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Tusmørke - Underjordisk Tusmørke CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.63 | 44 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Underjordisk Tusmørke' - Tusmørke (8/10)

Perhaps as far as the 'traditional' sound of progressive rock goes, I might argue that the mantle was passed from Britain to Scandinavia somewhere in the 90's. Certainly, there are more American progressive bands nowadays, but Sweden and particularly Norway have earned the title for the sheer concentration of high quality 'vintage' prog rock that has come out of the Viking lands over the past couple of decades. Tusmørke (Norwegian for Twilight) is a relatively new name on the scene, although the musicians are already well established in the modern progressive canon. With musicians from Momrakattakk, Wobbler, and Arabrot, fans of Norway's prog scene will no doubt hear some familiar sounds on "Underjordisk Tusmørke". Many bands have attempted to go for the nary-obtainable classic sound and atmosphere of the legendary seventies albums and fail, but Tusmørke bring the richly organic sound of the past era to 2012. Combine that with clever compositions and slick musicianship, and you have one of the strongest vintage prog rock albums of the year.

Vintage, vintage, vintage. From the first time hearing "Fimbul"- the album's opener- it was the only word that came to find. It wasn't merely as a result of the folkish, psychedelic musical style either; Tusmørke take the seventies spirit to heart with the production as well. The recording sounds freshly ripped off of a long-forgotten vinyl in an obscure record store, providing a sense of sonic clarity while still managing to stay true to the analog sound. "Underjordisk Tusmørke" effectively combines many sounds of the Jethro Tull-led folkish progressive movement with spacey overtones and light jazz flourishes. Particularly with regards to the mid-range vocal work and heavy flute presence, Tusmørke fit somewhere in between Jethro Tull and Focus. Throughout the album, there is the sense that Tusmørke prefer to emulate, rather than adopt a sound of their own. Of course, originality was certainly not the first thing on the band's mind. More adventurous listeners may be put off by Tusmørke's intrinsically retrogressive approach to prog, but their execution makes it more than worth the experience.

Tusmørke's atmosphere is rooted deep within fantasy. Although nostalgia is the primary emotional drive here, there is a decidedly spooky quality about the music, as if Tusmørke sought to plunge their listener down the rabbit hole. The lyrics- mostly in English- reinforce this 'unknown fantasy realm' mood; "The Quintessence of Elements" focuses in on the subject of alchemy, whereas "A Nightmare's Just A Dream" can speak its piece with the song title alone. There is a satisfying depth to the compositions; Tusmørke tend to let the warmly arranged vocals and showy flutework dominate the music's forefront, but the real joy of Tusmørke lies in the background. The drummer (listed as HlewagastiR) lives up to the high expectations I had from his work in Wobbler, and delivers the highlight performance of the album, infusing jazzy rolls into a precise and technical style of rock percussion.

On top of the album-proper, there are three bonus tracks included. Although "Underjordisk" would have felt overdrawn had they been included in the album, they generally manage to hold up to the par of the studio material, with the would-be epic "Ode on Dawn" showing great promise. Sadly, these bonus tracks are never given the same attention and care in recording that the main album is, although the potential is certainly left open for these pieces to be on the band's tentative second record. These Norwegians have not explored any new territory here, instead developing upon what has been built up in the past. The golden quality of Tusmørke lies in the wonderful execution they have given their work. Vintage-inclined 'progressive' rock is nothing new, but it's rare that a band manages to refine their studio art to genuinely analog-glory. It's a great trip, and for lovers of this genre's roots, it would be a shame to pass this up.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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