Review of Bjorn Riis, LULLABIES IN A CAR CRASH (Karisma Records, 2014). 52 minutes. Six songs: A New Day; Stay Calm; Disappear; Out of Reach; The Chase; Lullaby in a Car Crash.
Without a doubt, my favorite Porcupine Tree song is “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here.” If you could take the best of that 12 minute song—its moodiness, its psychedelic atmosphere, its thundering bass and guitar, its surrealism—and expand it to 52 minutes in length, you’d have Riis’s solo album, LULLABIES IN A CAR CRASH.
Of course, you might also find yourself with a slightly less depressing version of Pink Floyd’s ANIMALS or THE FINAL CUT or a less religious and more nordic version of Talk Talk’s SPIRIT OF EDEN.
Whatever you’d have, you’d be listening to and holding something of intensity, struggle, and beauty. LULLABIES couldn’t be any moodier, frankly. In fact, if you’re feeling the holiday blues at all, don’t come near this album. If, however, you’re in a good state of mind, in a darkened room, wearing your state-of-the-art headphones, and sipping a vodka-tonic, then you’re a blessed listener. It won’t get better than this.
Indeed, this is the perfect early 1980s album, the type of album that you could (and probably will, even if you’re now in your 40s) listen to again and again and again, trying to immerse yourself in the very Riis-Hollis-Waters-Wilson atmosphere: thick, claustrophobic, and all-pervasive.
No one can avoid comparing Riis’s work here or with Airbag to Floyd and PT. Yet, there’s something distinctively Riis-ian, too. This is no mere cover band. By no means. In large part, Riis brings three critical things to each of his albums: 1) a haunting vocal style; 2) the uncanny ability to allow his music to flow, organically, as did Mark Hollis; and 3) an outrageously fine sense of audiophilia.
Of course, has there been a misfire from any Scandinavian prog release since Roine Stolt’s mind-bogglingly good THE FLOWER KING? Not that I know of.
Riis ably follows in this noble tradition.
To learn more, visit Riis’s official site: http://www.bjornriis.com/about/