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Airbag - Identity CD (album) cover

IDENTITY

Airbag

Neo-Prog


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Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Identity is a fine album for everybody that can't get enough of NoMan's recent albums or Nosound's LightDark. Also people that are tired of waiting for the new Anathema might be kept at peace for a little while with this.

Airbag come from Norway and are compared to Gazpacho. I haven't listened a lot to that band yet but I'd say there is indeed a similarity. Both bands cite the same obvious references: the laidback sound of Pink Floyd mixed with strong indie influences from Radiohead.

Generally this is run of the mill indie pop-prog that has little or no elements that make it stand out above anything else in the field. It's an ok album, but to give if it anything above 3 stars, I miss a bit of 'Identity'. (Damn, I had so sworn not to make a joke of the album title!)

Report this review (#250111)
Posted Thursday, November 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars One of the most pleasant surprises for me from 2009, Norwegian AIRBAG. At first I pigeonholed them as "just another PORCUPINE TREE wannabes", but the further I listened the more unfair this verdict seemed to me. OK, they're heavily influenced by BLACKFIELD, 80s-90s PINK FLOYD, nowadays ANATHEMA and Hogarth's MARILLION, but geez, you can't write such brilliant songs like "Colours" or "The Sounds that I hear" with JUST BEING INFLUENCED alone! They're talented, they know their music very well, they have a feeling of taste and measure. I'm highly recommending AIRBAG's debut album to anyone who's into Atmospheric Rock/Prog (fans of the bands mentioned above should bother first), take a listen, you won't regret!
Report this review (#252012)
Posted Saturday, November 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Where is their identity ?

This new Norwegian band has created a stirr with their gigs and touring with Gazpacho. So I was looking forward to hear this, their debut album.

This album comes across as a mix of laid back Pink Floyd, Radiohead and A-ha and Morten Harket solo. Add some dozens of British melancholic indie bands too and you get my drift. The sound is excellent and based on a lot of guitars, some synth (including some hammonds) and the good vocals from Asle Tostrup. The bass is pretty much in the front of the mix. The tempo is laid back and melancholic.

The songs are pretty anonyme though and herein lays my problems with this album. Nothing happens on this album. It feels like drone rock at times. Everything is in one tempo and repetetive. I have been listening to this album for two months now and I have yet to decode it. I simply do not get it. I am sure the music is better live than on an album. But this album is not for me. Sorry !

2 stars

Report this review (#259904)
Posted Friday, January 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A somewhat underwhelming effort first time out by this Norwegian band.

The 8 compositions on this album all follow more or less the same set-up: The songs are slowly paced, with few or none alterations throughout. Fluctuating, lush synths flesh out the compositions, while the guitars add either wandering mellow layers or fragmented licks or themes. Slow, steady rhythms underscore, and a clean, light lead vocal soars on top for the vocal passages.

Light, lush and dreamy soundscapes is the end result. A bit too lush and dreamy actually. It's light, fluffy material perfect for daydreaming, but even guitar soloing in the spirit of David Gilmour doesn't manage to add any real substance to these proceedings.

Identity is an album blending the most atmospheric parts of later day Pink Floyd with similar efforts from later day Hogarth-era Marillion, at least as I regard it, and those that find that description tantalizing should be at the heart of the buying audience for this effort.

Report this review (#275605)
Posted Tuesday, March 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What a nice surprise! While some reviewers are displeased at the sameness of this collection of songs, I am pleased by this consistency. Aside from, IMO, one throw-away song ("How I Wanna Be"), the engaging quality of these songs is of a very high and consistent level. Again, IMHO, there are three pieces that I would nominate for that pantheon of greatness known as 'classics' in "Safe Like You," "Colours," and "Feeling Less." Plus, for DAVID GILMOUR lovers, you have an amazing 'Gilmour' solo in "Steal My Soul." Agreed: There are no "new" innovations or complicated structures or time signatures here; instead, what you have is a collection of very pleasant, very listenable, and memorable neo-prog songs.

An excellent and enjoyable addition to any prog lover's music collection. Four stars.

P.S. Does anybody else out there think that the keyboard work on this album is masterful in the way it fills space, fills the background with such gorgeous yet subtle chords and washes?

