Exposé Online banner

Steinar Karlsen — Destination Venus
(Orangutwang OTWCD 005, 2020, CD / LP)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-08-15

Destination Venus Cover art

Stretch your musical mind back to the early to mid-60s, and chances are quite good you will find Steinar Karlsen – or someone that sounds a lot like him, there. Fact be told, Norwegian Karlsen’s recording career goes back to only the early 2000s when he joined the blues band Good Time Charlie from his previous band Hot Little Mama, eventually branching out into solo endeavors around 2010 while remaining with the band – which continues to this day. His solo works are based firmly in guitar instrumental excellence, finding a home somewhere between surf guitar, spaghetti western soundtracks, spy movie themes and more, with ideas developed well beyond the sources of his inspiration. And if the album title doesn’t provide a clue, there is a certain fascination with space travel, though his music doesn’t embrace that in typical ways. One might also find some of his bluesy roots on a couple of the tracks on this twellve song set, though again played out in a very non-typical melodic way. Karlsen composed all of the tracks here, a couple with his sidemen participating, as well as playing guitars, synth, pianette, organ, and Mellotron. Eirik Øien plays bass and Martin Langlie plays drums, with guest Bard Ingebrigtsen contributing rhythm guitar on the catchy number “Picnic on the Moon” and Marita Vårdal Igelkjøn contributing saw on the spooky “Monsters.” ”The Trip” invokes a bit of a jazzy rock style with a powerful, fluid, and memorable lead line, while “The Karman Line” launches with a bouncy bass figure that propels the piece forward as Karlsen’s tasty guitar licks take a jazzy and melodic flight onward into the short and shimmery “Weightless.” With its Western, somewhat bluesy feel, “The Goodbye” opens the album and sets the stage. “Venus” hits a slightly funky tone for that voyage to the second planet, while “A Billion Stars” which follows it takes a brooding look skyward, offering another opening to the space concept. Karlsen lends a powerful blend of captivating rhythms and a colorful melodies across the entire twelve song set, one that I can heartily recommend.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): Steinar Karlsen

More info

Latest news

New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more

Return of Jerry Lucky's Progressive Rock Files – After much consideration and surprisingly, positive feedback, Jerry Lucky is announcing the launch of the progressive Rock Files podcast, featuring the latest progressive rock music from around the world. » Read more

Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more

RIP Roger Trigaux – The sad news has come to our attention that Roger Trigaux, the guiding force of Present and former member of Univers Zero, passed away on the evening of March 10, 2021 after a long ilness. » Read more

SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Network - Corroded Path – This five-piece fusion outfit hails from the British Isles, led by guitarist Tim Crowther and drummer Steve Clarke. The band is rounded out by Ted Emmett (trumpet), Pete Jacobsen (keys) and Laurence...  (1994) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues