Prog Round-up - Summer 2016

Geoff Barton on the latest releases from Airbag, Jack Ellister, Eveline’s Dust, Joshua Burnell and Øresund Space Collective

Airbag band photograph

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Airbag – Disconnected

Unless you enjoy having pieces of shattered dashboard embedded in your forehead, it’s never a good idea to disconnect an airbag. Thankfully, the fourth album from this Norwegian quartet is unconcerned by automotive safety issues; rather, its title is a reflection on the theme of alienation between the individual and society. But to us, it sounds much more personal than that. Tracks such as Broken and Slave convey bleak musings on shattered relationships; they’re more despairing love ballads than politicised polemic.

Still, Airbag’s epic soundscapes remain intact, Disconnected’s six sprawling songs offering tension and atmospherics aplenty. Key to the band’s appeal is the guitar playing of Bjørn Riis, whose exquisite style melds the subtle power of David Gilmour with the tonal aesthetic of Gary Moore; his solos are uniformly breathtaking. The 13-minute title track is the centrepiece but make sure you listen to Sleepwalker too, Airbag skilfully conjuring an ambience that’s simultaneously soporific and nightmarish. (810)

Jack Ellister - Tune Up Your Ministers And Start Transmission From Pool Holes To Class O Hypergiants

The debut full-length from Jack Ellister, formerly of Holland’s Yordan Orchestra, melds Barrett with Laughing Gnome-era Bowie. And given its epic title, that is sadly all we’ve got space to say… (710)

Eveline’s Dust - The Painkeeper

The second album from Italy’s Eveline’s Dust is based on the story of an evil preacher – the titular Painkeeper – who descends on a fog-bound village and promises to brighten up its inhabitants’ lives; instead he is intent on stealing their souls. This veers unexpectedly from eccentric Egg-like quirkiness to prog-metal wallop; even so, its tale is told with aplomb. (610)

Joshua Burnell - Into The Green

York-based troubadour Joshua Burnell’s debut full-length is a game of two halves. It begins entertainingly, if unremarkably, with a set of wistful acoustic folk ditties. Just as you’re losing interest, up pops a superb seven-song suite about a hapless shepherd who ventures into an enchanted wood to rescue his lost flock. The Incredible String Band would be proud. (710)

Øresund Space Collective - Ode To A Black Hole

The umpteenth album from this Scandi-rock supergroup comprises just two 25-minute tracks. The experience evokes memories of lying flat-out on the floor of the Roundhouse in February 1972, listening to Hawkwind play their Greasy Truckers set in numbing slow-motion. (610)

Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.