Major Parkinson are a Norwegian band who are currently making quite big waves in progressive circles. However, they are largely unknown to me hence this review that will tell you how this music affects me as a new listener.
The album has 17 tracks of various lengths and themes, it opens with Goodbye Blue Monday and what sounds like cinema sounds from bygone days, it’s a brief but engaging piece. Behind The Next Door is a piano led song in which you hear the very different vocals of Jon Ivar Kollbotn whose deep voice is very distinctive and possibly a challenge for some. It reminds me of someone, I’m just not sure who. The track is rather good and grows in strength as it proceeds. Saturday Night is also great, like a lost song from the 80’s with its superb synth bass line that moves the song along with good embellishments before a change of pace with some great female vocals. This is like very early Depeche Mode, it’s actually rather jolly in parts, an upbeat, positive track and the vocals work well together. It’s a very interesting and rewarding track. Ride In The Whirlwind is another brief instrumental vignette performed on grand piano, and very effectively at that! There is real skill on display, it’s another 80’s inspired track, albeit with a darker subject matter. Again, this darker song has an upbeat tone with some great effects employed throughout and I really liked it. At times Live Forever sounds like a Bruce Springsteen song, albeit with far more synths and electronics, but it has that sort of surge to it somehow, again, another impressive track. Sadlands is another brief vignette, one that continues the Bruce styling, although this one includes crowd noises, the grand piano and name checks More Than A Feeling.
Intermezzo has a strident drum pattern and ethereal synth sounds with discordant backing vocals. To me, it doesn’t really say much or go anywhere and I think it is a more atmospheric piece really. Jonas is totally different in that it has an almost choral opening set against heavy synth sounds. This is another very 80’s sounding and influenced track and the sparing use of piano works particularly well. The song is about a friend who was seemingly in the military as it speaks about his rifle. Velvet Moon follows, another brief vignette and one that has another subdued vocal from Jon. This sings about the velvet moon and is very evocative, even if I haven’t got a clue about what he is going on about! Irina Margareta is another filmic piece with a very cinematic sound and great vocals from , who again works well in tandem with Jon Ivar Kollbotn, this song is packed full of dynamics flourishes. This House is rather darker still and speaks of the house where it all happened. Obviously it was something dark and troubling, although we are not told what “it” was exactly, possibly childhood memories and probably not good ones at that! All this is set to a brutal and almost ‘dance synth’ bass riff and music, a strong if not a rather disturbing track at that. The Room carries on in a similar vein, at least musically. This album has a lot of electronic touches, not least on next song Posh-Apocalypse, and is very 80’s sounding at times.
Moma is a furious and brutal track with excellent vocals, Lemon Symphony is a strange little vignette, all very keyboard led and with lots of tremolo effects. It shimmers throughout and is very different indeed. We the return to the 80’s soundtrack for Fantasia Me Now!, another unusual track. This is a longer piece and, again, the combination of Claudia and Jon Ivar’s voices blend together exceptionally well. This is another upbeat song, again the theme is unclear so just enjoy everything as it progresses. Final track Heroes is another piano led piece with an interesting vocal line from Jon along with interjections from Claudia and this closes the album in an interesting way.
In all this album is a very interesting listen, with lots of great touches and strong instrumentation throughout. I’m not sure about all the shorter tracks, although they do add to the atmosphere, even if they somewhat dilute the longer songs somewhat. It is certainly a bold approach to take and you must be the judge of its success though.
Released 7th October, 2022.
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