Norway - Full Moon 109 - 08/19/05
The Brimstone Solar Radiation Band
Big Dipper Records
Solstice was released before summer solstice, which means this review is late, again. I bought the album at the Big Dipper record shop, along with three other albums; White Stripes' Get Behind Me Satan was one of them. The total cost of the albums was 666 Norwegian kroner. Pretty diabolical and scary, especially considering the latter title, eh? Next day I couldn't remember what the word Brimstone meant and found some dictionary on the Net. Fire and brimstone did I find out! In the process I downloaded some fiendish virus and the computer went bananas. I didn't think I was superstitious, but next time the amount adds up to the Number of the Beast, I guess I'll find some nice extra single or something to buy too. Anyway, the incident might be an excuse for the late addition of this tasteful dish on our menu.
We've had brief encounters with the Brimstone gang here at the Kafè earlier. Their debut album had a booklet held in white, brown and orange. The new one has expanded with yellow, red, green and black, and so has the music. And the band has expanded into a quintet. New recruit Erling Halsne Juvik (who briefly guested on the debut album) plays guitars, keyboards, banjo, mandolin and lap steel. Especially the three latter instruments have moved Brimstone into new territories, with some Nordic and British folk tendencies and even more folk/country feel from the northern Americas.
Still, the main focus is American and British psychedelic rock around the late 1960s and early 70s and the main attractions are the interplay of two electric guitars and keyboards. Among lots of elements the first tracks have picked something from vintage Pink Floyd albums (around Meddle, the epic "Echoes" in particular), or vintage Porcupine Tree (around The Sky Moves Sideways) for that matter. Especially those gliding guitar licks of "Back In The Days" and "Norwaii Five-0" and treated piano sounds of the latter are Porcupine Floyd inspired delights, indeed. Towards the end of Solstice I find something from The Doors around LA Woman (the electric piano of "Riders On The Storm" in particular).
Some instruments like bouzouki and sitar might indicate an exotic flavour and hippie associations. This is not the case; they are integrated discreetly into the music. It's the total sound picture that counts, not the individual members' instrumental skills. Great! In addition, parts of "The Spirit Of The Airborne Hogweed" and "Back In The Days II" include enough pop tendencies to prove Brimstone has talents in the art of pop tunesmithing, too!
My ultimate favourite of the album is the sad, happy, snappy, melancholic, humorous, folksy, dynamic and almost completely instrumental "Norwaii Five-0" where guest musician Øystein Fosshagen's violin really stands out. Btw., pop-connoisseur William Hut's vocals can be heard on a couple of songs, too. As you might understand, Solstice covers several different musical directions. I guess the hoarse voice of main vocalist and multi-instrumentalist R. Edwards might not suit everyone. It would probably have fitted better in a regular blues band. If you can cope with that, most of those who've studied the history book of rock to some extent will find several both well-known elements and new combinations and gems of interest here. And don't you forget, whether it has to do with favourite instrumentals or international football qualifying matches: "Norwaii Five-0"!
Copyright © 2005 JP