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Caligonaut - Magnified as Giants CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.18 | 213 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

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 Ole Michael Bjørndal, who until now was primarily the guitarist for the Bjørn Riis band, as well as being the most recent member to join Airbag. However, the ensemble on the album itself is made up of various members of the Norwegian bands Wobbler, Pymlico, and, of course, Airbag. The band works fantastically together, and the record is a fantastic combination of Wobbler's signature Scandinavian symphonic sound with Airbag's more accessible and melodic tendencies.

Emperor is a very strong opener to the album, and is probably my favorite track on the record. Within the first two minutes, we are given an immediate taste of the virtuosic capabilities of the band, as the opening hits section moves between a round of drum fills, bass fills, and then guitar fills. The body of the song itself is an excellent mid-tempo idea with some really great dynamic movement. The song comes to an initial climax around 9 minutes, before pulling back to a piano section that proceeds to build back up into the song's true peak, the final guitar solo which starts just at about 11:25 and lasts for about two minutes, during which we get to fully appreciate Bjørndal's capacity to absolutely shred.

Hushed starts with a really awesome interlocking acoustic guitar duo, which I believe consists of Pymlico's Stephan Hvinden alongside Bjørndal. The song transitions from this acoustic section to a more symphonic middle section that features Norwegian composer and organist Iver Kleive on church organ, along with some more impeccable soloing from Bjørndal. Eventually, the song transitions again into a bombastic final section that combines the acoustic beginning with the organ-driven middle section.

The title track, Magnified as Giants, is the shortest and most mellow song on the album. It's a beautiful atmospheric track that primarily consists of vocals and overlapping guitar parts, along with some supporting keys and bass. Andreas Prestmo's backing vocals really shine through on this song, and it's probably the moment on the album that most fully encapsulates the combined sounds of both Airbag and Wobbler.

Lighter Than Air is an outstanding 19 and a half minute closer to the album, and it has a bit of an unconventional (though still brilliant) structural arc to it. The song's most intense and dramatic section is between 5:30 and 11:30, with the second half of the song consisting of a more mellow and atmospheric outro, save for a final climactic passage from about 13:30 to 15:30. The final note is played at about 18:30, with the track's fadeout lasting an entire minute. I'll save most of the song's details for you to experience yourself, but there are some gorgeous guitar parts and synth parts on this one.

All in all, Magnified as Giants is yet another outstanding record from the Scandinavian symphonic prog scene. An easy 5 stars from me, it already has me excited to see what Bjørndal does with Caligonaut next.

tempest_77 | 5/5 |


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