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Karlsen, Steinar: Destination Venus

Bumping and grinding with a gritty vintage, Norway’s Steinar Karlsen is set to take us to Destination Venus, so strap in, prepare for some garage rock that wants to space out and reach for the stars as the surf sound is given a Shadows twist and a much more 60s base. The launchpad is set and the burners are hot as “The Goodbye” starts the countdown, “Night Flight” instrumentally asking if we’re all enjoying the speed of light flight into the dark abyss. Oddly, “The Karman Line” takes this space fixation and brings a wah-wah-waaaaaaaahhhhhh of Morricone and his westerns of spaghetti, the echoing lilt offering a keen counterpoint to some low hitting organ notes that are more scene setting than headline grabbing. However, it’s that ability to layer little darting playoffs against one another that takes what could have been a one dimensional space walk and move it into a full blown, big picture event that draws you in.

Karlsen himself plays it cool daddy-o, his guitar so low slung that he’s just about grazing the daisies with it, but when “Picnic On The Moon” adds a playful jaunt to the more serious overtones, that he can also supply a lightness of touch serves this album well. With “The Trip” taking this space extravaganza into Latin territory through some hard spanked percussion and lively organ/guitar interplay, there’s also an understanding that there’s a need to ensure that for any passengers refusing cryo-sleep for this long journey, variance is key in keeping the attention - even if it is supplied in a way that fits perfectly with the over all theme playing out.

Surprisingly, “Venus” itself somehow infuses the merest hint of Roxy Music into the mix and while that feel may fleet for only a fair few seconds before settling back into the relaxed surf setting, it does also do a perfect job of illustrating the less serious side of Destination Venus and the very reason that even with some tried and tested starting points, it remains an album that can and does play fast and loose with expectation. Add in some excellent musicality and Steinar Karlsen somehow manages to take his thoroughly vintage Venus landscape and turn it into a destination for the here and now.


Track Listing
1. The Goodbye
2. Night Flight
3. The Karman Line
4. Weightless
5. Picnic On The Moon
6. Space Camel
7. Monsters
8. The Trip
9. Red Skies
10. Venus
11. A Billion Stars
12. Acid Rain

Added: February 6th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Destination Venus on bandcamp
Hits: 612
Language: english

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Karlsen, Steinar: Destination Venus
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2021-02-06 18:57:40
My Score:

Here is another artist I was completely unfamiliar with until hearing his latest album titled Destination Venus, released in 2020. Steinar Karlsen is a Norwegian guitarist influenced mostly by ‘60s instrumental guitar-based music and you can really hear it on this somewhat eclectic album. Karlsen (guitar, synths, Mellotron, piano, organ) is joined by Martin Langlie (drums and percussion) and Eirek Øien (bass) along with guest musicians Bård Ingebrigtsen (rhythm guitar on “Picnic On The Moon”) and Marita Vardal Igelkjøn (saw on “Monsters”).

The first stop on our ‘Destination to Venus’ is “The Goodbye”, a burning bluesy guitar centered piece with a prevailing ‘60s element. Karlsen is a master on the guitar, his well felt notes slowly twisting with fiery twang and sinuous intensity. The sound is crisp and clean with guitar on center stage. “Night Flight” is a tad more rocking with the guitar laced with fuzz and distortion packing a heavier punch. “The Karma Line” has a cool pulsating bass line with the guitar inducing a Northern European/Middle Eastern vibe. Karlsen is able to hone his eclectic nature into some highly engaging and listenable melodies. There is also a trippy element at play, a moody background soundscape overlaid with imaginative guitar stylings and atmospheric keyboards. “Weightless” is a short interlude, much more otherworldly than the previous tunes. The guitar and keyboards in the mellow “Picnic On The Moon” and the Eastern accents in the fusion laced “Space Camel” where the guitar work is loaded with ‘feel’, are two more excellent tracks.

Perhaps my favourite tune is “Monsters” conveying eerie background embellishments, atmospheric riffs and bluesy edged notes. Ina word " excellent.

Anyone who appreciates instrumental guitar music would be wise to check out Destination Venus. It is moody and edgy, and generally excellent throughout. Recommended.

Discography:
Ulydium (2010)
Hanens Død (2013)
Tur (2015)
Tog til Sunnfjord (2015)



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