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Shining Grindstone album cover
4.17 | 75 ratings | 7 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2007

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster (5:40)
2. Winterreise (3:33)
3. Stalemate Longan Runner (4:15)
4. To Be Proud of Crystal Colors Is to Live Again (0:49)
5. Moonchild Mindgames (3:06)
6. The Red Room (2:16)
7. Asa Nisi Masa (1:52)
8. To Be Proud of Crystal Colors Is to Live Again (Continued) (1:09)
9. Psalm (7:20)
10. -... .- -.-. .... (2:07)
11. 1:4:9 (5:03)
12. Fight Dusk with Dawn (6:53)

Total Time: 44:03

Line-up / Musicians

- Jørgen Munkeby / guitar, sax, composer
- Andreas Hessen Schei / keyboards
- Morten Strøm / bass
- Torstein Lofthus / drums

- Kristoffer Myre Eng / Church organ (9)
- Danny Young / gong (1,3,12)
- Ashild Skiri Refsdal / soprano vocals (9,11)

Note : The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Releases information

Artwork: Kim Hiorthøy

CD Rune Grammofon ‎- RCD2060 (2007, Norway)

Thanks to avestin for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SHINING Grindstone ratings distribution

(75 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SHINING Grindstone reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by chamberry
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Shining isn't a new band (they've been doing music since 1999), but this album in particular got more attention than their last releases and it's no surprise considering the great music this album has inside. A bit aggressive at times, but it all comes out not as hard to swallow as it may appear.

These guys are playing progressive rock in a very daring and fun way mixing a wide array of instruments and sounds to create one of this year's high points in prog rock. The band I can think of that has a related sound is Jaga Jazzist with their "A Livingroom Hush" album and it's no surprise given that Jørgen Munkeby is also a member of Jaga Jazzist. Take the spirit of "A Livingroom Hush" and add even more instruments to the mix and put some mean guitars instead of jazz horns (although the horns are still present in many of the songs) and there you have it. It's Quirky, complex, bombastic, fun and accessible (by prog standards).

The songs on the album sound varied between one another, but they don't wander off to a sense of not having any relations with the rest of the album. The album can be seen as a book. The first group of songs and the last group of songs sound more accessible and heavier than the adventurous middle part of the album. The middle part is my personal favorite because it's more childish and playful than the rest of the album. This part also has a more varied instrumentation, but these divisions are only my view on how I see the album although I think they're helpful when describing the album.

This album is a real treat. It's well rounded and complex enough to keep you on the edge of your sit yet accessible enough to be played by many prog fans with a bit more adventurous taste. If you're a fan of the more adventurous side of Art Rock like King Crimson or even The Mars Volta and the easier listening avant-prog bands like Taal then Grindstone is one of the albums missing in your collection.

Review by avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Layers, so many layers.

I had the pleasure to add Shining to Prog Archives and in the process I got to know the band and its history better. The band also helped with the addition, sending me information needed for it, and for that I thank them (not to mention my enthusiasm with their music). This album belongs to the band's "second period" where they stray away from their "first period" where they released two albums and played acoustic jazz with improvisation and with a hardcore feel due to the recording manner. As they felt they no longer want to play within the constraints they set upon themselves, they moved on to their next stage in which Grindstone belongs. (Read the bio in their page to know more, and use the links there to visit their website and Myspace and listen to their music).

This is the story of a certain person listening for the first time to Shining and he chose Grindstone to begin with: "It starts with a bang.

I was struck straight in my brain auditory center.

Dazed, my brain recuperated, still dizzy and shaking from the wall of sound, unable to discern the notes apart, as they came on ceaselessly, mercilessly, attacking and charging over and over.

I then re-assembled my listening sense, told it to be courageous, raise its shields and try and absorb the audio assault.

Now, when I was all prepared and knowing my enemy I started again. And low and behold, the experience was amazing! With more and more listens, I came to realize the beauty behind the beast; the delicacy behind the "savagery"; the sophistication of the arrangements, the instrumentation, and the compositions all of which are built into layers. Their quirkiness and oddity and the beauty of those."

