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BJØRN RIIS

Crossover Prog • Norway


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Bjørn Riis biography
Born 4 March 1977 in Oslo, Norway

Bjørn RIIS is an accomplished guitarist and songwriter, mostly renowned for his work with Norwegian prog band AIRBAG, who have, as of 2014, released 3 critically acclaimed albums. On his first solo album he pretty much handled all the instruments, with the help of his AIRBAG friend Asle TOSTRUP and a few other colleagues.

The album "Lullabies in a Car Crash" was released on Karisma Records November 3rd 2014.

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

4.02 | 169 ratings
Lullabies In A Car Crash
2014
3.77 | 89 ratings
Forever Comes To An End
2017
3.86 | 113 ratings
A Storm Is Coming
2019

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

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

3.58 | 19 ratings
Coming Home
2018

BJØRN RIIS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Storm Is Coming by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.86 | 113 ratings

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A Storm Is Coming
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Norwegian composer and musician Bjorn RIIS initially made a name for himself as a member of Norwegian progressive rock band Airbag and as the main man behind the website gilmourish.com, but since 2014 he has also developed a solo career that appears to go from strength to strength. "A Storm Is Coming" is his third full length solo album and his fourth solo release overall, and was released by Norwegian label Karisma Records in the spring of 2019.

Those who are fond of atmospheric laden progressive rock, often with a melancholic general mood, and compositions that ebb and flow in pace and intensity with mainly slow, deliberate and subtle developments alterations will probably be something of a key audience for this production. Those equally fond of the more atmospheric laden parts of later day Pink Floyd and ambient oriented post-rock possibly the audience that will get this music most readily. A solid production that will be treasured by the right audience.

 Lullabies In A Car Crash by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.02 | 169 ratings

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Lullabies In A Car Crash
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by The Shrubbery

5 stars Bjorn Riis hails from the progressive rock band Airbag where he is more of a guitarist and less of a vocalist. While Airbag has always excelled in writing and melody (especially their first album which had some of the best written neo-prog outside of Iluvatar, Marillion and Edison's Children) it seems like Riis had been saving his best work for this solo project. While many may criticize his music as being too influenced by "Gilmouresque" Pink Floyd, two particular songs which are "Stay Calm" and the title track "Lullabies in a Car Crash" which are perhaps some of the singularly best written songs of the neo-prog era. Stay Calm begins with a harsh high pitched clanging guitar with all of the bottom end removed that eludes the beauty of the chording within. This is done on purpose so that Bjorn's beautiful voice comes in with an upper baritone that brings a sense of intensity and deeper sense of purpose. About 1 minute in, it all comes together with guitars and synths rising behind the original chording before the drums drive it into the next stage of its performance. This is pure sonic build up and similar to the way Pete Trewavas & Eric Blackwood have been writing for years in the Marillion side project Edison's Children (a band that is remarkably similar in that both follow that "Floydian" style of writing yet both take it to different levels that make them unique and exciting and in the end, something completely new). Both BR and EC also continue to somehow fly under the radar despite writing music that has incredible depth and poignant moments that are so strong you wonder how they continue to be overlooked. By 2 minutes in... the beautiful chords are now joined by a driving rock beat while Bjorn sings a beautiful melody over a quickly muffled picked riff on the guitar before his vocals go into "megaphone" style and the music speeds into a frenzy before falling back into a Gilmour style riff that is perfect for where the song is heading. At 4:30 the drums give way to electronic percussion upon which to build a tapestry of sonic beauty... with a hard edged guitar and soft strings providing a contrary backdrop. By 7 minutes in Bjorn's beautiful voice is back in and at 7:15 that muffled pick on the guitar drives the song and you can't help but follow along on "air guitar" before breaking into the intensity of the bridge and what you would expect to be a return to the hard edged breakdown. Instead however we are switched into an even more intense Gilmouresque guitar with a high pitched guitar in back providing chaos. Bjorn asks us to remain calm in what is obviously the beginning of a life changing moment. Holding on for "dear life" as we feel the world spinning around us, Stay Calm is one of the best songs written this decade and as great as the title track is, Stay Calm is the real star of Bjorn Riis' career. The album ends with a long somewhat drawn out 13:26 minute track that starts with Richard Wright style keys which set a tone at which you almost feel dazed as if you are coming in and out of a situation where you are still trying to find your way. Perhaps a car crash, or hearing of an accident to someone important to you. Bjorn asks us again to try to breathe slowly and give in to what has happened. The energy that is left will be needed to get us through those final moments. "When you try to hit the brakes and you know it's too late" sung with an intensity and purity that just rips through you. This isn't music written in some odd time signature. Its straight forward and every "prog purist" will complain about the lack of complexity and completely miss the point. The simplicity of the moment is paramount to understanding that this is a life that is coming quickly to an end and there's no going back. At 7 minutes in the hard edged guitar leaves the listener dealing with the complexities that life has changed for this person forever, depending on which point you are at (whether it be the person directly in the crash, the people left behind, or most likely both). The song seems to fade into life support for a few minutes with sirens in the background until another great guitar lead brings you to the point at which the song hits its apex at 11:35 and the hard edged guitar comes in and you feel the life fighting for that one last time before at 12:05 a simple nearly acoustic guitar finger pick leaves you like a soundtrack and you can feel the life leaving the body and going away to the sky. This is as an intense album about the death of a loved one since Edison's Children's "The Final Breath Before November" (Marillion's side project starring Pete Trewavas, Eric Blackwood and Neil Armstrong's son Rick Armstrong - Believe me this is very high praise). It leaves you breathless and heartbroken not just for those lost and those left behind to face it, but for those who won't give this album a chance to affect them the way they should. "Lullabies In A Car Crash" is about as intense of a musical soundscape as there is in music today (prog or not). Put your metronomes away because you won't be impressed if you're looking for syncopation that rivals ELP, Fripptronics or Gong. This isn't for those looking for a jazz rock fusion. If you're looking for something however to take your breath away and make you think; No better yet, "feel" something, something so deep that it haunts you, then this is for you.
 A Storm Is Coming by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.86 | 113 ratings

