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BJØRN RIIS

Crossover Prog • Norway


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Bjørn Riis biography
Bjørn RIIS is an accomplished guitarist and songwriter, mostly renowned for his work with Norwegian prog band AIRBAG, who have, as of 2014, released 3 critically acclaimed albums. On his first solo album he pretty much handled all the instruments, with the help of his AIRBAG friend Asle TOSTRUP and a few other colleagues.

The album "Lullabies in a Car Crash" was released on Karisma Records November 3rd 2014.

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BJØRN RIIS discography


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BJØRN RIIS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.99 | 133 ratings
Lullabies In A Car Crash
2014
3.75 | 52 ratings
Forever Comes To An End
2017

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BJØRN RIIS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Forever Comes To An End by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.75 | 52 ratings

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Forever Comes To An End
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Edgy, jagged, disturbed, swirling in emotional confusion and clearly overwrought and despondent, the dark music of Bjorn Riis never fails to conjure up images of anguish. The lyrics paint vivid pictures that heed no mercy and provide little resolution. Airbag may be on hold for the time being but Bjorn continues following his muse to great effect, a highly stimulating opus that incorporates classic blues licks with distinctive misery and a definite rock delirium. Ably assisted by some Airbag pals, namely Henrik Fossum on drums and Asle Torstrup on programming but also infusing massive amounts of mournful piano from Oak's Simen Johannessen fingers, the man reeks inspiration and the end result is certainly powerful and moody.

The title track takes no prisoners, effectively evoking the more psychedelic tendencies of other luminaries such as Porcupine Tree, as Bjorn's patented soft guitars show a much harder side, thrashing, convulsing and screeching agonizingly. Propulsive, tectonic and strident, the fire rages mercilessly, fueled by words that plead forgiveness and respond to the deepest sorrow. The booming bass rolls majestically below a storm of angry riffs and occasional sweeter expanses. Then, a rippling guitar solo is peeled off with apparent exuberance, deeply poignant and very a propos. A total shock device.

'Absence' is a soporific whirlpool of sound mostly emanating from Johannessen's echoing piano chords, serving as a perfect intro for the downcast pleading of 'The Waves' , searching for some salvation in the grand scheme of things, a soundscape of desolation that oozes like the incessant yet gentle pounding of aquatic sprays, relentless and yet imbued with infinite supremacy. Riis' demolition guitar riffs add throbbing angst and concussing paranoia to the floating crest, his voice aching acutely and convincingly. Spectacular!

A subtle and repetitive electric piano motif introduces 'Getaway', a jazzier style that fits nicely, especially when grooving along, like some race car music blaring down the highway. The intensity evolves progressively into near unbearable heights, urgent, breathless and exhausting. The final stretch becomes quite the aggression fest, gloomy and clamorous, tainted with some psychedelic/psychotic sections that veer close to some kind of internal whirlwind. The bewitching 'Calm' is another shimmering respite, with soft piano ripples that transcend time and space, forever insistent and adventurous and funneled by purpose. Dense symphonics crown the affair with divine gleam. A slow hand guitar phrasing only adds to the pleasure.

A whopping 10 minute behemoth, 'Winter' does the prog duet deal just perfectly, with guest Sichelle Aksum paralleling Bjorn's voice to perfection, as the sublime lead guitar explodes brightly. There are some lovely wailing female notes that elevate the melody into the realms of the sublime, cresting, arching and detonating into a myriad of sparkling emotions. At times, it does get quite raunchy and angry, which only preps the soft afterglow to follow. The jazzy electric guitar-fueled lilt is simply mind-numbing, ultra-cool and sizzling in its trajectory, aiming into the deepest recesses of one's inner being. A masterpiece.

The tragic 'Where Are they Now' pulls the velvet curtain down on another masterful performance by one of prog's surest luminaries , taking the psychedelic vibe further into the inner cosmos of modern day art. Hushed moments of reflection are quickly escorted by soaring exhilaration that knows no boundaries, strong yet fragile, courageous yet tired. Emotional minds will not only understand but even find solace and comfort in this style of evocative music.

As with his debut 'Lullabies in a Car Crash', this is most definitely late night music, deeply evocative, profoundly disturbing and yet massively passionate and honest. The piano provides a myriad of options for the melodies to shine brightly on their own, devoid of useless bombast that might take away from the sonic simplicity. More personal and ethereal than any of the Airbag releases, this is quite a revelation.

4.5 grand finales

 Forever Comes To An End by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.75 | 52 ratings

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Forever Comes To An End
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

2 stars A gloomy, rather ''depressive'' mood veils Bjorn Riis' second album, aptly titled 'Forever Comes to an End'. Lyrics are equally moody and dark. Here, the Airbag mastermind blends the main influences of his core band with some post-rock structures and occasional heavier riffs. The end result is not very dissimilar in nature though. The ghost of Pink Floyd is ever-apparent.

