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Old 09-15-2009, 03:08 AM   #21 (permalink)
Juicious Maximus III
 
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Default Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Tarkus (1971)

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Tarkus (1971)


  1. Tarkus (Emerson, Lake) – 20:35
  2. Jeremy Bender (Emerson, Lake) – 1:46
  3. Bitches Crystal (Emerson, Lake) – 3:55
  4. The Only Way (Hymn) (Emerson, Lake) – 3:48
  5. Infinite Space (Conclusion) (Emerson, Palmer) – 3:18
  6. A Time and a Place (Emerson, Lake, Palmer) – 2:57
  7. Are You Ready Eddy? (Emerson, Lake, Palmer) – 2:10


Introduction :

Members : Keith Emerson (keyboards), Greg Lake (Bass, vocals, the rare guitar now and then), Carl Palmer (drums)

Emerson, Lake & Palmer are known as prog-rock's first supergroup and were extremely popular at the height of their career in the 70s. The trio was made up by Keith Emerson coming from The Nice, Greg Lake from King Crimson and Carl Palmer coming from Atomic Rooster. They released their eponymous debut album in 1970 and quickly garnered more and more fame with subsequent albums and touring. They are known for their pompous, bombastic on-stage performances and over-the top indulgences like Carl Palmer's two and a half-ton drum kit. In the late half of the 70s, ELP like so many other prog acts would drift apart because of artistic disputes and more importantly prog quickly becoming unpopular.

Tarkus is their very famous second album and their first concept album. The whole first side of the LP contained only one song, Tarkus, which very roughly tells the story of Tarkus - a half armadillo/half tank monster born out of a volcano. Tarkus fights other half-mechanical creatures and is eventually defeated by a Manticore. Tarkus then becomes Aquatarkus, an aquatic version of it's previous self. Aside from this rather abstractly told, strange tale, the lyrics also contains criticizm against war and organised religion. Art from the album's sleeve roughly illustrates the story.


Keith Emerson presented Tarkus to his fellow bandmembers almost in it's entirety. Greg Lake is known for his initial dislike of the work, but says it quickly grew on him with time. For many, the Tarkus suite is one of the true classic 70s prog-pieces and so it enjoys a lot of popularity to this day.

(Some added trivia, there's is one prog-rock magazine in Norway, guess what it's called .. Yup, Tarkus.)


Song for Song Review :

As you might expect from a prog-piece, Tarkus itself can be divided into different parts.
  • Eruption (Emerson) – 2:43
  • Stones of Years (Emerson, Lake) – 3:44
  • Iconoclast (Emerson) – 1:15
  • Mass (Emerson, Lake) – 3:11
  • Manticore (Emerson) – 1:52
  • The Battlefield (Lake) – 3:51
  • Aquatarkus (Emerson) – 3:59

As Tarkus comes on, sound increases in strength and builds tension until it releases into the frantic Eruption dominated by a rapid playing by Keith in a 10/8 time signature, symbolizing the cascading eruption of the volcano from which Tarkus is born. As we come into the Stones of Years - the first of three vocal parts - the song becomes surprisingly radio-friendly with some soothing singing by Greg Lake that I'm not entirely able to interpret. With Iconoclast, the song gets more frantic again and represents Tarkus' travelling. Mass is back with with some radio-friendliness and lyrics ripe with religious references. The instrumental part Manticore represents the appearal of Manticore, Tarkus' enemy, and the ensuing battle between the two monsters. Tarkus is defeated as we come into The Battlefield, another spine-chilling part that returns to Greg Lake's vocals. Battlefield is written entirely by Greg and is the most moving part of Tarkus. The lyrics deal with war and it's consequences. Aquatarkus is the final and slightly whimsical last part of the suite where Tarkus is reborn as Aquatarkus. It ends with a return to the eruption theme. Phew.

That - Was - Brilliant!

