It’s Friday night and time for a bit of prog, or more correctly folkish progressive rock as the PR puts it, “sounds inspired by old cabins, Swedish prog, fantasy novels and Norwegian nature.”
Indeed, carrying on, we are invited to anticipate “the melding of progressive rock with fantastic melodies and a folkish twist.”
And there’s more as we learn that the album draws inspiration from Nordic jazz and folk music, classical 1900s music, symphonic prog and sensory-expanding 60-s & 70s rock.
It might have been easier to list what doesn’t inspire the Oslo-based duo, which comprises multi-instrumentalist Håkon Oftung and drummer Kristian Frøland.
Creating a full and ‘symphonic’ prog sound is a tall order for a duo but there’s no indication that they are helped out by anyone else, which is impressive.
‘Salighet’ is the band’s fourth proper studio album and in it they explore different forms of ecstasy through their compositions and lyrics, “be it in the shape of dance, a mountain hike, a fairytale, religious pondering or other kinds of inner travel.” I’m not sure I’d get ecstatic about a mountain hike unless there was a pub at the end of it but then I’m not Norwegian.
There are seven tracks on the album and I had a quick listen to them all. The tenet is very much of the early British prog I followed as a kid and it’s as tight as can be.
I selected the opener ‘Invokasjon’ because it is marginally the shortest at 2:52, while the final track is over 10 minutes long. Two and a half minutes is long enough for you to get a flavour.
It’s as if Emerson, Lake and Palmer; Jethro Tull; and Yes had combined into a one-off super group to make an invasjon of Norway and the song is identified by the odd time signatures and chord progressions endemic in the genre and especially in those groups. Listen carefully and you’ll be convinced Emerson, Ian Anderson and Steve Howe have somehow got themselves involved, even if the first is doing it from beyond the grave.
Of course you’re not listening to any of those British bands, you’re listening to Jordsjø, and they are just a part of the burgeoning Norwegian prog scene with a strong identity of their own. But so well do they channel those groups you’ll believe you’ve climbed into a time machine and set the dial for 1970.
And Håkon Oftung even wears the loon pants so loved at that time.
‘Salighet’ is released on 6th October.
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