Review – Bjørn Riis – A Fleeting Glimpse

Just when Karisma Records were about to release Airbag co-founder, songwriter and lead guitarist Bjørn Riis‘ fourth solo album, ‘Everything to Everyone’, he approached them with an idea for a new mini album. With ‘A Fleeting Glimpse’, Bjørn Riis has let his inspiration from Pink Floyd really come forth.

In addition to Bjørn Riis on vocals, guitars, bass and keyboards, the album features Arild Brøter (Pymlico), Øyvind Brøter (Pymlico), Per Øydir, Durga McBroom and Mimmi Tamba.

I’ve never hidden the fact that I am a huge fan of Bjørn Riis and he has never hidden the fact that his biggest influence has been Pink Floyd so a new mini album where that influence is free to run wild is definitely going to be up my street and, after declaring ‘Everything to Everyone’ to be his best solo release yet, my appetite was well and truly whet!

I’ll just put this out there, this mini album is absolutely marvellous but too short! Four songs that are of this high a quality is just not enough! Joking apart, let’s dig a bit deeper…

Dark Shadows (part 1) is reflective and melancholy and features the amazing vocal talent of long time Pink Floyd collaborator from the 80’s and 90’s, Durga McBroom, who adds her undoubted class alongside Bjørn’s voice. There’s a hazy feel to the music and Durga’s beautiful voice just adds to the thoughtful, mournful air. The track has a proper feel of 80’s Floyd to it, the stadium filling mega-band with an arena filling sound and Bjørn’s soulful, sultry guitar just adds sheer class. Instrumental, A Voyage To The Sun, has a real feel of early, ‘Astronomy Domine’, Floyd to it, all moody and experimental, with spooky synthesisers and an ominous overtone. It’s actually deliciously dark and creepy and the guitar almost adds some menace to proceedings with its angular, almost harsh, tone, calling forth thoughts of Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun to this mind. I’m loving its brash, in your face attitude that’s interspersed with more reflective and mysterious moments, clever stuff!

The music of Summer Meadows invokes just that, hazy summer days, meandering streams, fields of flowers and a wonderfully peaceful feeling. There’s an innocence and beauty right at its core that just lights up your soul and takes the weight of the world of your shoulders, a simply stunning piece of music and I love it. The final track on this mini album is Dark Shadows (part 2) and a return to the reflections of the opening song. There’s a slightly ominous undertone to the opening, a cryptic and enigmatic quality to the music and vocals, as if waiting for something momentous to happen. Bjørn’s jagged, coruscating guitar then cuts through the atmosphere with a gloriously sparse and simple note, a cry out to the dark from the shadows, it’s eerily brilliant in its execution and then Durga’s plaintive vocal joins in to the close out the song in true Floyd style.

Bjørn once again hits the heights with superb, emotive, wistful and nostalgic music that just hits you right in the feels. There isn’t a guitarist alive who plays with so much expression, his guitar seems to have a life, and voice, of its own and is instantly recognisable and makes this release, mini album or not, one of the best of the year so far.

Released 30th September, 2022.

Order from Burning Shed here:

A Fleeting Glimpse (burningshed.com)

KARISMA RECORDS REVEALS DETAILS AND SINGLE FROM UPCOMING OAK ALBUM.

Karisma Records has announced that the 11th November will be the release date for the third full-length album from Norway’s Progressive Pop/Rockers OAK. Titled “The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise”, it is an album in which the band has decided to write about the important, but controversial , subjects of suicide in particular and mental health in general.

Knowing that music as an art form is very open to interpretation, and knowing how emotive the subject matter is, OAK wanted to be sure that the message comes across clearly, and consequently sought advice from experienced scholars on the matter. 

And, with the release of the single “Dreamless Sleep”,  Karisma Records has given us a first taste from “The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise”.  It can be downloaded or streamed from a variety of services at:

Dreamless Sleep by Oak (karismarecords.no)

OAK originated as a folk-rock duo, which expanded into today’s lineup of Simen Valldal Johannessen on vocals, piano and keys, Øystein Sootholtet on bass, acoustic and electric guitars, Sigbjørn Reiakvam on drums, percussion, programming, keys and guitars, and Stephan Hvinden on lead, rhythm and slide guitars. The fact that OAK’s members come from diverse backgrounds, which range from classical piano, to electronica, to prog and hard rock, with references to both the  alternative scene as well as the progressive rock scene, has  allowed OAK to create a unique sound.