Everything gets a bit weird as Jeremy Bender comes on, a whimsical tune that seems to contain lyrics about gender bending and even a reference to fisting. It certainly is a departure from the earlier prog-masterpiece as this song doesn't even cover 2 minutes in length. It's still an enjoyable song. Bitches Crystal is a slight return to some of the franticness of Tarkus mixed with some of the qualities of Jeremy Bender. It contains enjoyable performances by all. The Only Way (Hymn) starts with what sounds like a church organ. The first half is a slow churchy part dominated by Greg's singing. The lyrics return to the theme of religion.
Can you believe - God makes you breathe?
Why did he lose six million Jews?
Very clever. The last half of the song speeds things up with jazz-elements for a thoroughly enjoyable ending. Infinite Space (Conclusion) is a rather good instrumental piece by Keith and Carl. A Time and a Place and Are You Ready Eddy? returns the rock, especially the latter which is a rockabilly song that has more in common with Jailhouse Rock than it does with Tarkus. To be honest, I consider it rather awful. As such, the last track on Tarkus feels like a departure from the rest of the album.


Review Summary :

Emerson, Lake & Palmer seems like a group torn between a want to be both a rock 'n roll act and an ambitious prog-band. The album opens with an amazingly ambitious prog-piece and then ends with a silly rockabilly tune. Of the two ELPs, I much more like the prog-band than I do the rock-'n'roll-band and I feel the duality of this album lets it down a little bit. I would very much like an album that was more like the Tarkus track from start to finish.

I have to say, though, that the part of this album that is Tarkus is brilliant. It is one of my absolute favourite prog-works and my appreciation for it still only grows with each listening. It wasn't always like that for me. Like Greg Lake admitted, I also had initial problems with Tarkus .. I found it hard to get into and the three man band sounded a bit stripped down and dated compared to some of the other prog-music I listen to. However, with subsequent listenings, something clicked and Tarkus really started growing on me. By now, my appreciation for it is so that listening to it will send shivers down my spine and make the hair on my neck stand up - several times. It is a thoroughly enjoyable experience from start to finish and I love every little bit of it. Strangely, out of my selection of prog, it is also one of the pieces my girlfriend seems to appreciate the most.

So - to sum things up, I consider the Tarkus suite a masterpiece. It easily deserves a six out of six. However, for me - the whole album is let down by a disappointing last half which I would rate four out of six and my final score will reflect that. Also, as a message to new listeners and those who are sceptical - yes, it can be a hard album to get into. As I wrote, ELP's sound may not have aged as well as some of their prog contemporaries and some might not like the hammond/moog/whatever dominated music, but give it a shot. Sit down with Tarkus, give it a listen through and read my rather short descriptions of the different segments so you know what they represent. It might take a few listens, but if you fall in love with it like I and many others have, it will just keep giving and giving.

I wear my ELP T-Shirt with pride.

Toretorden's Treasure Trove score : 5/6 - (first half Tarkus - 6/6 / Second half - 4/6)
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Old 09-15-2009, 03:39 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Unknown Soldier View Post
I`m a huge fan of Megadeth as well and would far sooner listen to their stuff than say Metallica for example, this has largely to do with Dave Mustaine and his brand of Thrash along with his unique signing style.

I think you must have watched the same Megadeth documentary as me as knew everything that you had written about Dave Mustaine, stuff that makes him one of the most interesting personalities in the history of rock.

As far as their albums go, Rust in Peace is their definitive work, hey! I would even say its one of the greatest metal releases ever, the album also has a manic energy that is unbelievable at times. As for Countdown to Extinction, its also a great album but the group are pushing in a more commercial direction and as you say, was around the same time as the Black album and that took some of its thunder away, even though I think its a far more enjoyable album. I think the opening riff on "Symphony of Destruction" followed by Dave`s vocals to be unforegettable.

I`ve never decided on their best line up, whether it be Chris Poland or Marty Friedman on Guitar, or Gars Samuelson or Nick Menza on drums.

Megadeth are one of those groups that I can listen to all day and every day.
I have a Megadeth DVD which is basically about the band with a lot of interviews with Mr. Ellefson and others. As you know, David's left the band now which is a pity, seemed he was the one who stuck with Dave the longest (I recently saw him play bass in a band that warmed up for Heaven & Hell by the way). I have a lot of sympathy for Dave. Even if he's undeniably quite douchy now and then and has seen the light etc .. he's still more metal than most out there, certainly more metal than contemporaries Metallica.

