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Bjorn Riis - 2019 - "A Storm Is Coming"

(51:00; Karisma Records)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. When Rain Falls 10:40
2. Icarus 7:00
3. You and Me 7:05
4. Stormwatch 14:22
5. This House 8:18
6. Epilogue 3:35 


Bjorn Riis - vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, programming
Henrik Bergan Fossum - drums
Simen Valldal Johannessen - piano
Kristian Hultgren - bass
Ole Michael Bjorndal - guitars
Mimmi Tamba - vocals

Prolusion. Norwegian composer and musician Bjorn RIIS initially made a name for himself as a member of Norwegian progressive rock band Airbag and as the main man behind the website, but since 2014 he has also developed a solo career that appears to go from strength to strength. "A Storm Is Coming" is his third full length solo album and his fourth solo release overall, and was released by Norwegian label Karisma Records in the spring of 2019.

Analysis. Riis is famous for his guitar playing, and his obvious admiration of David Gilmour. This, combined with him also being a member of a band that have Pink Floyd as one of their references of inspiration, kind of makes it a given that something of a Floydian sound will be present on his solo albums. Or at least many will expect this being the case. Riis does deliver on this part too I should add, but perhaps not in an expected nor predictable manner, and only as a part of a greater totality. At least on this production, the compositions tends to ebb and flow a lot, rising and falling in intensity, pace and solidity quite a bit, ranging from subtle alterations and developments to changes of a more abrupt and even marginally dramatic manner. Opening cut 'When Rain Falls' is a pretty good example of this, setting off in something of an ambient mood, then abruptly kicking in with a section where Riis channels his inner Iommi for a bit and then seguing over to a more delicate section with a psychedelic touch that sports an ever so slightly jazz-tinged feel to it, slowly transforming into a Floydian mood and then concluding on a more ambient note. Harder and tighter impact riffs makes appearances also elsewhere, and the slight touch of jazz-oriented details makes an appearance later on this album as well. But in between those there are sections closer to ambient atmosphere, with and without textured instrument details that have more of a post-rock feel to them, and of course a liberal amount of Floydian sounding passages with and without the additional flavoring described as a part of the greater totality. Riis lead vocals is an important mood factor throughout as well, soft and melodic, with both a delicate melancholic expression, a more clear and distinct mode of delivery and an subtly raspier expression used on a select few occasions. Some vocal harmonies appears here and there as well, as well as non-verbal vocals effects. All of which fits the settings in which they are employed very well indeed too I should add. If there is one drawback to this album, then it is that it is a headphone type album, one that demands a certain amount of focus and attention from the listener to reveal it's qualities. The ebb and flow quality to most of the song as well as at times highly layered arrangements both calls for this, especially when the layers consist of subtle and careful sounds carefully set together without any one instrument or sound truly dominating the proceedings.

Conclusion. Those who are fond of atmospheric laden progressive rock, often with a melancholic general mood, and compositions that ebb and flow in pace and intensity with mainly slow, deliberate and subtle developments alterations will probably be something of a key audience for this production. Those equally fond of the more atmospheric laden parts of later day Pink Floyd and ambient oriented post-rock possibly the audience that will get this music most readily. A solid production that will be treasured by the right audience.

Progmessor: October 1st 2019
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Bjorn Riis Karisma Records


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