Any band headed by Anders Bjermeland, the man behind the fabulous Mollmaskin album of 2015, so named after a jewel of a Faust song buried within The Faust Tapes – one of my all-time top ten LPs – has to be of more than passing interest methinks. It must be time, therefore, to venture forth once again into the impenetrable Scandinavian pine forest, on the lookout for trolls and strange gnarly dwarves.
When you leave your place…
Anders Bjermeland is a Trondheim-based multi-instrumentalist who is not averse to staying home and doing everything himself, bar the vocals and a few embellishments. Indeed, this is the formula used on the Mollmaskin album, and on a previous release under the name Flashback Caruso. This time, however, he’s put to rest any fears that he might be some kinda hermit misanthrope, got out and about and assembled a seven-piece band to psychedelicise your soul in thirteen of the best ways imaginable.
Marshmallows jumping around and sounding quiet…
If I were to attempt to describe the songs herein, the similarity to a quietly reflective but joyfully skipping soft-centred confection would be moot, but only helpful to those of you out there in Readerland that employ a similarly wibby-wobbly set of parameters to your listening experience of this sweetshop deelite as I. In my defence let me say that firstly I reminisced about Fleet Foxes and imagined Brian Wilson fronting The Flaming Lips, rehearsing in a cellar with Syd Arthur nine feet beneath Canterbury while stoking this particular barbecue. Hopefully, that helps, a bit, but things are not all as they seem.
Bring our minds together, press them tight…
The seven players on this record live in each other’s minims and crotchets, the music expertly knitted together with deft subtle rhythmic interplay. They think on their feet as a unit, exemplified by the fact that this album was recorded live in the studio, not that you would know it. There is no evidence of jamming, for there are fully-formed songs to be found here, all with that typically slightly melancholic air we have come to expect from Scandinavian non-commercial music in general and Anders Bjermeland in particular.
Beyond eleven dreams are dancing girls…
The dreamscape unfolds, initially revealing harmony pop delicacies which by the time we arrive at Aqualung Boy has unravelled into genuine oddness of Gothic influence. This is well beyond fleeting impressions of foxes and falls down a crack into a dark corner of Anders’ mind, where it roots around for the Darkest Hour and stays in the cobwebbed corner for the duration of the rest of the album. We are now in a very different place from whence we started. The girls are still dancing, but they are now glassy-eyed and trance-like, beyond any motor control.
Clues are dropped into the seemingly normal surroundings of the first part of the album as the whole thing is linked by four short and low-key but disquieting ambient interludes which seem less at odds with the songs as the album progresses. That Raggazza Italiana is a full-blown Gothrock wigout does not come entirely as a surprise, and the album ends with some Norwegian folk music that is equally at home on this strange but beguiling record.
The Flashback Caruso Memorial Barbecue is a must for fans of Syd Arthur who would rather their ears were caressed than sandpapered, and for followers of the Autumnsongs vibe, and for anyone with a yearning for the enticingly different.
01. Pigeon Plague (4:04)
02. I (0:48)
03. Levitation Song (5:31)
04. Black Magic (7:52)
05. Going Home (4:59)
06. II (1:25)
07. Life Lie (4:35)
08. III (1:13)
09. Aqualung Boy (6:37)
10. Darkest Hour (5:16)
11. IIII (1:30)
12. Raggazza Italiana (3:25)
13. Øksa (2:22)
Total time – 49:40
Anders Bjermeland – Vocals, Drum Machine & Guitar
Olav Øygarden – Vocals & Guitar
Olav Edvard Lossius Meisingset – Percussion & Vocals
Ole Kristian Malmedal – Keyboards & Vocals
Tor Inge Eikrem – Drums & Vocals
Bendik Ohr Iversen – Bass & Vocals
Magnus Nygård Muldal – Accordion & Vocals
Record Label: Autumnsongs Records
Year of Release: 2016
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