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Smell Of Incense

Prog Folk

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Smell Of Incense All Mimsy Were The Borogoves album cover
3.84 | 26 ratings | 4 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Alice (6:37)
2. Faerie Emerald (9:37)
3. Fancy (5:43)
4. Christopher's Journey (4:23)
5. (The Smell Of) Interstellar Overdrive (11:43)
6. Witch's Hat (4:57)
7. Shrine (9:03)

Total time 52:03

Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Jørgensen / lead vocals, lead, glissando & rhythm guitars, sitar, tambura
- Jørn Raknes / lead & rhythm guitars, e-bow, mandolin, bass, harmony vocals
- SigneLine Lundstrom / lead & harmony vocals, viola,
- Hans Olav Sandåker / bass, organ, Mellotron, electric piano
- Kool Kat / drums, Chinese gong

- Hans Petter Christensen / alto & tenor saxes
- Philippa Clark / cello
- Tom Rudi Torjussen / djembe
- Øyvind Bjørnsen / harmony vocals
- Dr. Brt Blaster / synth

Releases information

Artwork: Gunhilde Langerud

LP Colours ‎- COSLP 018 (1994, Norway)

CD Colours ‎- COSCD 018 (1994, Norway)

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SMELL OF INCENSE All Mimsy Were The Borogoves ratings distribution

(26 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SMELL OF INCENSE All Mimsy Were The Borogoves reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars This album marks the starting point for Smell of Incense’ recording career as far as I know, although the band itself predates the record by anywhere from two to eight years depending on who’s counting and how liberally one frames the concept of a ‘band’.

Obviously this is a sixties psych-inspired album (a sixties psych-inspired band for that matter) as evidenced by their name, the album title (taken from the Jabberwocky poem in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking-Glass’), and the record’s artwork. Other not-so-subtle clues (if you need them) are the heavy use of sitar and an early Pink Floyd cover.

That being established, this is (like their other full-length album ‘Through the Gates of Deeper Slumber’) a total blast to listen to. The band clearly had fun making it, and it shows in the energy applied to every track. Unlike their follow-on this album includes a handful of covers, but like their second release it also houses some literary tribute pieces that tend to reveal the group’s non-musical influences, as well as the contents of their bookshelves.

The opening carries on the theme of the album’s title with a tribute to Alice (of Carroll’s’ ‘in Wonderland’ variety). Lumpy Davy sounds just a little bit like Ray Davies here as he relates a snippet of this familiar tale amid an upbeat and melodic blend of guitar fuzz, organ, fairly simple percussion and faint mellotron strings. It’s a fun tune with a couple of interesting tempo changes in the second half, and a first introduction to the gorgeous throwback psych-folk voice of Bumble B. This isn’t quite what I would call exceptional for this band though, and I say that as a big fan. Having heard them produce much better, I would place “Alice” in the ‘still-evolving’ phase of the band’s history. Also, a mild distraction with this song is the bass line which sounds an awful lot like the one on the early 60’s Little Peggy March tune “I Will Follow Him”, although that may in fact be nothing more than the band trying to place the tune in a sixties context. In any case, both those things being said, this is a decent tune on an album that gets even better rather quickly.

The first time I heard “Faerie Emerald” I thought it was another of the band’s tributes to the late Cicely Mary Barker’s fantasy-world fairies. Turns out it is actually a take on a ‘famous’ Elizabethan poem by the 16th century laureate Edmund Spenser. I put quotes around ‘famous’ because I’ve never heard of him, and I suppose many non-British literature experts probably haven’t either. Anyway much more mellotron here, and especially strings and choir. The band uses the ‘tron choir sounds a fair bit throughout this album, as they did on the second record as well.

And speaking of Ray Davies, the first of three cover tunes comes with “Fancy”, a spaced-out version of the Kinks’ 1966 song “Fancy” from one of their lesser-known records ‘Face to Face’. Here the band turns what was originally about a 2-1/2 minute mildly Eastern-influenced ditty (there was some sitar in the Kinks’ original version), into a full-fledged psych-trance dirge. The bird sounds here would make another appearance on “A Word in Season” with their second album, and are as over-the-top here are there were there. But frankly I suspect most listeners will take to these guys well enough and, like me, will find such self-indulgence easy to forgive.

Next comes another song with a guitar lick that sounds familiar, “Christopher's Journey” with what comes off a bit like the famous riff from the Turtles “So Happy Together”. Again, I think the band may just be trying to date the music, and don’t care either way because it’s so fun to listen to. Here ‘Christopher’ refers to Christopher Robin, the perpetual pubertal lad from A.A. Milne's world of Winnie the Pooh. As the father of three young men who grew up on Winnie the Pooh stories, I have a hard time reconciling those memories and that context with a psychedelic rock album, but what the hell – I suppose hippies have childhood memories too, theirs are just a bit more twisted than normal.

In a take on the band’s name (which itself was lifted from a cover tune if I’m not mistaken), the band includes as the most lengthy track a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive” under the title “(Smell of) Interstellar Overdrive”. I’ve only heard one other cover of this song, and that was from the post- punk band Camper Van Beethoven. I can’t quite decide which I like better; I’ve seen CvB do theirs live and it was excellent. But in both instances I think the covers easily do justice to the original. In this case the band lays on thick mellotron strings and woodwinds, a heavy and persistent organ track, loads of sound effects, sitar and heavy psych guitar; and at the forefront Bumble B. rests her voice but offers instead an eerie viola track that adds a different and intriguing dimension to this old and well-known song.

