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Lars Fredrik Frøislie — Fire Fortellinger
(Karisma KAR, 2023, CD / LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2023-08-02

Fire Fortellinger Cover art

Lars Fredrik Frøislie says in his promotional video for this solo album that if it hadn’t been for the pandemic, these tunes would have ended up on the next Wobbler album. As it is, he’s pulled it all together himself, with only help on bass guitar from Nikolai Hængsle, who is known for his work with Elephant9, Needlepoint, and several other bands. Everything else — vocals, drums, and an impressive array of vintage keyboards — is Frøislie. There is a long history of keyboard-dominated albums that lack in punch, where the absence of guitar (or anything else) is keenly felt, but Fire Fortellinger (Four Stories) does not in any way suffer. Hængsle’s bass, which is often overdriven or flat-out fuzzed, is a big part of that, but bass isn’t the only instrument with an edge to its sound. Frøislie often seems to be torturing his instruments, notably the Hammond organ, which has a crackling attack of distortion to it. In addition, the music is bristling with energy, with many passages of dramatic power and driving riffs. Two of the stories are 16-minute epics brimming with inventive passages and contrasting sections; the other two run six minutes each, but are no less inventive. His playing lies somewhere between Keith Emerson (dissonant chords full of fourths and fifths) and Rick Wakeman (nimble arpeggios and note-heavy Moog solos), with a healthy infusion of classic Italian prog in the mix, so Balletto di Bronzo might come to mind. His singing is quite good, all in Norwegian and with a slightly-gravelly warmth to his tone, whether solo or in massed choirs. On the drums, while his parts aren’t super technical, they are perfectly appropriate to the music and show none of the hesitant quality that non-drummers often exhibit — it’s powerful and propels the pieces forward through the many changes. Wobbler fans eager for new music will find Fire Fortellinger a worthy salve to their hunger, and anyone who loves classic keyboard sounds should be in heaven. Frøislie is no dabbler, but the real deal, and this is one of the best progressive rock albums of the year.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Lars Fredrik Frøislie

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