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(59:34; Dark Essence Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Det Dode Barn 4:52 2. En Harmoni 5:13 3. Avskjed 2:34 4. Under Linden 4:31 5. Fiolen 2:22 6. Dagen Er Endt 8:32 7. Das Tote Kind 6:15 8. A Match 4:32 9. Abschied 4:21 10. Under Der Linden 4:12 11. Das Veilchen 3:46 12. The Day Is Done 8:24 LINE UP : Mari Klingen - vocals Siv Lena Laugtug Saether - violin Eystein Garberg - guitars Roar Grindheim - guitars Espen Warankov Godo - keyboards Espen Hammer - bass Vidar Berg - drums with: Mathias R. Samuelsen - vocals Ketil Laugtug Saether - guitars
Prolusion. Norwegian band Lumsk started out some 25 years ago, and in a handful of very active years they released a small handful of albums and EPs that to my knowledge at least were well received at the time, with the most recent of these creations being the album "Det Vilde Kor" which appeared all the way back in 2007. Following a lengthy hiatus Lumsk have now returned with their fourth studio album, "Fremmede Toner", which was released through Norwegian label Dark Essence Records in the spring of 2023.
Analysis. As far as the progressive music scene is concerned, Lumsk is a band firmly placed inside of the progressive rock part of that universe. In terms of a more specified orientation, hard progressive rock as well as progressive folk rock will be just about equal partners on this occasion, arguably with a bit more playtime given to the former than the latter. The songs on this album will as a general rule fluctuate between the gentle and the more powerful. We get a myriad of sequences where the high quality lead vocals of Klingen and the sometime presence of male lead vocals (supplied by Mathias R. Samuelsen according to Discogs) are accompanied by an elegant wandering piano motif and a more careful guitar presence. And the use of such an elegant piano motif is a recurring feature also when the band switch up the intensity level a notch or three, and to my mind this is one of the defining features of this production as a whole. The songs will then move on from this gentler phase in a few different manners. In some cases we get more intermediate sections where the song develops through a gradual increase in intensity as the rhythm section gets more prominent, the violin or the Mellotron are added to the arrangements along with an increase in tempo, and at last the songs tend to end up in full bloom with heavy set guitars accompanied by Mellotron, keyboards, organ or the violin in a more powerful and sometimes bombastic arrangement. Powerful but also sophisticated, and with the vocals as an elegant and captivating presence on top in a haunting and compelling manner, a little bit understated but also passionate and vibrant in that controlled execution. While a harder variety of progressive rock is a defining feature for this album, and especially in the final parts of the compositions, the use of more atmospheric laden passages are just about as vital. While the piano is a very important cue throughout, the sections featuring the Mellotron are equally as important whenever the band opts to go more in depth in their atmospheric laden excursions, which they do both when exploring calmer waters as well as when they head out into seas with more of a stormy surrounding. These atmospheric laden passages will sometimes also combine or alternate with the more folk-oriented ventures of the band, with the violin in particular being used to convey tones, timbres and melody lines those with a passionate interest in Norwegian folk music will find familiar sounding. The guitar will also chime in with some folk melody inspired solo runs from time to time, and to some extent that may be said about the vocals too. While this latter aspect may not be quite as dominant as the harder side or the atmospheric laden side of the band, it is a recurring element and one that makes such an impact when present that it is also a defining feature of the album experience as such. At last I will also briefly mention that by plan or accident we do get a little bit of a flirt with Kansas sounding details here and there, and then referencing early Kansas in particular. I rather guess these moments are accidental more than being planned, due to the specific type of music Kansas explored in their earlier days, but it is still a detail worth mentioning I think.
Conclusion. Lumsk makes a very welcome return as a recording band with "Fremmede Toner". This is a band that I totally missed in their first period of activity, and when I did encounter them by chance a few years back I was surprised that they weren't better known than they are. In my view their blend of hard progressive rock, atmospheric laden landscapes and the inclusion of Norwegian folk music elements into this mix is a compelling and intriguing variety of progressive rock, and an album that should be able to captivate a fairly broad audience too. An album well worth spending some time with, and besides those who generally enjoy hard progressive rock I suspect that quite a few who enjoy the earlier albums by aforementioned US band Kansas should find this album to be a rather intriguing experience.
Progmessor: April 2023
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