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Arabs In Aspic

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Arabs In Aspic Strange Frame Of Mind album cover
3.73 | 110 ratings | 6 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Aspic Temple (0:56)
2. The Flying Norseman (4:14)
3. Dive (1:06)
4. In to My Eye (3:17)
5. Mørket (4:32)
6. Fall til marken (7:14)
7. TV (4:52)
8. Strange Frame of Mind (3:32)
9. Have You Ever Seen the Rain, Pt. 2 (2:46)
10. Arabide (7:39)

Total time 40:08

Bonus track on 2011 CD release:
11. Hocus Pocus (3:54)

Line-up / Musicians

- Jostein Smeby / electric & acoustic guitars, vocals
- Stig Arve Kvam Jørgensen / Hammond, Rhodes, synth, 12-string guitar, vocals
- Erik Paulsen / bass, fretless bass, vocals
- Eskil Nyhus / drums, cowbell, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Julia Proszowska Lund

LP Pancromatic ‎- PLP 2007 (2010, Norway)
LP Black Widow Records ‎- none (2014, Italy)

CD Black Widow Records ‎- BWRCD 133-2 (2011, Italy) With a bonus track

Thanks to phlake for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ARABS IN ASPIC Strange Frame Of Mind ratings distribution

(110 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ARABS IN ASPIC Strange Frame Of Mind reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars So we have a band from Norway called ARABS IN ASPIC 2 and their album is released on the Italian label Black Widow. Nice. For me they sound like a cross between BIGELF and WICKED MINDS more like the latter.

"Aspic Temple" is a short (less than a minute) instrumental intro that sounds amazing. "The Flying Norseman" kicks in quickly with the drums and organ standing out. It settlers back with vocals then kicks back in instrumentally before 2 minutes. Guitar follows. "Dive" is just over a minute in length and it leads us to "Into My Eye" where drums and organ standout early. Vocals join in quickly and I like when the synth-like sounds arrive before 2 minutes.

"Moerket" has some great sounding guitar early on then a full sound with organ kicks in followed by vocals. "Fall Til Marken" has these outbursts of sounds then it settles in with vocals before a minute. A calm before 3 minutes then it builds and the vocals return. "TV" reminds me of BIGELF.This is catchy with Frank Zappa mentioned in the chorus each time. "Strange Frame Of Mind" has vocals, floating organ, guitar and a heavy beat. It's pretty intense before 2 minutes. A calm with piano then it builds with vocals. "Arabide" is easily my favourite track. They slow it down but it's still powerful. I'd like more of this please.

A good album no doubt but i'd like it more with less screaming organ and more of a dark atmosphere.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Arabs in Aspic II was an unknown band to me, but now I fortunately got their album from Black Widow Records, and can say that I have truly liked it. 'Strange Frame of Mind' is the name of this record released in 2010, in which this Norwegian band knows how to produce first- class heavy progressive rock, with obvious 70s hints, but with a fresh sound nonetheless. The album features eleven compositions that make a total time of 44 minutes.

It opens with 'Aspic Temple' which is only a one-minute introductory minute that leads to 'The Flying Norseman'. This track starts with drums for some ten seconds and later guitar, bass and keyboards join. The rhythm is fast and the music contains a nice mixture of symphonic with heavy prog, reminding me a bit of Wobbler or Hypnos 69. The vocals appear just before reaching the first minute, they sing in English, in spite of their nationality. The instrumental part that continues is pretty nice, catchy sometimes due to its fresh and happy mood; I like the percussion and keyboards a lot.

'Dive' is another one-minute instrumental track that works as the transition from one track to another, though the album as a whole perfectly flows. The next song is 'Into my Eye', whose sound is practically the same as the previous one, but here vocals enter and create a new structure. The organ as background is excellent, it creates very nice atmospheres and put the necessary nuances to the music's success. This song is more laid-back, but solid, though.

'Moerket' is the opposite, here we can appreciate to a heavy guitar since the first seconds, later keys, drums and bass enter and along with the voice complement the music, taking my mind back to the 70s with bands such as Uriah Heep, Eloy or even Black Sabbath. The second half of the song is more exciting, with some solos and an even heavier, intense and more powerful sound. This is a very good composition!

One out of two tracks that reach the seven minute mark comes next, its name is 'Fall til marken' and has that heavy prog sound previously described. Here I have to say that they now sing in their native language, which is always beautiful to my ears. The song flows and keeps an intense rhythm until the third minute, where it slows down a little bit for some seconds, but later it returns to its original form. With 'TV' the English language returns, and here a kind of humoristic mood can be appreciated, mostly in the chorus.

