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PIXIE NINJA

Eclectic Prog • Norway


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Pixie Ninja biography
Formed early 2015 in Rognan, Norway, Pixie Ninja is the brainchild of Jostein Haugen and Marius Leirånes. The duo played together since 2008, but began working on material for Pixie Ninja in earnest in 2015. They were joined by Änglagård, Necromonkey and White Willow alum Mattias Olsson on drums and the production side of things. Olsson had most recently worked with label mates Weserbergland. The band rounds out its lineup with keyboardist Johan Hals Jørgensen.



Pixie Ninja released their first album, Ultrasound in 2017. They have a sound that has its foundation in psych/spacerock with post-rock hues. They stray frequently from the baseline sound into Berlin School electronics and Mellotron heavy symphonics. The album also features journeyman flutist Ketil Vestrum Einarsen, known best in Prog circles for his work with Jaga Jazzist and White Willow.

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PIXIE NINJA discography


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PIXIE NINJA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.98 | 13 ratings
Ultrasound
2017
3.76 | 19 ratings
Colours Out of Space
2020

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PIXIE NINJA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Colours Out of Space by PIXIE NINJA album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.76 | 19 ratings

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Colours Out of Space
Pixie Ninja Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Emerging from the icy fjords of Norway's northern regions, the interesting prog act PIXIE NINJA came into existence int he year 2015 courtesy of the combo interests of Jostein Haugen (guitar, bass, keyboards) and Marius Leirånes (guitar, bass, keyboards) who fancied classic progressive rock sounds fortified with the perfection of modern day production laced with progressive electronic experimentation. The duo together with the help of several other musicians released its debut "Ultrasound" in 2017 and while not exactly conquering the world by pulling a Wobbler certainly has attracted a stealthy cult of followers of which yours truly has been a part of.

While prog and experimental bands come and go these days it's never certain if any given act will followup an album or simply find band member incapabilities too great to carry on. Well lo and behold three years later in 2020, PIXIE NINJA returns with its stealth sophomore release COLOURS OF SPACE which finds three original members: Haugen, Leirånes and Mattias Olsson (drums, mellotron) back in the NINJA's seat along with newbie Fredrik Klingwall joining in on grand piano, mellotron and keyboards. Gone is flautist Keith Einarsen leaving the core of the band a mere quartet but in his stead is a variety of guests to add the sounds of extra vocals, a cello, a French horn and extra guitars and organs.

While dark prog sounds stem from myriad sources, it seems that the themes of H.P. Lovecraft have catapulted him into some kind of patron saint status as one of instrumental prog's chief influences for creepy brooding sounds that tackle the bridge-building synthesis of the prog sounds of yore along with modern experimental touches. In the running time of just over 38 minutes, COLOURS OF SPACE casts the Lovecraftian spell through five instrumental tracks that are perfect extensions of the stylistic approach heard on "Ultra Sound" only teased out in more of a post-rock procession with more emphasis on the electronic aspects. While the "Red" era King Crimson guitar chugs still fit in at select moments, while "Ultrasound" was a more of an Earth-bound concoction, this second coming simulates the coldness and alien nature of outer space.

PIXIE NINJA employs the bounty of vintage instrumentation with tasty sounds of the Orchestron, maestrovox, fender rhodes and mellotrons making contact with the most sophisticated modernity in the form of contemporary synthesizers and production techniques. The overall effect is a timeless one as neither does the music emulate the past, nor does it exactly find refuge in the present thus making PIXIE NINJA's instrumental heft exist in its own little vacuum of reality. Unlike the debut there are vocals on this one however they are wordless and used as an extension of sonic pastiches to provide counterpoints to the already rich and diverse soundscapes at hand. Generally speaking the album kicks of with the title track that provides a motif of swirling electronica poised in post-rock procession which makes you wonder if the NINJA has left the rock aspects behind but by the time you reach the fourth track "Hutchinson Cipher" it's apparent that the rock bombast of "Ultrasound" has not been jettisoned but rather conserved.

While comparisons can be made between bands of the classic years of prog and the present, i find it difficult to compare PIXIE NINJA to any other bands contemporary or retro. Sure there are the classic KC moments, golden year symphonic touches as well as the post-rock comparisons but really this Norwegian band has comfortable found a niche all its own and although not exactly comparable reminds me most of the soundtrack creepiness of 70s Goblin. Think of a modern take on "Suspira" with different instrumentation and a completely different approach and that's the closest comparison i can muster up. For my own personal tastes i think i prefer the debut to COLOURS OF SPACE but this second offering has a more diverse roster of mood setting motifs and a more colorful palette of sonic exploration. This is without a doubt an excellent slice of the visionary possibilities of classic vs contemporary prog and one of my favorite releases of 2020 so far.

 Ultrasound by PIXIE NINJA album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.98 | 13 ratings

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Ultrasound
Pixie Ninja Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Needless to say but the Scandinavian countries have had more than their fair share of totally creative and out-of-the-box approaches in the music scene over the past few decades conjuring everything up from creatively bizarre progressive rock to the most extreme forms of metal and all of this despite their population of human specimens being quite small in comparison to the rest of the planet. Norway in particular has seen some extraordinarily brilliant musical acts emerging with their latest prog superstars Wobbler making its way into the classic prog lineup with their latest album "From Silence To Somewhere." Emerging the same year in the middle of 2017 also comes another Norwegian act called PIXIE NINJA. This isn't your ordinary sort of band that is starting from scratch but rather the collaborative efforts of many seasoned musicians getting together to unleash their full eclectic and creative potentials.

