vrijdag 21 februari 2014

The greatest show on earth. Airbag

Sometimes listening to music things get a bit weird. In the autumn of 1975 I discovered a band that sounded very interesting. Within one month I had two albums: 'Wish you were here' and 'Dark side of the moon'. Two albums that made a giant impression on me. Albums that I can hear every scratch on (and scratched they are), even when I play the cd. In 2014 along comes a band called Airbag. What is going on on The greatest show on earth is uncanny. There is not a sound I've not heard before, not a chord change that doesn't sound familiar. Solo notes on guitar and keyboard that sound so familiar. It's almost scary. Like my mind is playing tricks on me. You get the drift. The greatest show on earth could have been the new Pink Floyd album, with a few more modern tunes on the side.

The build up of The greatest show on earth even has a touch of 'Wish you were here' by splitting up 'Surveillance' into three parts and spread over the album in two. There are much more similarities, but lets leave that aside for a while and concentrate on the merits of The greatest show on earth. The first word that comes to mind is the word epic as the songs are long(ish) and dramatic. A lot is going on with layers of sound. Extensive layers of keyboards and synthesizers, played by Jörgen Grüner-Hagen, little bleeps, fill up the sound scape of the album. Underneath that layer is the rhythm section and lead guitars and singing are on top. Sounds come from everywhere. A guitar stroke, a few synthnotes, coming in and out of the mix.

Airbag is a five piece band from Norway. The voice is Asle Tostrup. There is a slight hint of an accent, that makes him clearly a non-native English speaker, but never in a hindering way. I would have preferred to have a slightly more gravelly voice to go with this music, but on the other hand it goes with the high level production sound. Very clean and neat. David Gilmour's little brother's name is Björn Riis. The way how Tostrup and Riis together re-create Gilmour's sound is very special.

If you give The greatest show on earth a second and third try you'll find that there is more going on than just doing a Pink Floyd. Large sections are just prog rock. The title track and the first part of 'Redemption' are mostly on their own. The guitar solo in the title song has a few great changes and the whole band shows that together they can create great dynamics in the song. This way it doesn't really matter that the songs are long. There's enough going on. There is even a hint of metal in ''Surveillance part 2-3'. The theme of the album has a lot to do with the present day world. 'Surveillance' is a dead give-away for you.

The greatest show on earth is not an original album. You got that, right? It surprised with me with the sound first, but when the surprised left me, I was left with an album that I liked and kept listening to. The songs are not the best I've ever heard either, but neither is any song on 'The final cut' or anything Pink Floyd solo or band after it. The greatest show on earth comes close to 'Animals' and 'Meddle' and that is a compliment.

And I like The greatest show on earth. You got that too, didn't you? What I found, and this came as a bit to my surprise, is that I have room for a new "Pink Floyd" album in my head. The greatest show on earth has come out my speakers and earphones a lot these past weeks. If your able to cast aside your doubts on the sounds, you may find that The greatest show on earth is a good album in its own right as well.


You can listen to 'The greatest show on earth' here.

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