Bjørn Riis – A Fleeting Glimpse album review

19 09 2022

A Fleeting Glimpse is a mini-album from by Airbag co-founder, songwriter and lead guitarist, Bjorn Riis. With A Fleeting Glimpse, Bjørn Riis has let his love of Pink Floyd run free. The album contains four new songs, with a running time of just under 30 minutes, where you can really hear the Pink Floyd influences soaked into the short album’s DNA.

Bjørn Riis - A Fleeting Glimpse album cover.

Dark Shadows (part 1) features guest vocals from Durga McBroom, who sang with Pink Floyd from the late 80s onwards. A gentle paced piece, with some uplifting David Gilmour inspired slide and lead guitar performances, the first take of Dark Shadows perfectly combines the key Floyd sounds of the 70s and 80s.

A Voyage to the Sun touches on the darker, more progressive side of the album’s inspiration. The tempo quickens for this instrumental track, my favourite song on the album. The guitars cut deeper and the percussion pushes the arrangement, with a wonderful mid-section where the instruments rapidly drop away to leave guitar feedback and bass, undercut by a mournful synth line. I love these spacey, progressive vibes that are just made for a headphone listening experience.

Just as you are soaring above the clouds, the High Hopes referencing church bells of Summer Meadows bring you crashing back down to earth. The acoustic and electric guitar intro is so beautifully pristine on this second and final instrumental. I kept expecting some spoken voice on this track, see if you agree with me when you hear the album, if it possibly evokes the same memories for you.

Bjørn Riis looking at the camera

Summer Meadows is over far too soon, and Dark Shadows (part 2) continues to build, with some emotional guitar, both lead and layered background textures, from Riis. Whilst there are four tracks, each offering slightly different emotional responses and moods, the album feels like a complete piece of music, built to be listened to in one sitting, in the order the artist has chosen.

The powerful mix for A Fleeting Glimpse by Vegard Kleftås Sleipnes and the warm mastering by White Willow / The Opium Cartel’s master-mind Jacob Holm-Lupo, lifts this album to the front of my favourite Bjørn Riis solo releases to date. I would love to hear a full length album in this style in the future. With little chance of new music from David Gilmour in this style, it would be great to have new music continuing the 70s and 80s Pink Floyd tradition.

Buy Bjørn Riis – A Fleeting Glimpse on vinyl from Amazon
Buy Bjørn Riis – A Fleeting Glimpse on CD from Amazon
Buy Bjørn Riis – A Fleeting Glimpse on vinyl from Burning Shed
Buy Bjørn Riis – A Fleeting Glimpse on CD from Burning Shed


Dark Shadows (part 1)
A Voyage to the Sun
Summer Meadows
Dark Shadows (part 2)

Label: Karisma Records
Release Date: 30 September 2022

Airbag – Identity (Remastered) CD & Vinyl review

3 06 2021

Karisma Records are releasing a remastered version of Oslo band Airbag’s 2009 debut album Identity in June 2021 on CD and in early August on double vinyl.

The original, according to my Last.FM stats, was my most played album in 2009, so I’m obviously a big fan of this album. Identity has been lovingly remastered by Jacob Holm-Lupo (White Willow, The Opium Cartel).

Identity is a wonderful mixture of Pink Floyd influenced, melodic prog with quite wide-ranging pop influences such as later period Talk Talk and at times, hints of modern electronica.

Jacob Holm-Lupo’s remaster is a revelation. Comparing the two versions side by side, the new version is less sharp on the ear, the guitars are not always at the top of the mix and there is space for the electronics to breathe. Ride cymbals shimmer, the bass is deep and cuts through perfectly, and production touches such as effects on vocals and keyboards sit so much better in the mix. The original, which sounded pretty good back in the day, has been polished and cleaned, and is now a sparkling diamond of an album.

The instrumental Prelude sets the scene, with emotional solos from guitarist Bjørn Riis. The album is a definite pop your headphones on, sit back and close your eyes, listening experience. If you give the album your full attention, you will be rewarded.

No Escape is one of the key tracks on Identity. The pace is steady and constant, but the arrangement dips in and out of it’s intensity, with a heady mix of David Gilmour influenced guitar lines and simple but effective vocal arrangements. The ending, with processed drums and an emotional piano refrain, is a joy to listen to.