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A Storm Is Coming
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Bjorn Riis is a multi-instrumentalist from Norway and Crossover Prog artist that is the guitarist for the band "Airbag". He has released 3 solo albums since 2014 which includes the 3rd album named "A Storm is Coming", released in May of 2019. He plays most of the instruments on this album, but has also recruited a few other musicians to help him out on this album. It has a total run time of 51 minutes which is disbursed among tracks, most of them over 7 minutes, and two of them over 10 minutes. According to his page on Bandcamp, he album centers around human relations and loss and is written as a dialogue between two persons.

Starting off with the 10 minute track "When Rain Falls", the music fades in slowly and is soft, ambient and atmospheric led by sustained guitar and keys. At 2 minutes, the peace is suddenly interrupted by a sludgy, loud and dark guitar and slow rhythm. Intensity builds as improvised guitar layers come in. Tempo increases with a thumping bass line and progressive riffs, then the sound shifts to a sudden, soft jazz style led by piano and brushed drums. After a while, the drums solidify, atmospheric guitars play and soft and airy harmonized vocals begin. At 8 minutes, a lovely electric guitar solo comes in backed by sustained synths making for a nice lush sound. It's a dynamic track, but when it settles in it gets quite beautiful.

"Icarus" starts with a strummed acoustic guitar and keys, but an electric guitar also helps with support before the vocals come in. The track has a nice laid back sound with a moderate rhythm. The music is pleasant and quite accessible, not progressive, per se, but still nice. Bjorn's vocals are quite easy to listen to and suite the music quite well. The tone darkens and intensifies halfway through, but return to the more mellow sound later with more vocals. "You and Me" uses a soft repeating broken chord as the only accompaniment to a pensive vocal. Piano leads later with nice effects as the music remains soft. There is a slight build at 3 minutes as other instruments are added, including a slightly symphonic feel and wordless sustained vocals while the music floats along slowly with a drone building in the background. The drone eventually drops off just before the last verse begins.

