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A Norwegian combo MEER have started their activity firstly as a duo (Johanne Margrethe and Knut) under the moniker of TED GLEN EXTENDED back in 2008. After releasing their ep in 2012, they have expanded the lineup to eight members, who have developed their musical style and changed their project name into MEER. For their intention to launch a mixture of orchestral pop, classical music and progressive rock, they released their debut eponymous album in 2016 via a Norwegian label Strømstans. Upon their second album entitled "Playing House" out in 2021 via a Bergen-based label Karisma Records, MEER's lineup is: Johanne Margrethe Kippersund NESDAL (vocals), Knut Kippersund NESDAL (vocals), Eivind STRØMSTAD (guitar), Åsa REE (violin), Ingvild Nordstoga EIDE (viola), Ole GJØSTØL (keyboards), Morten STRYPET (bass), and Mats LILLEHAUG (drums).

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

3.75 | 8 ratings
3.77 | 54 ratings
Playing House

MEER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

MEER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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MEER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Ted Glen Extended EP

MEER Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Playing House by MEER album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.77 | 54 ratings

Playing House
Meer Crossover Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

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 arrangements with accessible, catchy pop tendencies (another Scandinavian tradition, which I'm considerably less fond of).

The eleven songs on Meer's sophomore album, Playing House, show intense structural ambition. The music is densely layered, and the band utilizes dynamics to great effect.

The album opens with "Picking Up the Pieces". It begins unassumingly enough, with piano acting as the lead, until guitar and strings burst forth. The drama is balanced with more delicate passages led by pizzicato strings and gentle vocals. This piece often begins to feel hopeful as the music swells, only to have it undercut by an unexpected chord change. The closing instrumental barrage is a fantastic ending; this track sets the tone for the rest of Playing House.

"Beehive" immediately brings strings to the forefront. Groaning cellos provide an anxious backdrop to the verses. Swelling synths in the pre-chorus and an infectious melody make this a standout track. The tension between restraint and bombast is utilized wonderfully.

"All At Sea" dials down the intensity, leaning into the band's chamber music and classical influences. Chamber music isn't really my thing, but if you're a fan of Russian duo iamthemorning, you'll probably like this. This track verges on skippable, but it closes strong. "Song Of Us" is more rock-oriented, but it's another cut I'm less than wild about. It borders on feeling churchy.

The plucking strings which open "Child" have a fitting playfulness about them, and the folky vocal melody meshes quite well with them. This song has a very gradual build, but it doesn't feel drawn out. It's a slow ascent which feels earned and rewarding.

Empty space gets its turn as a musical tool in "You Were a Drum". Vocals are contrasted against minimalistic instrumentation, giving the words room to breathe. The hurried delivery and skittering percussion offer a sense of anxiousness which contrasts against the flowing string lines.

Sequenced synths give "Honey" a striking opening. Though promising, it takes a little too long to get going. The piano, guitar, and drums should have been brought in about 30 seconds earlier. The synthwave touches on this track are a welcome surprise amid Meer's usual pop, rock, and chamber backbone, but the second half drags on a bit longer than it needs to. This is followed by what is likely my least favorite track on the album. I can't put my finger on it, but there's just something about "Across the Ocean" which doesn't quite click with me. There's nothing egregious about it, but it just doesn't quite land.

Playing House has a strong closing stretch, though. "She Goes" is a bombastic, huge-sounding piece that features the band's best use of dynamic contrast. The quiet, subdued verses explode into piano-led glory during the chorus. In contrast, "Where Do We Go From Here" is a quiet, contemplative piece which acts as a nice counterbalance.

The album ends on its longest song, "Lay It Down". The piano-led verses swell dramatically toward the chorus, buoyed by ascendant synthesizers and strings. The chorus soars triumphantly, and it's one of the strongest moments on all of Playing House.

Overall, Playing House is a strong, varied record of highly-accessible prog-pop-rock. The band utilizes its eight-person membership well; it takes a lot of effort to sound as big as Meer do. Though the record does sag a bit in the middle, the stronger moments more than make up for it.

Review originally posted here:

 Playing House by MEER album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.77 | 54 ratings

