[IMGLEFT]http://www.russell.ultimatemetal.com/Interview/ulverf.jpg[/IMGLEFT]By Russell Garwood UM brings you, in association with Zero Tolerance Magazine, an interview with Ulver. It has been two years of silence from the singular musicians, a time of subtle shapeshifting, darkness and hushed labour that has almost come to an end. Kristoffer Garm Rygg talks about the band's new creation, Shadows Of The Sun, life as a musician, and his hopes for the future. "After a lot of wavering we decided upon the title Shadows Of The Sun. I think it captures the atmosphere of the record; the place we're at, so to speak. It's stark, but that's the nature of the music… It is perhaps not the most inventive title, but it says something about the album, and more importantly, consolidates the lyrics." Kristoffer's solemn growl nevertheless has a hint of dark humour in delivery as it carries down the phone. "We set today as the deadline to finish the album. It will be mastered soon." 2005's Blood Inside saw a progression into the bombastic and ironic for this Norwegian trio: full on orchestration, complex vocals, rock instrumentation, and layered compositions providing stark contrast to the minimalism of their preceding soundtrack works. Two years of silence followed, as Kris explains. "We've actually been working with this one for a year now, but in silence. We haven't gone out and said anything simply because on previous albums we've done that, and then had to push the release back a few times. It just adds to the stress to have impatient people nagging you on top of your own desire to finish. It can blemish the product. And as we are very bad at getting things done in time we decided to finish the fucker before we announced it this time." This is indeed familiar, as I remind the vocalist of Utopian Enterprises, which became Blood Inside a year after being publicised. "Exactly," he laughs, "and we also had plans to release a couple of soundtracks that we never found the time to edit down to anything presentable. We took on too much for a while, so we needed to work in peace without the external pressure this time. It's been going at a more comfortable pace now, without any stress or expectations from the outside. It's never a walk in the park, but there have been no real issues; except we demand a lot from ourselves, which is where the problems occur. We also needed some time to reassess the whole label situation, and how to approach it from that side of things – as we all know the music business is in a difficult place these days. We have to think differently." A new album is always an undertaking for the group, Kris explains. "The studio is our instrument. We don't do things in a rock and roll kind of way, so it's not about writing a song with a guitar and then layering that instrumental track as most rock musicians do. The entire approach is much more prone to chance, and it can take a long time for things to happen. There are often things we may think are interesting, initially, and spend a lot of time working with, but then just don't go anywhere, so we have to leave it and begin again. There are days when you can't do anything, but on the other side of the spectrum there are days you expect nothing, but end up almost completing an entire song. For Ulver on average I'd say the rate is about one song a month, so we're not very fast. Unless we're making an ambient album," he chuckles. While truly dramatic changes of genre between the Norwegians' releases seem – at present – consigned to their history, the trio have nevertheless continued to evolve with each offering. Thus it comes as little surprise that Shadows… shows some adjustment from the dramatic persona of Blood Inside. "I read somewhere recently that there's a new genre called autumnal music?" Kris laughs. "Either way, the sun is definitely descending here. I think the real difference between the new one and Blood Inside is that this one is a lot more subdued. More earthy, more lugubrious – darker. There's not a lot of humour on this record. There was some in the last album." I ask why. "Why? It's just a reflection of how you feel I guess. If you don't feel alright about the world, this is the kind of anguish you churn out I suppose. Blood Inside wasn't necessarily a high-spirited thing either, but the ironic generation probably still had a little hold on us. This album doesn't really have any theatrics; it's a very solemn record from start to finish" Again why? "It's negative, not really because it's the way we want to be, or how we want the music to be, we just don't see much other than oblivion, ultimately... It's what it comes down to. It's all for nothing. If there's hope, it's only hope for hope. We appreciate the illusion even though we have none." Kris laughs. The lyrics of Shadows… continue this theme, being primarily concerned with "Death. Mother of every hope and fear. With Blood Inside we started narrowing our inspirations down to a few basic obsessions, and death seems the most recurring and central theme. It is morbid, I know. But we can't help it. We do not speak of god on this record, so there's no religious bravado, and that's something we were clear on from the start. It's normal to use those kind of allegories to project the human stuff, but this one is more weltschmerz, and religion has not been relevant, or even interesting to us in this context. It's a godless piece." Also present is a cover of Black Sabbath's ‘Solitude'. "Yeah, I love that song" KGR enthuses. "Black Sabbath have always been one of my favourite bands, and that song in particular is one of the saddest I know. I felt like it could fit into our musical universe, and besides, the lyrics aren't too far from our own. Loneliness is our family." The remainder of the interview can be found here. In association with Zero Tolerance: Zero Tolerance exists to represent the sonically unacceptable. Our coverage of extreme and experimental music is extremely diverse and completely unrivalled by any magazine in existence: thought-imposing opinions, highly original insights and the blackest of humour branded into 132 glossy pages of militant musical journalism. Buy it. Read it. Spread Dissent. ZT is published every two months, each issue is produced to an incredibly high standard and the magazine is available in shops globally.