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Smell Of Incense

Prog Folk

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Smell Of Incense Through The Gates Of Deeper Slumber album cover
4.15 | 33 ratings | 5 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Floral Treasury (25:11)
2. Columbine Confused (5:39)
3. A Word in Season (5:22)
4. From the Third Hemisphere (13:38)

Total time: 49:50

Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Jørgensen / lead vocals, lead, glissando, rhythm & Classical guitars, sitar, tambura, cornet
- Jørn Raknes / lead & backing vocals, lead & rhythm guitars, e-bow, baglama, bass
- SigneLine Lundstrom / lead & backing vocals, electric violin & viola
- Hans Olav Sandåker / bass, organ, Mellotron, backing vocals
- Kool Kat / drums

- Hans Petter Christensen / drum machine, synthesizers, tape
- Vidar Ersfjord / Mellotron, Hammond, Fender Rhodes, harmonium, synthesizer, harpsichord
- Dr. Brt Blaster / synthesizer
- Einar Krafft Myhren / soprano & tenor saxophones
- Tom Rudi Torjussen / tabla, djembe, percussion
- Bjørn Fløydstad / backing vocals, producer
- Ida / bird flute
- Joakim / bird flute
- Ty / bird flute

Releases information

Artwork: Gunhilde Langerud

LP September Gurls ‎- SGLP 24 (1997, Germany)

CD September Gurls ‎- SGCD15 (1997, Germany)

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SMELL OF INCENSE Through The Gates Of Deeper Slumber ratings distribution

(33 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(70%)
Good, but non-essential (6%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SMELL OF INCENSE Through The Gates Of Deeper Slumber reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars This is an album that I count among my favorite discoveries of the past year or so, and a band that is rather mysterious and intriguing in their relative obscurity. Smell of Incense deliver highly melodic, sometimes psychedelic, and always fun music that should appeal to just about anyone who prefers to see a glass half full, as opposed to the alternative.

Smell of Incense are a Norwegian music collective with sketchy roots back to somewhere around the mid-eighties; with a handful of their members going back even further to the seventies in the form of a minor new-wave act known as the New Incredible Headcleaners, and even earlier as an even lesser- known punk act called the Impotents. It seems a fair number of Smell’s current lineup date all the way back to the Impotents, and most of them have been together since at least 1986. Despite the long history, the band have only released a total of only three proper full-length albums in that time, and apparently have appeared live only on very rare occasions over the past ten years or so. So I guess you would call this a part-time studio band.

This is their second album, issued like their latest on the German September Gurls label, and both are rather hard to find. The band’s main inspirations have clear roots in both psychedelia and fantasy literature as evidenced right away in the lengthy opening song, “A Floral Treasury”. This is a twenty- five minute psych and trance epic of five parts, with the three middle stanzas each based on one of three literary meadow fairies invented by the reclusive pre-Raphaelite British artist the late Cicely Mary Barker.

After a brief instrumental introductory overture by keyboardist Mickey Moog featuring primarily Mellotron and some wispy Moog, the band launches into the first and longest section, an ode to Barker’s Winter Aconite Fairy. Amid choral Mellotron, spacey synth keyboards and a lumbering drum tempo the band’s lead singer Bumble B croons the words to Barker’s poetic tribute to the fairy who can’t seem to wait for spring to arrive: “Here I am, how wide the earth! How great the sky! O wintry world, see me awake!”

For the middle section the band shifts to a rhythmic trance groove complete with spacey keyboards, wailing electric guitar, programmed drum tracks and indic percussion including tablas and djembe. This is the ode to the Nightshade Fairy, a spring imp who reigns over the budding nature gems of the blossoming summer. The band has moved forward musically from the latter sixties to a more modern sound here, showing their versatility and irreverent approach to progressive arrangements. The choral Mellotron returns to bring things to an end, but not before a final tribute is paid to Barker’s fantasy world, this one a treatment on her regal Queen of the Meadow Fairy. Bumble B’s vocals accompany those of the Mellotron, and finally the whole thing winds to a close amid the bleats of a Wurlitzer and taped carnival sounds.

I can’t say as I’ve heard anything quite like this before, and even though it borders heavily on naïve and sometimes trite, this is feel-good music that demands to be heard over and over again. A truly wonderful composition that I can’t seem to play enough, especially under headphones during a sunny afternoon at the park (where I recently enjoyed this album front to back several times over).

Next up the band digs deep in their bookshelf for a section from The Entropy Tango by the prolific alternative fiction writer Michael Moorcock (aka James Colvin) with “Columbine Confused”, a decidedly retro sixties psych rambling tune with fuzz guitars, Bumble B’s West coast hippy-sounding vocals, and a tempo that is almost danceable, especially if you happen to be inspired by some sort of herbal stimulant. A real throwback tune that also seems to be intended for pleasant summer afternoons spent idly.

The weakest track (though still excellent) comes next with “A Word in Season”, another literary excerpt, in this case from Lord Dunsany’s mythical Elfland. Musically this sounds a little more like the jaunty British folk works of bands like Beggars Opera or some of the stuff Principal Edward’s Magic Theatre did in the late sixties and early seventies. The repetitive vocal rounds are a tad bit grating at times, and the synthesized bird sounds are unnecessary, but Bumble B’s vocals and the plaintive harpsichord more than make up for these minor distractions.

Finally the band closes with another multi-phased work, this one based on the writings of tragic figure the late Robert Ervin Howard. Howard was best known for his contributions to the Weird Tales fantasy horror magazine of the 1930s as well as for creating the figure who would later become Conan the Barbarian, before he committed suicide in 1936. Here the band’s plan seems to be to combine all the sounds they have used to this point in a single work. The plethora of keyboards in these four sections include Mellotron, a Fender Rhodes, loads of Hammond organ and even a little more of the harpsichord. Bumble B shares vocals duties with Bjørn Fløydstad as the two of them relate the tale of the mythical sea creature known as Kraken, who is somehow connected with the lost land of Atlantis. The lyrics are disjointed at best, and dark like most of Howard’s writings, but the wide range of instruments (including a couple saxophones in the latter part of the song) make for an engaging musical experience.

I can’t say for sure where these guys belong as far as their overall musical style, but on this album they manage to wander effortlessly between middle-eastern, British folk, psychedelic trance and flower- power hippy sounds. The whole thing is a blast to listen to, and one can’t help but come away feeling better about life in general. Easily a four star affair that belongs in the collections of all fans of folk, psych and early pop music. Highly recommended unless you just want to be a sourpuss.


Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars I remember the first time I looked at the liner notes (before I had even listened to the music) and I wondered what I had got myself into. The pictures of the five Norwegian band members all in funny costumes with names like Bumble B , Lumpy Dave , Ernie Chung , Han Solo and Cool Kat made me roll my eyes. At the top of the guest musicians list is Mickey Moog who they refer to in the liner notes as being nearly a regular TSOI member (he has since become a full time member). Anyway I figured that THE SMELL OF INSENCE must be like a GONG offshoot or something. Then I put the cd on and was left speechless for the next 50 minutes.This is one of the most mellotron drenched recordings I have ever heard ! The band themselves call their music Progressive Folk-Psyche. Besides the traditional instruments we get sitar, violin, viola, tamboura, ess-cornet, harmonium, harpsichord, sax, tablas and bird flutes. Micky Moog comes by his name honestly as he plays mellotron, hammond organ, fender rhodes & wurlitzer electric pianos and synths. There's more I just thought I should quit talking about all the instruments used on this album. On this record they have put music to the writings of four different authors. The female and male vocals are in English.

"A Floral Treasury" is the 25 minute opening track that takes us on quite the journey. It opens with solemn harmonium sounds before a heavy beat comes in with mellotron. From there we are taken into Krautrock territory with an Eastern flavour (sitar). This is trippy and hypnotic. Female vocals after 3 1/2 minutes. Spacey 8 minutes in as the beat continues. Powerful waves of mellotron come in after 10 minutes as the beat and melody stops. Wave after wave ...of haunting mellotron. Drums come in after 12 minutes as mellotron continues. Vocals are back before 14 1/2 minutes. A spacey calm 17 minutes in. A brighter sound 19 1/2 minutes in with mellotron. Vocals 20 minutes in, male vocals join in. It gets a little experimental late. "Columbine Confused" is such a great tune. Very upbeat with female vocals leading the way. This is 60's sounding with lots of mellotron. Some nice guitar before 3 minutes and 4 1/2 minutes.

