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Airbag - All Rights Removed CD (album) cover





4.00 | 525 ratings

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4 stars Airbag! Hmmmm, somewhat of a silly name for a band, especially a proggy one but those Norsemen are a strange breed. After all, they had a rather prolific group called Fruitcake, for heaven's sake! As for fellow Norwegian Gazpacho, need I say more! Monikers aside, I got itchy when reading the reviews and took the plunge, which I am very grateful for (my spidey senses still humming nicely), now that I have listened to this album. Yeah, the Floyd feel is quite apparent (so what else is new?) but I detected hints from Marillion, early Porcupine Tree, Anathema, Nine Stones Close and even The Cure (singer Asle Torstrup is like Lands End's Jeff McFarland, a close Robert Smith clone). The opening title track does little for me, as I feel it a bit difficult to get into, perhaps a little instrumental intro would have been preferable. The rushing Bjorn Riis guitar jangles freely whilst Torstrup wails mercifully, very neighborly of Steven Wilson-like territory (as previously mentioned by my pal Brufordfreak ) to the point of distraction. I mean its good stuff but somehow lacks a "je ne sais quoi" that muddles the pleasure a bit. The throbbing guitar has all the hallmarks and the pursuant solo is delightful, sweeping keys all held down agreeably by lissome bass and authoritarian drumming. It's just too monolithic for these romantic ears I guess! "White Walls" is a PF track by all accounts or at least a Sky Moves Sideways bonus track but again, there are little needles that prick my ears in discomfort, holding back my evident desire to gush over this material. The obligatory axe solo is nothing more than adequate, though highly 'cut and paste'. Oddly enough, I really started grooving with the poppier third track, "The Bridge" despite the obvious Radiohead influences , simply due to the fact that the atmospherics now play a larger role, the bass and guitars more defined. Asle's fragile singing really impresses, providing that blase The Cure feel I mentioned earlier. Finally Riis lets one rip and it's a winner, heaving, howling, hurdling and heckling along the resonating strings of his fretboard. "Never Coming Home" is another tasty track, where the group dynamics come to the fore, featuring another superb vocal performance, clanging guitar phrasings emanating from that Dark Side we all know and love and a series of solos that soar like a Division Bell gone berserk. The gentle organ mid-section is pure bliss, regardless of its influences. This is a phenomenal track, only to be surpassed by the obligatory 17 minute+ epic colossus "Homesick", a retort to the obvious. "Light Them All Up" is a moody, cinematographic instrumental that is both short and "interludish", unaccredited violas notwithstanding.

The star of the show is the 3 part "Homesick" suite, which justifies the entire recording, a whopping homage to that Crazy Diamond in the night sky, with all the usual suspects lined up in a row. Plaintive singing crushing lyrics, dazzling guitar acrobatics, solemn organ fills, almost inaudible bass (a major fault with this production BTW! Perhaps that's what was bothering me early on!) and laid back but solid drumming. There are also torrents of atmosphere, showing a proggy capacity for restraint and introspection, giving the music much needed "Breathe" and scope. Yes, its very overt but, for crying out loud, Pink Floyd was such a positive influence, no? I mean, if you have to be under one's spell, why not the "Animals", eh? The first mid section guitar romp is not quite Gilmourian, adding wah- wah twists and turns that are most welcome. But the second would make David blush with envy or at least wonder if this is Rog' Waters sabotaging things again. LOL Just a precious piece of enduring music, this and well worth getting just for this track alone. Imitation may be the finest form of flattery and that adage is well equipped here to stand the test of "Time". The reliance of symphonic Floyd side is what makes this so pleasurable , very far removed from the overt "Money" themes, wailing saxes and female oooh-ooh vocalists . Give them credit for at least chasing the "Echoes" that were not too commercial. Bravo, guys......

4 Sick Sacks

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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