Pixie Ninja follow up their highly successful 2018 debut album Ultrasound with this excellent new second album, Colours Out of Space, continuing to strengthen my belief that great music still flows out of Norway. There is a change of personal in the band for this release, Johan Hals Jorgenson has left and been replaced by Fredrik Klingwall on keyboards, who makes his presence felt throughout the album with some great contributions.
The album has been written and performed by Pixie Ninja at the Nobø Stuidios in Norway, with additional recordings at Mattias Olsson’s Roth Händle in Sweden, Olsson also handling the production, with mixing by Stefan Fandén and mastering by Thomas Plec Johansson at the Panic Room. The album cover is by Henning Lindahl.
Like the debut, this album is fully instrumental, but this one is heavily influenced by the short stories of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, The Godfather of horror fiction, to create a concept album blending progressive rock with soundscapes, packed with a long and varied list of vintage instruments, some familiar, some not so much, but each one sounding great. The songs have catchy rhythms that allow the music to change and develops throughout the songs, moving between driving explosive sounds and dark ambience, at times testing the listener, but there is so much to enjoy and discover here. The introduction of soundscapes and effects offer another layer of interest, at times creating a challenge, but always holding on to the melody and direction of the song. It is this that makes the album such a great listening experience, repeated plays peeling away the layers to reveal the depths in the music.
The five tracks have a total listening time of just over forty-three minutes, track times ranging from six minutes to over eleven, but each track sounds perfectly balanced in length. The album opens with the title track, the stall set out to give the listener a fine demonstration of what is to come. Leng Plateau sets off with all cylinders firing, driven by a frantic pace from the drums, before settling into a hard and steady groove. Half way through, a sound effects interlude of sorts appears (including, what appears to be a vintage computer tape loading), leading us back to a slow build-up which develops into a big finish.
After that exciting and interesting start, no time to catch a breath as Cosmik begins with an almost vintage horror movie feel, as it slowly creeps along before the band open up. The longest track on the album, Hutchinson Cipher starts with atmospheric keyboards before the band explodes into a heavier groove, the rhythm section driving things along with the keyboards swirling around, creating interest as the guitar comes in with some forceful runs. Midway we get an almost King Crimson moment, but still with a distinct Pixie Ninja flavour. The ebb and flow is like an aural rollercoaster, creating an exciting ride where you are not sure what will happen next. That said, this is still a focused, well-structured listen, demonstrating a band who are in tune with what they are doing. This song is a great example of a band effort with drive and purpose, each member’s contribution as important as the next. We end things with Strange Days which begins with a lovely piano lead, giving rise to an atmospheric piece which swirls around the piano in an almost spellbinding way.
This is an album full of bold, brave ideas which have been developed exceptionally well to create a wonderful listening experience, each repeated play reveals hidden depths which continue to enrich the music. The band has made great strides with this album which will continued with what they do next, of this I have no doubt. I for one will look forward to what ever they do. The album will be released across all formats. Go on, treat yourself – you know you want to.
01. Colours Out Of Space (10:07)
02. Leng Plateau (9:47)
03. CosmiK (6:00)
04. Hutchinson Cipher (11:31)
05. Strange Days (6:19)
Total Time – 43:44
Marius Leirånes – Godin Shifter Bass, Korg Synths, Volca Keys, Korg Monotribe
Jostein Haugen – Fender Stratocaster, Korg Synths
Mattias Olsson – Ondes Martenot, Maestrovox, Clavioline, Persephone, Electric Guitar, Mandocello, Drums & Percussion, Moog, Mellotron, Orchestron, Minimoog, Speak & Spell, Electronics, Synths & Other Keyboards
Fredrik Klingwall – Grand Piano, Mellotron, Vako Orchestron, Fender Rhodes, Hammond L100, Celeste, Yamaha DX100, Sequential Circuits Pro-1
Tiger Olsson – Vocals
Akaba – Vocals
Hampus Nordgren-Hemlin – Vocals, Fender VI, Casio-DG-10, Philicorda Organ
Leo Svensson-Zander – Cello
Fredrick Carlzon – French Horn
Record Label: Apollon Records
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 3rd July 2020