Countdown to Extinction was my first Megadeth album just like Black album was my first Metallica album. I know they're not the cool albums to like with the die-hard fans, but it's just the way it turned out for me. Still, Megadeth has tons of great stuff and I find something to appreciate on even their worst records. Favourite tracks at the moment are probably The Scorpion from The System has Failed (2004) and Sleepwalker from United Abominations (2007) which are both very recent albums .. To me, Dave's still got it even if he's a converted christian straight-edge smallholder.
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Old 09-16-2009, 01:33 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Default Massive Attack - Mezzanine (1998)

Massive Attack - Mezzanine (1998)


  1. Angel - 6:18
  2. Risingson - 4:58
  3. Teardrop - 5:29
  4. Inertia Creeps - 5:56
  5. Exchange - 4:11
  6. Dissolved Girl - 6:07
  7. Man Next Door - 5:55
  8. Black Milk - 6:20
  9. Mezzanine - 5:54
  10. Group Four - 8:13
  11. (Exchange) - 4:08

Listen : Spotify



Introduction :

Massive Attack is one of the english trip hop groups that rose out of the Bristol undeground scene in the 90s to international success alongside contemporaries like Portishead and Tricky. The group was originally made up of Robert Del Naja, Grantley Marshall and Andrew Vowles, but have had a lot of collaborators working with them in the studio. They released their debut album "Blue Lines" in 1991 and followed up with their second, Protection, in 1994. Their third album, Mezzanine from 1998, marked a change in their sound and was a much darker-sounding album than it's predecessors. It would also become their to date best selling effort and is widely regarded as a trip-hop classic. Among the many collaborators on the album are Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins and Horace Andy .. but no more Tricky.

I got to know this album from an ex-girlfriend in the very late 90s and I've been giving it a spin now and then ever since. After 10+ years, it still sounds fresh.


Song for Song Review :

The album opens up to listeners with the bassline to the song Angel fading in. It is a gloomy, dark and yet gentle entry and a sign of things to come on the album. The track is heavy, repetitive, brooding and quite beauftiful with a lovely vocal performance by Horace Andy. For added trivia, I think it must be song most often used in TV european car commercials. It's not surprising that the commercial business would embrace it because it's so easy to get sucked in, even on the first listen. It's like it has a little world of it's own. It also has a music video that you can enjoy.




The next song, Risingson, continues very much in the dark and broody vein of this album. It's like hip-hop from the dark side. However, performances are a little flat and this track becomes background music to me. Although I consider it good background music, I also consider it skippable. Teardrop, in contrast to it's predecessor, brings a little light and hope into the album while still fully keeping in line with the concept. Elizabeth Fraser is amazing in this song and her singing in general brings a lot of emotion to this album, not least this track. Although not my favourite, this is perhaps the most successful single from Mezzanine for good reason. You might recognize it from the video. Here it is.




Inertia Creeps marks another highlight for me. Despite some deliciously dark and lush sounds and heavy beats, it still manages to sound slightly like a hymn to paranoia, grabbing a hold of the listener with dronelike suspense. Exchange's place in the track listing is perfect and gives a bit of welcome variation. The album takes a turn for dreamy feelgood with this lazy and lush instrumental. It is easily another contender for album favourite. Dissolved Girl is another good song with vocal contrubutions from Sarah Jay. It has a hypnotic start and features more heavy breakbeats and also throws in some distorted guitar riffs. The next song marks the return of Andy Horace. Man Next Door, although others may and have disagreed, is another highlight for me - possibly my favourite song from this album. It's a soulful and mournful lament about a horrible neighbour. Don't laugh, it's not funny! Aside from Andy Horace making this song unique, the song is catchy and is, for this album, relatively traditional in it's verse/refrain approach. Still, it also contains just about everything else you should expect from this album. Great stuff.

Elizabeth returns to sing on Black Milk. Again, it is so dark and yet so beautiful. Noone could have done it better than her. This song also has some interesting trivia surrounding it. It contains a sample from the song "tribute" from Manfred Mann's Earth Band's epnymous 1972 debut album. The group was sued for using the sample and has since cut the sample from the song when they play live. On the title track Mezzanine, Robert Del Naja does another vocal performance. It's in the same vein, but does not quite rise up to the quality of the earlier Inertia Creeps. Like Risingson, I consider this one of the less interesting songs on the album. Not quite filler, but with more background music quality. However, with the help of Elizabeth, the duet Group Four becomes quite enjoyable and is another great track. The song mixes some of the qualities of Dissolved Girl, Black Milk and Risingson together for a successful result. Horace Andy gets to close the album on (Exchange), a return to the previous song by almost the same name, but with added vocals. Like Angel served as a gentle introduction into this dark album, (exchange) rises from the darkness and gently takes us out of it. Very fitting and a superb way to end this gem!


