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Meer Playing House album cover
3.80 | 59 ratings | 6 reviews | 34% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2021

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Picking Up the Pieces (6:15)
2. Beehive (4:37)
3. All at Sea (5:04)
4. Songs of Us (4:31)
5. Child (4:22)
6. You Were a Drum (3:25)
7. Honey (5:49)
8. Across the Ocean (4:43)
9. She Goes (4:16)
10. Where Do We Go from Here (4:53)
11. Lay It Down (6:44)

Total Time 54:39

Line-up / Musicians

- Johanne Margrethe Kippersund Nesdal / vocals
- Knut Kippersund Nesdal / vocals, keyboards
- Eivind Strømstad / guitars, mandolin, keyboards, programming, backing vocals
- Åsa Ree / violin, percussion, backing vocals
- Ingvild Nordstoga Eide / viola, backing vocals
- Ole Gjøstøl / piano, keyboards, programming, electric organ, glockenspiel, backing vocals
- Morten Strypet / bass, backing vocals
- Mats Lillehaug / drums, percussion, backing vocals

Releases information

CD Karisma Records KAR207CD (2021)
2LP Karisma Records KAR207LP (2021)

Thanks to damoxt7942 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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MEER Playing House ratings distribution

(59 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(34%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

MEER Playing House reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Matti
3 stars The 2016 debut of this Norwegian band seem to have passed by without notice, but upon this new second album the addition process was quite fast. (I happened to see MEER suggested here just a couple of days after I got the cd.) However, no one has reviewed this band yet.

My own initial reception, when listening to a few chosen tracks at my friend's home, was frankly much more positive than my thoughts after listening to the whole album a few times. My friend was making a newspaper review and he asked my opinion of referring to White Willow and IAMTHEMORNING. I agreed and didn't invent any better references. One reason for me becoming mildly disappointed must be the fact that the charming and personal female voice plays a smaller role on the whole than I had hoped. She has a notable spectre in her expression, from girlish and purposedly frail innocence to edgier power, slightly comparable to Iamthemorning's Marjana Semkina, or maybe more closely to Courtney Swain of BENT KNEE. The male vocalist with the same surname (husband? brother?) is pretty good too, and his tidy-but-emotional vocals could be compared to the likes of Mariusz Duda of RIVERSIDE.

Both him and the guitarist also play keyboards in addition to the group's main keyboardist. All in all the group has eight members on this album: the usual rock quintet plus the two vocalists, and two string players (violin and viola) to make the Iamthemorning comparison even more valid. The classical/ chamber music flavour is one part of MEER's ambitious sonic mixture. There is also an electrified and at times threatening modern alt-rock soundscape with an occasional Post Rock resemblance. The dynamic variety within the eleven tracks (all under seven minutes in length) is very wide. For example 'She Goes' operates between restricted, minimally arranged moments and powerful crescendo bursts bordering on Prog-/Post-Metal. Add the pop elements represented especially by the vocalists, and it's clear that MEER is definitely not a one-trick pony.

So, as I said the female vocals are sadly not used to their full potential. Perhaps the other reason for my disappointment compared to the very first impression is that the album turned out to be more intense and edgier than I had wished, and if I had had a faint idea of folk nuances à la early White Willow, it wasn't really fulfilled at all. But false expectations aside, Playing House offers nearly 55 minutes of carefully woven and deeply dynamic, sonically ambitious modern prog / alt-rock with many various elements. The strings, whenever they're heard, are an excellent feature. Also the basic songwriting is fairly strong, even though it's sometimes buried under the overwhelming dynamic width. Gladly there's some calm simplicity too, on songs such as 'Where Do We Go from Here?'

Taking the question of rating more subjectively, I might easily give this album four stars, but for me personally the music occasionally gets too cold, noisy and threatening. For fans of edgier rock dynamics and heavier sounds (think of Riverside, Porcupine Tree and such) that naturally won't be any problem.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Norwegian folk-symphonic chameleons from Hamar are back with their sophomore release and boy! am I excited!

