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(54:38, Karisma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Prelude 5:11 2. No Escape 5:45 3. Safe Like You 7:58 4. Steal My Soul 8:02 5. Feeling Less 5:05 6. Colours 8:07 7. How I Wanna Be 7:04 8. Sounds That I Hear 7:26 LINEUP: Asle Tostrup – vocals Bjorn Riis – guitars; vocals Jorgen Hagen – keyboards Joachim Slikker – drums Anders Hovdan – bass
Prolusion. The Norwegian outfit AIRBAG has been around in various forms since sometime in the mid ‘90s, but as a serious band effort they reckon 2005 to be their formative year. By way of issuing EPs for free download and internet promotion they managed to build a solid buzz around their enterprise, and in 2009 they were signed by the Norwegian label Karisma Records, which subsequently issued their full-length debut effort "Identity".
Analysis. Trying to identify musical influences for a band can be quite an interesting task. In this case we're dealing with an act that traces its roots back to a band formation following a concert by Pink Floyd, and which used The Pink Floyd Experience as their moniker for quite a few years. Due to that, one influence on this album should be pretty obvious. When that is said, many fans of the English legend won't find this effort too interesting. They do add in the more atmospheric parts of later day Gilmour to their expression, but they cite acts like U2 and Radiohead as other sources of inspiration, and I think it's fair to say that Airbag is focused on the more atmospheric parts of these and other influences. The compositions here are all lush affairs: slow-moving pieces made up of gentle, fluffy and soft sonic textures. Multilayered synths and keys are placed in the back of the mix, with unchanging sound layers as well as fluctuating, dreamy synth themes as constant elements. Gentle guitar layers provide the main melodic themes, mostly in the shape of wandering clean or acoustic licks, while subdued drawn-out riffs are sparingly used on a few occasions. The rhythms are gentle and unobtrusive throughout for both bass and drums, and the lead vocals share the same dreamy, laid-back qualities as the instrumentation. The end result is that of tracks that will deservedly earn the description of ear candy, but as far as I'm concerned with too much sweetness. Like chocolate with too much sugar and too little cacao, or spun sugar of the kind you'd buy at fairs. There's a general lack of substance as well as direction: the compositions slowly drift in one direction on a gentle summer breeze. In the few instances where a bit of grit and darker textures are added in, it does get more interesting though, first and foremost in the case of Feeling Less on this disc, but to some extent also in the final track Sounds That I Hear, the latter sporting some subtle elements in the mix that make it more intriguing, alongside a long and pretty good guitar solo sequence with more than a passing nod in the direction of David Gilmour.
Conclusion. If richly textured, dreamy and slow-moving compositions are something you generally find interesting, Airbag's first effort is one you should take note of. There's nothing here that will challenge your musical perceptions, but those who fancy a slice of music for relaxation and daydreaming should find "Identity" to be the perfect album for just that effect.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 2, 2010
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