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Major Parkinson - Blackbox CD (album) cover


Major Parkinson

Eclectic Prog

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Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
5 stars From Norway, the band has released his 4th album all of them received good reviews. What strikes us right away is the whispering voice that set the tone for the album just like when you want to create a monster talking in a movie. You know that he has a big voice, but you don't want to scare away the children. So the first part of the album as a cinematic atmosphere that reminds me of the project of Black Codex. It's interesting to hear the clear female voice and chanting melodies contrasting with that special male voice. There's a lot of instrumentation like saxophone, xylophone, cello, etc. that gives a lot of sophistication to the music. There is some addictive chorus throughout and beautiful keyboards melodies. If the general mood could be haunting, the second part of the album brings some light pop melodies. Don't look for some guitar solos here, every instrument is like a little orchestra in support of the melody. In conclusion, I didn't get bored a minute on this album.
Report this review (#1814296)
Posted Thursday, October 19, 2017 | Review Permalink
Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Despite displaying very little instrumental flash, nuance, or virtuosity, Major Parkinson continues putting out interesting poppy prog goth noir--this one their fourth.

1. "Lover, Lower Me Down!" (4:47) drums and, of course, vocals/lyrics on display here despite it being 70% instrumental. (8.5/10)

2. "Night Hitcher" (5:46) the synth/keyboard work is my favorite thing about this song. The chorus is so out of a 1980s film soundtrack! Something by John Hughes or Pump Up the Volume. Again, the percussion/rhythm work is remarkable and there is a rather wonderful buildup and synth chord sequence as it approaches its end but, otherwise, there is nothing so extraordinary about this song--nothing that draws me back to listen to it repeatedly. (9/10)

3. "Before the Helmets" (1:25) melodic piano with incongruous singing voice. (3/5)

4. "Isabel - A Report to an Academy" (9:41) (8.5/10)

5. "Scenes from Edison's Black Maria" (1:46) minimalism!? (4.5/5)

6. "Madeleine Crumbles" (5:06) upbeat pop noir! with nice performance from female singer Linn Frøkedal. A modern, goth noir take on The Psychedelic Furs' "Love My Way." (9/10)

7. "Baseball" (10:20) prog cabaret! entertaining! All we need are the Cirque du Soleil acrobats.(8.5/10)

8. "Strawberry Suicide" (2:57) classical/Kurt Weill/Leonard Cohen! (8/10)

9. "Blackbox" (5:48) 80s underground synth pop! I do like it better when the band alternates a female vocalist with that of the melodramatic atonal voice of Jon Ivar. (9/10)

A little too simple and repetitive, musically, and, being deaf to lyrics, the lyrical messages are lost to me, this is just not what I'm looking for in progressive rock music. But I can see how some might like it.

Four stars; an excellent addition to any adventurous prog rock music collector.

Report this review (#1820713)
Posted Thursday, November 9, 2017 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Norwegian band MAJOR PARKINSON was formed back in 2003, and have steadily built themselves a reputation as a quality act in the experimental rock music scene, at some point crossing over to gain increased interest also from fans of progressive rock. They have four studio albums to their name so far. "Blackbox" is the most recent of these, and was released through Norwegian label Karisma Records in the late fall of 2017.

While I am one of many swayed by the charms and music of Major Parkinson, I'm still a bit unsure about just how broad a reach a band like this have. They are creative, make challenging compositions that are still easy to enjoy and listen to, managing to be challenging without being overly demanding, but they also create material that is very much their own and a few left turns away from most other bands out there. Eclectic progressive rock with synth pop tendencies and a bit of classic Gary Numan style sounds at that, flavored with cabaret tendencies and a dark circus atmosphere. If that description sounds enticing, Major Parkinson might well be the band you never knew about that you always hoped to discover.

Report this review (#1827461)
Posted Wednesday, November 29, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars My music listening has fallen off in recent years, but then I noticed Major Parkinson had an upcoming album. Twilight Cinema is, in my mind, one of the better albums I've had the pleasure to experience. Not only do I still listen to Twilight Cinema on a regular basis, many of my friends that have little interest in music (much less prog) love this album. In short, I hold TC in high regard and I was especially excited for the new material.

So how does Blackbox measure up? Very well! While it's a pretty low threshold to cross these days, I feel pretty good saying that Blackbox will be my 2017 album of the year. Blackbox is consistent all the way through and I don't feel there are any "duds" on the album. The album streams seamlessly from dark, to poppy, to melodic, to circusy. The sounds (instruments, mood, tempo, style, etc) change very rapidly throughout the album, not dwelling on any sound or instrument for too long, and keeping you engaged throughout the entire experience. For one example of catchy tunes and interesting instrumentation, near the end of the track "Isabel - A Report to an Academy" the climax includes a catchy melody that involves the rhythm of a type-writer. Every time I hear that part, my mind is blown how well it brings together the other layers in the track to bring the song to a close. The band has countless examples like this in their catalog that demonstrate how unique their sound is.

Blackbox has excellent tracks throughout including Isabel, Madeline Crumbles, and Baseball. Compared to previous works, it did take me a while to fall in love with this album, as there is more of a focus on building up to a climax throughout the major tracks and throughout the album. While Blackbox is perhaps not as immediately accessible as their previous works, Blackbox may be Major Parkinson's best work yet.

If you are wanting to listen to something that is unique, engaging, eclectic, circusy, dark, and yet catchy with a broad array of instrumentation, then by all means check this one out, you won't regret it!

Report this review (#1864972)
Posted Sunday, January 7, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars Major Parkinson from Norway has found a way to combine quite dark progressive rock with pop sensibilities. At first spin it sounded like a poppy version of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum to me! Keywords to describe this album are ghosthouse, darkness, caberet, dance music and ambient pop. The low pitched male vocals create a the feel as if listening to a vampire, whereas the female lead vocals sound a bit gothic / childlike.

On the first side of the vinyl the band plays its dark pop without much interruption. Every song has its own specific elegant nightmarish vibe. Compared to ordinary progrock the music sounds quite electronic/produced and is slightly more repetitive. The album never becomes boring, because Major Parkinson keeps adding layers and the atmospheres are really sufficient. On side two 'Baseball' is the most cabaret-influenced song in which the band's humor runs wild. This was the song that took me longest to get into, but I started to like it eventually. The ending song 'Blackbox' is another highlight for the album. Love the wind-section in the end.

The gold vinyl (on Karisma Records) I own should never have been released, because it doesn't sound at all like the sharp and perfectly produced digital version. The vinyl sounds flat and compressed. This is a bit of a letdown, but I won't blame the band for it. This is a pleasant four star progressive album that friends and family might also like.

Report this review (#2276395)
Posted Thursday, October 31, 2019 | Review Permalink

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