Disconnected by Airbag (Karisma Records)
The music as heard on Disconnected, the fourth album by Oslo, Norway’s Airbag, is well produced, with guitars which are slow and elegant, as are the melodies. Asle Tostrup often sounds embittered, angry and distressed in his vocals, yet his and Bjorn Riis’ guitars and those rising melodies and tempos give hope and light to the proceedings. Riis is obviously heavily influenced by David Gilmour and some of the songs go through Pink Floyd-esque progressions, yet you’ll quickly get lost in the compelling songs. While a few bands have crossed my path that celebrate musical creation in a progressive way, Airbag remember to rock, though they tend to take a more tasteful route as opposed to the rawer and faster The Greatest Show on Earth from 2013.
On opener Killer keyboards swirl around guitar jags, Tostrup’s vocals are clear and dramatic, expressing longs and confusion at the world, Riis pulls out a riveting wah wah solo for maximum chills, then the rhythm section of drummer Henrik Fossum and bassist Anders Hovdan take us down the rabbit hole of loss. The path is found again as the band brings us back to the light with a humming guitar melody, synth washes and a blood-pumping finale.
Broken follows, starting off slowly and quietly with acoustic guitar, synth strings and Tostrup singing like he’s on the verge of tears “If I had the chance to take it all back, would you leave me anyway?” Fossum accentuates the slow parts with subtle tom rolls and Riis adds various guitar voices, from acoustic strumming to soaring and throaty riffs to take your breath away.
Slave begins with some scratchy far-away sounds joined by a bass pulse, electronic chittering and guitar washes. Tostrup’s delivery is more angry and anguished, singing “You make me feel so small/ You bring me down and leave me wanting so much more/ But I can be a slave again.” The instrumentation rises in temperature to back the feelings, then drops out to reveal Riis with a bluesy and soulful guitar part, before the whole thing rises and falls again and again, to perhaps reflect a torrid love affair.
The title track fades in with burbling No Quarter-ish keys and mysterious vibrations, joined by Fossums’s tom runs, Tostrup singing with power over Riis’ slashing guitar parts and sinuously over the quieter parts. Hovdan drops in a jazzy bass line amongst some piano plinking. More uplifting and soulful guitars scream and moan with the languid keyboard to close out the instrumental second half.
Whether your life is in disarray or you’re on the right path, let Airbag’s Disconnected be your soundtrack through this thing called Life.
(Review by Bret Miller)