Review Summary :

Mezzanine is an album full of substance and it's moody broody sounds pull you in for an immersive experience. While Robert De Naja has a flat, sometimes sinister and almost emotionless style when he raps, the guest artists (particularly Elizabeth and Horace) add bucketloads of feeling and beauty to which makes for some very exciting contrasts. There are many dark albums out there, but Mezzanine seems to know just when to bring in a little hope and a little light. It gives the listener a little relief, but also deepens the shadows. All in all, I think they accomplish a sense of immersiveness and atmosphere that many artists out there strive for but is still quite rare. As such, Mezzanine is unique and also one of my favourite albums from the 90s. It still sounds fresh today and it's no wonder it's songs have been used in a number of movies and commercials ..

Anyways, if you don't know it - what are you waiting for? Get it!

Toretorden's Treasure Trove score : 5/6
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Old 09-27-2009, 06:14 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Yes - Close to the Edge (1972)


  1. Close to the Edge (Jon Anderson, Steve Howe) – 18:43
  2. And You and I (Anderson; Themes by Bill Bruford, Howe, Chris Squire) – 10:08
  3. Siberian Khatru (Anderson; Themes by Anderson, Howe, Rick Wakeman) – 8:55

Listen : Spotify



Introduction :

Yes originally formed in London in 1968 is one of the early popular prog bands coming from the end of the 60s to their peak in the early 70s alongside acts like King Crimson, Genesis, Caravan and many more. Close to the Edge, their fifth album from 1972, is by many if not most considered their magnum opus and featured a lineup of now considered legendary prog-musicians - founding member and frontman Jon Anderson as lead singer, Chris Squire on bass, Steve Howe on guitars, Rick Wakeman on keyboards and Bill Bruford on drums. The five would all collaborate in a kind of hippie democracy when writing and recording their material. Rick would have an idea on the keyboard so they'd put that in the song, then Steve would have an idea for a short guitar riff and they'd include that and so on. In effect, this puzzle piece approach means that a lot of Yes songs are built up from lots of good ideas. This approach is evident on Close to the Edge which only consists of three tracks, focusing on the 18+ minutes long title track. Bill Bruford would leave Yes and join up with King Crimson shortly after recording the album because he felt the peak had been reached.

Quote:
"And when we got to what turned out for me to be the high spot which was Close to the Edge, really, I don't know how that record got made.

For most acts, there were two or three albums that weren't so good - getting you towards the winner. The one that the thing existed for, which was Close to the Edge. That's the moment you exist for in a rock group and it's terrific and you think : "That's the cookie. That's the one right there. Done deal! I'm gone." I left then."

~ Bill Bruford on prog-rock britannia
Also perhaps worth mentioning, especially for those who like vinyls, it featured lush cover art by artist Roger Dean who also worked with them on other albums.



(CD Sleeve)

The album has, since it's release, gained acclaim and is broadly considered an immortal prog classic. In 2006, it was voted the greatest progressive album of all time by progarchives and has also gotten mentions in other various best of lists. But does it still live up to the hype surrounding it?


Song for Song Review :

Close to the Edge opens quietly, then sounds of birds and running water fades in. Suspension builds and the listener is suddenly thrown into a torrent of sounds. The opening has a confusing and almost cacophonous quality to it. This goes on for about 3 minutes until something that actually sounds like a tangible song comes on where Steve plays a somewhat easy to grasp melody on the guitar. This goes on for another minute or so until finally - a steady beat comes in and Jon Anderson's vocals follow and gives the music real structure. At this point, Total Mass Retain despite some unpredictable timings sounds quite radio-friendly with a truly catchy melody and a chorus that is easily spinechilling.

After about 8 and a half minutes in, the song suddenly loses ground and becomes untangible, yet not random this time. Instead, it floats around on drifting harmonies. The music returns with layered vocals, but remains floating. The song at this point sounds like it's balancing on the edge of a knife. It has a fragile, haunting beauty - like it could break apart at any moment. This may be the finest moment on the whole record. Intensity then builds slowly until the song breaks up with a new piece being added to the puzzle, a hymn-like part on a church organ that again starts to break up and throws us back into a torrentlike state and a return to Rick's bit at the start of the song.

The torrent gives way to an awesome sounding jam on the earlier theme. When Jon Anderson comes back, the song is reborn and back on track with some plain awesome rock music. The song at this point sounds absolutely incredible and continues on to it's climax where it finally ends with a return to the sounds of birds and running water preceding it. Holy crap.