“Why does it feel like I’ve been here before,
please pull me out of this dream.”

Safe Like You has a Massive Attack sounding drum pattern, and infectious keyboard lines that underpin the emotive guitar parts. This is one of the songs that really benefits from Holm-Lupo’s warm, widescreen and colourful remaster.

“My stomach aches when you look at me as if I was fake”

Steal My Soul makes good use of soundscapes and Robert Fripp influenced guitar textures before the more traditional arrangement kicks in. This is the track that is likely to appeal to fans of 70s prog and classic rock.

The remaster of Steal My Soul is another noticeable improvement, and Colours, with its clearer vocal and acoustic guitar mix, sounds like it was recorded yesterday, rather than 12 years ago. How time flies…

The final two tracks – How I Wanna Be & Sounds That I Hear – thrive on the atmospherics, and work as if they are one long piece, rather than two distinct tracks.

Sounds That I Hear is one of my favourite Airbag songs, with delicate organ washes, snatches of distant radio conversations and a powerful classic progressive rock arrangement that sits comfortably (numb) alongside the dark lyrics.

“The memories we had
are left behind”

So if you already own this album, should you buy it again? For me, its a genuine sonic improvement, and the best version of one of my favourite albums of the past 20 years, and so yes I will be buying it again, on vinyl rather than CD. My original copy will go to a charity shop to hopefully turn someone else on to the band. Got to spread the prog love, right?

Buy the Identity (2021 Remaster) CD (available from 11 June 2021) from Amazon

Buy the Identity (2021 Remaster) (Deluxe White Vinyl) 2LP – pre-order (available from early August 2021) from Amazon


No Escape
Safe Like You
Steal My Soul
Feeling Less
How I Wanna Be
Sounds That I Hear

Identity-era Line-up:

Asle Tostrup – vocals
Bjørn Riis – guitars & vocals
Jørgen Hagen – keyboards
Anders Hovdan – bass
Joachim Slikker – drums

Airbag – All Rights Removed & The Greatest Show on Earth limited edition vinyl re-issues

9 10 2020

Karisma Records are re-issuing Airbag’s All Rights Removed and The Greatest Show on Earth on November 20 2020 on limited edition vinyl, with both albums remastered for vinyl by White Willow / The Opium Cartel’s Jacob Holm-Lupo.

Airbag’s second album All Rights Removed was originally released in 2011. The 2020 remaster is released as a heavyweight double vinyl in gatefold cover, pressed on red vinyl.

The Norwegian band’s third album The Greatest Show on Earth was first released in 2013, and this 2020 heavyweight vinyl remaster is pressed on blue vinyl.

Jacob Holm-Lupo has offered a subtle and sympathetic remaster for vinyl. No brick-walling here – there is no real volume difference, just a little more punch and the synths really sparkle in this redux. This is the best these albums have ever sounded..

All Rights Removed sees the band shift their sound up a gear. The album opener is a heady mix of classic and progressive rock, with guitarist Bjørn Riis rising to the fore on most tracks.

White Walls is full of Dave Gilmour influenced guitar runs and textures, and is one of my favourite songs in the Norwegion band’s catalogue. Dim the lights and turn up the volume.

The mid-section bass, keyboard and guitar prelude before the song kicks back into full power is a joy to experience.

“Cos nothing ever stays the same…”

The tempo remains constant with The Bridge, before the space-rock of Never Coming Home (it reminds me of Signify era Porcupine Tree) leads into the atmospheric instrumental Light Them All Up.

The album closes with one of the band’s most popular tracks (in terms of 1 million Spotify streams) with the 17 and a half minute Homesick. The song is stunning and this is the best I have heard this masterpiece sound. Heading off into Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd territory in the mid-section, this is a journey you really want to take.

The Greatest Show on Earth adds a slight metal element to the band’s palette, on top of their more atmospheric layered sound from previous releases.

Redemption is a slow-burning modern prog piece, with spurts of heavy, gasoline fuelled choruses. Silence Grows moves the intensity down a couple of notches, with a powerful song that would not have sounded out of place on David Gilmour’s On An Island album. The instrumental sections sound amazing thanks to the superb Jacob Holm-Lupo vinyl master.

