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AIRBAG

Neo-Prog • Norway


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Airbag biography
Norwegian outfit AIRBAG refer to 2005 as being their formative year. These high school friends have been playing together under this moniker before that as well - they were actually formed in 1994, and the current line-up has ben in place since 1999 - but for the band 2005 heralds the start, or perhaps fresh start, as a band.

They released their first EP the same year, Sounds That I Hear. Blending influences from acts such as a-ha, Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd, they managed to create a sonic expression defying normal genre convencions - and allowing the release to be freely downloadable from their website was a smart move: In the first few months more than 10.000 people got the EP, and Airbag established a good-sized, international fanbase.

In 2007 a second EP was issued, Safetree. Like the previous production this one too was freely downloadable, and further extended their popularity among a internet-savvy fanbase. 2007 also saw Airbag's debut as a live outfit, opening for acts like Pineapple Thief, Gazpacho and Riverside.

In 2009 they were signed by Karisma Records, and their debut album Identity was issued. This time as a regular commercial production. The release of their debut effort saw the band withdraw their previous EPs, as many of the tracks on those efforts found their way onto their first full length venture - albeit in more or less refined versions.

The current line-up is Asle Tostrup (vocals) Bjørn Riis (guitars, vocals), Jørgen Hagen (keyboards), Anders Hovdan (bass) and Joachim Slikker (drums).

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Greatest Show on EarthGreatest Show on Earth
Import
Karisma Records 2013
Audio CD$11.28
$11.27 (used)
All Rights RemovedAll Rights Removed
Import
Karisma Records 2011
Audio CD$10.71
$13.79 (used)
IdentityIdentity
Import
Karisma Records 2009
Audio CD$9.63
$13.74 (used)
VoragineVoragine
Import
Sony 2011
Audio CD$14.49
$8.99 (used)
Samsara VivoSamsara Vivo
Import
Sony Import 2012
Audio CD$15.61
$298.94 (used)
LibertadLibertad
Import
Imports 2013
Audio CD$39.73
$140.01 (used)
AirbagAirbag
Import
Wea UK Generic 2004
Audio CD$6.98
$6.32 (used)
99 Luftballons [1299 Luftballons [12" Maxi]
Maddog
Vinyl$5.00 (used)
Airbag / 99 LuftballonsAirbag / 99 Luftballons
Maddog
Vinyl$7.26 (used)
airbag : alto discoairbag : alto disco
Audio CD$35.99 (used)
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AIRBAG shows & tickets


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AIRBAG discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.76 | 174 ratings
Identity
2009
4.02 | 377 ratings
All Rights Removed
2011
3.90 | 311 ratings
The Greatest Show on Earth
2013

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

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

AIRBAG Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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

3.16 | 17 ratings
Come On In
2004
4.75 | 12 ratings
Sounds That I Hear
2005
4.26 | 19 ratings
Safetree
2007

AIRBAG Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 All Rights Removed by AIRBAG album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.02 | 377 ratings

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All Rights Removed
Airbag Neo-Prog

Review by Quinino

5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #10

I really love the music, what can I add? It's as simple as that, and this plainness applies just the same to the manner this band does its trade: uncomplicated, straightforward, melodic rock. Ah, yes, rock full of guitar riffs, remember? What a pleasant surprise in this day and age!

Global Appraisal

Sure, there is plenty of keys and programming going around, but the way the guitars take the center stage delivers for once a refreshing and stimulating breeze to a genre that sometimes stales in a suffocating profusion of electronics and effects.

No filler, all 6 tracks at the same superior level, ending with an epic in 3 movements that leaves you full but inevitably sends you back again to the beginning in search for more.

Goodies

The mentioned guitars rhythm and lead, mainly by Bjorn, also with arranger and lyricist duties. The voice, great voice, of this fellow Asle. Discreet and tender yet so warm and up close.

The way the musical themes evolve and unwind beginning with presentation, developing to climax with solo and ending with final pacification give them, even the shorter ones, a cinematic dimension of fruitful effect, even more accentuated by the clever odd use of spoken voice and taped sounds.

The violin solo on "Light them all up" albeit short is unforgettable.

