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Airbag: Identity

As soon as you hear the new CD by the Norwegian band Airbag one thing will be perfectly clear: they certainly have listened to Pink Floyd. Now, being a huge fan of Floyd, this is not necessarily a negative thing for me. However, if you are looking for something completely original and innovative you might as well stop reading this review right now. Identity is their first full length CD having previously released two EPs. Consisting of Asle Tostrup (lead vocals), Bjørn Riis (guitars, vocals), Jørgen Hagen (keyboards), Anders Hovdan (bass) and Joachim Slikker (drums), the band plays melodic progressive rock in a similar style to Pink Floyd and others of their ilk. The comparisons are obvious, from the Gilmouresque guitar work, keyboards harkening back to the glory days of Richard Wright and melodic lead vocals these guys have it down pat. This begs the question: is this stuff any good? The answer is a resounding yes. There are so many nice melodies scattered through these eight songs I don't really care who the band sounds like or taken their inspiration from, as long as the music is well played and well written. Don't get me wrong, I like original sounds as much as the next person, but it is hard to ignore songs this well crafted.

The songs are mostly slow to mid tempo with many pastoral moments and soothing melodies sometimes bordering on the somber side although none that I would consider overly dark. The guitar sound is a major highlight for me as Riis plays his guitar from the heart adding a touch of class to each song.

The nods to Pink Floyd start early with the album's first tune "Prelude". The ticking of a clock and slightly menacing synths are overtaken by Riis's melodic lead guitar making this a nice way to start the album. There is a hint of Gilmour's On An Island in the somber "No Escape" with its silky guitar rhythms and smooth washes of keyboards. The rest of the songs are similar in sound and texture which might pose a problem if you are looking for more variety in your music. There could have been a couple of up-tempo numbers to compliment the slower songs but clearly that was not the band's intention when making this album. Besides, the album flows beautifully as is, so I really cannot find fault with that.

There is an undercurrent of peacefulness that pervades these songs, making this a nice way to spend a quiet reflective evening. If you like Pink Floyd inspired chill-out music this ones for you.

(originally written for www.progressiveears.com)


Track Listing:
1. Prelude
2. No Escape
3. Safe Like You
4. Steal My Soul
5. Feeling Less
6. Colours
7. How I Wanna Be
8. Sounds That I Hear

Added: January 25th 2010
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Score:
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 3756
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Airbag: Identity
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-01-25 14:08:20
My Score:

"Progressive-chill" may not be an official genre (yet), but Airbag — a spaced-out Norwegian quintet — blur the sleepiest elements of Riverside, Steve Hogarth-era Marillion, Pink Floyd and Chroma Key into a sound that's bound to either relax you or bore you to tears. Identity's eight dreamy songs focus on swirling, moody soundscapes, interrupted every so often with a jolting guitar solo from Bjorn Riis. As my colleague Jon Neudorf states above, this is soothing, slow to mid-tempo stuff that refuses to get too worked up despite song titles such as "Steal My Soul" and "How I Wanna Be." And just when you think "No Escape" might actually breathe some life into this disc (considering the majestic intro and mesmerizing chorus), Airbag deflates again with downers "Safe Like You" and the drab "Colours," which wallow more in melancholy than melody.

Live, I'm told, these guys use strong visuals and extensive film backdrops to underline the music's subtle nuances. Too bad Airbag didn't enhance the at-home listening experience by including a companion DVD…




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