The Greatest Show on Earth is an album built to be heard in one sitting, and so works best in the vinyl format, when you can give it your full attention, and not break into individual tracks on streaming platforms.

There is a great use of vocal harmonies, atmosphere and restraint to build the mood on the albums second longest track, Call Me Back.

Surveillance (part 2​-​3) is the 16 minute album closer. Taking some of the mood of Porcupine Tree’s Stars Die, Surveillance (part 2​-​3) is a story of isolation and moves from an emotive, quite traditional arrangement to something darker and more experimental as it progresses.

“No need for you to be here
The comfort of my TV screen is all that I need”

All Rights Removed & The Greatest Show on Earth are limited edition releases, so if you missed out on getting these wonderful modern progressive albums on vinyl a few years ago, now is your chance. Links to buy the albums on Burning Shed and Amazon are below.

Airbag – A Day at the Beach album review

9 05 2020

A Day at the Beach is the 5th album from Norwegian band Airbag, and is their first studio album in 4 years.

A Day at the Beach features six new songs inspired by the resurgence of 1980s electronica, new wave and movie scores, whilst still retaining the band’s progressive rock leanings.

The album was produced by Asle Tostrup and Bjørn Riis, and befitting the musical content, is lovingly mastered by Jacob Holm-Lupo (White Willow / The Opium Cartel).

Machines And Men acts as a bridge between the progressive rock sound of Identity and Disconnected and a more electronic 2020 direction for Airbag. Guitars give way to Tangerine Dream / New Order referencing synths, but don’t worry, Bjørn Riis is still a strong presence throughout the album. As with all Airbag releases, there is a heavy use of textures, and peaks and flows to keep your attention and hit you emotionally. I particularly love the drum treatments on Machines And Men.

A Day at the Beach (Part 1) is an absolute joy. Decaying guitars and deep bass underpin piano and mid-period Porcupine Tree like synth swirls to deliver one of the most atmospheric pieces on the album.

Into The Unknown continues in a similar, albeit longer vein. The synth riff driving the intro has an 80s Drive soundtrack feel, and the neon pulse and achingly personal lyrics make the track an album highlight. The guitars from Bjørn Riis are restrained but all the more powerful as the track builds, and the drums kick in with a second half that will appeal to Pink Floyd and Prog fans.

Sunsets is one of the biggest surprises on the album,. Opening with an off-kilter drum pattern, and then heading in an almost post-punk direction, with a John McGeoch (Siouxsie & The Banshees / Magazine) guitar sound, before switching to a more traditional Airbag chorus.

The insistent bassline on Sunsets works well with the heavily processed guitar on the verses, and we are treated to a quality Bjørn Riis guitar solo at the half-way mark. Again, the use of textures and ever-mutating arrangements keep your interest piqued throughout.

Listen to an edit of Sunsets below.

A Day At The Beach (Part 2) dials the electronica back into sharper focus, with an pulse-led instrumental conclusion to the song that premiered earlier on in the album sequence.

A Day at the Beach is such a good headphones album, and I cannot wait to hear it played loud through speakers when I receive my vinyl copy in June.

The album closes with Megalomaniac, a slow-building guitar piece that suddenly falls away and then rises powerfully to see the album to it’s conclusion.

“You always get what you want…”

I am a huge fan of electronic music, as well as a lot of progressive rock, and I love it when the two genres intertwine as they do on this album. A Day at the Beach has been a long time coming, but is one of the highlights in Airbag’s catalogue of fine studio albums. The band may have lost two members but they have opened up the possibilities of what they can achieve and how they can tell their stories.

Machines And Men
A Day at the Beach (Part 1)
Into The Unknown
A Day At The Beach (Part 2)

Buy A Day at the Beach on CD from Amazon

Buy A Day at the Beach on CD from Burning Shed

Buy A Day at the Beach clear vinyl from Burning Shed

Buy Bjørn Riis A Storm Is Coming CD on Amazon

Buy Bjørn Riis Forever Comes To An End CD on Amazon

Buy Bjørn Riis Lullabies In A Car Crash CD on Amazon

2009 Music Review

29 12 2009

Ok, its that time of year….  Here are some of my favourites from 2009.


