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Airbag — All Rights Removed
(Karisma KAR066, 2011, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2013-04-01

All Rights Removed Cover art

Airbag is a young Norwegian quintet whose 2009 debut, Identity, received positive reviews and helped garner concert appearances with Riverside and Marillion. The six songs on All Rights Removed share a certain sound and style, though I wouldn't call it a concept album. Nonetheless, each piece feels like part of a larger continuum, and shares the same moody, vaguely psych-tinged rock sound that will remind many of Porcupine Tree circa The Incident. Singer Asle Tostrup and guitar player Bjørn Riis anchor the band with keyboard player Jørgen Grüner-Hagen providing an important supporting role, similar to Rick Wright's position in Pink Floyd. Speaking of the Floyd, it's clear that Airbag is using them as a jumping off point, but – like many groups these days – they also inject a more modern flair into the songs by way of shoe-gazery lyrical introspection and an indie-rock distorted bluntness. In the end, prog wins the day, perhaps best seen in the epic-length "Homesick" suite. Here the guitars explore a multitude of sonic facets and the keyboards serve a fundamental role in the arrangements. Don't go expecting twiddly leads or solos – this is not that kind of band. But I give Airbag props for allowing the song to breathe and develop. I'd enjoy a bit more daring and variety in the compositions; each seems stuck in the same tempo and key. But it does give the entire collection a certain coherence, and for a group just starting out Airbag shows a ton of promise

Filed under: New releases, Issue 40, 2011 releases

Related artist(s): Airbag, Bjørn Riis

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