They used to be “The Pink Floyd Experience” in their native Norway but one day decided to go for themselves and write their own music. It paid off and got them in a far better seat on the airplane than coach for it. Far from the darker Norwegian Death Metal bands that are one of the biggest exports from that country, Airbag has proven that there’s more than one way to be heavy. First hearing them through old bootlegs from the early 2000’s where songs were still in their infantile stages and the band was really trying their luck at their own music and still performing Pink Floyd songs in their setlists. I decided to take a chance at their albums since I was enjoying this dark moody Prog sound they were emanating from their amps and PA system and seeing that they used to be a Floyd tribute band they might have kept some of that “Floydian” sound with them. A lot of bands that swap their guns and go pro from being tribute bands tend to stray away form who they were covering all these years to try and make their ‘mark’ on the music world as something else, usually fails. But Airbag kept that essence of Pink in their music but just distant enough to feel it but not hear it which was a pleasant surprise when I began absorbing their albums.
Currently on the “Cruise to the Edge” tour on a cruise ship along with many other Prog greats, Airbag deserves a little R/n/R to work on some new material and hone in on some older ones that they may have not played in a while and on a cruise ship you really can’t go too far as a listener so if they’re a little raw, enjoy it because they really are worth checking out. Their last album out was 2013’s “Greatest Show on Earth” but it’s two years earlier when this album was released that we are interested with and their best album as far as I am concerned.
Airbag has released several albums that have created a unique tone and sound for themselves that encompasses both their influences as well as their own spin on the Prog genre and this album clearly showcases those influences. Their lead guitarist Bjorn Riis has ran a website on YouTube for playing Gilmour riffs and a David Gilmour site dedicated to his; sound, techniques, effects as well as reviewing albums, different periods of the Floyd’s career and solo albums and collaborations David has worked on. A true follower of Gilmour’s style he has been able to develop a style all his own fashioning it with some Gilmouresque inflections that have definitely given Airbag as well as his solo album, 2014’s “Lullabies in a Car Crash” a well honed and crafted sound.
Bjorn Riis’ David Gilmour Site – http://www.gilmourish.com/
His YouTube Site – https://www.youtube.com/user/BjornRiis
So the album begins with the title track, a gutsy move by any band as usually title tracks either don’t show up till an album or two later or at least in the middle to end of the record so starting off with it was a great move. Reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Sheep” from ’77 it has that jangle to it that just reminds you of Waters’ bass line opening the track in concerts from ’74/’75 era but they did it on guitar instead here. The song enters with that fondness of why you bought this in the first place, you just know it to be good from the fuzzed guitar tone to the the grand scale in which the rest of the band enters in a few bars later. The album carries a sombre tone lyrically and minor chords help it along the way in its journey to the Prog nether regions that have yet to be surfaced in Prog words. Many previous bands of Prog’s Old Guard wrote about; fantasy, money, journeys, distant realms and planets, calm Sundays in a meadow with cool running waters, dragons etc. But Airbag takes it more personal with this record speaking about isolation, coming home to nothing, being stripped to your soul and finding things have changed when you get back home giving the album a very cold and dark feeling that one would not expect to hear from a Prog band but more from a band like Bauhaus, Love and Rockets or David Bowie even.
The middle songs; “White Walls“, “The Bridge“, “Never Coming Home” and “Light Them All Up” are there to the album give off a cooler and more serene tone with the underlining gray clouds of ominous intent to them as they have that sterilization that “Wish You Were Here” brought us back in ’75. The vocals are in a true Prog manner and reflected tonality that you can sit back and listen to him as he cantillates through each song and enjoy his voice as it soothes you in to a darker place than you originally thought you were in alone in the dark at times. He’s there to save you from yourself and from the depths in which music can often take you down in to.
The band has easily incorporated the live experience from their days as a Floyd tribute so shifting gears from tribute to contribute was an easy step for them and their live presence is as indigenous as their music. Clearly this band has listened to all their Prog heroes on record to become who they are today as they have spared no expense in creating Airbag and probably being Norway’s biggest Prog export. The band has yet to make a scene in North America but I feel that if they were to do this it would more than likely be at NEARfest in New Jersey if that still happens. North America is still all up in arms with new Prog invading its shores and bands that have scaled the Wall have done so over the course of several years so they’ve made their mark and done their tours of duty. The closing track, “Homesick i-iii” being my favourite track on the album has that reminiscence of Floyd’s; “Dogs” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond parts vi-ix” rolled in to one here. Brilliant use of 17:22 minutes with its highs and lows keeping you intrigued throughout. So this album could very well be Norway’s answer to those who aren’t big Floyd fans and want of something new and those who ARE Floydians that are wanting something new as well. Truly a great album that waltzes through your mind creating a distant reality and possibly a close to the edge for your own inner demons that you should really kick out of yourself because this band delivers you the key to your PROGlematic (!) issues for searching for that sound you lost back in the seventies.
The album is full of atmospheric moments that capture the true meaning of Prog and they include every single ingredient to the elemental recipe of the genre full on, no margarine here, full fat content and no spoon to spare at all. This album has everything that the genre doesn’t demand but honours and welcomes to every band that wants to raid its cupboards for creating their albums with. Definitely a band worth adding to your collective and replaying often with never minding what was on prior to them because Airbag fits in anywhere to the mix with stunning guitar riffs and pulls, tight solid drumming, ethereal keyboards, concrete bass and vocals champion enough to stand beside the greats of the day.
I leave you with a new song that may be on their next album that they have been performing live for a bit now called, “Killer” and it’s a Killer tune! From YouTube…. Enjoy