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(60:32, Karisma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Medic 6:13 2. Godspeed Mother Earth 3:52 3. Happy 4:00 4. The Great Yeah 3:55 5. I Don't Mind 3:22 6. Sancitmonious High 3:58 7. Thin Air 5:03 8. Animal Riot Hill 5:51 9. Spain 4:11 10. Strings to rhe Bow 3:48 11. Crazy Rainbow 4:34 12. A Hill of Beans 6:25 LINEUP: Rolf Edvardsen – guitars, bouzouki, sitar; vocals Oyvind Gronner – piano, organ Erling Halsne Juvik – guitar Thomas Gronner – drums Truls Eriksen – bass
Prolusion. The Norwegian act THE BRIMSTONE SOLAR RADIATION BAND, hereafter Brimstone for short, was formed towards the tail end of the ‘90s, initially exploring a sound very much inspired by the so-called West Coast Rock that was formed in the US in the late 1960s, but later on expanding their sound, drawing on inspirations from bands like Santana and Pink Floyd as well. It issued its first album back in 2004, and a follow-up production saw the light of day the year after. "Smorgasbord" is the third effort by Brimstone, and was released in the summer of 2009.
Analysis. There are many bands active today that are inspired by the music made way back when, and Brimstone is yet another example of just that. In this case we're not dealing with a band that ends up sounding as if they are trying to replicate one specific act though. Instead we're provided with a blend where many of these influences from yesteryear have been mixed together in a very neat and effective manner. And with a distinctly modern mix and production, this has resulted in an effort that is indeed charming and likable, and often made me think of the Swedish band Beardfish in overall sound. Not style though, as Brimstone is a much more mainstream oriented outfit. If I could define something of a musical theme that runs through this disc, it is influence from The Beatles. Sometimes highly dominating, a track like Strings to the Bow being a prime example of this, but first and foremost due to more or less subtle musical and compositional elements in as good as all such creations here with a nod or three in the direction of the Fab Four. The West Coast sound so central at the start of this band's career is also a part of this musical potpourri, while the lighter side of ‘70s art rock and psychedelic rock from the same period make up most of the remaining influences put in the blender on this excursion. It all comes together in relatively brief compositions strong on melody and atmosphere, where the brilliant vocals of singer Edvardsen take the lead, given perfect backing by the brilliant stick work of drummer Gronner and the nicely textured guitars, often combining acoustic and electric layers, and tend to the majority of the central themes explored. Subtle, vintage keys and organ are effective backdrops, and the often driving bass supports drums as well as guitars in a neatly controlled manner. The songs tend to have a positive musical spirit and to be rather energetic in form, while the lyrical parts of the proceedings may touch upon somewhat darker territories. Overall, it’s a well written and well performed affair, touching upon the brilliant on more than a few occasions.
Conclusion. If you fancy a slice of retro-tinged art rock of the lighter variety, of the kind that has strong mainstream tendencies, Brimstone may have delivered a disc that you'll find to be aptly named indeed. There's nothing really new here, but as far as retro-oriented affairs go this one is rather inventive within that context. All in all a well made effort that might find its place next to your Beatles, ELO or mid ‘70s Man albums.
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