Ståle Storløkken (Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes, piano, Mellotron, Minimoog, Prophet T8)
Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen (electric bass, acoustic guitar, percussion)
Torstein Lofthus (drums, percussion)
Reine Fiske (electric and acoustic guitars, percussion)
You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
The Above Ground Sound
Kungsten Studio, Göteborg October 2014
Rune Grammofon RCD2174
Remember that feeling you used to get about new music when you were in your teens? When you’d listen until the grooves were worn or the tape thin? When you’d sit there poring over the liner notes or just simply stare at the cover art while the sound washed over you? Well, let me tell you, three decades down the line, that visceral feeling is mostly just a memory; replaced with a more cerebral and aesthetic appreciation. But every now and then, an album comes along that has that same gut impact; that doesn’t care what mood you’re in when you put it on, it just grabs you by the spine.
“Silver Mountain” is that sort of album.
What’s it like? Well, to start with, it’s so unashamedly prog, it’s decadent. It’s progressive, experimental, freely freaking out, and utterly, completely accessible.
This is a double album crammed onto a single CD with just five tracks, two of which are over 20 minutes long. It should feel bloated, excessive, self-indulgent. It doesn’t. In fact, somehow, it’s nowhere near long enough. Each track is at least three songs in one, with sharp dynamics, shifting moods, abrupt segues of tempo and tone…
Take the opener Occidentali: it starts out all 60s movie soundtrack cool, and then shifts to sci-fi space-jazz, before launching itself straight to prog-rock heaven and never looks back…
Then there’s the most ‘out there’ version of You Are The Sunshine Of My Life. It’s about as far from the Stevie Wonder original (thankfully!) as Coltrane’s later live performances of My Favorite Things were from Julie Andrews; evocative in places of both In a Silent Way and John McLaughlin’s pre-Mahavishnu stuff with Larry Young.
Abhartach is an utter monster from start to finish and manages to remind me strongly of early King Crimson without sounding at all derivative.
Midway through Kungsten, there’s a phenomenal organ and guitar duel; underpinned by relentlessly furious drumming (I’d reference Magma’s Christian Vander at this point but even I’m finding all these comparisons to be a little over the top).
And just when there are no surprises left, there’s a delicate folk-ish acoustic guitar interlude partway through the suite-like closer, The Above Ground Sound.
Rune Grammofon being what it is, it’s no great shock when the company puts out a good recording. But when it’s as good as this, I’ll admit that my eyebrows did raise a tad. Maybe they’re just catching me on a wave of listening to fusion-y, prog-ish, space-rock but even so, this is the crest of that wave and its sheer hedonistic indulgence practically guarantees it a place on my 2015 Top Ten list.
I liked it.
(“Silver Mountain” will be released on 2nd October 2015.)