Musically, OAK’s upcoming “The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise” is the band’s most dynamic album yet, demonstrating a wide range of influences. There are some sharper edges, and some surprising  twists and turns to be found amongst the familiar Oak territory. Interestingly, after the release of their previous album “False Memory Archive”, the band set out to write some shorter songs for a change – and ended up with their longest songs yet!

“The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise” was recorded in Ljugekroken and was mixed at the Ghostward Studio by David Castillo (KATATONIA, LEPROUS OPETH, etc.). It was mastered by Tony Lindgren at the Fascination Street Studio, and, as with their other albums, “The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise” offers subtle hints to both past and future songs in the Oak universe.

Tracklisting on “The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise” is as follows: 

1. Highest Tower, Deepest Well

2. Quiet Rebellion

3. Dreamless Sleep

4. Sunday 8 AM

5. Demagogue Communion

6. Paperwings

7. Guest of Honour

“The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise” will be available in CD, Digital and Limited Edition white vinyl formats, and can now  be pre-ordered from:

The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise | Oak (bandcamp.com)

Shop | Karisma Records

The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise by Oak (karismarecords.no)

First Karisma Records Release of 2021 Announced – Meer – Playing House

The Norwegian 8-piece alternative progressive pop orchestra MEER is welcoming you with a massive sound, fabulous melodies, awesome harmonies and quite a few surprises.

MEER started out as a duo in Hamar, Norway in 2008, and since then the duo has expanded considerably to become what it is today – an eight-piece eclectic collective whose music is a mix of orchestral pop, classical music and progressive rock.
With their grandiose string arrangements and polyphonic vocals, MEER’s sound is far from minimalistic and flows in seemingly constant motion.

Today’s line-up comprises Johanne Kippersund on vocals, Knut Kippersund on vocals, Eivind Strømstad on guitar, Åsa Ree on violin, Ingvild Nordstoga Eide on viola, Ole Gjøstøl on piano, Morten Strypet on bass and Mats Lillehaug on drums. 


If you like your progressive rock symphonic, orchestral, melodic, catchy and with lots of energetic spurs, you should enjoy “Playing House” with MEER.

Review – Bjørn Riis – Coming Home – by Progradar

Haunting and Melancholic are two words that can definitely be used to describe the songs that Norwegian musician Bjørn Riis has delivered on his last two solo releases, ‘Lullabies In A Car Crash’ and ‘Forever Comes To An End’. There is a fragile beauty and poignancy to Bjørn’s songwriting that gives it a captivating, hypnotic attraction.

Airbag co-founder, songwriter and lead guitarist, Bjørn will release his new mini album titled ‘Coming Home’ next month on Karisma Records. His unique guitar playing has a centre role, with soaring leads and beautiful textures.

“I’ve always felt that the guitar is an extension of me and a more comfortable and natural way of expressing myself musically” – Bjørn explains.

“I’m really happy and proud of the vocals this time and the duet with me and (Norwegian singer) Sichelle on Drowning is very emotional” – Bjørn continues.

Lyrically, ‘Coming Home’ deals with the fear and insecurity of being forgotten by the people around you. You imagine all these dramatic scenes and wonder if you’ll ever be missed if something really was to happen.

‘Coming Home’ also features a newly recorded semi-acoustic version of the title track of Bjørn’s 2014 solo debut, ‘Lullabies in a Car Crash’ (Karisma Records). “Lullabies just fit right into the mood and theme of this album. It’s almost become a new song. It’s very honest and moving” – Bjørn explains. The track features Airbag and Bjørn Riis Band touring guitarist Ole Michael Bjørndal on lead guitar.

