Cave Dweller Music

Music From the Taiga: Day 2: Single Review: Ulma – Inception

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Artist: Ulma

Single: Inception

Label: Independent

Release Date: 9 January 2022
Digital Price: 1 EUR (1.14 USD)
Genre: Ambient/Blackgaze/Black Metal

Written by Yari Wildheart

Ulma is a mysterious Russian band producing atmospheric black metal that popped up in December 2021 with their first single titled Last way (found here). Today we are taking a look at their second release, the single entitled Inception. This is a long-form, atmospheric & ambient black metal track.

As is often the case with independent black metal projects, there is little known about the band itself, the whole focus of these releases being on the tracks themselves. In terms of who the band’s members are, or anything about their ideas, they are secretive enough that there is virtually nothing to be told beyond the song itself. Typically for these sorts of black metal projects clouded in secrecy, it hasn’t seen much coverage due to lack of awareness (shoutout to @hornsuppodcast who have covered Ulma before). Don’t let that make you shy away, though – this is some good stuff.

The only snippet we’re given outside the actual music is the following comment on the Bandcamp page: “Life is just a moment. Death – Inception.” Perhaps the idea of life and death ties into the ambient space sounds of Inception, with the first minutes of the song being long-form, ethereal synths evocative of the vast vacuum of space itself. The sort of sounds one might expect in a documentary about the galaxy, or perhaps background music in a science fiction movie.

At sixteen minutes, one might expect the listening experience to be just as vast as the space it seems to evoke, but any seasoned listener of ambient black metal knows that when it’s done well, minutes turn to seconds. Especially because ambient/atmospheric black metal tends to focus less on evoking emotion through the sheer intensity of long-form, agonised guitars. We do have those, but ambient/atmospheric black metal tends to be somewhat minimalistic in its compositions while often incorporating instrumentation like synth that’s not often found in traditional black metal.

True to the ambient black metal ethos, Inception doesn’t really incorporate blast beats or heavy guitar work but is a piece that slowly develops its melodies over minutes at a time. There are no vocals here whatsoever, and honestly – they aren’t needed whatsoever. In fact, I feel this track is better for not having them, with the whole idea of life and death in the universe. The expanse of the universe is on display here in audio form, and boy is it a journey. That little note that Ulma gives us – ‘Life is just a moment’ – is as true of the universe as it is a metaphor for this track. It might be 16 minutes, but Inception is so good that it passes by in just a brief moment. As is life – 70, 80, however many years it may be – when you die, you’ll realise it was all just a brief moment.

I hope you enjoy Inception.

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