Well I am over-dramatizing it, obviously, as I got into their music from first listen actually, but it is true that their music is a sort of "attack" on your senses and if unprepared or unaware, a track like "Winterrise" might repel you or simply stun you.

Variety, aggressiveness and quirkiness - The album's nature is one of very high energy and even aggressiveness. While there are some intervals to breath somewhere in the middle (track 5 for instance "Moonchild Mindgames"), it is most of the time relentless. It is also "weird" or experimental as I prefer to see it. They opt for trying to create new sounds, new ways of creating melodies. They sure not like to conform and play it safe. Their varied sounds, are not made up of taking others music or style and re-hash it, but rather take from several sources to blend it, "bake" it, add their own ingredients and prepare a "musical cake" of their own. They can be weird like in "1:4:9" and yet this is to me at least (and I realize I am into these kind of things) a well thought-out experiment in constructing a melody from ingredients and an approach which would usually not be used to do so. This track is a dark passage into the final installment in this album, "Fight Dusk With Dawn".

Layers - Shining's music is built layers upon layers. At first it might seem like some cacophony, but you must concentrate and focus on it, identifying the main thread of the music, follow it and then will hear the other layers which can confuse and give the illusion or the appearance of chaos (maybe controlled chaos would be a good description). Take the two first tracks, where there are many instruments involved; improvised ones along with the usual rock instruments with their hard and rough edge and then others like the flute bringing in a softer side and then keyboards adding a majestic sound to top all of it. While listening, try to follow each instrument, one at a time (obviously you'll need repeated listens) and see if you get what I mean.

Instrumentation - What is great with Shining, apart from the sound that captures you in the middle of a ring of sound, is the instrumentation. I hear so many different sounding instruments there; some sound like some improvised Their cleverness is to me, expressed in the way the build their layers using their various instruments, combining subtlety with aggressiveness (for instance the flute vs. the bass and guitar in the first track); in the fact that they build their music however they like without confining themselves to one confined style or genre. In their music they mix their experimentalism with rock, electronics, jazz, metal but I can't say that I heard anything quite like this. Not only they have their own particular sound(s), they have a varied one at that, not restricted to one path.

Melody - Now, you'd think that with all this that I talked about, there is no music actually being played, only gimmicks. Well, that is not the case at all. Take the first track, which is named like their previous album "In The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster"; it has a very melodic line, a fantastic and catchy musical phrase. "Psalm" has a beautiful female vocals backed by backing vocals, along with the guitar and keyboards which start playing quietly behind, increasing in volume slowly, then suddenly all gives way to some experimentation with the sound, and then comes back at full volume of all participants - vocals and band, giving a captivating melodic line. The combination of the female powerful chanting vocals and the guitar riffs, the contrast of roughness and delicacy is a characteristic of their music I admire. They can also be quite amusing or entertaining, like in the two short tracks "The Red Room" with some jazz put in there and "Asa Nisi Masa" with its voice alteration.

Final words - While I don't find all of the songs being of the same entertaining factor or of equal level, the end result is that I've been through a musical experience like which I am not experiencing frequently. And this is one of the things I am looking for when listening to music.

This is highly recommended if you're looking for a special experience, a non-ordinary form of progressive music, an original take on creating sounds and melodies. Give this proper several listens before judging, though. Play it at times when you're feeling adventurous and ready to be bombarded, caressed and intrigued.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. I have to thank Avestin for bringing this band to my attention. Well I wasn't thanking him after the first couple of listens haha, but after many spins i'm processing it better, but more importantly i'm really digging this album big time. How do you describe this music ? They mix in so many genres from Avant-garde to Jazz, from orchestral that sounds like it's out of an epic movie soundtrack to a dark and heavy Post-Rock flavour. This is silly, adventerous, experimental but most of all entertaining. The drummer is amazing by the way. Interesting that the band thanks Dweezil Zappa in the liner notes.

