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Pixie Ninja - Ultrasound CD (album) cover

ULTRASOUND

Pixie Ninja

 

Eclectic Prog

4.00 | 3 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars Needless to say but the Scandinavian countries have had more than their fair share of totally creative and out-of-the-box approaches in the music scene over the past few decades conjuring everything up from creatively bizarre progressive rock to the most extreme forms of metal and all of this despite their population of human specimens being quite small in comparison to the rest of the planet. Norway in particular has seen some extraordinarily brilliant musical acts emerging with their latest prog superstars Wobbler making its way into the classic prog lineup with their latest album "From Silence To Somewhere." Emerging the same year in the middle of 2017 also comes another Norwegian act called PIXIE NINJA. This isn't your ordinary sort of band that is starting from scratch but rather the collaborative efforts of many seasoned musicians getting together to unleash their full eclectic and creative potentials.

Jostein Haugen (guitar, bass, keyboards) from Rusty Crown

Marius Leirånes (guitar, bass, keyboards) also from Rusty Crown

Mattias Olsson (drums, mellotron) from AK-Momo, Akaba, Ãnglagard, Kaukasus, Molesome, Necromonkey, Two Times Trauma, Vly, Walrus, Weserbergland, White Willow

Ketil Vestrum Einarsen (flute) from Geir Lysne Listening Ensemble, Jaga Jazzist, Kaukasus, Weserbergland, White Willow, Wobbler, Motorpsycho)

Johan Hals Jørgensen (keyboards) is the only newbie in the mix with PIXIE NINJA serving as his debut into the eclectic world of progressive rock music.

ULTRASOUND is the debut album of PIXIE NINJA who hail from Rognan in the frozen north of Norway and this album is the result of founding members Jostein Haugen and Marius Leirånes' love of the various styles of progressive rock that have flourished since the classic era. Given the eclectic mix of bands these guys have played in, one would expect an equally eclectic delivery of styles and that's exactly what PIXIE NINJA deliver. And while over experienced musicians can often cancel each other out instead of bring out the best in each other, i am happy to report that it is the latter that shines. While this all instrumental album starts things off with the aptly titled "Auditory Hallucinations" that utilizes a progressive electronic style not too far removed from such German acts as Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze, things turn to the dark side as it becomes more spacey and detached before jumping into a wild upbeat electronic segment that cranks out its best IDM before morphing into an Aphex Twin type frazzle that brings out the rock guitar and propels it firmly into space rock territory.

"Elusive The Wind Vane" takes a new route with a jittery time signature rich guitar riff and jazzified drum rolls is nevertheless smoothed out by a sweet fluttering flute riff that slowly gains power into a caffeinated virtuosic frenzy. The rhythm plods along in 7/4 timing relentlessly in motorik hypnotic fashion as layers of keyboards add increasing layers of counterpoints while the groovy bass and rock guitar plod along. After a few changes in tempo and dynamics, the track lets loose at the end and gets soooooo wild. One of my favorites. "Une Promenade" takes a breather as a short piano piece. Nothing exciting here. "Polysomnographic" jumps back into the mind muck freakery with some sort of distant "conversation?" on the keys while a simple riff slowly builds. While the main riff stays slow, a separate one gets faster and faster until voila?. a space rock track is born with jazzy drumming and super spacey keyboards and what sounds like a singing theremin.

The longest track "Personal Improvement Cult" which slinks in over the eleven minute mark starts with some vibraphone sounding tinkles and an almost symphonic drone that find a bass taking baby steps to a much larger universe. As it progressively ramps up, a drumbeat joins in which takes the whole thing through several moods and movements that meander through the allotted timespan. The longest piece is also one of the coolest with its incessant attention to detail and a road map to the boonies of the sound spectrum where you can get lost for a while. The short title track finds a strangely psychedelic flute fluttering around a down-tuned guitar that quickly turns into a heavily synthesized rock track before fading out with some strange electronic sounds that bloop and bleep around like a malfunctioning robot on Tatooine which finds the album ending much as it began in full electronic form.

ULTRASOUND is the perfect example of a high quality and creative 21st century progressive rock experience with well seasoned musicians taking a stab at an interesting slice of experimental approaches that are fundamentally rooted in the classic sounds of King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream and beyond. There is a lot more attention paid to the electronic aspects than the average rock band as the electronics seem to be the dominant focus with the heavier rock elements taking a backseat and only used for a more bombastic contrast, however when they let loose allowing the guitar, bass and drums to overpower the electronics, PIXIE NINJA sound most like the "Red" era of King Crimson. ULTRASOUND is an excellently performed and exquisitely produced album that allows every tiny sonic tidbit to shine and not to mention that the arrangements are friggin' perfect. While not quite a masterpiece of the ages due to some apparent filler segments, the overall run of this album is quite satisfying. A modern day favorite and i eagerly await more exciting musical constructs from the great PIXIE NINJA! Also one of my favorite album covers of the year!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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