Three minutes or thirty-three, it matters not; what matters is the quality of the end product, not the air time. Shan have produced quality, variable in style with bluesy rock and church organ, all layered, cultured, and raw. It has been a great album for the commute, jazzy, proggy, and just nice, an album full of surprises – and all pleasant. What surprises most is the range of styles and some divine execution. I only played a snippet before electing to review, I couldn’t resist, it demonstrates how much progressive music would be better named ‘Music without Boundaries’.
So where to start? The beginning I suppose. The Wise Man (Part 1) reminds me of the simplicity applied to the genre by bands like Mothertongue, but closer in sound to We Are Kin. It could almost be classed as ‘Chill Out’ music, deep bass, a voice that drips honey, albeit with an edge of too many nights in a Jazz cellar pre-smoking ban. I just love Emilie Bjørnstad’s voice.
Confessions emerges from the cellar, a different place and pace but no less rich. I think I’m in love again. “We’ve worked on the songs a long time, and have focused on giving every band member the place they need – in the soundscape, but also as composers and artists. It’s great to finally be able to share with the world what we’ve put so much energy in making!”, says keyboardist Johan J. Bakken.
Jazz mixes with lounge, complicated rhythms, and yet rock overtones, where House of the Rising Sun organ mixes with pulsating drums, and some delicious guitar solos. Not afraid to mash it up, Stay has a bossa nova rhythm and you may find your ‘Stay’ becomes ‘Sway’ as the music fills the room. I’m thrilled to listen to something beyond the normal, not that the past three years haven’t taught me that nothing in the prog genre can be written in stone.
Losing Self, with essentially at its core drums and voice, is like a tone poem, building and building until near its all too soon end other instruments (including cow bell) join. “It’s been incredibly inspiring working with people that are this established in the music business, and that still puts 130% effort into making our project as good as possible. So you can definitely say that the bar is currently pretty high when it comes to choosing a producer for our next album!”
Interlude is a slice of Gothic-style organ, it should be out of place but it isn’t, in the way that a good Gothic horror should send shivers up your spine. Back to bluesy-styled, jazz influence, a torch song reminding me of Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me. Warm fire, warm beer, brandy, whisky – choose your own poison.
Then all too soon it comes to an end with The Wise Man (part 2), where hints of the Norwegian accent creep through. Minimalist at times, like a rich chocolate cake, you know you shouldn’t, but you still want more. The album closes with The Wise Man in its entirety, and in many respects, Shan have delivered a long EP more than an album. For all that, it remains a treasure to own.
This could have been an ADA mini review, but the music produced warrants far more than 150-200 words. If you are a bass player, you will love it; if you’re a vocalist you will aspire; guitarists will be thrilled, and as for the drums, well there is no weakness there either.
Cannot be green
And all of the mud that comes with it.”
01. The Wise Man (Part 1) (2:53)
02. Confessions (3:39)
03. Stay (4:07)
04. Losing Self (4:32)
05. Interlude (0:56)
06. Don’t Wait (For Me) (4:29)
07. The Wise Man (Part 2) (2:58)
08. The Wise Man (Original mix) (6:40)
Total Time – 30:14
Emilie Bjørnstad – Vocal
Johan Jenssen Bakken – Keys
Øyvind Hovde – Guitar
Ørjan Lægreid – Bass
Marius Trøan Hansen – Drums & Percussion
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Norway
Year of Release: 2018