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Major Parkinson - Twilight Cinema CD (album) cover

TWILIGHT CINEMA

Major Parkinson

 

Eclectic Prog

3.79 | 146 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I would like to preface this review by stating that I can easily be deemed a Major Parkinson 'fanboy'. I have spun their first two albums countless times, memorising every lyrics, every melody, every nuance.

I have been fanatically devoted to enough bands enough now that when a band I love as much Major Parkinson release a new album, I anticipate it both with excitement and trepidation. I know, from experience, that there are no perfect bands - that every artist eventually stumbles, or loses sight of their vision, or simply changes in a way that doesn't gel with me. So each time a favorite releases a new disc, I hope it will be the next stunner but fear that it will be the first stinker.

I was especially nervous about this new Major Parkinson album, as Alfe Borge, one of two guitarists, had left the band before it was recorded. The guitar sound had always been one of the defining elements that made Major Parkinson so amazing to me, with these crazy staccato- plucked melodies in this playful tone that (especially in the first album) provided a lot of the textural and melodic base for the album. Major Parkinson had two guitarists on their first two albums, so I am not certain which guitarist was responsible. Still, it was a nice feeling when I listened to the first single, "Impermanence", and I heard those distinctive guitars again. I am not certain if that means Alfe was not responsible for them, or if Andre Lund was imitating the style for the sake of stylistic consistency. Either way, it works.

Twilight Cinema is only eight tracks, considerably shorter than the bands first two albums, but each of the eight tracks has by now slayed me. Major Parkinson has not lost their touch, and there is not a dud in the album. Like in their previous albums, the songs range in terms of accessibility, such that on first listen tracks like Heart Machine, Beaks of Benevola, and Twilight Cinema quickly won me over, while the melodies of more subtle tracks (relatively speaking) like Black River and The Wheelbarrow grew on me over repeated listens. Major Parkinson has always been an incredibly tight band, playing multi-layered hyper rock that changes gears with perfect flow, but in this album they have expanded their palette even further away from the primarily guitar-driven sound of their first album, and it is quite impressive how they continue to add new 'tricks' to their sound without losing any of their focus. They continue to borrow from other genres as well, for example the odd polka-like rhythms in Black River.

This band, as the album cover demonstrates, is quite a bit darker than their prior albums. It also features perhaps the most brutal track they have composed to date: Heart Machine (sound wise; the bonus track 'Sleeping In A Box' from their debut lyrically takes this cake). In Heart Machine, they give their guitars a clipped, distorted, brutal tone near the end that caused me to jump a bit the first time I heard it. It is a neat production trick as well, as the guitars come across unclear, as if they are yelling right into your ear; yet the other musical details underneath are as clear as a bell. It really works to bring the song to an exciting conclusion.

Jon Ivar Kollbotn could probably sing about watching paint dry and I would listen to it; everything he says sounds fantastic and interesting, and his voice has an effortless power that has been compared to Tom Waits, although I think the comparison only applies as far as the deepness of their voice goes (he does not have Waits' gravelly raspiness). An album of Jon Ivar singing about paint drying and grass growing, played over a simple strung acoustic guitar, would probably be worth hearing. But Major Parkinson, with it's insane songs and unfaltering vision of darkness and nostalgia, gives him a chance to really work his vocal chords, from the gentle and emotional (Skeleton Sangria) to the angry (Twilight Cinema) to the playful (...)

I had a sense, after giving this album a few listens, that although there was not a dud track, it was not connecting with me as much as the bands prior two albums. And it was that last point that finally drove home what a loss Alf Borge's loss really was to the band. Jon Ivar's deep, powerful vocals had always been countered by the high-pitched, more playful backing vocals Alf provided. Tracks like I Am Erica, Domestic Violets, and Dance With the Cookieman had this strange, playful approach between the two vocal approaches that changed the music from dark to deranged. It was as if Jon Ivar was the devil in a suit, showing you your next temptation; and Alf was the imp on your shoulder egging you on to do it. It was dark, in an almost Tim Burton way. Now it is just dark.

You can almost hear the gaps in the album, where if it had hit the 13 tracks the prior 2 did, the other five might have been the doses of impish humour and playfulness that balanced the darkness of the album and made it so poignant. There are no Dance With the Cookie Man's here. This is the absence Alf Borge's leaving the band has left. And while I love the band no less, I cannot help but miss this vital ingredient of the bands sound.

Which should not be taken as a sign that this is a bad album; as I think I have made clear, it is a rather excellent one, and I certainly can't imagine it not making near the top of my year end list this year. It should only be taken as a sign that, if you find yourself loving this one, you might find there is even more to love looking back.

One final note: I feel that the band is starting to more openly acknowledge their prog following. The track Twilight Cinema in particular strikes me as an homage to the days of old; the way that Jon Ivar utters the word 'crazy' reminds me quite heavily of the usage of the word in 'The Trial' off of Pink Floyd's the wall, and the keyboards that close the track have a certain 'Tony Banks' quality to them. I could be reading to much into it, but they seem like subtle nods to me.

TheGazzardian | 4/5 |

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