1. "Picking Up the Pieces" (6:15) Pensive piano. Accenting Bass. Strings and full band. One minute in and this is sounding good! At 1:15 I find myself elated to hear the dulcet tones of one of my favorite voices in progressive rock music: the voice of enigmatic and chameleonic powerhouse Johanne Margrethe Kippersund Nesdal. As the song unfolds it begins to sound very much like FREQUENCY DR?IFT's 2011 masterpiece, Ghosts.... where the magnificent voice of Antje Auer is teamed up with Andreas Hack and company. Unfortunately, that sentiment does not wane or change over the course of the song. Good song with solid performances throughout, just not as fresh and original as I was hoping. (8.75/10)

2. "Beehive" (4:37) despite the slightly-RADIOHEAD chordal sound of the piano opening here, the BENT KNEE similarities are inescapable--in the dynamic music as well as in Johanne's Courtney Swain vocal performance. It's a great song--would be one of my favorite Bent Knee songs were it one of theirs--but this is Meer, not Bent Knee; I need for Meer to sound more like their own entity, not just an imitator (albeit, amazing imitator) of other original prog bands. The orchestral and rhythmic forms and structures and rock and vocal performances are all exceptional-- incredible--and the lyrics quite clever and engaging--but there's something lost in the sound engineering--as if the song has been too compressed and therefore lost some of its dynamic edges. But, it is without a doubt a great composition; it's just that the rendering could have been ... fuller. One thing is certainly sure: This team is one amazing set of song-constructors! (9/10)

3. "All at Sea" (5:04) a more countrified/folk sound palette precedes and supports Knut Kippersund Nesdal in his first lead vocal on this album. His voice (and it's engineered rendering) has improved quite a bit. It's quite smooth and mellifluous. Nice! The chorus employs a full-band multi-voice approach (with Knut and Johanne mixed furthest in front). It's an okay chorus melodically though the vocal performances are flawless. Beautiful strings arrangement-- especially for the brief instrumental passage before the final chorus. (8.75/10)

4. "Songs of Us" (4:31) a song that feels very much like something from the current multi-voice bands coming from the Nashville Country-Western scene (sounding like something Blake Shelton's team members would come up with on The Voice--like the show's perennial ED SHEERAN cover songs. Granted Ed is an amazing songwriter, performer, and video/screen presence, and this song is exquisitely crafted: from the blending of the rock instrumentation with orchestral passages to the amazing vocal duet between Knut and Johanne, but I want to hear more of what's coming from deep in the souls of this band's songwriters, not imitations. (9/10)

5. "Child (4:22) lone pizzicato violin supports the eventual arrival of Knut and his tender voice. As drumming hits and fleeting bass riffs enter in the second minute, Knut continues his impressive performance--for all intents and purposes, carrying the entire song with his voice. Amazing! And then comes my favorite part: the dreamy passage around the three-minute mark--which then leads into the jazz-Reggae finish with layer upon layer of vocal thread woven atmospherically in the background. (8.875/10)

6. "You Were a Drum" (3:25) Johanne Margrethe delivers another incredibly nuanced vocal performance in what feels like yet another BENT KNEE-styled song. It's amazing ! I just wish I could get past my constant tendency to compare-- as well as my aversion to imitation (even when it's done this well!). (9.5/10)

7. "Honey" (5:49) A foundation of a techno-pop synth sequence! Despite the striking similarities between Johanne Margrethe's voice and that of Bent Knee's Courtney Swain, there is a certain breathy quality/ability that Johanne has that distinguishes herself from Courtney: something approaching Fiona Apple, Sade, or Eryka Badu while really being more akin to one of iNFiNiEN's Chrissie Loftus's abilities--or Marit Elisabeth Svendsbøe. Another song that could very well have come off of a Bent Knee or iNFiNiEN album despite its more pop-oriented FUNIN-like qualities--especially in that ramped up final minute. In any regard, this is a great vocal performance. (9/10)

8. "Across the Ocean" (4:43) Knut singing over some music that is quite reminiscent of the music of countrymates STILLEHAVET (as well as Stillehavet's previous form, FUNIN). I love these songwriters' abilities to creatively arrange their music into interesting, originally-nuanced forms. (9.25/10)

