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(50:28, Karisma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Killer 9:18 2. Broken 7:07 3. Slave 8:39 4. Sleepwalker 7:05 5. Disconnected 13:09 6. Returned 5:10 LINEUP: Asle Tostrup vocals; keyboards, programming Bjorn Riis guitars, bass; keyboards; vocals Jorgen Gruner-Hagen programming, keyboards Henrik Fossum drums Anders Hovdan bass
Prolusion. The Norwegian band AIRBAG can trace its history back to sometime in the 90s, but didn't actually release an official debut album until 2009. Since then they have released new material at a fairly steady pace, and have become one of the better known of the contemporary progressive rock bands in the process. "Disconnected" is their most recent studio recording, and was released by the Norwegian label Karisma Records in the early summer of 2016.
Analysis. Airbag is a band blessed and cursed with the name of Pink Floyd. They have a past performing their songs and have multiple albums to their name where references and associations to these giants of progressive rock have generally been an item by most people describing them. "Disconnected" is a CD that will most likely inspire similar associations by most. The opening track Killer is one of the two tracks present that slightly deviate from the norm on this occasion, though. Not due to exploring a different sound, but rather by exploring a darker toned, more emotionally laden and powerful take on the classic mid- to late 70s version of that band. Dark toned guitars, floating guitar solo escapades, atmospheric keyboard arrangements, as well as a bit more of a raw emotional vibe make this composition a striking one, and one that perhaps might be references towards the likes of Radiohead as far as emotional intensity is concerned. Still, just about every Pink Floyd fan on the planet will find the general sound and scope of this piece familiar sounding. The following small handful of tracks explore the more delicate part of the late 70s Pink Floyd sound, with more careful, open arrangements, more liberal use of the acoustic guitar as a support instrument, with only occasional surges into landscapes of a more majestic or vibrant nature. As is the case throughout this album, there's plenty of room for emotional guitar solo details in the style of David Gilmour, while the lead vocals may perhaps be a bit more fragile and tender than the ones you'll find on most Pink Floyd albums. One of the elements that do add a bit more to the rather well-known landscapes explored. The CD concludes with a gentler affair altogether, book-ended by sparse acoustic guitar and vocal passages, the least interesting part of this production as far as the core music is concerned. While Airbag doesn't bring anything new or innovative to the table as such, they are firm and secure in the landscapes they opt to venture into. The compositions are well worked out, with effective ebbs and flows in intensity, suitably contrasting passages and with liberal amounts of subtle sounds and effects adding depth to the soundscapes. They are intimately familiar with the grounds covered, and know how to explore it in a safe, assured and suitably impressive manner.
Conclusion. Those who have a strong affection for the David Gilmour era of Pink Floyd should find Airbag's latest studio album to be warmly appealing, and then especially those most fond of Gilmours guitar solo passages and the gentler parts of the Gilmour-era compositions. In addition I rather suspect that many fans of bands like Porcupine Tree, Sylvan and RPWL might find this recording to have a strong appeal.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: Agst 8, 2016
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