The album kicks off with an unexpected catchy heavy post-rock riff. Unfortunately the verse vocal melody is rather indifferent but luckily saved by the refrain, reminding Anathema's 'Judgement' days. 'Absence' and 'Calm' are instrumental short fillers, preceding the rather lengthy 'The Waves', 'Winter' respectively, which, along with and the closing 'Where are you Now', all display the same pattern: low-tempo, ballad-like compositions, based on ambience and a piano/acoustic guitar background. Unfortunately all are longer than required without a striking feature that would lift them of their slumber mode, despite the pleaseant melodies. 'Getaway' is the exception to the rule; although being instrumental and running for 8 minutes on a standard mid-tempo, keeps the interest high with its simple-yet-catchy keyboard melody and ''trippy'' vibe.

Sadly there is not much more on which to elaborate. Fans of post-2000 Anathema, David Guilmour and of course Airbag might find a lot to appreciate here. 2 stars

 Forever Comes To An End by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.75 | 52 ratings

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Forever Comes To An End
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by huge

5 stars Having followed AIRBAG and their flowing style (remeniscent of PINK FLOYD in their heyday) to the eagerly anticipated arrival of BJ BJORN RIIS's first album it was with real excitement that three years later the sublime offering of 'Forever Comes To An End' has ma made its appearance. It's as if the previous albums were all a precursor... Here BJORN RIIS has come of age, matured and delivered an album of superlatives. He appears to have honed all that was excellent from AIRBAG and his previous solo album to make this an album of sheer brilliance. I cannot fathom how he achieves such mastery yet stays true to the original sound and style - and enhance what was already an epic aural landscape. But he does - a truly wonderful journey. An album that'll have repeated plays for many weeks and months to come and will justifiably join his and AIRBAG's albums w whiling away the hours in the car. Fully deserving of the five stars.
 Forever Comes To An End by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.75 | 52 ratings

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Forever Comes To An End
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars As it is with any of Bjørn Riis' solo or Airbag drafts, in either case there's always some sort of highly melodic ambience and nordic melancholy to state. The given front cover image is exemplary for that, isn't it? This paired with a splendid Steven Rothery and David Gilmour inspired guitar playing, how could he fail? Well, it's somewhat astonishing anyhow, seemingly this main recipe won't wear off. While never ever sounding like pure repetition. Hence after being positive about 'Disconnected' recently, one year ago, Karisma Records are now providing another delicious offer with 'Forever Comes To An End', when it comes to my taste.

Airbag fellows Henrik Fossum (drums) and Asle Tostrup (programming) are collaborating for the seven songs too. Regardless, 'I guess it is much more personal and me than anything I've done before', Bjørn Riis affirms. So designed for his first solo album actually, the title track is showing some real contrast program. I mean the hard riffing uptempo parts either way, taking turns with this well-known atmospheric prog charm we're already perfectly acquainted with. And then Absence and the following The Waves are smoothly gliding into a No-Man feel somehow, nice piano lines alongside with acoustic guitar and ambient patterns. Simply brilliant!

Have to confess that I really was anxious for the announced vocal support entering the stage, namely by Sichelle Mcmeo Aksum ... it takes some time ... except some female laughter(?) I'm effectively able to recognize her for the first time on Winter, another pleasant facet for sure. Perfect voice added, she definitely could have been more present anyhow. This track finally represents the album's beauty at best. I'd say 'Forever Comes To An End' marks his most varied and successfull effort (Airbag included). I'm steadily following Bjørn's steps for a while now without getting tired, and this one, including all participants as well as the production, seems to be his masterpiece so far.

 Lullabies In A Car Crash by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.99 | 133 ratings

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Lullabies In A Car Crash
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by toilet_doctor

5 stars Airbag made love to Pink Floyd and first Bjorn Riis solo album was born.

I don't know how did he does it, but he did. How he created music so sad and uplifting, so quietly flowing and rocking at the same. This merge of trademark Scandinavian melancholic with Gilmore guitar works especially well on his epics 10 minutes Out of Reach, Stay Calm and over 13 minutes title track Lullaby in a Car Crash - masterpiece of Prog Rock.

If spirit of Pink Floyd is still beating in your heart and Animals & Wish You Where Here are still spinning in your mind, this album is for you.

Thank you, Bjorn. It's very touching, very moving... 5 Floyd's stars in a white digipak.

 Lullabies In A Car Crash by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.99 | 133 ratings

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Lullabies In A Car Crash
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars AIRBAG guitar player and DAVID GILMOUR-worshipper Bjorn Riis here tries to go it alone and the result sounds remarkably like Airbag's last two albums. Bjorn's sometimes atmospheric, sometimes soaring Gilmouresque guitar play is always the highlight and always amazing in how completely he has replicated the great Pink Floyd guitarist's sound, stylings and technique. On Lullabies in a Car Crash Bjorn takes on the lead vocal duties and does surprisingy well. He even sounds remarkably like a cross between Airbag band-mate and lead vocalist, Asle Torstrup and the man himself, Roger Waters. Great music still very much in the Animals-era Pink Floyd vein.

Favorite songs: 1. "A New Day" (4:16); 3. "Disappear" (6:27); and the title song, 6. "Lullaby in a Car Crash" (13:27).

Solid four star effort of impeccable neo-prog music.

