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Major Parkinson: A Night at the Library

A Night at the Library is the second live album by Norwegian eclectic prog “cult” band Major Parkinson, recorded at, and streamed live from the Bergen Public Library in Germany on May 2020 during COVID lockdown, with a stripped down four-piece version of the ensemble. Here we have Jon Ivar Kollbotn on vocals, Claudia Cox on violin and backing vocals, Lars Christian Bjørknes on piano and Sodre Veland on drums and percussion.

This is a very emotional and vulnerable version of this group of songs from their last three studio albums, being 2017’s Blackbox the most represented, plus a new song called “Jonah” which is an outstanding piece of music. All songs shine differently here, they have been de-layered and presented “as is” and is quite remarkable how the beauty in them seems to bloom even more than on the studio version, the cold whispering vocal style by Jon suits the acoustic atmosphere perfectly enhancing the experience. There’s stuff I miss like the continuity between songs when they follow an idea or concept and that they do so well on their studio albums, same as the bass lines and intricate guitars, but somehow everything works perfectly and it feels very intimate, up close, and personal, delivering music that moves and emotionally affects the listener. I think that Claudia does an incredible work both in her string’s performance and her vocals input and she is very clever and inventive when having to fill in the blanks, flawless and pristine. However, the MVP will go to Lars whose hypnotic piano playing delivers a very melodic masterclass. The percussion is very adequate to the “look and feel” of the setting and contributes to polishing some roughness in songs like “Isabel”, where folk overrides darkness allowing the song to fit the proposed set list.

My impression is that this album will bring old fans even closer to the band because of the intimacy feel that rules the recording, but it will also appeal to new listeners that perhaps weren’t attracted by their studio output but relate more to the acoustic/melodic/hypnotic version of the band. I enjoyed this album a lot since the very first listen, it won’t necessarily grow with time, but it won’t lose any steam either. Enjoy!

Track Listing:
  1. Lover, Lower Me Down (5:22)
  2. Black River (4:22)
  3. The Wheelbarrow (7:13)
  4. Beaks of Benevola (3:55)
  5. Strawberry Suicide (3:32)
  6. Isabel: A Report to an Academy (6:54)
  7. Baseball (5:26)
  8. Night Hitcher (6:35)
  9. Before the Helmets (7:00)
  10. Jonah (7:25)
  11. Heart of Hickory (2:14)

Added: July 12th 2022
Reviewer: Jose Antonio Marmol
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 383
Language: english

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