"The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster" really contrasts well the dark passages with the chaotic ones. This does get frantic much like THE MARS VOLTA music. Pounding drums to open as chunky bass and vocals arrive. The vocals a minute in are sinister-sounding before he screams out. I love the intricate melody that follows that reminds me of ANGLAGARD. This is one of my favourite tracks, there is so much going on. Ear candy. It' the perfect opener. "Winterreise" is very uptempo with the drums out in front and all over the place. It calms down to almost a whisper before the drums lead the way back out. Piano arrives as the song settles down again with an orchestral section taking over(like out of a movie) that sounds incredible. Here we go again, full speed ahead ! "Stalemate Longan Runner" opens with something you would expect from KING CRIMSON these days, it's dark, heavy and experimental. Even some angular guitar thrown in. Again the drumming is killer. The tempo picks up as mellotron comes in, and I hate to say it but it makes me emotional it sounds so much like the great ANEKDOTEN at that point. It's just a wall of sound really. 3 minutes in we get a completely different melody that is light and classical sounding to end it. The song that follows sounds like less then a minute of a music box playing.

"Moonchild Mindgames" is a little out in left field as we get horn melodies and strange sounds before the dark piano melodies come in to change the mood to end it. "The Red Room" opens with a brief jazzy sax melody before turning heavy quickly. It then turns lighter again with sax leading the way in an uptempo melody. The drumming is amazing. The sax becomes dissonant to end it. "Asa Nisi Masa" sounds again like KING CRIMSON to open before a heavy, uptempo, industrial sounding melody follows. "Psalm" is my favourite song on here. The vocals are processed as they slowly sing. Suddenly this angelic female vocal melody soars over top. She leaves, as does he, as sounds start to slowly build. This is a fantastic section as the drums get louder and louder until she's back singing those soprano melodies. "-... . --.-. ...." is definitely a secret code right Jim ? No it's the name of the song believe it or not. This is a short horn led track. "1:4:9" opens with dark piano melodies in a haunting soundscape. It's like someone turned the power on before a minute. Heavy guitar as piano joins in a minute later. The power is shut off 2 1/2 minutes in as the original piano and dark atmosphere is back. She's back with those soprano vocal melodies but now it's like something out of a horror movie. Dissonant horns come in. It blends into "Fight Dusk With Dawn" where it turns dark and sinister quickly. It starts to get quite heavy. Nice. Sax and heavy drums take over 2 minutes in. They sound great. The sax eventually becomes prominant(mellotron is back) ending with dissonant sounds before a haunting section arrives. More dissonance and heaviness. Amazing !

I honestly don't know what to say in conclusion. This has to be one of the best recordings ever to come out of Norway.

Review by Easy Money
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Although they are categorized on this site as an avant-rock band, Shining has come a long way since they started as a noisy improvisatory jazz group. With the release of Grindstone, Shining has finally become the incredibly powerful modern instrumental progressive rock band they had hinted at on previous albums. As a long time fan of this genre, I think this is the strongest most original progressive rock band I have heard since the original King Crimson disbanded in 1975, yeah, it's that good.

Although Shining has their own sound, some of their similarities to classic Crimson are very much in their favor. Both bands combine rock, jazz, modern classical, metal, avant-garde, funk, punk and world music into a highly original musical collage, both combine acoustic and electric instruments into unique mini- orchestras, and both create music that is somehow ancient and modern at the same time. I especially enjoy the Crimsonish doubled saxophone lines and heavy Mellotron dirges. To this classic mix Shining brings excellent compositional skills, truly unique melodies that reflect their North European background, and modern metal influenced musical sensibilities that give them a futuristic cutting edge sound. Besides King Crimson, some other bands that come to mind when listening to this album include, John Zorn, mid- 70s Genesis, Van der Graf Generator, Slayer, Mr Bungle, The Mars Volta and probably some avant prog metal bands I don't know about. The diffrence is that Shining's music is almost all instumental except for occaisonal wordless vocals. Ashild Skiri Refshdal's soaring soprano combined with the metal guitar and heavy Mellotron definitley takes a few of their tunes to another time and planet.

