Monday, June 24, 2024

Airbag – The Century of the Self

It is a funny thing when a great and supremely skilled constellation of musicians releases a near-perfect album that makes you think and believe that the group in question has reached its peak and creative zenith and that the mere thought of topping or bettering that output seems borderline absurd. This pretty much sums up how I felt when Norwegian prog rockers Airbag dropped the phenomenal and incredibly stimulating A Day at the Beach on us back in 2020; I recall thinking it would be almost impossible for them to craft something as compelling and addictive as that LP. Well, lo and behold, the three purveyors of deeply atmospheric and soul-stirring prog with finesse and sophistication to it are about to unleash a new stroke of evocative brilliance that is as well-composed, superbly played, and utterly absorbing as its predecessor was.

The Century of the Self is an impassioned and beautifully crafted piece of work where everything ebbs and flows splendidly and each richly textured part glides effortlessly into the next. The vocal melodies are emotive and laced with a sense of profound yearning, Bjørn’s six-string wizardry sparkles and shines throughout (and this may well be his most inspired playing to date), and the entire disc truly does showcase Airbag at their dynamic and fluid best. There are countless moments for quiet reflection as well as dense, heavy sections that provide just the right amount of brooding strength to the proceedings. Their world of sound throws up many wonderful surprises, and although we often have a tendency to name-drop the Gilmour-fronted Pink Floyd whenever the talk revolves around Airbag, it should be noted that such comparisons are somewhat unnecessary or simply redundant as these musically adventurous Norwegian have carved out a sound and identity of their own many albums ago. Regardless, the point that I am trying to make is simply that The Century of the Self is their most confident and original-sounding work to date, which is saying something, right?    

Tracks such as ‘Awakening’ and ‘Erase’ tug at the heartstrings in indefinable ways, and the record is as immaculately produced, perfectly sequenced, and musically rewarding as only the very best albums out there are. The Century of the Self is a triumph, and its content is more than worthy of study and devotion on the part of the listener.

The Century of the Self will be released by Karisma Records on June 14, 2024.

Jens Nepper
Jens Nepperhttps://floodgatemoodsproductions.bandcamp.com/
Born and raised in Denmark, currently living in Norway, and hopelessly addicted to coffee and Black Sabbath.

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It is a funny thing when a great and supremely skilled constellation of musicians releases a near-perfect album that makes you think and believe that the group in question has reached its peak and creative zenith and that the mere thought of topping or...Airbag – The Century of the Self