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Airbag - Identity CD (album) cover

IDENTITY

Airbag

 

Neo-Prog

3.81 | 237 ratings

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Gallifrey
3 stars The Identity Crisis

There are always going to be those modern prog bands that will never quite lose the "this is nice, but it sounds way too much like Pink Floyd" tag. It's a plague on these sorts of bands, and no matter how much they try and define their own sound, it will always be on them. The only band who ever really escaped it were Porcupine Tree, but they only held the tag for the time when The Sky Moves Sideways was finally giving them some deserved credit, but a quick listen to their previous albums, as well as the material to follow, certainly distinguished them from Floyd. Airbag, like their German counterparts RPWL, started off as a Pink Floyd tribute, and with Identity being their first full album of original material, it's difficult to try and escape that comparison.

The entire album floats between Floydian atmospheric prog, and the newer (still very Floyd-influenced) variant of it. The album puts atmosphere above everything, creating a dreamy and pleasant mood throughout, and never really straying from it. This is the sort of album that I'd get on vinyl, take out to the family farm, and lie down in front of the fire in blissful peace. It contains the same entrancing moods, the same basic and driving rhythms, and the same dreary-yet-kinda-nice melodies that Pink Floyd have to offer, topped off with some marvelous guitar solos. This album puts me into such a nice mood when I hear it; the sounds floating all over the place and drifting in an out, yet it still manages to keep you awake and in this universe with some really nice songs and melodies.

"Safe Like You" is probably one of the better songs here, or at least the most memorable, because it's the one I break into singing the most from the album. The song plods along at such a slow pace, but it's almost what you want from something like this. The chorus melody is introspective and sorrowful, yet at the same time quite dreary and tired. 'Tired' is always a word I use to describe this sort of music, but I never really mean it in a bad way, as long as it has melodies to keep it afloat, which this certainly does. The drifting choruses are wonderfully delivered by Asle Tostrup, who does a rather excellent job at disguising his accent, which I'm not certain would fit with this sound.

On the other side of the Floyd worship are the modern sounds, and there's no doubt that "Steal My Soul" is something massively reminiscent of Stupid Dream-era Porcupine Tree. Its title and mood both call to mind the fantastic "Buying New Soul" from the Recordings b-side album, but even though this, and several other tracks, remind me of some modern bands, they all remind me of the times when those modern bands reminded me of Pink Floyd. The opener "Prelude", a moody and brooding instrumental track, has a few moments that call to mind Sylvan, especially the lengthy moments on albums like Posthumous Silence or Sceneries. The band hints at the more upbeat sounds that would come into their developing identity later on, specifically during the final moments of "Colours", which holds some of the Porcupine Tree-influenced heavy prog that would later come onto The Greatest Show on Earth. Album closer "Sounds That I Hear" is undeniably the best track here, reminding me again of some of Steven Wilson's piano ballads, but with some epic keyboards backing them that come out of the sounds of Anathema or Gazpacho.

To be completely honest, as much as I enjoy this record, it's always going to come second to any Pink Floyd album. I'll admit, Airbag are the closest any modern band has got to bringing that same feeling I get from Pink Floyd, because RPWL have many a weird solo and accented vocal, and even The Sky Moves Sideways lacks the melodic basis that this album brings, but the only reason this would get chosen over Animals or Wish You Were Here is because of the modern production, but even that, with the heavy use of mellotron and Hammond here, is not too different. This album has its place, and I do enjoy it, but in the end, I'm glad Airbag developed its sound and eventually put out a legitimately great and unique album with The Greatest Show on Earth. As much as this is Pink Floyd worship in a modern context, if you're going to pick a modern Pink Floyd worship album, then this is the one I'd recommend.

6.6

Gallifrey | 3/5 |

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