The next track is the 14 minute "Stormwatch". With the many passages of slow and quiet music, Bjorn's vocals are quite capable of supporting the music against the quiet backgrounds. This track also starts like this, and builds slowly as the moderately slow rhythm starts and harmonies begin with a female guest vocalist Mimmi Tanba. This develops into a beautiful melody and smooth backdrop of strummed acoustic guitar and sustained chords in the keyboards. The harmonies continue and a bit more intensity builds, and this has a nice similarity to the sound of "Anathema" in their later years. After 5 minutes, the percussion drops off and things become quite ambient with echoing guitar and Mimmi's wordless vocals and choral effects. After 7 minutes, there is a sudden increase in tempo and volume as heavy guitars come in for a while before switching to a more mellow sound with a nice guitar solo and then the return of vocals. There is still time for another great guitar solo and then an extended cooling down section that features a somewhat muffled rhythm section and atmospheric guitar notes floating around.

"This House" continues with the soft style that permeates the album. Vocals and a lone acoustic guitar start off, the track builds a bit with added instruments and nice guitar effects. Mimmi lends her vocals to the harmonies on this track also. This track does tend to drag on a bit as there isn't a lot of change to the sound and it remains soft and slow. A nice guitar solo comes in later during the last half of the song, but for an 8 minute track, it would have helped to be more dynamic. "Epilogue" closes the album with the shortest track at just over 3 minutes. It's an atmospheric and ambient instrumental that works to tie up the album.

This album is mostly quite laid back and slow, dark and thoughtful, but also quite accessible and easy to listen to. There are elements of progressiveness throughout, but the use of those elements are very sparse, while the use of atmosphere is used quite heavily. The songs are emotional and even have some dynamic passages, but overall, expect it to be slow and soft. The best tracks seem to be on the first half of the album, and there is a lot of beauty there. By the time you get to the last half, you might find yourself yearning for some more dynamic in the music however, and more of a progressive feel. As far as atmospheric pop/rock, this is very nice and completely accessible. The vocals are great also, very well suited for the music. In the first half of the album, it seemed to be nearing a five star rating, but the 2nd half continues in the same vein and the album drags a bit bringing it down a notch. The production is great however, and so is the musicianship and vocals.

 A Storm Is Coming by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.86 | 113 ratings

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A Storm Is Coming
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by javajeff

5 stars Another sublime release from Bjørn, with some heavier guitar and edgy moments throughout the album. Of course you also get the floydian guitar solos and the stellar vocals that one would expect from an Airbag release. But this is a solo release with Airbag bandmate Henrik Fossum on drums. While the comparisons will be made between solo and Airbag albums, any fan of either should definitely pick this up. I enjoy everything that Bjørn Riis releases, and A Storm Is Coming is no exception due to the excellent songwriting and execution. There are some quiet moments with just piano and eerie effects like on You And Me, and this is an opportunity for Bjørn to create music with limited instruments while layering the track into phases. It is a very special song in the heart of the album, and a real atmosphere builder. I think he really shines in the moodier songs, as it makes perfect use of his vocal tone and guitar solos. Another atmosphere builder follows with Stormwatch, with some amazing backing vocals from Mimmi Tamba providing much needed variety. Taking a page out of the Anathema pagebook, I just have one thing to say: YES! This is another fantastic release where Bjørn explores new ground and expands on an already fantastic sound. 4.5 stars
 Forever Comes To An End by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.77 | 89 ratings

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Forever Comes To An End
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Edgy, jagged, disturbed, swirling in emotional confusion and clearly overwrought and despondent, the dark music of Bjorn Riis never fails to conjure up images of anguish. The lyrics paint vivid pictures that heed no mercy and provide little resolution. Airbag may be on hold for the time being but Bjorn continues following his muse to great effect, a highly stimulating opus that incorporates classic blues licks with distinctive misery and a definite rock delirium. Ably assisted by some Airbag pals, namely Henrik Fossum on drums and Asle Torstrup on programming but also infusing massive amounts of mournful piano from Oak's Simen Johannessen fingers, the man reeks inspiration and the end result is certainly powerful and moody.

The title track takes no prisoners, effectively evoking the more psychedelic tendencies of other luminaries such as Porcupine Tree, as Bjorn's patented soft guitars show a much harder side, thrashing, convulsing and screeching agonizingly. Propulsive, tectonic and strident, the fire rages mercilessly, fueled by words that plead forgiveness and respond to the deepest sorrow. The booming bass rolls majestically below a storm of angry riffs and occasional sweeter expanses. Then, a rippling guitar solo is peeled off with apparent exuberance, deeply poignant and very a propos. A total shock device.