And You And I opens with a probing and searching acoustic guitar sounding quite lovely. It soon picks up a rythmn and dives into what is probably the most accessible parts of this album. Unlike the title track which has you listen to the birth of the song before it actually gets going, "And You And I" is a bit more immediate and easily features moments of splendor just as enjoyable and spinechilling as those on the title track. Again you find the variation in themes and the breaking up and rebirth of the song a bit more than halfway in and it all works. However, something magical happens about 6 minutes in. It's just another take on the same theme of the song, but the little changes make for perfection. When the song picks up a groove that carries it towards the end, I'm frankly astonished at how much awesomeness they've managed to cram into a ten minutes song. The track ends with another breaking up and a quick return to the main theme for the nth time which is absolutely stunning. It is perfect. No review can ever do it justice.


Siberian Khatru is slightly different from it's two predecessors which is fine because anymore of that could be too much and leave you emotionally ravaged. The first half is quite upbeat and playful and has a really good groove to much of it. The layered and beautiful vocal harmonies are present here as well as well as the variation between puzzle piece-like themes. In the latter half, it builds up for some really dramatic sounds before it loses some of it's focus and fades out with a faster jam-part. Needless to say, it sounds great. Another immortal prog classic!


Review Summary :

At first, I didn't want to write this review because I think the album is so astonishing that I can't really put down the experience of listening to it in words. I'm just not that good a writer. However, this album has been on repeat the last few days and I feel like I have to give it a shot just to help me move on What I can say is that the title track is obviously the focus here. It starts with the spring-like birth of the song into the random torrents of sound that eventually grow and become a true prog-rock epic before it dwindles back to where it came from. It fits perfectly with the imagery that comes with the album. Also, as I've mentioned many times already, these songs are made up of a lot of ideas, variations and themes. The amazing thing is that just about all of them are very sound-aesthetic and pleasing on the ear. I'm sure you could pick these songs apart and have enough variety for several pop albums. Instead, they've crammed all this into no more than three epic tracks and they are all treasure troves of musical splendors. With so many ideas floating around, you might expect it to sound chaothic, but it never does so unintentionally. An analogy used earlier, the whole sound of at least the first two songs balances perfectly on the knife edge where suspense, timing, playfulness, seriousness, conceptuality and everything else come together at the perfect equilibrium. This makes for an album full of interesting dynamics where melodies are born, broken up, become tangible, intangible and so on, all with perfect timing.

The best parts for me are the dreamy, fragile and tender moments of beauty and there's quite a few of those. New listeners who are not used to prog albums should still remember that despite all my praise, most prog albums by far are growers. This one, although perhaps not particularly difficult, is no exception. It opens up to you as you get to know it. In other words, don't read my praise and then expect to be able to put this album on and instantly like it. You have to let it grow and I also think it helps to understand the music a bit conceptually. If you are a new listener, I recommend you to start with the second track "And You And I" since it's quite easy on the ear and see if you like that. If you do, I can guarantee you will like the rest.

So, is this really the best prog-album of all time? Yes, for me right now, it is. King Crimson, Caravan, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Camel, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, even popular favourites Pink Floyd .. They have nothing on Yes.

Amazing.

Toretorden's Treasure Trove score : 6/6


I love coming across albums like this because it means I've found something that I can treasure and enjoy for the rest of my life. Many thanks to Yes!
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:17 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Wow that was an amazing review, and I haven't even heard the album. Makes me want to go buy it.
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Old 09-29-2009, 01:26 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Wow that was an amazing review, and I haven't even heard the album. Makes me want to go buy it.
Hehe, thanks! It's a been a little while since I wrote this review but even though the album is not quite as new and exciting now as then, I still love it just as much. It's still my all-time favourite prog album and I also see it still hovers around the top of progarchives top 100 prog albums ever list (nr.2 as I'm writing this actually).