"A Word In Season" opens with birds chirping and harpsichord as female vocals come in. This section is contrasted with the moving and majestic mellotron and her more restrained vocals. Nice. Back to the uptempo and almost silly soundscape. That mellotron drenched section I liked from earlier in the song is back before 4 1/2 minutes. There is something naive and charming about this tune. "From The Third Hemisphere" opens with floods of mellotron as male vocals come in. I'm reminded a lot of the great ANEKDOTEN here. The mellotron is so moving. The tempo picks up 3 minutes in,what a fantastic sound ! Female vocals follow and then male as they sing together. It calms down before 6 minutes as sax comes in crying. The tempo picks back up again 10 1/2 minutes in as this instrumental section continues right to the end.

For me this is a masterpiece of Psychedelic music. A must for mellotron fans too.

Review by loserboy
4 stars For those who like their prog with a nice twist of the psychedlia then look no further my friends as you have found sanctuary for the mind. The Smell Of Incense blew me away with their All Mimsy Were The Borowgroves release and this one falls not far out of line from it in many ways. Throught The Gates is centered around the sweet psychedelic sounds of the 60's put to as very dark and forboding modern sound offering a very unique and different feel. Instruments like the Mellotron, Wurlitzer pianos, harmonium, synths, harpsichords, Flutes, sax and floral dust sonic synthesizer help create a sonic landscape which will leave you drooling. I love the very spacey atmospheres the create and this album is perfect for the ol' headphones. Be warned my friends that listening to this with the lights low may cause anxiety and even be fatal. Highly inventive and heartly endorsed to those who are brave enough....
Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars It's amazing how the album that I'd like to listen to in 1970 has been released in 1997. I have read of it on PA and I took very long to find a used copy on eBay. I don't know anything of the band's members, apart that they sound like the early Renaissance of Viv McAuliffe with a more psychedelic approach. The epic 25 minutes track has a lot of sitar and oriental flavors and lyrics about fairies and fairy tales. The hypnotic rhythm and the bass line playing on a major chord have a relation with Krautrock. This is clearer in the psychedelic part after the 10th minute, subtitled "The Song Of The Nightsmade Fairy". Here the song changes drastically. No more sitar and oriental flavors. Electronic drums and keyboards make it closer to Ozric Tentacles or some instrumental pieces of Porcupine Tree. When "Bumble B" sings we are in a sort of dark chill-out. It's like 30 years have passed between part 1 and 2 and this. Part 4 is different again. A section of progressive electronic with a lot of keyboards to bring the 70s back. It's "The Song Of The Queen Of The Meadows Fairy". This part is "broken" by an interlude made with sound from a carnival, then there's another space-rock moment. The epilogue fades out and it's done.

"Columbine Confused" seems written in 1969. It's a song that I can easily imagine played at the Isle of Wight. The Renaissance debut comes immediately to my mind but not only. I hear influences of Doors and Syd Barrett, but it's so end-60 that if you concentrate you can hear almost every band of that period. Every and None at the same time.

"A Word In Season" is strange. The passages are unusual. I can't identify what they sound like, but this song makes something ring in my memory. The Who of Tommy is one of the things that they make me think of, but also the psychedelic period of the Beatles. Bumble's vocals sound very similar to Annie Haslam on this song. From the lyrics point of view we are still speaking of fairies. For my tastes this is a 5 stars song.

Last, there's another song in 4 parts. About 15 minutes. It's likely because the part 1 is entitled Atlantis and the vocalist is male, but I think to Eloy. The second part is another acid version of Renaissance with the main theme that's close to something that I've already heard but I can't identify. The 4th part is instrumental and closes an excellent album. Highly suggested.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Smell of Incense are a quirky band from Norway who blend 60/70's psychedelic rock, acid folk, progressive and even electronic dance influences into a frequently messy but always fascinating original style all their own. With a band made up of some very curious characters (I mean, check out their names!) you get a wide variety of modern and classic influences, alternating male/female vocalists, and hippie/middle eastern elements. The band, fortunately, don't take themselves too seriously either! Their second album, `Through The Gates Of Deeper Slumber' takes lyrics from the books of four different fantasy writers and puts them amongst a heady brew of different styles and amazing sounds.

