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Bjorn Riis - 2014 - "Lullabies in a Car Crash"

(51:27, Karisma Records)


1.  A New Day 4:16
2.  Stay Calm 10:09
3.  Disappear 6:27
4.  Out of Reach 10.01
5.  The Chase 7:08
6.  Lullaby in a Car Crash 13:26


Bjorn Riis – guitars, bass; keyboards; vocals
Henrik Fossum – drums & percussion
Asle Tostrup – electronics 

Prolusion. Norwegian composer and musician Bjorn RIIS isn't a name that will be a household one for too many, but when adding the factoids that he's one of the original members of the Norwegian band Airbag and the man behind the website a few will presumably take notice. One could also add that some years ago he was a member of the Norwegian tribute band The Pink Floyd Experience. "Lullabies in a Car Crash" is his first solo album, released by the Norwegian label Karisma Records in November 2014.

Analysis. Bjorn Riis’ main band Airbag is among the ones who are compared by many, myself included, with the likes of Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree in terms of sound and style. With Riis' stated background one might expect his solo material to be more of the same, possibly with a greater emphasis on the Pink Floydian aspect in general and Gilmour's trademark guitar sound in particular, and, to some degree, that is correct assumption. There's a bit more going on than just that though, but fans of the aforementioned bands can all safely read on. Riis, as a composer and a solo artist, comes across as a humble creator, and one who takes care to create material that doesn't focus overly much on the guitar. There's guitar work aplenty to enjoy, of course, but those expecting elongated, atmospheric guitar solo runs with a Floydian-sounding backdrop won't have too much material to cater for those particular and specific needs, although concluding composition Lullaby in a Car Crash comes fairly close to being just that. Instead we're presented with careful, deliberate and slow moving audio pictures, dream-laden at that, where the emphasis appears to be in how to use the guitar in a more subtle manner, frequently taking a back seat in terms of being the dominant instrument with layered keyboard arrangements having a more dominant position, while the mostly layered guitar arrangements cater for the details of a more subtle nature. The songs tend to alternate between softer and harder-edged passages, and for the latter tighter, upfront arrangements closer to the likes of Porcupine Tree are a common occurrence. Gentler sequences of a more ethereal nature have their place as well, and those fond of careful, resonating guitar details and the softest of the soft touches to be produced by the guitar in a rock context will find plenty to enjoy in those instances. Otherwise dream-laden movements not too far away from Camel are a presence here too, besides the expected runs of acoustic guitar, dark toned plucked guitar and dampened dark toned guitar riffs with keyboards backdrop of the kind that begs for a Pink Floyd namedrop, with and without blues-oriented guitar soloing in the style of Gilmour. But, as stated, this is an album that covers a bit more ground than merely that, and for me, the main impression is that this is a production that by plan or accident has a much stronger focus and emphasis on the details of a more careful nature. Riis plays most of the instruments on this CD, and comes across as a well versed multi-instrumentalist, and also as an able vocalist. He has a pleasant voice well suited to the landscapes explored on this album, with a subtly frail nature to his delivery that suits the melancholic nature crafted by the instruments just about perfectly.

Conclusion. Bjorn Riis’ solo debut comes across as an accomplished piece of music, a well developed production that may not yield the biggest musical surprises of the decade, but that instead delivers plenty of ear-candy for the attentive listener. as well as material fairly close to what you'd expect from a musician with his background. Fans of Pink Floyd, David Gilmour and Riis’ main band Airbag should all take note of this album, and especially those amongst them with a taste for music with lots of room given to details of a subtle and careful nature.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: May 16, 2015
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Karisma Records
Bjorn Riis


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