If you're gonna pay money for an album, this one is highly likely to be worth it.
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Old 09-30-2009, 12:38 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Default Madrugada - Industrial Silence (1999)

Madrugada - Industrial Silence (1999)


  1. Vocal
  2. Beautyproof
  3. Shine
  4. Higher
  5. Sirens
  6. Strange Colour Blue
  7. This Old House
  8. Electric
  9. Salt
  10. Belladonna
  11. Norwegian Hammerworks Corp.
  12. Quite Emotional
  13. Terraplane

Listen : Spotify



Introduction :

Madrugada is regarded a staple in norwegian pop and rock history and was, until their recent breakup, a rock band fronted by the deep voiced Sivert Høyem. Unfortunately, core member, guitarist and songwriter Robert Burås was found dead in his apartment on the 12th of july, 2007. Despite the tragic loss of their fellow bandmember, the band finished recording their last eponymous album which was released in january 2008. They had their last farewell concert later in november the same year.

The band started out in the early 90s as a classic guitar, bass, drums and vocals rock group and changed name several times from ØX to Abbey's Adoption to Six Generations. I wasn't until 97 or 98 that they finally settled with the name Madrugada. The word appearantly means the hour before sunset in spanish. After their final namechange, they released two EPs and their dark and melancholic rock sound got a lot of praise and attention. The EPs also generated lots of anticipation for their 1999 debut, Industrial Silence. When it was finally released, it was the first of several albums from the band to top the norwegian pop charts.

Industrial silence is today widely regarded as one of the most popular norwegian rock albums in history. After it's release in 1999, it won them a norwegian grammy in the rock category. It also spawned a few singles with accompanying videos that get airplay on radioshows and channels like MTV to this day.

But .. is it any good?


Song for Song Review :

Vocal opens quickly with two beats on the snare drum and wham!, you are immediately thrown out into Madrugada's lush melancholic rock sound. This ballad is one of the most well known and appreciated songs on the album. I already know it well and listening to it again, I'm not surprised it's popular because it does a good job of showcasing the band and their sound. It's fragile and robust at the same time, very melancholic - and also quite accessible. Beautyproof leaves the ballady feel and trades it for a bit of attitude. It's a droning rock song that starts out gently, then builds momentum until it gets quite loud and powerful at the end. Unlike the melodic guitar of the opening track, Beautyproof has a very simple guitar riff being played over and over. It's a good song and also a popular single, so I was able to find the video on youtube. Check it out!




Shine is another melancholic rock ballad in the same vein as vocal, but it's a step up on the romantic scale. If you can take that kind of stuff, there's not much to dislike about this song. I know soppy ballad sounds bad, but it's actually rather excellent and one of my favourite songs on the album. Higher, much welcomed, brings up the pace a little and finally gets things rocking. It's a good song with plenty of drive. Sirens starts out slow and ponderous at first, then like beautyproof builds suspension until it's pushing you towards the edge. Strange Colour Blue is another favourite with some and is yet another driving, droning melancholic rock tune.

This Old House interestingly throws a little harmonica and steel guitar into the mix. Despite being another basic rock tune, it's the first song to really break from the mold that's been built up so far on the album and I for one welcome the country influence. It's also not quite as dark as most of the songs before it. Electric is wholly enjoyable although at times, it eerily reminds me of the classic Unchained Melody. It features a return of the steel guitar and has plenty of passion and a very strong vocal performance by Sivert. Salt is apocalyptic and dark with militaristic drums, drive and anger. At times it's almost lamentatious and the lyrics slightly grotesque.
"As long as we are free - We'll be doomed to live and die - Under the great suburban sky"
It actually sounds like it could be Nick Cave song. Neat huh? Belladonna is a wall of sound slow rock song with distorted guitar and heavy, dronous drumming filling every audible crack. The bad thing about it is that it sounds a bit like a mix of stuff you’ve already heard before on this album, only not as good. The refrain is scarily similar to that of beautyproof. Norwegian Hammerworks Corp. immediately sets things right again. At the start, Sivert is reciting lyrics over a droning drum and guitar playing a simple yet heavy riff. As the recital ends, so does the music -- until Sivert’s vocals come back singing more this time, eventually reciting “with the hands of love” like straight out of Joshua Tree. I won’t pretend like I understand it, but I like it.

Quote Emotional is a love song song you could have a nap to. It’s soothing, slow and dreamy at times. The slightly self-indulgent and experimental Terraplane sounds like more night-music and actually reminds me a bit of Portishead. Just replace Sivert Høyem with Beth Gibbons, get some breakbeats in and it could work. However, it also works as a Madrugada song although this is perhaps not the most exciting moment on the album. And that’s it, phew!


