreault, Seth Robert (November 24, 2009). "ULVER - Born Again From The Merciless Mother". Avantgarde Metal. Retrieved June 1, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Ulver". Retrieved June 1, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Vuoti, Sauli (December 7, 2005). "Ulver Interview - Kogaionon - Underground Music Magazine". Kogaionon. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Ulver - Perdition City". Leonards Lair. Retrieved June 1, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Ulver - Perdition City". Discogs. Retrieved June 1, 2014. 
  12. ^ Joakimsson, Thor (November 25, 2009). "Ulver - Perdition City". Retrieved June 1, 2014. 
  13. ^ Hughes, Rob (September 2007). "TRAGIC SERENADES". Unrestrained Magazine. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b York, William. "Ulver Perdition City". AllMusic. Retrieved June 1, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Pecoraro, David M. (January 24, 2002). "Ulver - Perdition City". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved June 1, 2014.