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Airbag: Disconnected

Toiling somewhere in between modern day Marillion, Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree, Anathema, Radiohead, Blackfield, Riverside, and Pink Floyd, Airbag's fourth album Disconnected is sure to strike a chord with fans who lean to the more atmospheric, pop flavored side of the progressive rock fence. The Norwegian's pull the listener right in with the opening 9-minute cut "Killer", as bubbling keyboards support tasty guitar work from Bjørn Riis (who nails some of those David Gilmour tones) all while the lyrical message is delivered quite emotionally by Asle Tostrup. Hazy acoustic & electric guitars, shimmering keys, and floating vocals seep into the alluring "Broken", a more laid back and mesmerizing tune with some cool melodies, while the slow-simmering "Slave" builds to a dramatic conclusion with some splendid guitar solos. That thick atmosphere again permeates the prog/pop of "Sleepwalker", and it's becoming apparent just how well this band is able to layer in the acoustic guitar strums with some tasty electric solos and swirling organ & synths. The band goes for their epic statement on the 13-minute title track, but as is the case throughout this album, it's not all about complex '70s styled prog here, instead they rely on that 'light/shade' balance, here with gentle rhythms, piano, and synths slowly giving way to heavier riffs and sinewy guitar leads before the calming passages come back into play. The reflective "Returned" closes things out in emotional fashion, a mostly instrumental piece save for some brief vocals towards the end, which allows the listener to drift off into the sunset with the band, ending Disconnected on a rather mellow note.

Much of Disconnected was written after Riis had made a decision in his life to to walk away from his 9-5 office job to spend more time with his family and music career, and you can pretty much feel that newfound sense of purpose & discovery throughout the album. There are some great melodies to be found here, and while at times the band seem stuck in first or second gear, the instrumentation is crisp, clear, and concise, the band preferring to slowly build on the atmosphere & emotion rather than completely rock out and move into cliched prog rock territory. Well done.

Track Listing
1. Killer
2. Broken
3. Slave
4. Sleepwalker
5. Disconnected
6. Returned

Added: August 6th 2016
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 3651
Language: english

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Airbag: Disconnected
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-08-06 23:41:38
My Score:

2016 is shaping up to be another great year for progressive rock and the latest release from Norwegian band Airbag further cements that assertion. The band started to take shape around 2005 when they released their debut EP. Two years later a second EP appeared and in 2009 they released their debut album Identity. That was a marvelous debut effort which you can also find reviewed on this site.

The current lineup includes Anders Hovdan (bass guitar), Asle Tostrup (lead vocals, keyboards, programming), Bjørn Riis (guitar, vocals, keyboards, bass) and Henrik Fossum (drums).

Their fourth full length release is titled Disconnected and continues the band's run of exceptional music. I suppose Pink Floyd is the biggest influence here but if you like bands like Riverside, Porcupine Tree, Anathema and Riverside you need to hear this album. Songs like "Killer", having a guitar sound reminded me of "Run Like Hell" era Pink Floyd as well as a bit of Animals and the slowly drifting and beautifully atmospheric "Broken" are what this album is all about. "Slave" is another great track with an eerie and atmospheric mood heightened with absorbing guitar and keyboard treatments and tasty lead and rhythm guitar. The keyboards are generally used to create atmosphere and mood, not so much as a lead instrument. That is reserved for the guitar but even then the solos are more refined and restrained. This isn't mile a minute wankery, no it is much better than that. This stuff has staying power and you need to give this music your full attention to reap its benefits. The title track has the longest running time at over thirteen minutes and folks, it's a beauty. The drums provide a warmer toned intro upon which moody interjections of guitar set the mood. Tostrup has a fine voice, very laid back and restrained, perfect for the band's atmospheric sound. More ominous and dense soundscapes lead to more wonderful guitar work and Rick Wright style keyboards. Really trippy and atmospheric stuff. The last track "Returned" is in a word gorgeous. Tostrup's pleading lead vocals are simply divine and as the song builds Porcupine Tree and Anathema are certainly valid reference points.

Disconnected will certainly rank amongst my favourite progressive rock albums come year's end. If you enjoy melancholic tinged melodic prog you need to give this a listen. Highly, highly recommended.

A Karisma Records release.

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