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(50:16, Karisma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Surveillance-1 2:23 2. Redemption 7:01 3. Silence Grows 5:53 4. Call Me Back 11:14 5. The Greatest Show on Earth 7:01 6. Surveillance-2-3 16:44 LINEUP: Bjorn Riis – guitars, bass; keyboards; vocals Jorgen Hagen – programming, keyboards Asle Tostrup – vocals; keyboards Henrik Fossum – drums Anders Hovdan – bass
Prolusion. The Norwegian band AIRBAG started out sometime back in the 1990's, and while they released some material in earlier days, they didn't officially release a debut album proper until 2009. Since then two more full length productions have followed. "The Greatest Show on Earth" is the most recent of their albums, and was issued through the Norwegian label Karisma Records in the fall of 2013.
Analysis. When reading up on the band history of Airbag, a noticeable fact is that they have also existed under the moniker The Pink Floyd Experience at some point. And as with most bands that have explored the material of this highly renowned band from yesteryears extensively, Airbag's original compositions contain massive footprints easily recognizable by anyone familiar with Pink Floyd. One might, say, at least to a certain extent, that themes and arrangements made in a similar manner to Pink Floyd are something of an identity mark for Airbag, especially whenever a guitar solo starts going with organ and keyboards supplementing. The smooth, dark, majestic and elegant arrangements we're treated in the greater majority of those instrumental sequences will force just about anyone to namedrop both David Gilmour and Pink Floyd. Airbag does add a few additional touches to the proceedings, as do many other bands exploring similar waters, but the overall sound and atmosphere have undeniable similarities. Opening instrumental Surveillance-1 unfolds in a rather different manner admittedly, with a delicate initial sequence developing into an energetic drums-driven affair with more of a Porcupine Tree character to it, and when the distinct lead motif by the bass guitar supplemented with the additional instrumentation builds up on the following track, Redemption, that association continues to be prominent. While a more Floydian mood does settle once we reach the guitar solo passage of this composition, the concluding passage does return to the initial theme and the associations that comes with it. Perhaps a tad too close to comfort in terms of sound and approach, but still a remarkably well made song this one. The aptly named Silence Grows, which is more of a careful, ballad-oriented creation, brings us safely back into a sound with stronger similarities to Pink Floyd again, flavored with a purebred post rock interlude that is incorporated into the opening theme as the song reaches its conclusion. The epic-length creation Call Me Back is another composition that brings additional elements into the core sound of Airbag – in this case I'd describe this piece as residing somewhere in between late 70's Pink Floyd and ‘90s Marillion as far as mood and atmosphere are concerned, while title track The Greatest Show on Earth features delicate details and passages that again point towards Porcupine Tree as an additional likely influence, or at least as a band it's easy to think about when listening to this song. The concluding epic-length Surveillanc-2-3 starts out somewhat different again, the initial parts of this excursion adding a touch of the frail angst of Radiohead to the proceedings, and book-ended by delicate, psychedelic inserts we're treated to a middle section that revisits the energetic drums-driven themes from Surveillance-1, the song then concluding with a final sequence sporting more of a Floydian atmosphere. While you may loose yourself in the associations game while listening to this album, I'll have to add that this is a well made album. Perhaps not the most original in terms of sound, atmosphere or arrangements, but it still is a very well made and well produced album.
Conclusion. When dealing with a band with a past history as The Pink Floyd Experience, it won't come as much of a shock to see them recommended to fans of that band either, I hope. This is very much the case for Airbag and "The Greatest Show on Earth", where fans of late 70's Pink Floyd in particular should take notice of this album, especially those amongst them who also tend to enjoy bands such as Porcupine Tree.
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