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(50:00, Karisma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. All Rights Removed 8:59 2. White Walls 5:19 3. The Bridge 6:20 4. Never Coming Home 9:00 5. Light Them All Up 3:01 6. Homesick I-II-III 17:21 LINEUP: Asle Torstrup – vocals; programming, keyboards Bjorn Riis – guitars; vocals, keyboards Jorgen Hagen – keyboards Anders Hovden – basses Henrik Fossum – drums
Prolusion. The Norwegian band AIRBAG has been around in various incarnations for close to two decades by now, but the current version of the band sees 2005 as the formative year for their current endeavors. They issued their first album back in 2009 and, following two years of work, they reappeared in the fall of 2011 with their second full length effort "All Rights Removed". Like their debut, this production was released by the Norwegian label Karisma Records.
Analysis. One of the interesting experiences you get when writing about music for an extended amount of time is to see and listen to how a band develops its style. How some artists appear to have used up all their good ideas the first time around, struggling to create and develop on further occasions, while others might break away and head in a new direction once their initial effort is out of the way. And then there are those who continuously develop and enhance their chosen stylistic expression, always eager to move one step ahead. Airbag might turn out to be such a band. Two albums into their recording career: it's obviously way too early to place them within such a context, but if they continue on as they do now they will be a future good fit, I suspect. As this is one of numerous bands that have spent a fair amount of time covering Pink Floyd over the years, it doesn't come as a big surprise that the footprints of Gilmour and company are easily found within Airbag's creations. Their compositions are mostly on the slow side of things, and the use of the darker tonal ranges is extensive, but not in an ominous manner, instead opting for a smooth and silky sound – the sound of the gentle summer night, if you like, warm and beautiful, but with a slight touch of melancholy to it. Acoustic guitars and dampened guitar details are backed by a symphonic backdrop by way of keyboards or organ central and characteristic details throughout, backed by gentle and steady rhythms with a lighter toned, clean and melodic lead vocalist on top for the vocal parts and with plenty of harmonic features in the instrumental ones, with occasional subtly majestic surges by way of guitar and keyboard interactions. A sound commonly referred to as in the vein of late 1970's Pink Floyd, frequently explored by a plethora of artists over the years due to its compelling nature, relatively easy to take on, but also difficult to explore in a manner others haven't done before and better at that. To set themselves apart, the musicians have opted to include some additional flavoring, most often in the shape of textured instrumental features, frequently reminding of Porcupine Tree and occasionally in a subtly more dramatic manner that brings associations to the likes of Radiohead, and while neither are innovate features as such, these details do invigorate the compositions in an efficient manner, adding a level of tension and subtle dissonance-tinged details that result in songs more interesting, at least for the avid, detail-oriented listener. The end result is an album creative rather than innovative, beautiful and safe rather than adventurous and challenging, a production with a wide overall appeal and a distinct commercial potential.
Conclusion. If you tend to enjoy the likes of Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree, Airbag will most likely be a band custom made to suite your musical tastes. "All Rights Removed" is an album with a stylistic foundation inspired by the former, liberally seasoned with details inspired by the latter. If that mix sounds appealing you might as well go ahead and buy this CD, as I'd be highly surprised if it doesn't turn out to be a case of love at first listen for those who recognize themselves in the above description.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 3, 2012
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