Report this review (#288058)
Posted Thursday, June 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I'm thinking this Norwegian band named themselves after the RADIOHEAD song because they play in that same dreamy, atmospheric style. Other bands I thought of were BAUER, NOSOUND, ANATHEMA (latest one) and FRAKTAL. I do like this style of music and these guys do it very well for the most part. AIRBAG are (were?) a PINK FLOYD tribute band called THE PINK FLOYD EXPERIENCE. I heard the song "Steal My Soul" last fall and was so impressed I knew I had to check this album out.

"Prelude" opens with the sound of a ticking clock as synths wash in. The guitar before 2 minutes replaces the clock as synths continue. The soundscape is soaked with atmosphere. So good. "No Escape" is my least favourite only because it's less atmospheric and poppier. It settles with vocals quickly but the contrasts between the laid back and fuller sections continue. "Safe Like You" is similar to the previous song but a little better. A beat to start as synths roll in then vocals. Another dreamy track. "Steal My Soul" is a top three for me. Very spacey as keys come in then vocals. Great sound before 3 minutes as we get a thick atmospheric haze briefly. Strummed guitar and organ follow.The guitar simply soars 5 minutes in. Nice.

"Feeling Less" has a good intro especially the guitar. It settles in with vocals followed by guitar and drums. Organ before 3 1/2 minutes. Excellent tune. "Colours" is another top three. Strummed guitar and vocals early. I'm thinking of the new ANATHEMA here. It turns dreamy after a minute. Organ after 4 1/2 minutes as it settles. Guitar follows. Incredible track. "How I Wanna Be" opens with spacey winds and the sounds of people talking in the background. Keys then reserved vocals follow. A fuller sound before 1 1/2 minutes. More powerful 3 1/2 minutes in. "Sounds That I Hear" is the other top three. Atmosphere and piano to start. Vocals follow then strummed guitar before the floating organ arrives. Gorgeous track.

This album has a couple of so-so songs but the rest of this record is quite amazing.

Report this review (#289751)
Posted Friday, July 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Bjrn Riis is an almost world known expert on Gilmours (Pink Floyd) guitar playing and have the famous gilmourish.com site where all guitarists can go to learn how to sound like Gilmour.

He started out with playing in Pink Floyd tribute bands. But then he made Airbag.

Airbag themselves claim that they are inspired by Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Radiohead, Talk Talk and AHA.

That is easy to hear. This have a very Dark Side of the Moon feel to it. That combined with and indie rock/pop feel to it make it a very pleasent album.

A little bit too much sounding like their idols does that the album cant get a really big rating. But the music is great and I really like the album.

Report this review (#397218)
Posted Thursday, February 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Interesting debut album by this band from Norway. I had this album for a long time but I didnt exactly hear it propoerly until much recently. I guess the obvious indie pop tendencies of some tracks did not encourage me much to fully appreciated it at the time I got identity. However, at close escrutinity, theres more than meets the eye: the instrumental of the album have a strong Pink Floyd influence that makes it much more listenable than most releases from groups like Radiohead or Coldplay for instance.

The music is really laid back, tranquil, sometimes reminding me of that swiss band Metamorphosis, specially their early stuff. The CD quite pleasant most of the time and I found it to be quite promising. Not anything to write home about it, but good anyway. There are no fillers and the songwriting in general shows they can go pretty far if they develop their formula. Asle Tostrup is a good singer, with a fine voice and a convincing delivering of the message. I just loved the keyboards parts (lots of quiet Hammond runs, much in the vein of the late Rick Wright). The guitar parts are also of notice (yes, you guessed it right: very Gilmour-like too), but they could be a little more on the forefront and if Bjrn Riis could be allowed to play more solos, it would be very nice!

All in all I see identity as a valid debut of a talented band. Im really looking forqard to hear their next works. if they develop their progressive side a little more, they surely will come up with something remarkable. Not enought o warrant a 4 star rating this time, but Identity is a nice start. Promising!

Report this review (#463048)
Posted Thursday, June 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
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

Report this review (#804867)
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an excellent album. The first work by the Norwegian band AIRBAG (which name is inspired in a Radiohead song) delivers music with a lot of insight and thoughtful moments, no Radiohead alike nor many neoprog bands (as they are categorized in here), but more like Nosound, No Man or even Anathema or Gazpacho in the peaceful way. The music contains excellent guitar solos and very nice musical landscapes; all the album maintains the same tone all the way through, something that would change a bit in the following record. If AIRBAG continues playing, it is very probable that little by little their music will become better and better with time! Let's keep an eye on them!
Report this review (#1022387)
Posted Friday, August 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
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

Report this review (#1439302)
Posted Saturday, July 11, 2015 | Review Permalink

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