1099 - Blindpassasjer

by Bill Golembeski Rating:10 Release Date:2018-05-10
1099 - Blindpassasjer
1099 - Blindpassasjer

This is a meticulously crafted prog/post-rock album.

And, boy, did I have this one coming in a weird karma sort of way. Recently, I’ve done more complaining about the plethora of really short albums than Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson griped about organized religion in the grooves of Aqualung. And, My God, wasn’t that was a lot of griping.

So, I have been given this seventy-eight-minute great big saga of music as a gift from the gods, who really have a pretty good sense of humor.

But, to quote James Comey (the former FBI Director and current Trump nemesis), “Lordy!”

Yes, Lordy, indeed. The first song, “Silverdal” is a prologue to the proceedings. This is instrumental guitar heavy music that is colored with heavenly keyboards and, of all things non-Norwegian, a pedal steel guitar. And seriously, these guys from Trondheim have captured the adventurous spirit of early Wishbone Ash. They sound like Radiohead. Truly, they also evoke the sound of the melodious guitar work of Andy Latimer from Camel.

“Tundra” extends the template. It has a slightly Eastern vibe that is pure progressive rock, music whose melodic patience demands quiet attention. The notes melt a bit. Then the post-rock guitars burst into textures that engulf the main theme.

“Osiris” is a rift driven tune. It’s certainly not a far cry from Pink Floyd’s spacey moments. But then, suddenly, a jazzy sax enters the music’s solar system like an unexpected asteroid. And “Under Isen” is slow and beautiful. More notes melt a bit. The guitars create a crescendo that cascades over the end of the tune.

But let’s not pull any punches. This is lovely, intense, and beautiful music that is quite different from the recent Scandinavian fare like The Flower Kings, Tangent, White Willow, or Agusa. This music is, to quote Ray Davies, “not like everybody else.” The band, simply known as 1099, moves the old (and often maligned) workhorse known as prog rock into our modern world by fusing warm the beauty of melodies that oscillate, like alternating currents, through the heavy textures of post rock’s cold intense haze.

And, while we’re not pulling any punches, if you don’t like prog or post-rock, this music will probably cause boredom and headaches, but not necessarily in that order,

That said, the title track, “Blindpassasjer” is simply exquisite space rock. The same is true for “For Seg Selv” and “En Druknet Verden.” If life is all about quiet journeys, then these tunes are all about life, and it’s about life with a pedal steel soundtrack. This is nice stuff. Be prepared to slow your heartbeat.

And then there was “Til Jorden,” the eleven minute plus epic journey. The album’s title, Blindpassasjer, translates into Stowaway. But I think, to return to some sort of Jethro Tull Aqualung religious theme, this album should be called The Immaculate Construction (which, according to Google Translate would be Ulastelig Konstruksjon). The arrangements are punctilious in melodic detail.  Oh my, this record has played its lengthy discourse over the last several days, and this tune, in particular, elevates the journey (to mention the great Wishbone Ash, again) into a Pilgrimage.

The final songs are almost overindulgence, sort of like the third plate at an all-you-can-eat buffet. But again, I asked for this, what with all my whining about records that barely made the thirty-minute mark. The songs are never more than beautiful. The sax returns. There’s a bit of flute. There are lovely spaces between the notes that still seem to melt like deep butter. “Lausanne” rocks. And then “Vintersovn” is a gorgeous ride into a tranquil sunset that concludes a wonderful and heavenly complex album.

So, yeah, this is a prog record; it’s a post-rock album; it’s manna dropped from melodic skies. Give this record patient time. It’s intense; it’s lovely; it’s beautiful like the universe that reveals itself to be filled with planets, stars, gravity that bends, the unexpected asteroid, and sounds that simply make the lone listener feel part of something truly profound.

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