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 Identity by AIRBAG album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.76 | 174 ratings

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Identity
Airbag Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Airbag's 2009 debut came to my attention only once I properly enjoyed their second and third offerings, namely the rather brilliant 'All Rights Removed' (2011) and the more recent 'The Greatest Show on Earth' and both getting high marks in my critical reviews. Guitarist Bjorn Riis also has a solo album, 2014's 'Lullaby in a Car Crash' which provided another more 'floating' chapter to their cause and certified this Norwegian outfit with a determined and flourishing output of quality material. Yes, they are clearly inspired by Pink Floyd, as many prog bands are and have been, just like the zillions of pop bands that have a Beatles influence, proving once again that the Floyd did have a colossal impact on contemporary music, whether one likes it or not! So it really is quite indicative of their artistic intelligence to name their first effort 'Identity', both highlighting the 'meddling' inspiration as well as the slight differences, the most obvious being lead vocalist Asle Torstrup's aching voice which is closer to The Cure's Robert Smith than Roger Waters. Also, their material , while there are occasional drifting episodes that highlight the dense melancholia, the sounds are quite upbeat and aggressive, especially with Riis' ability to blend the classic Gilmourian influences with some harsher rhythm guitar work that is quite prevalent.

'Prelude' is the obligatory and atmospheric primer, a sweeping instrumental that sets the tone from the opening bar, as a clock ticks gently in the background. All the players are introduced so as to blend into a gentle anesthetic, ready to dim the lights, flickering candles and fine Pinot Noir in hand, sit back and relax. 'No Escape' is a tad too commercial to be flaunted about so early on but that is just my take. The following tracks are pure bliss.

On a piece like 'Safe Like You', a sense of comfort takes over immediately, the only surprise is the lingering thought that this is what the Floyd should/could have been doing during their long hiatus, with a bolder singer among the classic sounds and sweeping melodies. Tick-tock drum intro, rolling organ swells, crooning sustain-laden guitar lines and swooning bass, does this sound familiar? Asle sings with clarity and 'pain inside my head and my stomach aches'' that can hint at Radiohead or even recent Anathema, full of agonizing sentiment. A Sleeping Beauty of progressive bliss, a gentle bluesy caress and dream cloud splendor.

The highlight track remains the sublime 'Steal My Soul' which incorporates a gargantuan amount of skin-deep emotion, featuring a spectacular final guitar solo that will tetanize your speakers into abject respect. The minimalistic piano takes the initial lead here, amid a flurry of effects buried under Asle's soporific tone, ('I used to be the boy with the gun') and Bjorn lighting the wick on his sizzling guitar (a Manzanera influence indeed). The tune evolves into an audacious lilt, the vocals now closer to Gilmour and hence, very Floydian but really good Floyd! ('I am still the boy with the gun!'). An astonishing piece of music, period.

The excruciatingly attractive 'Feeling Less' is oddly reminiscent of Porcupine Tree's 'Even Less', as the plaintive vocals are quite close to Steven Wilson's especially if the brooding lyrics are taken to account, a litany of sad words, despondent howls, depressing convulsions and shattering conclusions. Bombastic and explosive, the numbing arrangement glows like a dying wildfire, orange embers and crackling snaps that disrupt the night air.

'Colours' is another ultimate cracker, the discouraging words sung are deeply wounding, his voice overwrought with passion, the lead electric guitar full of agony and sensitivity, a simply splendid jewel of melancholic genius. Lush symphonics kick in to add to the deepening emotion, a distressed organ enters the fray, liberating Riis to discharge another scintillating axe solo into the obscure by cloudy skies, exploding mightily like some fireworks display and all the colours of the universe having now a canvas to display their unique magnificence. Another stellar piece of music, period.

'How I Wanna Be' veers towards even more experimental zones, the mood even more atmospheric, painful and wretched in utter anguish, pretty much a continuing legacy of the previous pieces, definitely doom-laden and despondent. Clearly fans of Anathema will find their fix here. The keyboards are excellent here and throughout the entire album, Jorgen Hagen is a real master colorist that comes forward only if one listens intently.

This thrilling debut is put to rest with a lovely lullaby, Hagen putting his piano to calming sleep, encouraging Asle to 'give up'. 'The Sounds That I Hear' continues the plea to go on, as if acknowledging the past, the present and the future. Bjorn finally ends the torment with a tortured by optimistic solo. A truly interesting debut that begs for attention by fans of the bands mentioned throughout this review. If you pay attention to all the details this music has to offer, you will be rewarded in kind. The best is yet to come'..

