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Riis, Bjørn: Everything to Everyone

Being his sixth studio output, acclaimed Norwegian guitarist virtuoso Bjørn Riis has crafted another six tracks of absolute ear-candy. The album manages to mostly maintain clarity through its quality of song writing and blissful production that results in an experience of empathy and sometimes even distress. Riis has described the purpose of the album as being: “Inspired by Dante’s Inferno when I started to write. A bit pretentious perhaps, but I’ve always been fascinated by that very personal journey and the search for some kind of peace or redemption, while being both mentored and hurt along the way. Musically, I wanted to take the listener on that journey, experiencing both hope and anxiety” all of which he executes with confidence. Although, I do have a couple gripes.

If you’re a fan of the blistering guitar tones and sinister/melancholic atmospheres of Airbag (his mainstay group), you will certainly enjoy the soundscape of his new record that features haunting guitar solos and mellotron notes that linger in the corners of your eardrums. The two stand out tracks for myself are ‘Every Second Every Hour’ and ‘The Siren’. The first, that’s just over thirteen minutes, is the most versatile track as it has different although subtle movements as it swells and sinks multiple times throughout its journey. This is the moment of the album that demonstrates the “hope and anxiety” that he aimed to convey. Additionally, this track also gives more time for the mellotron and piano to shine which I feel are lacking in their representation in the other tracks of the album. The latter track on the other hand embraces the sadness and yearning for “peace and redemption” as Riis shows off his Gilmour-akin guitar playing, lingering on painful notes with tasteful slides and bends throughout. My gripes with the record however lies with the hollow drum playing, acting mostly as a tick off of the checklist as well as the repetitive acoustic guitar strumming during most if not all of the six tracks. I find that this hurts the album making it difficult to distinguish the difference between the songs. Above these points however is the poignancy of his influences, to me the most obvious is Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree’s works of the late 90’s and 2000’s which is almost obvious in the initial track ‘Run’: think Stupid Dream and Signify.

Although, upon multiple listens it must be said that the final track of the album ‘Everything to Everyone’ strikes me as being the most perfect in its length, not overstaying its welcome and giving a proper resolution to the crescendo it builds upon throughout as the riffs become heavy and the piano keys more rapid and cutting.

I suggest checking this one out regardless, this certainly isn’t a throwaway album and might sustain your thirst for more of Airbag’s unique sound.

Track Listing:
  1. Run
  2. Lay Me Down
  3. The Siren
  4. Every Second Every Hour
  5. Descending
  6. Everything to Everyone

Added: May 14th 2022
Reviewer: Johnny Ponsford
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 852
Language: english

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Riis, Bjørn: Everything to Everyone
Posted by Ryan Gavalier, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-05-14 14:18:50
My Score:

Bjorn Riis has established himself as a guitarist and songwriter in Neo-Prog band Airbag. The group formed in the 1990’s but started to make a name for themselves in 2009 with their critically acclaimed first album. The band has released five albums, and Riis has also embarked on a well-received solo career. On April 8th of this year, he released his fourth solo album, Everything to Everyone. The album is moody and intense, and it reminds me of bands like Pink Floyd and Marillion. Riis has a wonderful voice, and the musicianship is quite stunning.

This is a very strong album. It has a classic feel to it, but also a sense of modernity. The production is very modern sounding, but when I hear the chilling guitar solos by Riis, they take me back to David Gilmour’s legendary playing. The songwriting on this album is top notch. A lot of it is mellow, making the moments where it gets slightly heavy more effective. Bjorn’s voice is very special. It isn’t flashy, and he doesn’t show a tremendous range either, but there’s a certain vulnerability and beauty to his vocal parts that make them stand out over a more technical vocalist. The guitar tones on this album are also mesmerizing. There are very haunting acoustic parts, and larger than life electric parts that blow out the speakers you’re listening with. The riffs are solid, and the guitar solos are some of the best I’ve heard in a while. Along with the guitar and vocals, the rest of the instrumentation is fantastic as well. Especially impressive is the bass playing on the song “Lay Me Down”. The bass lines are extremely groovy during certain parts of the track, reminding me of some of Pink Floyd’s jammier moments. There is also some beautiful piano playing; especially on the song “The Siren”. The keyboards throughout add a ton of depth to the overall sound and make it much more epic and majestic. The album is about 50 minutes long, and some of the songs clock around 13 minutes, but it never feels overly long. The atmosphere and brilliance of the compositions keep them interesting from beginning to end. Some of my favorite tracks are the instrumental “Run”, “Lay Me Down”, and “Descending”.

Overall, I really enjoyed this album, and it is an extremely impressive example of modern prog. It’s beautiful, relaxing, haunting, and it is sonically amazing. I have no flaws of note with the album, as I feel that it is extremely well written, produced, and performed. If you are a fan of prog; especially groups like Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, and Marillion, then definitely check it out.

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