Drongo are a band that hail from Kristiansand, Norway. There is an air of mystery about them as not much information is readily available, except that they refer to themselves as providing ‘space disco’. Maybe that mystery is not a bad thing as their music on this album speaks volumes. On their website they describe themselves thus: “a Drongo is a bird that imitates and manipulates other animals to get what it wants. Drongo the eight-piece is playing space disco, Krautrock, afro beat, or noise rock depending on who you ask”.
Now the last sentence in that statement rings very true, and having played this album several times I do believe that every listener will hear something – or identify to something – different. There are lots of influences here to be sure, but what the band have managed to do so well is craft these into their own sound. This is their third album (strangely called 2), their debut self-titled release from 2020 being followed up by the second album, Drongo 1, in 2021.
Drongo 2 consists of five tracks with running times ranging from six-and-a-half to just under ten minutes in length. They were recorded before Christmas in 2020 at Blå Kors Studio B in Kristiansand. The album was mixed by Hans Uhre with the mastering done by Karl Klaseie from Øra Mastering, and the excellent cover art was provided by Flu Hartberg. To add further mystery and intrigue, the band stated about the album, “It shows Drongo from their dancer side, inspired by snow covered plains, space disco and winter darkness”.
There is a bright playful feeling to these songs, full of melody and interest, driven along by the solid rhythm section of bass and drums. This allows the space for the keyboards to explore sounds and textures and the guitar to shine. One of the keyboards often takes up the Krautrock style of throbbing rhythms, which help support the bass and drums. Other keyboards move the sound around to create further interest. The importance of this, I believe, may be seen in the inclusion of three keyboard players in the line-up.
Despite all this, they do experiment with unusual sounds which give rise to a harsher edge at times to counterpoint their “dancer elements”. Nowhere is this more obvious than on the third track, Kongro, a nine-minute opus that challenges your listening to great effect, the stark and harsh guitar opening accompanied by the ever-present drums are joined by the keyboards adding some melody. This almost becomes a battle between sounds and textures, a clash, if you will, between avant grade and melody, and boy, do these guys get it to work so well. They follow that up with Flaggermus, a playful and happy piece full of melody and a much “dancier’ edge; another demonstration of great pacing and composition. These are comments that could be applied to any of the songs on this album.
So overall, Drongo 2 is an album full of great energy, enthusiasm and a collective desire to make music. It may be challenging at times, for some, but it is also full of some great melodies, rhythms and excellent song writing, all of which furthers my belief that wonderful music continues to flow from Norway.
01. Paddle (6:53)
02. Melrakken (7:12)
03. Krongo (9:20)
04. Flaggermus (9:44)
05. Blekksprut (6:32)
Total Time – 39:43
Auver Gaaren – Fender Rhodes
Eirik Ask – Korg Polysix
Øystein Heide Aadland – Sequential Prophet
Nicolai Gill Johannessen – Guitar
Tov Espelid – Baritone Guitar
Håkon Sakseide – Bass
Kristoffer Tokle – Percussion
Hans Uhre – Drums
Record Label: FatKidFalling Records
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 11th March 2022