4 Eye personalities

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 All Rights Removed by AIRBAG album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.02 | 377 ratings

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All Rights Removed
Airbag Neo-Prog

Review by Thai Divone

4 stars Airbag was a nice little discovery- a Norwegian band that plays an amazing style of Neo-Prog, something that combines The Cure, Anathema and the Pink Floyd. Since I've discovered this album, it has been spinning in my stereo and in my ears, and I can't say that I had enough of this album. It is just a magnificent one.

The title track opens almost like a Cure song, with some nice guitar riffs. 33 seconds in and the lyrics join in, Torstrup sounding almost like Robert Smith. The keyboards join in not much later, reminding me a bit of the Floyd. The rest of the band joins around 1:30, and a nice guitar solo ensues. The music is very atmospheric, very dark and gloomy, but with a slice of added optimism on top. The music is not complicated, but by flowing gently around the main riff it clears the stage for the emotions and for some beautiful guitar lines. Some Porcupine influences can be felt as well during those moments.

White Walls comes next, making me imagine a meeting between Anathema and the Floyd- midway between their styles. The bass lines in here are great, and the drumming is slow and almost basic but with an added spark of genius. A quiet passage begins at 2:50, with an added emphasis on the bass following not much later before the song goes boom, driving home all the emotional impact that it gathered in a great guitar solo that just pierces the sky in pain.

White Walls flows gently into The Bridge. In a very Floyd-ian way the tracks combine to create a long album- length suite. The Bridge adds a little bit of Radiohead into the mix, making the genre combination sound even more impressive yet not losing the emotional charm.

Never Coming Home begins with a soft, ethereal, almost church-y organ sound. 55 seconds in and the vocals enter, sounding even lonelier over the keyboards, before the guitar starts to join in, slowly but surely. The sounds are slow and their getting their time to reverb, to ring. The entire band joins not much later, with a nice Floyd-ian guitar riff. The guitar solo at 2:49 is short but I can't give it enough compliments. The emotional punch of Torstrup's singing is the only thing that can answer it and do it justice. 4:24 and the keyboards return to take the lead, with a very elegant synth solo, and then the band comes back to complement it. 5:20 and the guitar finally answers the synths, and each sound gets so much respect, and all one can do is listen, feel, and listen again this time with awe.

Light Them All Up follows, a short and instrumental l track, gloomy and so? when the just makes me cry again and again, with each new listen. Some SFX-es can be heard in the background but they don't detract from the violin, neither do they detract from the sounds that surround the violin.

And after that comes Homesick, an epic suite of 17 amazing minutes. Acoustic guitars and a soft voice take us first, until we switch trains at 1:20 and get to a more electrified sound with the entire band present. Layers are added, things are changing, and yet it feels so damn right, so true. It all flows gently. 2:57 and we get to a soft and almost silent passage, with the bass taking the lead. 3:40 and the guitars come back, and we're advancing again, getting to a simple but effective and evocative keyboards solo, later answered by a muted-guitar solo. 6 minutes and the keyboards guide us next, with some added effects from all around, but kept to a bare minimum. Everything is so right. 6:50 and it starts to remind a bit of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, but then a bass line enters and takes us to a new place, taking us to a new journey, all while still keeping close to the Shine On feel. So original yet so known. The drums join next, and one can almost imagine the members of the band returning from their coffee break, one after the other. The rhythm is a bit repetitive, but in a good way, mesmerizing and hypnotizing all those who listen. The guitar takes the lead at around the 9 minute mark, sounding a bit like Empty Spaces from the Wall, and the pace builds itself, going faster and faster, quicker and quicker. 10:50 and we're slowing again, coming back to the Shine On-y sound of earlier. A soft guitar solo can be heard at around the 12th minute mark, then we get all rock-y without losing the soft touch of only moments earlier, and we're back to the suspense building segments before starting something new. The piece starts to wrap itself, slowing more and more, clearing the stage for the soft, long, almost lonely keyboards of earlier times. And there's a nice guitar that accompanies it, fading out.

And the album ends with such magnificence. I think that by now I gave this album 20, maybe even 30 listens, and still I feel like I haven't finished with it, like it still has some secrets, or emotions, to pass to me. And although that it is not an essential album, and even though this is not an album that tries to say something new, it does achieve what it tries to achieve- making us feel. And that's an amazing thing to do, and an excellent addition to one's collection.

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 The Greatest Show on Earth by AIRBAG album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.90 | 311 ratings

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The Greatest Show on Earth
Airbag Neo-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Norwegian band AIRBAG started out sometime back in the 1990's, and while they released some material in earlier days, they didn't officially release a debut album proper until 2009. Since then two more full length productions have followed. "The Greatest Show on Earth" is the most recent of their albums, and was issued through the Norwegian label Karisma Records in the fall of 2013.

