Tusmorke - Bydyra album review

A political prog musical for kids: be afraid

Tusmorke - Bydyra album artwork

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Curiously, the Norwegian prog-folkies’ fifth album – their “first for (and with) children”– comes recommended to fans of Van der Graaf and Crimson, so it’s something of a shock to encounter a set of proglite Euro-ditties featuring an Oslo school kiddie choir. The title means Urban Wildlife but the three men dressed in squirrel, badger and crow outfits on the cover should’ve warned something gruesome was afoot. The band say the (Norwegian-sung) lyrics for the two school musicals here are attacking the rising cost of housing in Oslo and global warming. Most are led by Tull-like flute while the kids’ chorale may induce seizures in those who have nightmares about stomach tweaking 80s chart-topper There’s No One Quite Like Grandma. When Christian Vander made his 1994 children’s album A Tous Les Enfants he conjured a spookily unsettling vibe that kids might have relished a lot more than hearing a sped-up chipmunk vocal rapping on Rottekongen (The Rat King). But after 14 such frivolities, which can’t help rekindling fond memories of prog forefather Father Abraham and his Smurfs, the set unexpectedly closes with the sinister, electronic (kid-free) Katabasis. Was this all a dream?

Kris Needs

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!