9. "She Goes" (4:16) BENT KNEE meets iNFiNiEN. Who wins? MEER! Taking the best of both! (9/10)

10. "Where Do We Go from Here" (4:53) Knut's far-forward breathy vocal sounds a bit like British phenom SAMPHA. Electrified and reverbed jazz guitar playing plaintively is Knut's only support for the first two minutes of this--kind of a reminder of old LANDBERK stuff. (8.875/10)

11. "Lay It Down" (6:44) great power opening settles back to solo piano chords supporting Johanne Margrethe's sultry power vocal! Man! There are so few who can sing like this! Johanne has the talent and ability to channel the same kind of force and energy as COURTNEY SWAIN: emotion-conveying torch singing with effortless transitions into power belting! Great lyrics here, as well. Though once again the song feels familiar--and the sound a bit compressed at the upper end--this song simply must be rated up for Johanne's vocal. (9/10)

Total Time 54:39

Despite Knut's wonderful singing, compositions and arrangements, I tuned into this in high hopes of hearing more of Johanne Margrethe's amazing voice--hoping for even more of her mesmerizing voice (as well as more creative and adventurous explorations of her instrument) than I heard on their excellent debut album from 2016. Unfortunately, I feel that her time up front here is actually less than the previous album--definitely less than 50%--or perhaps its more of my disappointment in her more "in the box" performances. Again, I mean no disrespect to Knut--his vocals have actually improved quite a bit--but when you have one of those rare, "generational" talents like Kate Bush, Elizabeth Fraser, Paula Cole, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Meg Baird, Elisabeth Pawelke, Chrissie Loftus, and Courtney Swain, as I believe MEER does in Johanne Margrethe Kippersund Nesdal, you want to hear more of her. From another perspective, I must say that the compositions on this album feel slightly less intricate, less-lovingly constructed and rendered: as if the symphonic approach often used on their debut album has been abandonned for the sake of more pop-oriented power-with-a-punch approaches to delivering their music. For me, this is a step downwards and, thus, a disappointment. Though the album continues to grow on me with repeated plays, I can't help but feel as if this album is a little less exciting, less original, more controlled, "produced," and processed. A sophomore slump or simply the case of a continuing evolution of the creative preferences of a maturing band? I'm not sure. I guess it will take a third album to find out. Here's one listener/consumer who awaits with great excitement for that possibility. I still think this is one of the best bands on the planet.

A-/4.5 stars; a minor masterpiece of leading-edge progressive rock music--despite its familiar/imitative sound and feel. There is so much to love and praise here but there is still so much untapped potential! This could be the best band on the planet--but they have to continue to figure out who they are and who they want to be!

Latest members reviews

4 stars Meer is an 8 member music collective from Norway, originally formed in 2008, that bill themselves as an 'Alternative pop orchestra', combining orchestral pop, classical, and progressive rock. This is their second album, following their self-titled debut album in 2016. Lead by the vocals of siblings ... (read more)

Report this review (#2984029) | Posted by BBKron | Friday, January 19, 2024 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Over the last two decades, Scandinavia has become one of the most prolific producers of prog in the world. Big-name acts (by prog standards) like Wobbler, Opeth, and Beardfish have made huge waves in the scene. Meer, a Norwegian octet, continues in this trend, blending complex compositions and arran ... (read more)

Report this review (#2904335) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Monday, April 3, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Meer is a group created in 2008 now composed of eight musicians: two voices, a violin, a viola, a piano, a guitar, a bass and a drums. This is their 3rd album which gives in orchestral pop, chamber music, progressive rock. Polyphonic voices, choirs, sublime string chords, alternative dream prog, ... (read more)

Report this review (#2739966) | Posted by alainPP | Friday, April 29, 2022 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The second half of December is that time of the year when I start compiling my list of top 30 albums released in the year just about to pass by, and I inevitably look back to stuff that was released in the previous months that I might have missed. This year the honor of being my most glaring omissio ... (read more)

Report this review (#2653627) | Posted by lukretio | Sunday, December 19, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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