It is Shining's compositional skills and gift for original melody that sets them apart from the pack. The ability to draw upon and invoke the spirit of classic progressive rock, and still move the genre forward into new territory is no easy fete, but on Grindstone, Shining achieves what no other band has been able to achieve in decades.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It took Shining a few albums to develop their own unique voice but they not only progress but actually managed to perfect their music layering experiments and create a beast of an album!

It's nearly impossible for me to explain why I enjoy Grindstone as much as I do since there is really no formula to the music on this 45 minute record. The compositions might seem a bit harsh at times, especially while listening to the opening few numbers, and for some people this will definitely be a love or hate type of affair. Honestly though, I couldn't get enough of this album upon my initial spin and it became an essential part of my playlist all throughout late 2009 and early 2010.

I love that this album is short enough to not feel intrusive and not long enough to overstay its welcome, something that Shining didn't succeed on with their follow-up release, and it's definitely one of the reasons why Grindstone was the breakthrough album that that earned this quartet the recognition that they truly deserved. It's by no means an easy experience but there is a certain staying power with these compositions that will make you want to repeat the trip just to make sure that you haven't missed anything. Trust me when I say that compositions like the great Fight Dusk With Dawn are still growing on me even to this day.

This is one crazy ride of an album that I still love to take on occasion. A slight word of caution to anyone expecting Grindstone to be a jazz record. Although jazz influences are definitely still in place, they might not seem all that prominent at first. Give this record some time and it will guarantee to work its magic on you!

***** star songs: In The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster (5:40) Asa Nisi Masa (1:52) Fight Dusk With Dawn (6:53)

**** star songs: Winterreise (3:33) Stalemate Longan Runner (4:15) Moonchild Mindgames (3:06) The Red Room (2:16) Psalm (7:20) -... .- -.-. .... (2:07) 1:4:9 (5:03)

*** star songs: To Be Proud Of Crystal Colors Is To Live Again 1 (0:49) To Be Proud Of Crystal Colors Is To Live Again 2 (1:09)

Review by Warthur
4 stars Having started out playing an eccentric style of flute-focused jazz fusion, Shining had undergone a long evolution, and Grindstone represents the tipping point where the metal components of their music shifted from being occasional influences (as in the preceding In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster) to being a central plank of the group's sound. Though the group had yet to grab onto the industrial influences which would bring this formula to perfection on Blackjazz, this off-kilter mashup of black metal, prog rock, and eccentric fusion will appeal to anyone interested in weird genre mashups. If Mr Bungle's Disco Volante is your idea of a good time, this might well be your jam.
Review by siLLy puPPy
5 stars Traversing the soundscapes like a majestic bird soaring over ever changing terrains of the land, the Norwegian band SHINING started off as a pure acoustic jazz tribute to the 1960s biggest post-bop avant-gardists including the legendary John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman but after two albums of excellent altar worshipping decided to add a bit more of experimental conviction to the mix as bandleader Jørgen Munkeby bravely plunged into a strange new world of sonic possibilities which equally dazzled critics and fans of unhinged experimental music. With the eccentrically designed "In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster," Munkeby deftly crafted the intricacies of classical composer Olivier Messiaen and freeform jazz with the sonic textures of electronica and progressive rock and caught the world's attention with this bizarre new agglutination of disparate musical genera.

The transition may have been necessary but came at a cost. Two of the original members jumped ship and wanted no part of this pioneering pilgrimage to the altar of some bizarre musical chimera as Munkeby cast his intent on following in the more esoteric sounds of early King Crimson. Out was pianist Morten Qvenild who was replaced with Andreas Hessen Schei and quickly following his exit strategy, bassist Aslak Hartberg was replaced by Morten Strøm. Having updated the band into a modern 21st century powerhouse of musical mojo, SHINING now gleamed like a shiny diamond and released its lauded followup GRINDSTONE which found a much more focused and oft direct stylistic approach after the airy abstract improvisational sounds of its predecessor. Instrumentation was tamped down from the excesses of "In The Kingdom" and found the simpler rock setup of keyboards, bass guitar and drums accompanied by Munkeby's usual jazz standard of saxophone, flute and clarinet with his extra guitar contributions finding greater roles. Likewise the guest musicians were limited to a gong, extra organ touches and backing vocals.