When dealing with a band with a past history as The Pink Floyd Experience, it won't come as much of a shock to see them recommended to fans of that band either, I hope. This is very much the case for Airbag and "The Greatest Show on Earth", where fans of late 70's Pink Floyd in particular should take notice of this album, especially those amongst them who also tend to enjoy bands such as Porcupine Tree.

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 The Greatest Show on Earth by AIRBAG album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.90 | 311 ratings

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The Greatest Show on Earth
Airbag Neo-Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

4 stars One of the most recommended albums from 2013, Airbag's "The Greatest Show on Earth" alluded me for most of the year. I finally got the chance to hear it, and I have to admit it isn't quite what I expected. Airbag is hugely influenced by Pink Floyd, and I hear Porcupine Tree in there, too. However, they don't really sound like either of those bands. They definitely have their own identity.

That identity is one of atmosphere, strong guitar work, and detailed keys. The album itself is thick with ambiance from beginning to end. This is due in part to the keyboard work offered by multiple members. They range from spacey to piano to soaring, but they are almost always there, haunting and speaking softly. On top of this foundation, the guitar lets its voice be heard. Bjorn Riis is extremely talented with the guitar, and his steeled tone gives us awesome licks and hardened solos that pierce the music to its core.

The entire band is extremely unified, that's for certain. They unite with almost post-rock dexterity, creating beautiful texture and interesting melodies. The vocalist, Asle Tostrup, has a very mellow, almost weak, tone to his delivery. He has a good voice, though I feel a truly spectacular singer could carry this band to new heights.

The album is about society and surveillance. I think it's about more than that, though. Feelings of desperation and misery are definitely felt throughout this album, as a call for privacy and grace is first and foremost. However, I will say that the scope of this surveillance is probably global. I ultimately think Airbag is making a religious statement here, but I won't get into that now.

Creeping, dark, and foggy; "The Greatest Show on Earth" feels laid bare and exposed. These feelings are expressed so very well here. In the thick atmosphere of keys and piercing guitar, one can feel the desperate attempts at reclaiming life. "Call Me Back" (my favorite), for instance, features amazing lyrics and melodies, but I do feel that the rest of the album feels a bit samey. It's one long melancholy trip, but it does hold interest.

While I like the two part "Surveillance" track, I would definitely say that the strongest tracks are the ones in the middle, especially "Call Me Back", "Silence Grows", and title track. Though the music is a bit one note at times, it does end up featuring personality and somber mood. That idea is pretty representative of the whole album, then, as the album is clearly meant to be atmospheric and very personal. I believe it succeeds in most of what it aims to do, as it delivers a mood and a foundation for guitar theatrics. To call it a masterpiece would be an overreach, but I will say that this fantastic album is outstanding in many ways and needs to be heard by any prog fan.

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 All Rights Removed by AIRBAG album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.02 | 377 ratings

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All Rights Removed
Airbag Neo-Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars I got interested of this Norwegian band after reading a positive review in which Airbag was said to sound a lot like PINK FLOYD (mainly Animals-era). Well, the comparison is very true, Pink Floyd is clearly the main influence. Unfortunately it is also true that PF is the central influence to dozens of modern bands and often those bands turn out to sound quite unoriginal, and on the long run also rather boring, if the songwriting isn't notably strong and varied. Airbag falls somewhere in-between.

So I'm finding it hard to decide whether I enjoy this album worth of four stars or would three stars be more appropriate. The sounds are very enjoyable to any PF fan, lots of lush melodies for electric guitar and keyboards, the addition of acoustic guitar, all played in mostly slow tempo and melancholic, slightly depressed atmosphere. I certainly like that kind of prog, and have liked since the age of fifteen. (BTW, DSotM is one of my albums that have suffered hugely of having heard it too much over the decades.) On the 9-minute title track I sensed some interesting Animals ('Dogs, 'Sheep') resemblance. But perhaps the 17-minute final track 'Homesick' is the clear winner as a composition.