'Absence' is a soporific whirlpool of sound mostly emanating from Johannessen's echoing piano chords, serving as a perfect intro for the downcast pleading of 'The Waves' , searching for some salvation in the grand scheme of things, a soundscape of desolation that oozes like the incessant yet gentle pounding of aquatic sprays, relentless and yet imbued with infinite supremacy. Riis' demolition guitar riffs add throbbing angst and concussing paranoia to the floating crest, his voice aching acutely and convincingly. Spectacular!

A subtle and repetitive electric piano motif introduces 'Getaway', a jazzier style that fits nicely, especially when grooving along, like some race car music blaring down the highway. The intensity evolves progressively into near unbearable heights, urgent, breathless and exhausting. The final stretch becomes quite the aggression fest, gloomy and clamorous, tainted with some psychedelic/psychotic sections that veer close to some kind of internal whirlwind. The bewitching 'Calm' is another shimmering respite, with soft piano ripples that transcend time and space, forever insistent and adventurous and funneled by purpose. Dense symphonics crown the affair with divine gleam. A slow hand guitar phrasing only adds to the pleasure.

A whopping 10 minute behemoth, 'Winter' does the prog duet deal just perfectly, with guest Sichelle Aksum paralleling Bjorn's voice to perfection, as the sublime lead guitar explodes brightly. There are some lovely wailing female notes that elevate the melody into the realms of the sublime, cresting, arching and detonating into a myriad of sparkling emotions. At times, it does get quite raunchy and angry, which only preps the soft afterglow to follow. The jazzy electric guitar-fueled lilt is simply mind-numbing, ultra-cool and sizzling in its trajectory, aiming into the deepest recesses of one's inner being. A masterpiece.

The tragic 'Where Are they Now' pulls the velvet curtain down on another masterful performance by one of prog's surest luminaries , taking the psychedelic vibe further into the inner cosmos of modern day art. Hushed moments of reflection are quickly escorted by soaring exhilaration that knows no boundaries, strong yet fragile, courageous yet tired. Emotional minds will not only understand but even find solace and comfort in this style of evocative music.

As with his debut 'Lullabies in a Car Crash', this is most definitely late night music, deeply evocative, profoundly disturbing and yet massively passionate and honest. The piano provides a myriad of options for the melodies to shine brightly on their own, devoid of useless bombast that might take away from the sonic simplicity. More personal and ethereal than any of the Airbag releases, this is quite a revelation.

4.5 grand finales

 Forever Comes To An End by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.77 | 89 ratings

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Forever Comes To An End
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

2 stars A gloomy, rather ''depressive'' mood veils Bjorn Riis' second album, aptly titled 'Forever Comes to an End'. Lyrics are equally moody and dark. Here, the Airbag mastermind blends the main influences of his core band with some post-rock structures and occasional heavier riffs. The end result is not very dissimilar in nature though. The ghost of Pink Floyd is ever-apparent.

The album kicks off with an unexpected catchy heavy post-rock riff. Unfortunately the verse vocal melody is rather indifferent but luckily saved by the refrain, reminding Anathema's 'Judgement' days. 'Absence' and 'Calm' are instrumental short fillers, preceding the rather lengthy 'The Waves', 'Winter' respectively, which, along with and the closing 'Where are you Now', all display the same pattern: low-tempo, ballad-like compositions, based on ambience and a piano/acoustic guitar background. Unfortunately all are longer than required without a striking feature that would lift them of their slumber mode, despite the pleaseant melodies. 'Getaway' is the exception to the rule; although being instrumental and running for 8 minutes on a standard mid-tempo, keeps the interest high with its simple-yet-catchy keyboard melody and ''trippy'' vibe.

