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Major Parkinson – Blackbox album review

Bergen septet overcome the odds in style.

Losing half of your band would usually spell the catastrophic end for most groups, but not Major Parkinson. Instead of crumbling away after three members left in 2014, the Norwegians have only gone and released a career-best record. Blackbox, the band’s fourth studio record, is a truly enthralling concoction of theatrical prog rock. Interwoven with conscious – or subconscious – aural nods to the likes of Beardfish, Steven Wilson, Pain Of Salvation, Tom Waits and, erm, Abba, each of the nine tracks offer something unique, even if some motifs are cleverly reworked throughout. Isabel: A Report To An Academy is a trip through haunting strings and twists and turns that wobble you off balance with the whip of an unexpected gust of wind, while album highlight Baseball is 10 minutes of pure joy, roller- coasting through a series of bouncing melodic chops not dissimilar to Knifeworld or Cardiacs. ‘Carry the weight of the world in your hand, what a feeling,’ sings throaty singer Jon Ivar Kollbotn at the start of the song, but what a feeling listening to Blackbox is, with its avant-garde atmosphere and drama mixed with melody and experimentation to exhilarating effect.