Now the negative sides. The vocals are a bit weak, like a poor Chris Martin copy (COLDPLAY). Musically Airbag resembles not only a lot like Pink Floyd, also a lot like PORCUPINE TREE at their most middle-of-the-road Pink Floydish, ie. not at their heaviest or the most psychedelic. Nor is Pinepple Thief very far. Or even that Coldplay (which I can also listen to without pain, no problem!). The album as a whole is rather predictable, the songs differ from each other much less than on any Pink Floyd album for example. In fact emotionally they are terribly the same. I partly listened also to their third album The Greatest Show On Earth (2013) from YouTube, and judged on this rather thin evidence I believe that it unfortunately doesn't improve things, its songs were duller and less proggy than on this album.

3½ stars. I think I'll settle with three stars this time, but anyway Airbag are easily recommended to those who enjoy the slightly overheard Pink Floyd influence on modern (Neo)Prog. Prog puritans, don't bother.

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 The Greatest Show on Earth by AIRBAG album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.90 | 311 ratings

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The Greatest Show on Earth
Airbag Neo-Prog

Review by Progrussia

3 stars I was suspicious when I saw not just one, but three guys credited with keyboards and programming here. What did they program, a Richard Wright clone? If I were asked to list their number one influence, I would say - Pink Floyd. If asked for influence number two, the answer would be - Pink Floyd. And so it would go down to number ten, when I'd say - something similar to Pink Floyd, with a more modern sound.

Now, I have nothing against clones. Of Scarlett Johansson, for example. The good news is that the bittersweet melodies are catchy and themes - "the little man" in today's society - certainly topical. Guitarist serves plenty material for air guitar wannabes. But to me it lacks variety and drama. Just mellow verses followed by a barrage of Dave Gilmour and Richard Wright impersonations - shoegazing followed by powerful celestial build-ups.

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 All Rights Removed by AIRBAG album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.02 | 377 ratings

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All Rights Removed
Airbag Neo-Prog

Review by Progrussia

3 stars Airbag on All Rights Removed sounds as if a melancholic Brit-pop band like Coldplay quit screwing around with girl fans, amped up the guitars and indulged in their Pink Floyd obsession. Enjoyable perhaps, but not as varied in source material that made Pink Floyds so great. They basically retained only two characteristics of Pink Floydian sound - the melancholic passages with slow organ underpinnings and the loud stratospheric solos. The middle pack of songs blend into one another. Vocals and playing is smooth enough, but the end result is prone to sounding same-y and sometimes approaches the dangerous levels of muzak. These Norwegians are certainly not bad, but for my Pink Floyd nostalgia I go for Arena circa The Visitor or RPWL.

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 The Greatest Show on Earth by AIRBAG album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.90 | 311 ratings

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The Greatest Show on Earth
Airbag Neo-Prog

Review by yarno

1 stars What happened to progrock these days. As I listen to the latest effort of Airbag from Norway, I feel rather disappointed. I bought the album because of the raving reviews I read all over the www. But what did I buy? As I listen to the music that's offered on the album, a Porcupine Tree single comes to mind: Four Chords That Made A Million. Most of the songs on the album are build on three or four chords and are utterly boring to my ears. No tempo shifts, all of the songs are more or less the same. No hooks whatsoever, just straight on all across the album. What I do hear are some Pink Floyd bits (especially the guitar solo's or at least the first few notes of them) and they all must be huge fans of Marillion, Hogarth era. The lyrics only state the obvious and there really is nothing to get excited about. Even the cover art is no feast for the eye. But take a look at the rating... Lots of people calling themselves prog lovers hail about this album like it's the best that happened to them in a long time. So I have to conclude it must be me. I shouldn't expect craftsmanship, creativity or music of a high standard in a prog album anymore. Or maybe I shouldn't buy an album just because other 'prog lovers' hail about it. Just my mistake...

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 The Greatest Show on Earth by AIRBAG album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.90 | 311 ratings

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The Greatest Show on Earth
Airbag Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Airbag started life as a Pink Floyd tribute band, and they've always worn that influence on their sleeve, but after the very strong All Rights Removed they seem to be making a bid for widespread success with The Greatest Show On Earth. On paper, it's a good mixture - topical subject matter (namely, the issue of surveillance within society), along with incoming influences from Porcupine Tree's indie rock-influenced period (Stupid Dream/Lightbulb Sun) - should in principle be enough to push the album over the bar.

As it is, though, it feels a bit too cold and calculated, with the charm and variety of All Rights Removed absent. (In particular, the reduction of neo-prog influences from the likes of Marillion makes the sound of the album feel a bit less rich than its predecessor). It's competent enough stuff, but it feels a little bland to me.

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Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition.

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