Playing House
Meer Crossover Prog

Review by alainPP

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, as I have read, which risks flooding you with its sidereal beauty. I am thinking in bulk of Frequency Drift, The Dear Hunter, Keane, Leprous, Muse and The Beatles, musical melting pot or musical bomb? "Picking Up the Pieces" for inventive and rhythmic pop, musical and alternative progression, solo and choral voices. "Beehive" intro à la Joe Jackson, Bjork in musical background for the voice and the inventiveness, musical beauty with an introspective Wilsonian drawer, a little Kayak too; what makes me wonder is where does this sound come from that reminds me of a synth, magic! "All at Sea" and "Songs of Us" linked together, for unstoppable melodies, acoustic guitar, violin, the Beatles bouquet in the background. "Child" and a musical-verbal phrasing à la XTC, an inventive delight; "You were a Drum" with a violin à la Ponty, female voice in jerks then in crescendo, immense jewel, innovation at its height. For the moment, it is the record of the year due to its musical openness and the variety of very elaborate and unique compositions. "Honey" for a synth... an 80's bass like OMD with a feminine Leprous voice, redundant sound and echo, choirs, the enchantment continues on a latency on the piano and "synth". "Across the Ocean" for the suite in declension with male voice and this magical violin, catchy tune in mind. "She Goes" or the reincarnation of Leprous in symphonic, more pop, overwhelming by the association of voices with classical instruments at the limit of metal. "Where do We Go from Here" and this introspective spleen, reverberation of the guitar, softness of the intimate voice. "Lay it Down" piano, polyphonic voices, violins, Genesis passing by, Oldfield, viola for a caviar finale and sound beyond prog. "Here I Go Again" (Whitesnake cover) on the vinyl as a bonus track for the less successful title, trying to seduce us with a cover of a large dino but not needing it, note the association violin and Johanne's precise voice. Meer does the grand in pop, orchestral, classical, alternative and progressive. The mutation is underway between catchy melodies and sublime harmonies; Meer created a unique sound that will be remembered; a UFO from the beginning of the year.
 Playing House by MEER album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.77 | 54 ratings

Playing House
Meer Crossover Prog

Review by lukretio

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 omission of 2021 goes to Norwegian progsters Meer, a young eight-piece band that have released their second LP Playing House in January, 2021. The band describe themselves as "alternative pop orchestra", playing a mix of orchestral pop, classical music, and progressive rock. It's a fitting description that however does not fully capture the eclectic spectrum of influences that are weaved into the band's music, which is moody, lush and melancholic, yet bizarrely uplifting and empowering, drawing comparisons with bands like Oak, Gazpacho, Big Big Train, Bent Knee and, closer to metal enclaves, Anathema.

Being a collective with eight players, Meer's sound can get busy. The standard rock ensemble of guitar (Eivind Strømstad), bass (Morten Strypet), and drums (Mats Lillehaug) is complemented by two string players (Åsa Ree on violin and Ingvild Nordstoga Eide on viola), a classically trained pianist (Ole Gjøstøl), and two singers (siblings Johanne Margrethe and Knut Kippersund Nesdal). Meer do a great job at tastefully dosing the various components of their sound, with songs that are carefully balanced between starkly arranged sections with only piano, strings, acoustic guitars, delicate percussions and subtle electronic programming, and edgier, more rock-oriented parts where the full band joins in. Inevitably, Playing House is an album of great dynamics ? a rollercoaster of emotions that range from bucolic serenity to engrossing exhilaration. There are several references to the sea on the album, and the ocean is indeed a fitting metaphor to describe the nearly 55 minutes of this record: the music ebbs and flows like a tide, sometimes draining away to peaceful silence interrupted only by plucked strings and piano flourishes, only to rise again spectacularly, reaching new heights of emotional intensity.

Playing House works great both at an instinctual, epidermal level, as well as for more cerebral and repeated deep-listening. I am always in awe of productions that manage to achieve this elusive balance between accessibility and sonic depth. Writing easy-listening tunes that keep their grip on the listener even after repeated listens is a sign of strong compositional and arrangement skills, which Meer clearly possess in abundance. The winning formula in this case lies in the combination of gorgeous vocal melodies and complex, layered instrumental arrangements ? where each instrument takes a life of its own, while always respecting the balance of the song.

The fantastic vocal performances of Johanne Margrethe and Knut Kippersund Nesdal are pivotal for the success of the album. Their voices perfectly complement one another, with Knut's lush low register providing an ideal counterpoint for Johanne Margrethe's theatrical, Kate Bush-esque singing (Courtney Swain of Bent Knee is another reference here). The songs where the two siblings perform together ("Picking up the Pieces", "Beehive", "Honey", "Lay It Down") are the most inspired moments of the record. I am less taken by the pieces sung entirely by Knut: while his voice is very pleasant and he can provide excellent backing vocals, his singing is just a tad too plain and uniform, while his sister is a powerhouse capable of modulating her vocal timbre and using a wide range of tones with different volumes and phrasings.

This imbalance spoils a little the pacing of the album, which sags a bit in the lengthy middle part where the songs are penned to suit Knut's more sedated vocal approach ("Songs of Us", "Child"). I am also not too fond of "You Were a Drum", a song that harks back at the band's early jazz-influenced days, but is somewhat out of place on this record. Fortunately, the record closes strongly, with fantastic tunes such as "Honey", the theatrical "She Goes" and the explosive finale "Lay It Down".

Despite this slight unevenness in the song material, Playing House is a very accomplished record, tiptoeing with class the line between sophisticated pop and progressive rock, not unlike Leprous have done in their most recent two albums (especially Aphelion). Sonically, there's no metal in sight here, so purists may want to give this LP a pass. However, the melancholic moods and absorbing atmosphere of this record will speak to fans of dark atmospheric bands such as Anathema, Katatonia and the most recent incarnation of Leprous.

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

 Playing House by MEER album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.77 | 54 ratings

Playing House
Meer Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

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.

Thanks to dAmOxT7942 for the artist addition.

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