Airbag_DisconnectedAirbag is a great name for a band. I’d never heard of them until a week ago. Comparisons to Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree are enough to get this prog geek’s ears up, and here we are, listening to their fourth album, Disconnected. Giving your album the same name as the classic Fates Warning record is cheeky indeed, but my hopes are high that this band can pull it off. But first, some research. Hailing from Norway, Airbag got its start about a dozen years ago. Debut release Identity came out in 2009, and set the band’s style: epic, sweeping, mid-tempo songs slavishly devoted to David Gilmour-led Pink Floyd. Two more albums followed: All Rights Removed featured more of the same, with the 17-minute “Homesick” being a standout track. After this, someone showed guitarist Bjorn Riis the gain knob on his amp, and third album The Greatest Show On Earth was a darker, grittier version of the band. Really, a third album of mellow Pink Floyd worship would have been completely unnecessary. Evolve, dammit! Which brings us back to the album in hand. Will Airbag continue to evolve their sound, or will they simply fall back and rely on the Gilmour worship? Sadly, they go for the latter on Disconnected, which turns out to be a lush, slow, introspective album dealing primarily with feelings of loss, pain, and, um, disconnectedness.

Opening track “Killer” is one of the standout cuts. It comes in with a relatively upbeat tempo, and features compelling lyrics – “Here I am, a self-made predatory man,” vocalist Asle Tostrup croons. The song is epic in length, and with the extended wah guitar solo it gets right to the point of the album: an unabashed love of David Gilmour’s Pink Floyd compositions.

The next three songs – or half the album, as it is only six songs in total – slow things down considerably, and while they’re well played, there’s nothing in them (aside from more lengthy guitar solos) to merit hitting the repeat button, unless mid-tempo dream-prog is your cup of tea. They pleasantly pass the time by but do little else. Not until the title track do we get something that perks us up. The longest song on the album, “Disconnected” features moody, atmospheric synth washes to open, with muted percussion joining in, and plenty of movement within the song, making it a proggy gem of a track. More, please!

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The band closes things off with “Returned,” yet another slow, mild track. The twist here is that the lyrics are uplifting rather than despairing. “Now my heart is wide open, and I’ll find my way back to you,” Tostrup sings in Anathema-like fashion, and the song builds exactly as most Anathema songs tend to do.

Production quality is mixed on Disconnected. Although vocals, guitars, and keyboards shimmer and radiate the lushness sought after, the drums are strangely muted. They’re subtle, but present. The snare drum lacks punch and clarity throughout, and when the tom loop comes in for the title track (practically lifted from Tool’s “Reflection”) the drums disappear completely into the background as the rest of the band enters. There’s no need for this and it takes away from whatever edge these songs may have possessed.

Airbag clearly has the chops to create some beautiful records. Asle Tostrup’s voice is well suited to this slow prog rock style, and Bjorn Riis does a credible job of soloing like Gilmour. Disconnected is their third of four records that sound basically the same, though. It would be nice to see the band stretch out a bit and add some variety to their songwriting. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen here. Disconnected is a pleasant album that won’t offend any of your dinner guests. It also won’t have them asking who the band is.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Karisma Records
Websites: airbagdisconnected.com | facebook.com/airbagsound
Releases Worldwide: June 6th, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    The embedded track makes me wonder if they might just like Pink Floyd.

    • The embedded track almost makes me wonder if they might just be Pink Floyd.

      Seriously, there are 666 black metal bands who sounds identically, but there’s only one Pink Floyd. For fans of the latter, an album like this should be very welcome, even if (or perhaps because) it doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

      • Alexandros

        Check out Messenger’s album “Threnodies” which came out this year. A few tracks have a very Pink Floyd’s Animals-esque vibe, especially “Pareidolia” (if I remember correctly)

    • Thatguy

      And Steven Wilson…

      Yep, I agree, SD – inoffensive.

      • This isn’t my review. It’s the work of probationary writer, Huck N’ Roll.

        • Thatguy

          Sorry, Huck, I wasn’t paying attention…I’m old.

          So I agree with Huck.

  • I actually rather dig the embedded track. 2.0 seems a little harsh, but I can appreciate a tough to impress reviewer.

    • Agreed.
      As much as the last sentences of the review makes me smile, I can’t really agree entirely. Dinner guests who are to distanced to care, should be served as dinner.

  • Bart the Repairman

    Sir Gilmour kicked off his european tour in my city today. I just came home after the greatest musical experience in my entire life, to find unexpected Gilmour worship on AMG:)

  • Their promo photo makes me want to smack them all across the face with one wide swing.

    • Name’s Dalton

      By the looks of it, that’s just what they’d expect you to want to do. Either that, or they’re half-daring you, all smuggy smuggy smug.

    • GardensTale

      Why does the guy on the right look so… off? It’s like his neck is plastic or something.

      • Henry Scobie

        They’re Norwegians, mate. They all look like that.

  • [not a Dr]

    This sounds OK but, inside my head, I keep overlaying heavier guitar/bass/drums. Like I do with christmas music at the shopping mall.
    Any chance they’ll release a “Storm” version?

  • robpal

    Very happy to see this album reviewed here. Plenty of memorable melodies, great solos and spacey vibe. Everything that a prog fan would look for.
    They sound like Pink Floyd on PURPOSE, since their debut. A mature continuation of already very good “Disconnected”, clear 3,5/5.

  • Synthetase

    I have their first three albums and I have to say I’m a little disappointed. Like you, I think it’s time for them to move on. Their second album was better than their first because it’s more coherent and stronger thematically. Their third pushed them into some grittier territory. So why the retro-grade step?

    The problem with these guys isn’t that they sound like the Floyd, it’s that they often ARE the Floyd. There are quite a few examples from their previous work were material was practically ripped wholesale from Gilmour. Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.

  • Henry Scobie

    I’ve been listening to these guys for a couple of years now, ever since I realised the guy in charge of my favourite Gilmour worship site was THE Bjorn Riis. Sadly, while I love the music, the angsty, narcissistic and frankly depressing lyrics are really getting to me four albums in. They need to change their schtick, and get vocalist Asle Tostrup to lighten up a bit. I want to smack him over the head every time he opens his mouth and starts whining. It’s a shame they’ve started to alienate me this way, because I REALLY dig Riis’s guitar playing.