Review Summary :

So what do we have here? Well, despite some variations in influences, Madrugada mostly stays very true to their melancholic rock sound and for an album that's roughly 64 minutes long, it's a bit much in one sitting. While some of the songs sound conceptual, for example Norwegian Hammersmith Corp., the album as a whole sounds like just a collection of songs, some better than others. In a way, I think many of the individual songs are stronger than the album as a whole which lacks variety and eventually becomes a bit boring. That's perhaps my biggest beef with it.

However, the saviours of norwegian rock have put out an astounding debut and I can definetly see why it became so popular. One of the more interesting things about Madrugada, I think, is how they were able to take such a classic, simple band setup and such simple chords and make such a rich, moody sounds and great songs. Most people with a little guitar-skill will be able to play along while they listen and thus, they show again that the quality of rock music isn't necessarily in it's technical complexity. However, while all the songs are good or better, some of them are still a bit poppy for my tastes and many lack replayability .. but that could also have something to do with me having known this album since release.

It was either gonna be a weak 5 or a strong 4, either very good to good or vice versa. A lot of people would beyond doubt give this album a 5, but I'm gonna give it :


Toretorden's Treasure Trove score : 4/6


Now, had the album been shorter, say about 45 minutes, I probably would've given it a 5 without thinking twice. Thus, despite the good score, I will strongly recommend this album to all of you because it has some really good songs on it. Just don't sit down and try to listen through the whole thing, you may get bored. Instead, listen to one or two of my favourite songs and see if you like it!

favourite songs : Vocal, Beautyproof, Shine, Higher, This Old House, Electric, Norwegian Hammerworks Corp.
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Old 09-30-2009, 11:42 AM   #28 (permalink)
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I'm really liking "Vocal."

Amazing review. [=
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Old 09-30-2009, 02:28 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by AwwSugar View Post
I'm really liking "Vocal."

Amazing review. [=
Thanks!

If you like it, I can guarantee that you'll also like "Shine" from the same album. They have quite a lot of songs in that melancholic rock ballady vein actually - from other albums as well. Here's the song "majesty" from their third album "Grit" (2002).

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Old 09-30-2009, 02:41 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Euroboys - Long Day's Flight 'till Tomorrow (1999)


  1. Deliverance - 8:28
  2. Filadelfia - 4:06
  3. Down the Road of Golden Dust - 4:32
  4. Transatlantic Phonecall - 4:36
  5. Gallery Oslo (A Long Day's Flight 'Till Tomorrow) - 5:58
  6. Sex Kabin - 4:17
  7. Invisible Horse - 3:56
  8. Rock 'n' Roll Farmacia - 6:46
  9. In Farfizium - 5:32
  10. 99° - 4:06
  11. Black Fez - 5:37
  12. Ambulance Cruiser - 6:02
  13. Gibraltar - 5:14

Listen : Spotify



Introduction :

Norwegian Kåre & The Cavemen did a lot before their debut album was released in 1997. They started out as a Beastie Boys inspired hip-hop/punk act, but soon turned to 50s and 60s sounding garage rock around the fall of 1990. Later in the early 90s, the band rooted themselves deeply in the norwegian underground and in 1993, they were writing and recording jingles for popular music radio channel NRK P3. According to experts specializing in 90s pop culture history, an increase in interest in older music supposedly sparked by 90s movie Pulp Fiction helped renew interest in Kåre & the Cavemens movie-soundtrackish sounds and by 1996, they became the house band on norwegian comedy/talk-show "Direkte Lykke". It was also around that time they got a record deal with Virgin. Their debut album "Jet Age" got overall good reviews and contains a lot of cover material in excellent surf rock fashion.

Also back in 1996, lead guitarist Knut Schreiner joined up with "death-punk" band Turbonegro under the stage name Euroboy. Turbonegro became smoking hot in the 90s european punk underground and after Kåre and the Cavemen's debut, the band laid low while Knut spent his time with the denim denoms. However, not long after Turbonegro's classic album "apocalypse dudes" in 1998, singer Hank Von Helvete had a mental breakdown which gave Knut the time to once again focus on Kåre & the Cavemen and their second album.

(Kåre & the Cavemen would later change name to Euroboys, basically to get their music out there. Thus, their official name today is "Euroboys". Norwegian appreciators like me still call them by their old "norwegian" name.)

Their second album, the instrumental "Long Day's Flight 'Till Tomorrow" released in 1999, is by everyone I know considered a cool and classic norwegian surf/psychedelic/lounge rock album. So let's review it!