Sadly there is not much more on which to elaborate. Fans of post-2000 Anathema, David Guilmour and of course Airbag might find a lot to appreciate here. 2 stars

 Forever Comes To An End by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.77 | 89 ratings

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Forever Comes To An End
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by huge

5 stars Having followed AIRBAG and their flowing style (remeniscent of PINK FLOYD in their heyday) to the eagerly anticipated arrival of BJ BJORN RIIS's first album it was with real excitement that three years later the sublime offering of 'Forever Comes To An End' has ma made its appearance. It's as if the previous albums were all a precursor... Here BJORN RIIS has come of age, matured and delivered an album of superlatives. He appears to have honed all that was excellent from AIRBAG and his previous solo album to make this an album of sheer brilliance. I cannot fathom how he achieves such mastery yet stays true to the original sound and style - and enhance what was already an epic aural landscape. But he does - a truly wonderful journey. An album that'll have repeated plays for many weeks and months to come and will justifiably join his and AIRBAG's albums w whiling away the hours in the car. Fully deserving of the five stars.
 Forever Comes To An End by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.77 | 89 ratings

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Forever Comes To An End
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars As it is with any of Bjørn Riis' solo or Airbag drafts, in either case there's always some sort of highly melodic ambience and nordic melancholy to state. The given front cover image is exemplary for that, isn't it? This paired with a splendid Steven Rothery and David Gilmour inspired guitar playing, how could he fail? Well, it's somewhat astonishing anyhow, seemingly this main recipe won't wear off. While never ever sounding like pure repetition. Hence after being positive about 'Disconnected' recently, one year ago, Karisma Records are now providing another delicious offer with 'Forever Comes To An End', when it comes to my taste.

Airbag fellows Henrik Fossum (drums) and Asle Tostrup (programming) are collaborating for the seven songs too. Regardless, 'I guess it is much more personal and me than anything I've done before', Bjørn Riis affirms. So designed for his first solo album actually, the title track is showing some real contrast program. I mean the hard riffing uptempo parts either way, taking turns with this well-known atmospheric prog charm we're already perfectly acquainted with. And then Absence and the following The Waves are smoothly gliding into a No-Man feel somehow, nice piano lines alongside with acoustic guitar and ambient patterns. Simply brilliant!

Have to confess that I really was anxious for the announced vocal support entering the stage, namely by Sichelle Mcmeo Aksum ... it takes some time ... except some female laughter(?) I'm effectively able to recognize her for the first time on Winter, another pleasant facet for sure. Perfect voice added, she definitely could have been more present anyhow. This track finally represents the album's beauty at best. I'd say 'Forever Comes To An End' marks his most varied and successfull effort (Airbag included). I'm steadily following Bjørn's steps for a while now without getting tired, and this one, including all participants as well as the production, seems to be his masterpiece so far.

 Lullabies In A Car Crash by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.02 | 169 ratings

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Lullabies In A Car Crash
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by toilet_doctor

5 stars Airbag made love to Pink Floyd and first Bjorn Riis solo album was born.

I don't know how did he does it, but he did. How he created music so sad and uplifting, so quietly flowing and rocking at the same. This merge of trademark Scandinavian melancholic with Gilmore guitar works especially well on his epics 10 minutes Out of Reach, Stay Calm and over 13 minutes title track Lullaby in a Car Crash - masterpiece of Prog Rock.

If spirit of Pink Floyd is still beating in your heart and Animals & Wish You Where Here are still spinning in your mind, this album is for you.

Thank you, Bjorn. It's very touching, very moving... 5 Floyd's stars in a white digipak.

 Lullabies In A Car Crash by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.02 | 169 ratings

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Lullabies In A Car Crash
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars AIRBAG guitar player and DAVID GILMOUR-worshipper Bjorn Riis here tries to go it alone and the result sounds remarkably like Airbag's last two albums. Bjorn's sometimes atmospheric, sometimes soaring Gilmouresque guitar play is always the highlight and always amazing in how completely he has replicated the great Pink Floyd guitarist's sound, stylings and technique. On Lullabies in a Car Crash Bjorn takes on the lead vocal duties and does surprisingy well. He even sounds remarkably like a cross between Airbag band-mate and lead vocalist, Asle Torstrup and the man himself, Roger Waters. Great music still very much in the Animals-era Pink Floyd vein.

Favorite songs: 1. "A New Day" (4:16); 3. "Disappear" (6:27); and the title song, 6. "Lullaby in a Car Crash" (13:27).

Solid four star effort of impeccable neo-prog music.

Thanks to tszirmay for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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