‘Coming Home’ is almost like a story where the scene is set by the brooding and darkly hued opening instrumental track Daybreak. A real slow burner, it takes a while to get moving with just a building sound that reminds you of a bleak and windswept vista before the deliberate, musing guitar fills the soundscape with a contemplative feel.

A sparse acoustic guitar washes over at the start of title track Coming Home, Bjørn’s slightly faltering vocal is full of emotion as this elegant track continues to gently lull you with its charms. A more laid back feel than the previous album emanates from every note and word as the music seems to meander towards an unseen destination. There’s a slight pause before Bjørn delivers a superb, note perfect guitar solo filled with passion and longing, one that soars high and free as a bird. As the song comes to a close I feel some kind of nostalgic yearning that I just can’t explain.

The wistful, contemplative tone continues with the fantastic Drowning, a song filled with feelings of loss and recrimination but one that still has a sense of wonder about it. The calm and serenity of the guitar and Bjørn’s vocal that open the track can’t shake an underlying aura of foreboding. Sichelle’s vocals add a fragile grace to the harmonies and the music gains added intensity, the guitar giving urgency and desperation to proceedings until it breaks like waves on immovable rocks. Sichelle takes us towards the end with a voice full of regret, the guitar adding a somber accompaniment as we come to a close.

Tonight’s The Night is a haunting (there you go, I told you!) instrumental that has you on the edge of your seat from the first note with its insistent piano and tense , ill at ease mood. There is no let up from beginning to end and I found myself visibly relaxing as the song came to an end.

The acoustic version of ‘Lullabies in a Car Crash’ unsurprisingly has a lighter tone to the other songs, a sepia-tinged piece of music underpinned by a wonderful acoustic guitar. The vocals are gossamer light giving the whole song a 70’s carefree spirit before a subtly powerful guitar solo gets under your skin and takes you to a place of utmost calm and reflection, without a care in the world. A remarkably honest reworking of the original track, it really is like a completely new song.

‘Coming Home’ feels like a very personal collection of songs, full of emotion, haunting and charismatic yet sparser and darker than Bjørn’s previous solo releases. Like all the best music, it needs to be listened to with little or no distractions to enjoy it in all its highly impressive glory. Bjørn Riis is one of those musicians who just gets better and better with each release, highly recommended.

Released 23rd February 2018

Pre-orders open soon at  Bjørn’s website below:

Recordings

 

 

Bjørn Riis – Forever Comes to an End – Released 19th May 2017 on Karisma Records

Airbag co-founder, songwriter and lead guitarist, Bjørn Riis will release his second solo album, ‘Forever Comes to an End’, in May 2017. The album is the follow-up to the highly acclaimed and awarded debut, ‘Lullabies in a Car Crash’.
‘Forever Comes to an End’ feature seven songs, with inspiration from classic rock, prog and movie scores. Bjørn’s unique guitar playing has a centre role, with soaring leads, heavy riffs and beautiful textures.
Lyrically, the album deals with broken relationships and loss and the emotional duality between resentment and forgiving.

The album is very much a tribute to all of Bjørn’s musical influences. From the dark and dirty riffs of Toni Iommi and Zakk Wylde, to the emotional playing of David Gilmour and Steven Rothery. The melodic and sombre voice of Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness and the cinematic landscapes of composers like Thomas Newman and John Barry.

‘Forever Comes to an End’ feature appearances from Airbag’s Henrik Fossum (drums) and Asle Tostrup (programming), Simen Valldal Johannessen from Oak (piano) and Norwegian singer, Sichelle Mcmeo Aksum (vocals).

Norwegian photographer Kjetil Karlsen, has provided the front cover image, taken in beautiful Beisfjord near Narvik in Northern Norway. Design and layout is by Asle Tostrup.

DISCOGRAPHY
“Lullabies in a Car Crash” (CD/VINYL, Karisma Records, 2014)
“Forever Comes to an End” (CD/VINYL, Karisma Records, 2017)

TRACKLIST
1.      Forever Comes to an End
2.      Absence
3.      The Waves
4.      Getaway
5.      Calm
6.      Winter
7.      Where are You Now

Band website: www.bjornriis.com
Label website: www.karismarecords.no