Jostein Haugen (guitar, bass, keyboards) from Rusty Crown

Marius Leirånes (guitar, bass, keyboards) also from Rusty Crown

Mattias Olsson (drums, mellotron) from AK-Momo, Akaba, Ãnglagard, Kaukasus, Molesome, Necromonkey, Two Times Trauma, Vly, Walrus, Weserbergland, White Willow

Ketil Vestrum Einarsen (flute) from Geir Lysne Listening Ensemble, Jaga Jazzist, Kaukasus, Weserbergland, White Willow, Wobbler, Motorpsycho)

Johan Hals Jørgensen (keyboards) is the only newbie in the mix with PIXIE NINJA serving as his debut into the eclectic world of progressive rock music.

ULTRASOUND is the debut album of PIXIE NINJA who hail from Rognan in the frozen north of Norway and this album is the result of founding members Jostein Haugen and Marius Leirånes' love of the various styles of progressive rock that have flourished since the classic era. Given the eclectic mix of bands these guys have played in, one would expect an equally eclectic delivery of styles and that's exactly what PIXIE NINJA deliver. And while over experienced musicians can often cancel each other out instead of bring out the best in each other, i am happy to report that it is the latter that shines. While this all instrumental album starts things off with the aptly titled "Auditory Hallucinations" that utilizes a progressive electronic style not too far removed from such German acts as Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze, things turn to the dark side as it becomes more spacey and detached before jumping into a wild upbeat electronic segment that cranks out its best IDM before morphing into an Aphex Twin type frazzle that brings out the rock guitar and propels it firmly into space rock territory.

"Elusive The Wind Vane" takes a new route with a jittery time signature rich guitar riff and jazzified drum rolls is nevertheless smoothed out by a sweet fluttering flute riff that slowly gains power into a caffeinated virtuosic frenzy. The rhythm plods along in 7/4 timing relentlessly in motorik hypnotic fashion as layers of keyboards add increasing layers of counterpoints while the groovy bass and rock guitar plod along. After a few changes in tempo and dynamics, the track lets loose at the end and gets soooooo wild. One of my favorites. "Une Promenade" takes a breather as a short piano piece. Nothing exciting here. "Polysomnographic" jumps back into the mind muck freakery with some sort of distant "conversation?" on the keys while a simple riff slowly builds. While the main riff stays slow, a separate one gets faster and faster until voila?. a space rock track is born with jazzy drumming and super spacey keyboards and what sounds like a singing theremin.

The longest track "Personal Improvement Cult" which slinks in over the eleven minute mark starts with some vibraphone sounding tinkles and an almost symphonic drone that find a bass taking baby steps to a much larger universe. As it progressively ramps up, a drumbeat joins in which takes the whole thing through several moods and movements that meander through the allotted timespan. The longest piece is also one of the coolest with its incessant attention to detail and a road map to the boonies of the sound spectrum where you can get lost for a while. The short title track finds a strangely psychedelic flute fluttering around a down-tuned guitar that quickly turns into a heavily synthesized rock track before fading out with some strange electronic sounds that bloop and bleep around like a malfunctioning robot on Tatooine which finds the album ending much as it began in full electronic form.

ULTRASOUND is the perfect example of a high quality and creative 21st century progressive rock experience with well seasoned musicians taking a stab at an interesting slice of experimental approaches that are fundamentally rooted in the classic sounds of King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream and beyond. There is a lot more attention paid to the electronic aspects than the average rock band as the electronics seem to be the dominant focus with the heavier rock elements taking a backseat and only used for a more bombastic contrast, however when they let loose allowing the guitar, bass and drums to overpower the electronics, PIXIE NINJA sound most like the "Red" era of King Crimson. ULTRASOUND is an excellently performed and exquisitely produced album that allows every tiny sonic tidbit to shine and not to mention that the arrangements are friggin' perfect. While not quite a masterpiece of the ages due to some apparent filler segments, the overall run of this album is quite satisfying. A modern day favorite and i eagerly await more exciting musical constructs from the great PIXIE NINJA! Also one of my favorite album covers of the year!

 Ultrasound by PIXIE NINJA album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.98 | 13 ratings

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Ultrasound
Pixie Ninja Eclectic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Norwegian band PIXIE NINJA is the creation of Jostein Haugen and Marius Leiraanes, musicians that have worked together in various bands going back to 2008. The work on the Pixie Ninja project started in 2015, and in 2017 their debut album "Ultrasound" was released through Norwegian label Apollon Records.

Pixie Ninja is one of those bands whose assembled creative forces transports them into landscapes and realms not all that often explored by others. The material is instrumental, and features a liberal amount of electronic and conventional electric instruments, drawing in impulses from multiple parts of the progressive rock spectrum into a cohesive and rather adventurous whole. A band to seek out for those who tend to enjoy captivating, adventurous progressive rock of the kind that exists outside of the proverbial box.

Thanks to tapfret for the artist addition.

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