'Strange Frame of Mind' has vocals since the first second, and they are accompanied by a great mellotron background and soft guitar chords. The rhythm is calm, mid-tempo and open to new elements. After a minute and a half it changes, bringing a nervous and more intense sound for one minute until it slows down and returns to its first form. 'Have You Ever Seen The Rain, Pt. 2' is a shorter, but very rockish track good to shake the body and sing a little bit. Nice but not the best, without a doubt.

'Arabide' is the longest composition and the final track of the album. The song flows slowly, progressing while the seconds pass. Though it seems repetitive at first, you have to give it a chance and then you will realize new elements are being added, producing different nuances and textures. After that slow beginning the music becomes heavier, dynamic and more emotional. There is a wonderful instrumental passage that starts after four minutes, making new textures, colors and images that let our imagination fly. This may probably be my favorite track of the whole album.

Though I mentioned Arabide was the last song of the album, there is a bonus track, a nice cover of 'Hocus Pocus', that hymn Focus created several years ago. I liked this album by Arabs in Aspic, but I believe they can explode more their skills and give us an ever better production in the near future. My final grade would be 3.5 stars, almost 4.

Enjoy it!

Review by Guldbamsen
2 stars Wolfmother on steroids

Seeing this band name, I immediately thought of King Crimson. High-towering mellotrons, jagged riffing and the occasional heartfelt singing. Oh yes we've heard it before. Whenever bands start emulating The Crimson, we're no doubt in for a Red meets In The Court of the Crimson King experience, and that is probably because those are perhaps their most successful and charismatic albums. Then again who could ever hope to lift the heritage from an album such as Lark's Tongues in Aspic - no matter what this Norwegian act call themselves. Nowhere on this album do I get reminiscent of said album. No apart from those jagged guitars and the mellotron, I actually don't hear anything resembling King Crimson, but far more in the vein of current Aussie rock n' roll gasoline fire-house Wolfmother.

The comparison is quite apt I assure you. Take Wolfmother's snarling guitars, melody laden choruses and the pseudo Robert Plant vocals, although slightly more writhing and teen-smitten. Then stuff this mother with a boot full of progressive tendencies ie the aforementioned mellotrons, organs and high soaring synthesizers and we've got ourselves a brand spanking prog rock record! I'm sorry for sounding a bit malicious, but that is not my intention. It is just that this band really shouldn't have named themselves after one of the most progressive albums in history (let's face it when Larks' Tongues first came out NOTHING sounded like that), when most of the music hiding underneath this their debut album resides comfortably within the hard rock sphere albeit with some slightly stereotypic prog by the numbers passages. Again I am sounding somewhat harsh here, but don't let that fool you: This is indeed a very competent album, and if you really dig stuff like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Wolfmother all mixed up with bubbling Hammond organs and the occasional synthesizer outburst, then this album should be right up your alley. The musicians are tight as hell and swing like your daddy on the dance floor, and nowhere does this album loose its breath and count to ten, it just hurls along like a freight- train with cut brakes. Maybe that is the problem I have, because the one time I really got enthralled, the time I dropped everything in my hands and just stood still - listening carefully with my mouth open and peepers wide closed, was the one time these guys sped down and got up close and personal. The track Arabide suddenly transforms into these middle-eastern sloshes of guitar, gently waving back and forth - conjuring up an extremely seductive psychedelic atmosphere, where I truly lost myself in the matter of a few seconds. I hope these guys will investigate this calm, menacing and cradling music some more in the future, because unlike the rest of the album, this thing's truly got some charm and personality to it.

Again, this is by no means a bad album. On the contrary, this is brawny, steam-pumped hard rock with a truck load of all the effects we have come to love about this genre, but to me personally, I'll stick with the original Wolfmother, where things are kept more simple and straightforward.