Song for Song Review :

The album is off to a gentle roll like waves on a beach as the harmonica from Deliverance comes probing. It's a slow song and perhaps not the most exciting start on an album, but it does show that they've surely developed since their debut adding soft-rockish lounge to their repertoir. The result is, for me, instantly likeable - especially when the bass, guitar, drums and organ enters the stage. I love that it somehow manages to sound so norwegian, yet I can't put my finger on why. Moving on, if there's a pop "hit" on this album, it's definetly the funky Filadelfia, one of two songs on the album that has sung lyrics although these appear only in the chorus. Although it may not have the most replay value, the production is excellent and the sound is groovy with laid-back ease. Bass complements guitar complements organ for great dynamics. Schreiner's guitar playing is easy, clean and sounds wonderful. However, things get much more exciting as the song slows down to a near standstill before it explodes into the next track, Down the Road of Golden Dust. This retro-sounding 60s west coast rock song sounds like the perfect soundtrack to a cool road movie. It's got the funky guitar, the funky bass, awesome horns and killer organ. Fortunately, I found it on youtube as well (though not in the best quality) so here's a chance to get some ears-on insight as to what I'm trying to describe to you.




Although you may not be able to tell from the youtube vid, the production is excellent and every instrument comes to it's crisp right. This might just be the album highlight. However, quality is still very high indeed when the next track "Transatlantic Phonecall" comes on. Deliciously lush, retro loungy guitars and the once again unmistakably norwegian (imo) sound make this track maybe as good as it's predecessor. It lacks some of the energy, but it's still reasonably funky and gains points for pure aesthetics.

Gallery Oslo marks a slight change in the album as it leaves behind muche of it's surfy funky energy and relies more on laid-back, lazy instrumentals. It still has appeal and the guitar now shares the center stage with a lovely flute. However, it doesn't quite manage to excite so much as the highlights before it. Neither does Sex Kabin which is not as juicy as the name might imply. Invisible Horse works well with easily likeable guitar sounds and a 5/4 time signature but might get a bit boring if treated as something else than background music .. Well, until the middle of the song when it suddenly changes to a standard timing, picks up speed and throws us into a wild guitar solo followed by a go at the organ. Is it good or out of place? Not sure.

Rock'n'roll Farmacia brings back the funk and mixes it with with once again delish guitar sound and trumpets that sound like they've been stolen right out of a mexican mariachi band. Not bad for norwegian gringos! In Farfizium starts deceptively gently, then ups the amp and gets plenty of drive. The organ takes center stage in another song which is thoroughly enjoyable. The slightly progressive 99 is the other song to have lyrics and while it's more weird than awesome, it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of this album. Black Fez is maybe even stranger. As it opens up to you, it almost sounds like it could squeeze in on Massive Attack's Mezzanine. Not quite, but you'll hear what I mean. It's slow, heavy and features a mystic sounding eastern theme with some awesome sitar-playing thrown in for great potency and justice.

The rock song Ambulance Cruiser sounds suspiciously traditional in it's simple verse / refrain themed setup and does not add much new to the table. I prefer the slower, more melodic and more unpredictable closing track Gibraltar whose sound at times remind me, aside from usual influences, a bit of swedish rock band Bob Hund. That's it.


Review Summary :

The album ticks in at 1 hour and 10 minutes which is a long time to try and keep someone interested considering this is an instrumental album with a lot of laid-back sounds. However, they do a surprisingly good job at it, certainly better than my last reviewed album before this (Madrugada's Industrial Silence). It's been a while since I listened to this in it's entirety and once again the album took me by surprise. I didn't expect it to be this good!

While it is a while since I listened to the whole album, some songs from this album still get a decent amount of plays from me. The duo "Down the Road of Golden Dust" followed by "Transatlantic Phonecall" is a must-listen for anyone and is a good enough reason on their own for anyone to get this album. When the cavemen are at their best, they ooze of musicality. Instrumental performances are sound and production is nice and clean while still sounding sufficiently old and retro.

So who would I recommend this to? Everyone! Especially those who like instrumental rock, cool 60s/70s sounds and movie soundtracks.


Toretorden's Treasure Trove score : 5/6


favourite songs : Deliverance, Filadelfia, Down the Road of Golden Dust, Transatlantic Phonecall, Rock'n'Roll Farmacia.

Almost all these tracks are from the first half which is definetly the strongest in my opinion.
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