I’m not sure how I stumbled across this Norwegian band, but I’m glad I did.  A classic rock fans dream, blending the guitar style of David Gilmour / Pink Floyd with early Porcupine Tree, and throwing in a little a-ha for good measure!

According to the wonderful stats provided by Last.FM, Airbag’s debut album Identity has been my most played album in 2009.

Recommended track: No Escape

Airbag website

Buy the Identity mp3 album from Amazon
Buy the Identity CD album from The Burning Shed

Blue Roses

Already mentioned in more depth elsewhere in my blog, 2009 saw the release of a wonderful debut album from Laura Groves aka Blue Roses.  An act I’m hoping to see live again in 2010 (I saw a woefully short Blue Roses show live at an Apple Store event in London during the Summer).

First Frost Night from the recent Does Anyone Love Me Now? Digital EP shows a real progressive feel seeping into their music.

Look, I didn’t mention Kate Bush!

Recommended track: I Wish I…

Blue Roses website

Buy the Does Anyone Love Me Now? Digital EP from Amazon

Buy the Blue Roses album from Amazon


Released in 2008, but only noticed by me in 2009, so included here, the album Rook from Texan band Shearwater is a delicate collection of songs driven by rich strings and piano mixed with acoustic guitars and lots of references to birds (band member Jonathan Meiburg is a graduate student in ornithology).

Singer Meiburg definitely has a hint of Mark Hollis in his vocal style, so a band that fans of later period Talk Talk will probably appreciate.

Recommended track: Leviathan, Bound

Buy Rook at Amazon

Butch Walker

Again, a 2008 release, but one I stumbled across in 2009 thanks to the wonders of Youtube.  I was aware of Butch Walker’s previous band, Marvellous 3, due to the power-pop anthem from 1999, Freak of the Week (a fair-sized hit in the US that I heard when on holiday in Florida).

I found clips of Walker performing songs from his solo albums, often alone with just acoustic guitar or piano, sometimes with a full band, but always entertaining. What sold it for me was solo version of Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car, Thought Of You from 2008’s Sycamore Meadows album.

From reading reviews, Butch Walker is not critically acclaimed in his native USA, but when did that ever matter?  Yes, his songs are often very sentimental, but again, when did that ever matter?  I’ve quickly snapped up his entire back-catalogue (at least the ones that I’ve managed to get from the US, I’m a couple of EP’s and a live DVD short of a full collection), and there are some real gems to be found. Mixtape from 2004’s Letters album is a career highlight, and one of the best rock songs about unrequited love.

You gave me the best mixtape I have
Even all the bad songs ain’t so bad
I just wish there was so much more than that
About me and you

Walker is a very traditional performer, which, again, is not a criticism, and he seems aware of rock history whilst knowing how to knock out a great song, so expect nods to some of his idols in live performances.  Either solo or with a full band, Walker seems to put 150% into every live performance (he reminds me of a mid-period Springsteen in this regard).

One of my most played artists of 2009, and someone I hope to see live for the first time in 2010, if he heads over to the UK to tour his next album.

Recommended track:  ATL from Sycamore Meadows

Some become lovers because of the sex
And some, you know, they just become friends
In our case, we just became bad at it all
And never got good at it again

Buy Letters at Amazon

Buy Sycamore Meadows at Amazon

Butch Walker website

Miike Snow

The part Swedish, part US band Miike Snow have released one album to date, and a clutch of classic singles.  For the fact-fiends reading this blog, the Swedish contingent in the band were responsible for the Grammy winning Toxic by Britney Spears.

I was lucky to be able to see one of the bands first live performances when they played at the iTunes festival in the summer of 2009 at London’s Roundhouse.  The recent single Silvia was a highlight of the live show, and is also a centre-piece on the studio album.

Maybe I’m a little odd, but if a group like 10CC formed today, I think they would sound like Miike Snow.  Too much modern dance music has disposable lyrics, with songs that are little more than icing sprinkled on a beat, but Miike Snow songs would work just as well in an acoustic environment, as they are strong enough to survive without the studio trappings.

