First up, Krakow’s MINUS. I must note, there’s nothing that Norway’s Karisma label releases that doesn’t interest me. The label is one of the best up-and-coming labels out there, offering everything from shoe-gaze prog to black metal. As far as I know, Krakow fits into something more akin to black metal than it does into shoe-gaze prog. I’ve asked metal master, Mahesh, to review this, as I’m simply not capable of understanding what’s going on. I like what I hear, but I have no reference for it. it just seems impenetrably dark to me. Not in a bad way. In fact, I like it. But, listening to it is akin to me listening to Hindi. I like the sounds, I just don’t have a clue what’s going on.
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 . . .
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.
Airbag lead guitarist and main song writer Bjørn Riis is releasing his debut solo album, “Lullabies in a Car Crash”. The album is very much a personal statement, with lyrics dealing with fear of abandonment, alienation and loss. It’s also homage to many of Bjørn’s musical influences.
Bjørn is one of the founding members, the lead guitarist and main songwriter of the highly successful Norwegian band Airbag. Their three releases have all received great reviews worldwide and all become favourites among fans all over the globe.
“Lullabies in a Car Crash” feature six songs with a coherent and thematical composition. Bjørn’s soulful guitar playing and low-key vocals creates a rich listening experience. Although Bjørn as a guitarist have developed his own sound with a unique tone and his own technique over the years, the playing and tone are reminiscent of David Gilmour, Steven Rothery and Steven Wilson. As a singer this is the first time he takes the lead, normally doing the backing vocals in Airbag. His singing style is in the area of the mellow vocals of Tim Bowness and Nick Drake.
In addition to playing with Airbag, Bjørn is a highly respected guitarist within the guitar community, where he has a huge fan base. His guitar page “Gilmourish.com” has, with more than 40 million hits in total and an average of 150000 hits every week, become a centre for gear and music discussions online.
“Lullabies in a Car Crash” feature Airbag’s Henrik Fossum on drums and Asle Tostrup providing loops and effects. Long-time Airbag collaborator Vegard Sleipnes has co-produced the album together with Bjørn. The album is mastered by Jamie Gomez (Orgone Studio).