Review by stefro
4 stars Weirdly compared to Australian heavy psych outfit Wolfmother by some(?), Norway's Arabs In Aspic are actually anything but, instead reeling off a sharp mixture of Wetton-era King Crimson, grazing 70's rock and prog-referential wordplay that brackets them amongst one of the modern era's more authentic progressive rock acts. Their first album proper - this despite the fact that the group have been active in one form or another since around 1997 - 'Strange Frame Of Mind' is a promising debut, featuring a raw, uncompromising sound tethered with metallic edges, Jostein Smeby's powerful vocals and a nice line in sardonic humour('everybody is watching TV, except for Frank Zappa and me...'). Most of all it is the Crimson references that really jump out, the grinding patterns of 'Strange Frame Of Mind' shot through with a mighty dose of jagged proto-metal riffery obviously influenced by 1974's 'Red', though echoes of both that album's forerunner('Starless & Bible Black') and the new wave-dipped strains of 'Discipline' can also be heard bubbling away. Fleshing out the the groups impressively raw sound is the nicely-subdued but ever-ominous strains of Stig Jorgenson's organ, with the multi-instrumentalists presence adding a smattering of hard-edged psychedelia which juxtaposes smartly with the thrashed-up squalls of drilled guitars. Occasional lighter moments pepper the din, yet Arabs In Aspic seem at their best when performing at full pelt, as evidence by the yelped cries and churning rock structure of the excellent 'The Flying Norseman', the doom-tinged ambience of the seven-minute mini-epic 'Arabide' and the Aardvark-style groove of the excellent 'Moerket'. In between, the group's penchant for name-dropping glosses the satirical art-metal of 'TV', whilst the melodic 'Into My Eyes' showcases a slight Pink Floyd bent thanks to it's uplifting chorus and impassioned harmonies. More than most, 'Arabs In Aspic' seem to truly grasp the ethics of 1970's rock, their mixture of art-rock histrionics and brittle-metal riffs making them a formidable new act in the 21st century prog arena. Those looking for something slightly different to the usual digitally-enhance nonsense are urged to check this Norwegian outfit out as soon as humanly possible. Great stuff.
Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I have a theory about this album that within 5-10 seconds of pressing play on the CD, or in my case putting the needle down on it, you'll be blown away and amazed with what you hear from `Strange Frame Of Mind'! From the very first second, the listener is blasted with a blissful wall of tasteful Mellotron, organ and trippy guitar, and that remains true for much of the rest of the album. Here we have a short but sweet album that is almost all killer, no filler, quite accessible Hammond driven vintage hard prog rock, with a whole lot of catchy and memorable vocal hooks and melodies. There's a great balance of up-tempo rockers and slower psychedelic pieces, all perfectly composed without being too complicated or busy.

The band's previous albums had more of a stoner/Black Sabbath space rock sound, but this album is more relatable to 70's bands like Atomic Rooster, `Remember The Future' era Nektar, heavy organ rockers Deep Purple/Uriah Heap and perhaps Pink Floyd. Anyone who enjoys albums by those artists would potentially find much to enjoy here.

One thing that occurs to you when listening to the album is that it actually sounds relaxed and FUN! The vocals are quite light-hearted without sounding comical or stupid, and there's a bunch of catchy choruses throughout the album. It's great to put on and chill out to. Despite the album being something of a retro 70's throwback, I believe the sense of humour and energy helps the band find their own identity.

I won't go into detail for each track, just mention a few highlights on an LP full of them. The greatest moment of the album is track 6, `Fal Til Marken', which has one of the most uplifting and grand Mellotron fuelled finales I've ever heard. It just keeps going and going, and you never want it to end. While most of `TV's beginning and end is a dirty Deep Purple inspired Hammond organ cruncher, the sedate middle section sounds like Floyd's `Welcome To The Machine', before it launches into space with a hugely uplifting and epic guitar solo. It's not quite long enough, but still beautifully played. The title track has gorgeous weeping Mellotron all throughout, and a very manic middle section! There's also an amusing cover of the Focus track `Hocus Pocus' to end the album, but it's really more of a bonus track.

The great production means all the instruments sound thick and upfront, especially the keyboards, but everything is perfectly balanced to provide a hugely atmospheric album. Most of the tracks are all joined together, so there's a great sense of flow to the LP, and it's all over in a brisk 44 minutes.

Special mention must also go to the striking erotic painting on the front cover. Certainly gets your attention right away, and looks even better on the gatefold vinyl version, so try to track down a copy of that one!

After taking into account everything I love about this album - the playing, the arrangements, the instruments, the production, even the front cover - and after listening to it for over a year now and still finding I love it even more with each additional listen, I feel I have to award it my first 5 star rating. `Strange Frame Of Mind' has been one of my favourite LP's of the last few years. Can't wait to see what the band comes up with next!

Latest members reviews

4 stars Once in a while, I get a positive surprise through ProgArchives. I have heard about this band for a long time, but have always dismissed them as merely a rock/pop band. I was very surprised and a lot sceptical when this album arrived at my doorstep courtesy of Black Widow. I was very surprised ... (read more)

Report this review (#512660) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Thursday, September 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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