Along with the first Clearlight album, I don't think I've ever heard the Mellotron used so much and so often! Whether it's choir, flute, or strings (sometimes two at once), it's plastered over just about every inch of this album, and there's even a few solos with it! One of the only other cases of this I can remember off the top of my head is on Camel's `Never Let Go'! More, please, other prog artists! So in other words, Mellotron masochists, you know what album to look into tracking down next.

The centerpiece of the album is the side-long 25 minutes piece `A Floral Treasury'. This epic drifts through a huge range of sounds and styles, and is split into three different sections. With fairy tale-like lyrics throughout, the track begins with a wall of dirty real-deal Mellotron, (not some clean emulator!), seemingly utilizing some sort of woodwind sound, backed with an unsettling funereal drum beat with pulsing electronics not far from the first side of Klaus Schulze's `Timewind'. Soon after sitar and tabla enter, followed by female singer Bumble B's droning and imploring vocals, very mantra like! A dizzying and spiraling mess of backwards guitar swirls amongst a vacuum of Mellotron, sounding not unlike the eerie menace of the first Zone Six album. There's pounding drums that will drive you mad, before morphing into dancey programmed beats trying to break through the waves of 'Tron and slightly funky guitar. Great female vocals float through the now clubby vibe, with droning and harsh electric guitars, almost sounding industrial, before a very bent and off sounding Mellotron solo! There's a brief ambient break, with eerie flute Mellotron, very psychedelic before the final section kicks in. Sounding not unlike early Barrett/Pink Floyd with choir Mellotron and a fairly awful flat high-pitched vocal from Bumble B, there's a lovely dreamy quality to the actual melody, and she's eventually joined by male vocals (not sure which member, though). The finale has an unpleasant and whirling circus melody that spins around in circles that is quite maddening, before a reprise of the dirty Mellotron orchestral sounding intro. In the end, this piece is an endlessly inventive and daringly unique blend of styles and ideas.

`Columbine Confused' sounds like a lost 60's psych pop acid folk gem, topped off with great upbeat male/female vocals. It has a stomping beat and snarly guitar, and of course is packed to the gills with Mellotron! There's also a mixed up loud and proud repeated Mellotron solo in place of an actual traditional vocal chorus! I kind of love the arrogance of it all - "We don't need no freakin' chorus with words, we've got a 'Tron!!!"

`A Word In Season' has a renaissance/medieval folk feel, with lovely harpsichord and classical influences throughout. The track is kind of naïve and incoherent, sometimes seeming like a bunch of fragments thrown together, and despite some inconsistent vocals, there's a childlike and hypnotic quality to it.

`From The Third Hemisphere' has another killer dirty murky repeated Mellotron melody/theme, the instrument really seems to sing on this one! There's slightly awkward and charmingly accented male lead vocals, with an upbeat poppy middle section with Bumble B's multi-tracked harmonies sounding amazing and joyful. There's an endless haze of instrumental variety throughout the bulk of this piece, with a dancing violin theme, weeping and wonky sax breaks, grinding bendy guitar playing that sounds quite like Steve Hackett, and some gorgeous `Saucerful' era Gilmour guitar.

While I find this album really outstanding, it's occasionally unsuccessful in trying to throw so many different styles together, with some of the longer sections suffering slightly. However, it's kind of in keeping with the psychedelic, lysergic tone of the album and the different personality and influences of the individual band members. Some listeners may not enjoy what they find to be an uncomfortable addition of modern dance influences on the side long piece, but that's one of the things that makes the album so memorable. However, this sound has not been used again before or since the release of this album by the band, which is a bit of a shame.

Special mention must be made to the exquisite front cover painting. Strange that the Archives picture here seems to show the back cover (still good, but the proper front cover is unbelievable!). All of the Smell of Incense albums having amazing artwork, and it's become quite a recognizable trademark of the band. Really wish I'd snapped up a vinyl copy of this one - which I've made sure to do with all the band's later releases.

Although able to be proud of their other releases, Smell of Incense, through embracing their vintage influences and adding modern elements and sounds, released probably their best and most daring album with `Through The Gates...', with frequently stunning results. It's certainly their most defining musical statement to date.

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