Ave, Karisma


Norway’s Karisma Records is one of my favorite labels.  For those of us who run part-time, non-professional websites dedicated to music, dealing with companies is the LEAST joyous part of it all.  They remember us one day, but forget us the next.  There are days in which I feel I do nothing but remind companies that we exist!

Not so with Karisma.

Not only has Karisma treated us professionally and wonderfully from its beginning, but it, more importantly, produces amazing music.  Not the cookie-cutter prog, but the real stuff.  Thus, ave, Karisma!

If everyone in this world acted as professionally as Karisma . . .

Nice Looking Arrivals at Progarchy HQ

Several new arrivals at Progarchy HQ in Michigan.  Thank you so much to the good companies and artists for sending these!  We’re honored you would trust us.  May we continue to earn that trust.


From AFL (California): Yurki Volodarsky’s RTFact’s LIFE IS GOOD.
mts from bem
From the U.K. (Bad Elephant Music): My Tricksy Spirit’s MY TRICKSY SPIRIT.
prog 80
PROG Issue 80.

Airbag’s DISCONNECTED: The Spirit of Mark Hollis and Rick Wright

Review of Airbag, DISCONNECTED (Karisma, 2016).  Tracks: Killer; Broken; Slave; Sleepwalker; Disconnected; Returned.

airbag disconnected
Airbag, DISCONNECTED (Karisma, 2016).
IDENTITY (2009).  It could be none-more-Talk Talk.


When Airbag first appeared on the prog scene with their extraordinary album, IDENTITY (2008-2009), they seemed a fascinating cross between Pink Floyd and Talk Talk, at least in their influences.  Or more accurately, perhaps, imagine Pink Floyd performing Talk Talk songs.  Even the cover of IDENTITY looked like something James Marsh would’ve painted.  The atmosphere the band created—at least in the studio—was nothing short of astounding.  Moody, driven, and meaningful.  One might be tempted to call their music prog shoe-gaze.

Their first and only (as far as I know) live release, LIVE IN OSLO, proved just how amazingly talented the four members of Airbag are.  After hearing them live, no one could dismiss them as a studio band merely.  As much as I liked IDENTITY, it was the 24 minutes of LIVE IN OSLO that utterly blew me away.  Upon my first listen to this short album, I knew this band was something special.

Continue reading “Airbag’s DISCONNECTED: The Spirit of Mark Hollis and Rick Wright”

Seven Impale - City Of The Sun

Seven Impale – City Of The Sun

Take a big paper bag. Got one? Good – now toss in some 1970s King Crimson, some Frank Zappa, a bit of the 1969 ‘Crims, a healthy dose of their 80’s classic “Discipline“, a large amount of 90s-era ‘Crims, some Steely Dan, a bit of Toto, a very healthy quantity of the 1970s ECM catalog, a pinch of Edvard Grieg, a modicum of Steve Reich, a soupcon of Ulrich Schnauss’ textures, and some 50’s and 60s Blue Note Records for good measure. Got it all? Great. Now shake.

Keep shaking. Shake hard.

Right. That’s enough shaking. Now: Dump out the contents of your paper bag, and you should get the music of Seven Impale – “City Of The Sun”. Seven Impale - City Of The Sun

“WHO?” I heard someone in the back ask. 

Let’s turn to their label, Karimsa Records, for some details:

SEVEN IMPALE consists of Stian Økland on vocals and guitars, Fredrik Mekki Widerøe on drums, Benjamin Mekki Widerøe on sax, Tormod Fosso on bass, Erlend Vottvik Olsen on guitar and Håkon Vinje on keyboards, and was formed in Bergen, Norway in 2010. The album itself, which was recorded and produced at the Solslottet and Duper Studio by Iver Sandøy, who has produced bands such as Enslaved and Krakow.

The band’s second release, due out in September of this year (2014), is a fantastic Progressive Rock album. Rock? Check. Jazz? Check. Progressing the genre? Oh yeah. Moody, light, heavy, melodic, pounding, dark, making the odd-meters groove? Yup. Most certainly.

Let me tell you, when I first heard the opening track “Oh My Gravity!” from a post on reddit/r/progrockmusic, I flipped. “What the…”, I said to the paper cut-out TARDIS sitting on my crowded desk. “Who are these guys? What is this? This the some of the best progressive rock I’ve heard this year!”, I said.  The track starts out in the middle of the dynamic range, and by the final third of the song is heavy, heavy, heavy.   Slamming guitars, saxophone, key changes that add tension to an already tense situation, rhythmic pounding that slams home the point… and finally the guitar and bass and B3 get us back to a contemplative solace: “…2000 years, and counting“.

Here’s what the press release from label Karisma Records has to say:

Whilst the prevailing influence throughout “City Of The Sun” clearly lies within the Classic Progressive Rock genre, SEVEN IMPALE’s music actually transcends several genres fearlessly and with deceptive ease. The five musically complex tracks that form the album are each distinctly different, something that only a lineup of musicians from a variety of disciplines as diverse as classical orchestra and big band, metal and jazz, and rock and electronica, could hope to create.

That’s a good description, thank you record-label-person. 

The production is clear, the writing and arranging very creative, and the dynamic range between quiet, mid, and heavy is produced beautifully. These guys are not shy about getting heavy, and even less shy about melody and harmonic movement. They’ll pound their fists on the table one moment, and sing about it with their saxophones the next. 

One moment complicated, complex; the next elegant and simple; one moment it’s a nightmare of prime-number-fueled angry metal, the next a gorgeous and plaintive melody, the album is a joy-rode through eidolons, fever-dreams, textures, philosophy, contemplation, quiet rumination, and angular rage. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sevenimpale
SoundCloud: http://soundcloud.com/sevenimpale

Jason Rubenstein is a musician and technologist living in San Francisco, CA. His music can be found at http://music.jasonrubenstein.com and can be reached at jason-(a)-jasonrubenstein.com. 

The Punctuated Funk of Norway’s Karisma Records

Looking for a new, interesting label?  

You get the serious funk just looking at this logo
You get the serious funk just looking at this logo

We’ve spent so much time chasing down Kscope over the past five years that some other labels might have gotten too little attention.  Kscope has certainly been distracting for us, serving as a kind of Pixar to the prog and post-prog world.

Here’s one that definitely demands watching.  And, demands because it’s going to be an interesting ride with them.

At a time during which the major, big player, colossal labels of the last three decades are crumbling under the weight of radio formatting changes and imploding because of the extreme decentralization of the market–due to the release and outreach of the work and through the fundamentally democratic ethos of the internet–it’s great to see some new innovative and entrepreneurial labels realizing and offering the positions of ombudsman, muse, and midwife.  Kscope has that in spades.

This label I want to introduce to you now, has it well–again–in spades.  This one is Karisma Records.  Good solid, interesting, innovating lyrics and intense music.  Prog, psychedelic, bass-blues, funk, real funk, funkadelic., nineteenth-century folk instruments . . it’s fusing and combining in ways you might not be expecting.

Dang, does it work.

Karisma seems likely to be the next big label, ready to step in where the old have failed to adapt to such a fundamentally altered marketscape.

If you have time for nothing else at the moment, please set your browser to stun and at least visit the magical and mythic snow world of Norway: http://www.karismarecords.no/

Even the website makes my brain swirl with Pink Panther-like effects.

[Updated, June 16, 2014: fixed ca. 10 typos]



Karisma &
Dark Essence Records AS
Postboks 472
5805 Bergen


Tel: +47 95 74 92 19 (Martin)


Tel: +47 922 66 316 (Bjørnar)


+47 412 11 208 (Kristine)