CD REVIEW – Airbag – A Day in the Studio – Unplugged in Oslo

OK let’s get the factualities out of the way, shall we? This is a recording of the Airbag acoustic set streamed in early Autumn of 2020, released 3rd December 2021.

Why?

After the success of A Day At The Beach in the summer of 2020, Airbag was understandably keen to showcase the songs in a live setting. Well, good old Covid stopped all that, didn’t it?

So, instead, the band went into Subsonic Society Studio in Oslo, their home for the last studio albums, and performed an acoustic set which got streamed and by all accounts may still be located on YouTube.

They say that they wanted “to do something special that would keep us connected to our fans and also to say thanks for everyone’s support in these trying times. Doing this acoustic session allowed us to revisit songs from the new album and a few old ones as well. A new challenge for sure but a fun and inspiring experience.“

And they are not wrong. Their pomp and circumstance, and Floydian grandiosity are replaced with a chilled, mellow, Airbag. It’s not a full on album albeit some tracks hit 7 minutes. They start with 3 songs from A Day At The Beach. The opener ‘Machines And Men’ still has an immediate Floydian sound (a welcome to the machine, if you will!). It is really well recorded, vocals benefiting from heavy reverb, the guitars clear and their structured sounds able to bring in a strong sense of dynamic, great use of harmony vocals to add depth. In some ways I also get a sense of some of the acoustic work done by the likes of Porcupine Tree, Pineapple Thief as well as Floyd. It stands up very well. ‘Into The Unknown’ is a slightly more basic approach, but still well-adapted, with a very nice solo to close. ‘Sunsets’ has an engaging strum and strut, and is elevated by reverb vocals and subtle harmonies. There is a bit more of a sense of angst and urgency here, perhaps to reflect the song subject.

They then delve back in Airbag history with three further tracks, starting with previously unreleased / early demo song ‘Come On In’. You can sort of sense why this may not have developed into a song that suited the route the band would take, but it suits this style and performance perfectly, harmony vocals with the slightest CSN touch, understated solo, acoustic format. ‘Colours’ and ‘Sounds That I Hear’ come from 2009’s Identify album. And ‘Colours’ in particular has that mellow, swinging guitar strum that you could imagine the afore-mentioned CSN (and indeed Y) playing. At nearly 8 minutes long, it is surprisingly engaging. ‘Sounds that I Hear’ closes this set languidly,


Their package comes with a DVD featuring the original streamed session. This is another side of Airbag and you are left wondering if this was a one-off, or whether they might incorporate it into their studio or live work in the future. That might be another new challenge for them and could be fun! In the meantime this has been an enjoyable diversion.

Tracklisting:

  1. Machines and Men
  2. Into the Unknown
  3. Sunsets
  4. Come on In
  5. Colours
  6. Sounds that I hear

Full Band

Asle TOSTRUP (vocals)
Bjørn RIIS (guitars, vocals)
Jørgen HAGEN (keyboards)
Anders HOVDAN (bass)
Henrik FOSSUM (drums)

Internet stuffWebsite / Facebook 

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