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Caligonaut Magnified as Giants album cover
4.20 | 119 ratings | 8 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2021

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Emperor (14:35)
2. Hushed (10:43)
3. Magnified as Giants (5:46)
4. Lighter Than Air (19:34)

Total Time 50:38

Line-up / Musicians

- Ole Michael Bjørndal / guitars, vocals
- Kristian Karl Hultgren / bass
- Lars Fredrik Frøislie / keyboards, Mellotron, synthesizers
- Andreas W. S. Prestmo / backing vocals
- Henrik Fossum / drums (1)
- Arild Brøter / drums (2,4)
- Iver Kleive / church organ (2)
- Åsa Ree / violin, backing vocals (1,2)
- Stephan Hvinden / rhythm guitar (2)

Releases information

CD / LP Apollon Records ARP046 (2021)

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CALIGONAUT Magnified as Giants ratings distribution

(119 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

CALIGONAUT Magnified as Giants reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars With bands like Wobbler and All Traps On Earth generating a revived surge in quality retro prog that carries on the traditions of the more melodic side of progressive rock from the 1970s heyday, many new artists are jumping on the bandwagon and crafting their own 21st century interpretations of the stylistic majesty of the past and giving it all a welcome modernization upgrade for modern prog appetites. The Norwegian CALIGONAUT is the alter ego of Ole Michael Bjørndal who has become a seasoned prog veteran with bands such as Oak, Airbag and the Bjørn Riis Band.

Regarding the moniker, the word "caligo" in English refers to a speck on the cornea causing poor vision and the "naut" suffix refers to refers to navigation so all i can think about is how one would navigate on a cornea like a speck of dust! LOL but i digress. Back to our regularly scheduled review, hehe. MAGNIFIED AS GIANTS is the first release by CALIGONAUT and although this is technically a solo project, it is performed in a band format with Bjørndal on guitar and vocals and eight guest musicians adding the bass, drums, more guitars and the plethora of keyboards, mellotron, synthesizers and church organs.

This is a highly melodic slice of progressive rock that deploys aspects of symphonic prog, neo-prog and Pink Floydian space rock which tease out simple melodic constructs into sprawling progressive compositions. References to early Genesis, King Crimson and even Led Zeppelin have been cited but perhaps the most striking similarity is with fellow Norwegians Wobbler made all the more tangible with contributions by Wobbler members Andreas W. S. Prestmo and Lars Fredrik Frøislie who perform mellotron, moog and also offer backing vocals. In addition, the album features contributions from members of Meer, Airbag, Oak and Pylmico.

MAGNIFIED AS GIANTS clocks in at nearly 51 minutes but features only four tracks, three of which exceed the ten minute mark with the highlight coming in the form of the closing 19 1/2 behemoth "Lighter Than Air." While the Wobbler comparisons are warranted to some degree, CALIGONAUT is a much mellower beast with slow sombre tones and timbres that rarely burst out into more uptempo rock heft. In fact with Bjørndal's mopey vocal style, the album is quite melancholy with themes right out of the Steven Wilson playbook about the nebulous nature of transcending painful memories regarding relationships that just didn't quite work out. Also from the Wilson arena is the stellar production that nurtures every tone and timbre and milks it for its full effect without interference from forced or trivial elements.

The title track is perhaps the most touching with a strong melody that pierces the soul with its status as shortest track of the album a mere near six minute run. The grande finale, the near 20 minute magnum opus "Lighter Than Air" is indeed a chilled out procession of space rock with a fully functional symphonic backdrop. Nice chord changes and pleasant transitions in stylistic development makes this my top pick of a consistently enchanting album. This is the track that also features some of the most energetic rock outbursts of the entire album as well however for the most part this light and fluffy affair provides a cascade of crafty cadences augmented with subtle textures and sensual pastural placidity.

While not quite up to the standards of Wobbler's latest classics, CALIGONAUT does indeed score points for conjuring up a beautifully delicate array of four stellar prog tracks that capture the essence of symphonic prog hybridized with the softer dynamics of psychedelic space rock. I do wish there were more energetic episodes of faster tempos and guitar driven rock heft, however as it stands there is not a bad minute of listening time on this one despite the overall package not quite reaching the lofty heights of what others have done before. In short, CALIGONAUT may not have launched its magnum opus onto the world quite yet, but it's evident that such a masterwork is latent and itching to come. A true act to keep your eyes gazed upon.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Breathing new life into old time-honored sounds and styles.

Symphonic ProgWho are these guys? What is their pedigree--how did they get here? Instead of questions like these I feel as if I should be lavishing thank yous and kudos on these inspired musicians. I LOVE YOUR NEW ALBUM!