Ironically GRINDSTONE opens with a track that bears the title of the previous album. "In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster" actually refers to a reference in the novel "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" but puts an extra emphasis on the "monster" part as the title which signifies a newfound love for the bombast of metal music with crunchy distorted guitar riffs chugging away in a caustic bravado worthy of scoring that role as opening act with extreme metal stalwarts Enslaved which the band opened for at the end of 2007. During these concerts SHINING would end their show with a cover of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" further cementing comparisons to the great KC. GRINDSTONE certainly comes off as a 21st century counterpart to KC's classic debut "In The Court of the Crimson King" with an ineffable trans-genera journey through myriad stylistic approaches that incorporate everything form the metal bombast experienced at the beginning of the album to the more fluid avant-garde classical and jazz experiments that meander unexpectedly throughout GRINDSTONE's 44 minute running time.

After the slap in the face chug-fest of the opening track, "Winterreise" follows the energetic delivery but adds an interesting mix of Baroque piano runs, atmospheric gloominess in movie soundtrack form and special detail to mixing heavier prog guitar heft with more symphonic escapades. "Stalemate Longan Runner" delves deeper into the Crimson court with angular guitar riffs coinciding with avant-jazz motifs and more heavenly atmospheric constructs. This trilogy of heavy rock bombast is separated from the rest of the album with the short "To Be Proud of Crystal Colors Is to Live Again" which evokes a music box and sets the stage for Act II which beings with another Crimsonian allusion in the title of "Moonchild Mindgames" which takes an avant-garde journey into the bizarr-o-sphere much like KC's 69 classic "Moonchild" as it meanders from classical light as a feather motifs to the heavy jazz rock bombast "The Red Room" which takes a jazzier approach on KC's "Red" only with hyperactive sax squawks that would make John Zorn proud.

"Asa Nisi Masa" in its brevity delivers the bombastic heft of metal guitar punctuated with off-kilter time signatures with a unique atmospheric dread and processed vocals followed by the second coming of "Crystal Colors" in full music box form. "Psalm" gets even weirder with the same processed vocal parts, a dramatic horror flick melody and the female soprano parts of Ashild Sikiri Refsdal which collectively sounds like the diva dance otherworldliness out of the movie "The Fifth Element" as it lollygags through rich percussive drives, manipulated electronic effects and a series of production techniques. The tracks followed by the clever 10th track which is morse code for Bach and is indeed a short devotion to period Baroque classical sounds. As the album wraps up, it unleashes the noisy fuzz-fueled "1:4:9" that would make a good alternative soundtrack clip for horror flicks like "The Exorcist." The closing "Flight Dusk With Dawn" continues the melody and mixes the guitar heft of KC's "Red" with avant-garde creepiness of Univers Zero's "Heresie" thus ending the album on a very noisy yet surreal unnerving effect.

Despite the extreme guitar elements which guarantee a slot in metal databases, GRINDSTONE will appeal much more to aficionados of darkened heavy prog in the vein of not only classic King Crimson but Anekdoten, Morte Macabre and even a bit of Univers Zero and Art Zoyd. The album is exquisitely crafted and i find to be one fo the best dark progressive rock albums of the 21st century with its incessant zigzagging through myriad musical motifs that take on the sonic dexterity of bands like Goblin but evoke more of a creepy reverie of some of the more out there avant-classical composers of the 20th century such as the Transylvanian born György Ligeti. The music is dynamic and crafts a menagerie of stylistic shifts throughout it's normal album playing time and straddles its tightrope act through various layers of heavy prog, atmospheric electronica and avant-garde jazz. It would've been impossible to comprehend such wild and innovative music coming from SHINING just a few years back when they were very much focused on early 60s jazz but somehow Munkeby channeled the zeitgeist of the aforementioned artists and crafted a veritable and often frightening compilation of sound effects that resulted in GRINDSTONE. This is one of those unsung masterpieces that will hopefully resonate more with others.

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