Norwegian band Airbag are still very much based around Asle Tostrup (lead vocals, keyboards, programming) and Bjørn Riis (guitars, keyboards, backing vocals), while drummer Henrik Fossum has been there since the second album, but there has been change in bassist with Anders Hovdan not involved in an Airbag album for the first time, and he has been replaced by guest Kristian Karl Hultgren. For some reason I have not heard any of Airbag’s most recent albums, and in fact the last album I reviewed was the debut ‘Identity’ which was released all the way back in 2009, but here we have a band who have been carving out a reputation for solid and consistent albums, and the same is true of this one.
If ever an album was grower then it is this, as after the first two or three plays I really was not at all convinced as their modern take on Pink Floyd, soundscapes, Radiohead, Kraftwerk, recent Marillion et al just did not do it for me. I knew the guys were trying to build an emotional connection, with laid back music which often contained high separation of instruments and loads of space, but somehow it still just felt too clinical. But the more I played it, the more I started to fall into the world, and it all seemed to make sense. Once one gets past the rather disturbing cover photo of teddy bears having their heads buried in the sand, there is progressive crossover electronic art rock music which is cinematic and has real breadth. This is music which does really need to be listened to as otherwise it will fall into the background, but for those who are prepared to spend the time and effort they will get something out of this. The vocals are front and centre, but there are also long passages when the band play purely instrumentally, often veering into electronic and ambient territory. Personally, I would have liked to have heard more guitars, as the electronica is too much for my personal taste, but all in all this is an interesting album. But it does need time to drop into the brain.