There’s one more cover, although the first time I heard it I didn’t quite catch this. “Witches Hat” comes from the Incredible String Band’s 1968 release ‘The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter’. I didn’t notice this at first mostly because Bumble B. adds her own spin with extended vocals and the band layers on keyboards and fuzz guitar in a way that ISB never really did. Overall though, I get the impression this is more of a tribute to that band then most of Smell’s covers, as opposed to them adopting it as their own.

Surprisingly the album ends on a bit of a downer with the Peter Hammill poem ‘Shrine’ set to music. There are a few situations that just about every person dreads the thought of occurring; waking up in a public place and realizing you are naked ranks right up there. Walking in on your parents ‘doing it’ is another, as is finding yourself cornered in a dark alley by an armed killer. Or finding your personal diaries from the puberty years published on a psychiatry research web site (okay, maybe that last one’s just me). Anyway, Hammill’s poem relates one of these sorts of stories, this of a guy looking forward after a long travel to surprising a lover, only - ooops…. no spoiler alert here. Look up the lyrics yourself, or pick up the album. Or I’m sure you can figure it out for yourself.

I also have to say that musically “Shrine” is the most mature of all the songs on the album, a serious progressive piece of art with plenty of attention paid to the instrumental breaks, the layering of keyboard sounds, and even Lumpy Davy’s vocals which sound a bit more like the Tanget’s Andy Tillison than they do Hammill’s. A great way to close an outstanding and entertaining album in any case.

Smell of Incense don’t really do anything original in their music, particularly if you only consider musical styles or innovative arrangements. But there are few bands that so completely embrace their musical heritage, or integrate it so wholly into their own sound. The Tangent is one of those bands; some say Marillion was another. Musically I wouldn’t put these guys into the same category as either of those two. But for a noteworthy commitment to immersion in what they do I would lift up Smell of Incense as a group whose music is well worth investing a bit of your time in. Four stars and my thanks to the band for an hour well-spent every time I play this album.


Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This band is one of my all time favourites from Norway. This happens to be their debut. Originally they had planned to do covers of Psychedelic or Acid Punk songs from 1966-1967 but they sort of drifted from that goal and also made some of their own music. Oh and this all sounds very late sixties to early seventies to me. Anyway they did three covers, but for the other songs they used lyrics from other artists but created their own music to go along with them. I understand why this is listed under Folk but for my money this is pure Psychedelia.

"Alice" refers to "Alice In Wonderland" of course. It's a little silly to open but when the main melody comes in with drums, bass, organ and guitar it's all forgotten. Male vocals except for some brief female ones on the chorus. The guitar is angular before 5 1/2 minutes as organ plays on. Great way to end it. "Faerie Emerald" is laid back with dual vocals and acoustic guitar. I like when the sound gets fuller, especially the electric guitar and female vocals. Great sound 3 1/2 minutes in when the organ arrives. I like this better than the opening track. "Fancy" is a KINKS cover. It opens with the birds chirping away as sitar and percussion come in. The birds stop 1 1/2 minutes in as the sound gets fuller. Dual vocals after 2 minutes.This is so trippy for the rest of 7 plus minutes. Just love it !

"Christopher's Journey" has this beat as male vocals come in. Female vocals join in with a fuller sound. A nice acoustic guitar / bass section 2 1/2 minutes in. Electric guitar and organ take over. Dual vocals return. Original melody follows. "(The Smell Of) Intersteller Overdrive" is a PINK FLOYD cover of course. Bass and organ lead the way early before electric guitar and drums join in. A psychedelic calm before 2 minutes before it kicks back in around 4 minutes with bass, drums and a spacey background. Nice. Cello 5 1/2 minutes in. Amazing sound here that goes on and on. "Witch's Hat" is a THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND cover. Female vocals and a catchy melody on this one. I like the electric guitar 2 1/2 minutes in. "Shrine" is actually a Peter Hammill poem that they put music to. A gong opens the proceedings as male vocals and a full sound arrive. It picks up a minute in. Female vocals join in as the tempo continues to shift. It ends with a sample (music) of the Alice In Wonderland movie.

Lots to like about this one. Lots of mellotron as well. A solid 4 stars.

Review by loserboy
4 stars Now I must admit that I am still recovering from how amazing this recording is??..I was amazed when a kind friend of mine introduced me to The Smell Of Incense, but after owning and having had repeated listens I am hooked. All Mimsy Were The Borogoves is very hard to peg down but I would chalk it up somewhere between Art Rock and Psychedelic. SOI blend acid laced guitars with very psychedelic sounding voices and landscapes "in the most delightful way" This highly polished and professional band create some of the most psychedelic landscapes I have heard and their wide use of instruments inject different flavors throughout. Sound reproduction is superb ,but I do understand that this album is in supply shortage which is a crime. Highlight for me is their very trippy rendition of Pink Floyd?s Interstellar Overdrive which in contrast to tribute bands offers a much more expansive view of this tune than perhaps even Floyd observed (of course the Floyd version is a classic!). Highly recommended.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Smells like a compilation album......... The Norwegian band Smell Of Incense's debut album is a strange mix of proto prog, space rock, folk rock and only god knows what. The variations between the songs are pretty huge. Hence, it feels like this album is a compilation album with several band ... (read more)

Report this review (#357474) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Sunday, December 19, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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