1. "Emperor" (14:35) opens with piano sprinkling notes over the keyboard like John Coltraine's Love Supreme before going prog metal on us. I call it brilliant! Refreshing! At the 2:15 mark the music settles into a kind of folk rock format as lead vocalist begins singing in a mellifluous voice that most reminds me WOBBLER's Andreas Prestmo, Magic Bus' Paul Evans, or even Hatfield's Richard Sinclair. The Wobbler similarities remain until the middle instrumental section which sound more like Red-era King Crimson--a trend that continues into a more stark, spacious section at 7:50 in which violin and multi-voiced harmonized vocals join in. At the 9:00 mark the drums go a little wonky, then there is an odd, out-of-place piano-accompanied vocal section. Fortunately, this is short-lived, as we fall back into the KC-supported motif from the ninth minute for the eleventh minute. At 11:25, then, there is a display of heavy -like over which some truly inspired emotional Frippery burns and wails. At 13:50, nylon-stringed acoustic guitar takes over as the primary accompaniment as female background vocalists lay a nest of folk harmonies over which Ole Michael finishes the song in a kind of MICE ON STILTS way. Wow. That was a ride--and quite fresh and different. I loved the dynamic diversity. Except for that odd piano motif in the tenth minute, they made it work amazingly well! The best prog epic I've heard of the year! (28/30)

2. "Hushed" (10:43) fast arpeggiated Flim and the BB's-like guitar opens this song before Ole Michael enters. The sound is very much like The Decemberists--both musically and in the vocal tones and stylings of Ole Michale Bjørndal. Thick vibrating electric bass takes over before drums and other folk instruments join in for the second verse. This is great. Now church organ adds its oddly timed arpeggi before a break allows violin to solo. The next section notes Ole Michael's vocal to sound much more fragile in a higher octave--like a young Neil Young. Electric guitar solos as church organ and rock rhythm section play below. This is so good! A bit of an Anekdoten feel here--though it turns more Mike Oldfield/early Genesis in the seventh minute before a long semi-empty break makes room for the three minute finale of fine YES-like symphonic prog jamming. I love the brave and prominent use of church organ and the old unfiltered sound of the drums and front-and-center Rickenbacher-like bass. (19/20)

3. "Magnified as Giants" (5:46) an excellent acoustic guitar-dominated throwback to THE MOODY BLUES and the folkier side of early GENESIS and early GENTLE GIANT. My favorite song on the album. (9.5/10)

4. "Lighter Than Air" (19:34) Here Ole & Co. are treading lightly into Van Der Graaf Generator territory. Ole Michael's pitchy vocal performance in the first three minutes makes one appreciate just how talented Peter Hammill was. Nice blues-jazzy guitar solo in the fourth minute followed by some nice RICHARD WRIGHT-like synth work in this now-very PINK FLOYD-sounding section. At 4:50 there is a bridge into a shift into more WOBBLER-like territory. Again, Ole Michael's vocal attempt makes it apparent that he's stretching himself a bit beyond his skill level. A couple of RUSH-like chorus and its codas and bridges helps to remove the Hammill standards away while we soon slide into a very steady classic rock motif in which the electric guitar can show off his Joe Satriani and Ted Nugent practice moves. Synth gets a turn in the eleventh minute before yielding again to the lead guitar. The bottom empties out in the twelfth minute, opening up for an eerie space-psych passage over which Ole again tries his hand at P. Hammill imitation. It's a cool section--very NEKTAR- or, perhaps, Hawkwind-like. It builds and hypnotizes until the 15:00 mark when it erupts into a more early PINK FLOYD-like mini-crescendo before settling down into more space-blues guitar over which the Hammill performance continues. I have to admit: the guitar soloing has feeling--even a little of PAUL BUCHANAN's magical touch and emotion. Though the vocal performance falls a little short of the standards set by Mr. Hammill, it's not by much. And the musical themes and references are quite well spliced, but it is the guitar work--especially the final quarter of the song, that shine high and bright. (37/40)

Total Time 50:38

A/five stars; My favorite album of 2021, so far, and one of the ten best.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Caligonaut is a relatively new name to the prog scene, albeit with the backing of some of the best bands from the norwegian scene. Prog nerds such as myself will notice the unmistakable voice of Andreas W. S. Prestmo. However, the full roster reveals that this is essentially a Wobbler/Airbag col ... (read more)

Report this review (#2576956) | Posted by mental_hygiene | Tuesday, July 6, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Magnified as Giants is, so far, the best thing to come from the world of prog in 2021 (IMO). It is debut album by the new Norwegian artist Caligonaut, which is simultaneously a solo project and a supergroup. Creatively, the composition and song-writing for the record is done entirely by guitarist Ol ... (read more)

Report this review (#2548468) | Posted by tempest_77 | Friday, June 4, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Best album I've heard since the world changed! "Caligonaut"- portmanteau of Latin words: "caligo" for mist, and "naut" for traveller/navigator. Known for guitar work with Oak, Airbag, and Gentle Knife, "Ole Michael Bjorndal" composed, plays guitar, and sings lead on Magnified as Giants. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2535644) | Posted by omphaloskepsis | Thursday, April 15, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The good reception that some bands have had that try to pick up the legacy of the classic prog, shows us that it does not matter to do more of the same, as long as it is done with sense and quality. Caligonaut, like Wobbler, Logos, Jordsjø among others, present us with a program with elements th ... (read more)

Report this review (#2524546) | Posted by JohnProg | Saturday, March 13, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If you were amazed by Wobbler' Dwelers of the Deep and you have been looking for something remotely similar to satisfy your apetite, then Magnified as giants is going to be your unexpected gift of the year. At least for me, it has really been a surprise, and a great one! Caligonaut is the proj ... (read more)

Report this review (#2522114) | Posted by Soul2Create | Monday, March 8, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is like a gateway to mysterious lands of music, leading you to the world of magic and fantasy, not yust by music but with brilliant lyrics. Bombastic progressive rock accompany the lyrics that you can hear came from the mind of a genius. Ole Michael Bjørndal, a Norwegian known for milita ... (read more)

Report this review (#2522111) | Posted by prog_traveller!! | Monday, March 8, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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