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(65:35; Apollon Records [2022 Edition] )
TRACK LIST: 1. Sno 4:21 2. Nordlys 3:44 3. Istind 3:25 4. Stillhet 7:22 5. Havorn 7:40 6. Smeltevann 7:07 7. Fallvind 9:56 8. Uvaer 5:33 9. Snotind 5:42 10. Haredans 4:22 11. Fon 6:23 LINEUP: Odd-Roar Bakken - guitars, keyboards Anton J. R. Larsen - drums, percussion Nils Larsen - bass
Prolusion. Norwegian band Kornmo started out sometime around 2015 following the disbandment of long ongoing progressive rock band Morild. The band have three studio albums out so far, of which two have now been given an official label release. "Svartisen" is Kornmo's debut album and was first released back in 2017. The album has now been remixed and remastered, and then subsequently reissued through Norwegian label Apollon Records.
Analysis. Kornmo's take on progressive rock is one that is distinctly retro-oriented, and then to a variety of the form that had its commercial peak back in the 1970's. Symphonic progressive rock is the name of the game here, and one with a focus and intent on exploring classic sounds and atmospheres at that. This is an instrumental production, an orientation that does come with its strong sides and weak sides. It is more demanding to create material with a strong appeal without vocals present in the first place, and the crowd receptive to instrumental music will always be a bit more limited than material that features vocals one way or the other. One manner in which to create and sustain nerve and tension when composing instrumental is to include a number of changes and alterations along the way, and this is something we find in just about all of the compositions here. We do get a few cases of more elongated explorations of distinct arrangements with distinct moods, but the majority of these creations ebb and flow and twist and turn every so often. Usually revisiting previous sections in the individual compositions of course, but many of the compositions also feature standalone sections and transitions. Wandering, plucked and delicate acoustic guitar motifs, often with a bit of a folk music inspired melody, is a vital ingredient here as the starting point for many songs as well as for interludes as well as being used in a more supporting role. The piano, while not used to the same great extent, has a similar function. The rhythm section will come and go, and with the bass given a more prominent role in the arrangements from time to time. The stars of the show are the keyboards however. The organ and vintage keyboards share the limelight with the Mellotron here, with a liberal amount of sections dominated by one or the other as well as two or more of these instruments in different variations. Just about as important is the use of floating atmospheric guitar solo runs and more cutting and sharper guitar solo runs used as the lead instrument or in some combination or other with the tangents and Mellotron. A harder, darker toned guitar riff presence will also be in place on occasion, but rather more sparingly applied. This all combines into songs that alternate between delicate, fragile sections, careful atmospheric passages and more majestic and intense arrangements with layers of depth and contrast. Just how much the material here will appeal is mainly a matter of personal taste. Personally I found that many of the songs were uneven, with some compelling and some not as compelling parts. For my personal taste some lacked energy or atmosphere, some lacked intensity and nerve, some were too slow paced. Others were solid and touched base with the brilliant, with the more layered and the more energetic parts being more appealing to my personal taste in music. Others will undoubtedly feel different, and how much or not you treasure vintage keyboards and the sounds of the Mellotron will obviously be an important factor here too.
Conclusion. Kornmo's debut album "Svartisen" is an album that explores an instrumental variety of symphonic progressive rock lightly flavored with folk music details and with a liberal amount of twists and turns in compositions where the use of vintage keyboards, organ and the Mellotron are central and vital aspects of the total experience alongside atmospheric laden guitar soloing. A production those with a strong passion for 70's symphonic progressive rock will feel right at home with, and then especially those who treasure an atmospheric laden variety of the form where the use of vintage sounding instruments is central.
Progmessor: April 2022
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