There's a reason why The Gathering borrowed Ulver singer Trickster G. to duet with the lovely Anneke van Giersbergen on The Gathering's latest album, Souvenirs. Norway's Ulver, partial to writing and recording film soundtracks of late, may very well have taught the members of The Gathering – once metal pioneers and now aural architects – everything they know. Cold yet warm, detached yet embracing, A Quick Fix of Melancholy offers four songs and 23 minutes of, well, sheer melancholy. Don't expect to hear Ulver's black-metal roots here; the band has moved on to much more sophisticated sounds that incorporate elements of minimalistic folk, jazz and classical with only the slightest references to metal of any sort.
Two complex, well-crafted and slightly discomforting instrumentals are nestled in between two vocal tracks. "Vowels" borders on opera, featuring words from Canadian author Christian Bok, and "Little Bird" is just plain creepy. Bizarre soundscapes that often mimic the purring ring of cell phones enhance the album's spirit and make A Quick Fix of Melancholy – as the press materials accompanying the elegant, gatefold-packaged EP so delicately attest – "chamber music for the fucked and locked up."