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Madrugada
New Depression EP
Virgin Records Norway

The debut CD from Madrugada should be here soon, but in the mean time, here is their second EP. Their first self-titled EP, released some moons ago (get it while you can - only 750 pressings were made), was recorded in Norway and mixed in London, while New Depression EP is an all-Norwegian product. This shouldn't mean anything quality-wise, but after the initial listenings I can't help thinking that the studio work doesn't quite match the first EP. It seems like the space they float in is smaller, but this may well be caused by a provincial placebo in my head. Musically however, Madrugada are expanding. Slowly though, and still further into roots territory.

The EP starts off with The Riverbed, a calm ballad with an acoustic guitar that reminds me of Pink Floyd (The Wall-era). Sivert's voice is as soothing as ever, and an accordion (played by non-member Jon Terje Rovedal) floats in and out of the mix, removing any doubts about Madrugada's roots directions. But of course, there are also some dirty-sounding guitars. And some very soft marching drums, probably added to illustrate this story story of eh, a man, a king, a war, remorse, sadness and tragedy ("the king lives on, but everybody dies"). Well, I've mentioned earlier that the lyrics are at times their weakest side, especially on the slower, more naked songs.

Tonight I Have No Words For You, a mid-tempo country-rock tune, whose sound is fattened by an Hammond organ (Rovedal again), is a rather faceless item, and they fail to get the song rambling along like they did with Highway 2.000.000 from the first EP.

Next up is Higher, perhaps the most rocking song from Madrugada so far, with lots of distorted minor-chord guitars, some feedback, and even the vocals get the fuzz treatment on some parts. But there is also a twangy, clean guitar showing our psychedelic agent the way up. The mission goal is reached when the Beatlesque guitar solo breaks in towards the end. Another instant favourite.

1990 comes as a pleasant surprise, as this is an almost up-beat song, at least musically speaking. Here we are presented with another, lighter side of Madrugada, with sha-la-la-s and o-oh-oh-s, with a pretty catchy melody which sometimes reminds me of Australian Paul Kelly. An appreciated departure from the darker material - this one's only bittersweet ...

All in all, this is a worthy, but probably intermediate step for Madrugada. Still, I wonder which (if any) of the songs on these two EPs will appear on the forthcoming CD. Hopefully they have a masterplan laid out for a killer debut album, meaning that only a few songs from their first two EPs should be included (Belladonna from the first one should definetely be there). And, according to the lucky people who have attended their concerts, Madrugada have more in store.

Copyright © 1999 Knut Tore Breivik e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Madrugada articles/reviews: A Deadend Mind EP, Beautyproof (single), EP, Electric EP, Grit, Hands Up - I Love You, Higher EP, Industrial Silence, Industrial Silence, Punktum, Mo i Rana, 28.11.1999, Ready EP, Rockefeller, Oslo, 31.03.2001, The Deep End, The Kids Are On High Street, The Nightly Disease.

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