Being absolutely honest this album confused me a lot. In the age of internet we all know that strange feeling when we see something and we are simply not sure do we like what we see, or are we just keep staring at that with some sort of creepy fascination. Unsure I sent the YouTube link to few of my friends. Reaction was quite similar. What the hell I just listened to? I gave myself few days. Days which had these melodies as a soundtrack as I could't get rid of them from my head. Confusing. Melancholic. Disturbing. Amazingly emotional. Beautiful. Chaotic. Major Parkinson works on emotions. You just can't be neutral to this music. And I'm pretty sure this is exactly what they want.
This isn't a new band. Formed in 2003 in Bergen in Norway by Jon Ivar Kollbotn, Eivind Gammersvik, André Lund and Jan Are Rønhovde, same year they won some band competitions and three years later were invited to record debut LP with famous Sylvia Massy as a producer. At the moment they grew to seven piece formation and released four long plays. Black Box isn't a new album either, it has almost a year but it needs to be mention here as it was issued on vinyl in a stunning way too.
First thoughts would be it was Nick Cave with Leonard Cohen kidnapped by psychopathic indie rock band and kept in a cage in old, abandoned circus. They also kidnapped local DJ and church choir. And they feed them all with LSD lollipops only... OK, let's try again.
So you can clearly hear Bergen metal roots in here. But there is also loads of creepy synth pop electronics, especially in the closing title track. Lyrical male voice of mad director of that cabaret leads us through whole piece. Sometimes on his own like in "Before the Helmets" or "Strawberry Suicide", but often shadowed by or dialoged with female vocal. Loads of slightly untuned keys, brass, drums, violins, mandolin and typewriter?
It's all chaotic up to the point where it breaks it all down and become a whole. A finished, considered masterpiece. Even though it has minimalistic lyrical songs just to turn into movie score style long creation like in "Isabel: A Report to an Academy". Even though it has merry melodies played in a creepy, peculiar way like in "Madeleine Crumbles". It is considered and very even. Weird. There is literally thousands of tiny details to discover, tempo changes. It's all mad! Madness is a key word here. Madness keeps it all together. Madness and its lyrics which are simply extraordinary. What I like most though is how some melodies and words are penetrating between the tracks or how they often refers to literature or science.
It is very complex music, I don't believe it's for everyone. It's demanding. You gonna love the story it tells or hate it's ridiculousness. But I guarantee it won't leave you neutral as it is one of the most original and interesting music projects I know. I'm so grateful I had a chance to come across it, to discover these sounds in the world where everything is so vague. Masterpiece!
Blackbox is also an example of why some music has to be owned on a physical medium. Two vinyl versions, gold and black. But it's not about the colour of the record, it's about the release itself. Absolutely stunning cover. Gatefold made with neat thick paper, gold inside. Same disturbing atmosphere of pictures inside and at the back of the packaging. And inner sleeve with lyrics! Thank you! I would not forgive if there won't be lyrics printed somewhere here. Disc itself is very well pressed, I love the graphics of the labels. There is something about playing this music from this old fashioned medium. This music fits to vinyl perfectly. It sounds bit warmer than digital version but it is hard to say is it better or not. It's not the point. Vinyl complements music. It's all about these quiet electrostatic cracks, background noise and need to turn the record over. This one just cannot be fully enjoyed on Spotify. Amazing album, straight to my top list!