Recommended track:  Burial

At your own burial, don’t forget to cry
At your own burial
Looking at my 81st birthday, everyday this body goes to waste
Remembering how I would raise an army when we went back to your place

Buy Miike Snow at Amazon

Miike Snow website

Others on the Kinski radar in 2009

Marina and the Diamonds

One of my favourite songs in 2009 was the perfect pop of  I Am Not a Robot.

With a debut album, Family Jewels, on the horizon, one to watch in 2010.

Marina & the Diamonds website

Buy Marina & the Diamonds at Amazon




James Grant

Love & Money singer James Grant released the album Strange Flowers in 2009, unfortunately to little fanfare. It’s an amazing album, full of finely crafted songs, the highlight for me being the 9 minute plus bluesy My Father’s Coat.

In a stall in the marketsquare
I saw his old threadbare mohair
And I choked out the oath in my throat
Stood staring at my father’s coat

Buy Strange Flowers at Amazon


Wild Beasts

Cumbrian band
Wild Beasts second album, Two Dancers, includes When I’m Sleepy… , which evokes the spirit of the late, great Billy Mackenzie.

Watch the Hooting & Howling video.

Buy Two Dancers at Amazon.




Rickie Lee Jones

The latest Rickie Lee Jones album, Balm In Gilead, was released late in 2009. Opening track Wild Girl is a personal favourite, and has a lovely Steely Dan feel to the arrangement.

Wild girl in a red dress
Come on, speak up, say yes
This thing that makes you beautiful
Never comes out of a jar

Soundtrack King Jon Brion appears with Rickie on the track Bonfires.

Buy Balm In Gilead at Amazon.

McAlmont and Nyman

The Glare is the first (and hopefully not the last) collaboration between former Bernard Butler cohort David McAlmont and composer Michael Nyman.

Apparently a musical match made via Facebook (how 21st Century) the album is made up of Michael Nyman compositions turned into songs (and with lyrics added) by David McAlmont, all dealing with “The Glare” of being in the media spotlight.

So from Berlusconi, assisted suicide (the extremely moving Friendly Fire) to ‘drug mules’ In Laos, its a wonderful concept that sends you rushing over to Google to research the stories that inspired the non-judgemental lyrics.

I had a second, a single chance
To let the cameras see my face.
I hoped then I would make the news
And I prayed that you’d be tuned in

The Glare Dossier – The stories that inspired the songs.

Buy The Glare at Amazon.

Releases I’m looking forward to in 2010

Memories Of Machines – Warm Winter

The forthcoming collaboration between no-man’s Tim Bowness and Nosound’s Giancarlo Erra.  Highlights included the slow-burning At the Centre of it All and the perfect-pop of Before We Fall.  Memories of Machines website

Delphic – Acolyte

A band that I first came across as support to Bloc Party in 2009.

Sounding like a 21st Century New Order,  forthcoming single Doubt is the song that should give the Manchester band their first hit in 2010.

Delphic Myspace

Acolyte at Amazon.



Peter Gabriel – Scratch My Back


The next Peter Gabriel album is released in February of 2010, and will consist of twelve cover versions of songs by artists such as David Bowie, Elbow, Bon Iver, Radiohead, Paul Simon, Talking Heads and The Magnetic Fields, recorded using just orchestra and voice.

Buy Scratch My Back at Amazon



Hazel Mills


The next EP from Bristol’s Hazel Mills should be released in 2010.

Butterfly, the first Hazel Mills EP, was released more than two years ago now, so new music is long overdue.

Hazel Mills website.




A new album from Canada’s Stars, titled The Five Ghosts is due in June 2010.

The last Stars release was the Sad Robot EP in late 2008.

Stars Myspace



Favourite songs of 2009

Catherine A.D. Carry Your Heart

And as I fall from hope to here with your heart on my back
How did we get here? With your heart on my back…
And with your blood still on my tongue and words that can’t be undone
How do we get to carry our hearts?

Miike SnowBurial

Marina and the DiamondsI Am Not a Robot

James GrantMy Father’s Coat

The DecemberistsAnnan Water

GrammaticsInkjet Lakes

Blue Roses I Wish I…

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