 Lullabies In A Car Crash by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.99 | 133 ratings

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Lullabies In A Car Crash
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Norwegian composer and musician Bjorn RIIS isn't a name that will be a household one for too many, but when adding the factoids that he's one of the original members of the Norwegian band Airbag and the man behind the website Gilmourish.com a few will presumably take notice. One could also add that some years ago he was a member of the Norwegian tribute band The Pink Floyd Experience. "Lullabies in a Car Crash" is his first solo album, released by the Norwegian label Karisma Records in November 2014.

Bjorn Riis' solo debut comes across as an accomplished piece of music, a well developed production that may not yield the biggest musical surprises of the decade, but that instead delivers plenty of ear-candy for the attentive listener. as well as material fairly close to what you'd expect from a musician with his background. Fans of Pink Floyd, David Gilmour and Riis' main band Airbag should all take note of this album, and especially those amongst them with a taste for music with lots of room given to details of a subtle and careful nature.

 Lullabies In A Car Crash by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.99 | 133 ratings

BUY
Lullabies In A Car Crash
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

4 stars As soon as I heard this solo album from Airbag's Bjorn Riis, I fell in love. It arrived randomly in my mailbox one day, and I put off hearing it for at least a couple weeks. That, my friends, was a mistake. It is my opinion that "Lullabies in a Car Crash" is one of the best of 2014.

Sure, I like Airbag's Pink Floyd sound and all, but Bjorn's new album combines emotional guitars with ominous bass movements and post-rock-esque structures. Production is high quality and lacking the "sound wall" effect, which would have been an easy way to give this album more power. However, the mix is full of class and is definitely quieter, which put the responsibility for oomph in the artists' hands. Taking hold of that, Bjorn has created an album that feels heavy and dark, but is rather light and serene overall. It is heavy in lyrics and in structure, but the instruments and myriad effects used are all about skill rather than distortion.

Feelings I get from "Lullabies in a Car Crash": sadness, elation; darkness, light; movement; stillness. This album will leave you in shambles, but somehow uplifted, too. Music, to me, is mostly about emotional impact, and Bjorn embraces this with a peaceful vigor. In some ways, it does remind me of Lunatic Soul with the emotional, dark movements, which explains my attraction to it. However, there is more guitar and more Pink Floyd influence, and that creates a whole new sound. I must mention, however, that any Floyd influence is modernized heavily and is mainly found in Bjorn's amazing guitar work, which screams Gilmour's emotion to me.

I love finding amazing albums at the end of the year. Bjorn's solo album is pretty incredible, and is honestly better than Airbag's latest. It has edge, but submerged in colors and water. It has movement, but subtle and weightless. It has emotional weight, full of tears and hope. If you haven't heard "Lullabies in a Car Crash", you really need to soon.

4.5 stars

 Lullabies In A Car Crash by RIIS, BJØRN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.99 | 133 ratings

BUY
Lullabies In A Car Crash
Bjørn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Bjorn Riis is the lead guitarist for Norwegian prog group Airbag, a band that has definite Pink Floyd tendencies that have been enhanced with a few more current alternative twists. The band has released 3 glorious albums, all having met a respectful audience and some fine overall ratings, certainly spearheaded by Riis and his magical guitar, very much in the same style as legend Dave Gilmour. But being familiar with the group, I can state that Airbag does offer a more contemporary sound, mostly due to Asle Torstrup's vocal tone that finds itself more in league with current sounds than the classic Waters/Gilmour hush. This solo album is an all Riis affair as he handles the guitars, keyboards, bass and vocals, leaving the drums to his Airbag colleague Henrik Fossum. Riis has crafted an album that has similarities to the group sound but is a much mellower affair, more densely atmospheric and personal, with loads of wispy keyboards and more understated guitar soloing.

After a trendsetting and moody intro intuitively titled "A New Day", the album's first cornerstone piece and an absolute highlight is the 10 minute long "Stay Calm", which is perhaps the closest thing to the Airbag style. Entering from the mist are a strummed acoustic guitar and breezy vocals that recall the great Floyd, aided by some floating synths and that classic monotone beat we all know well and love. Lyrically the story is intense and reflective, with echoing voices and fueled by those large guitar slashes that Gilmour is famous for but still done with a great amount of class and reverence. A choir mellotron makes an entrance and decides to stay awhile as Riis unleashes a series of powerful and heartfelt solos. This track has all the makings of a classic piece that should please many a fan.

"Disappear" initiates a more introspective style that verges on the ambient style made famous by Lunatic Soul , though this is more guitar-centric, with various layers of rhythmic arpeggios crisscrossing with tactile magic, using a wide variety of effects and reverb, the sweet voice closer to a gentler version of Steve Wilson (who remains a reference throughout). The details are wondrous, never dull or repetitive and most definitely spiced with some wicked electric runs that scour the skies.

Back to another 10 minute affair with the equally furtive "Out of Reach", a leisurely building epic that has the crystalline axe playing tribute to a brittle voice that is deeply despondent and achingly melancholic. Very gentle, very sentimental as the mellotron buzzes in the background, as he pleads 'still waiting for you to call, out of reach'. Bjorn then looks down at his guitar and then at the "aaaah" mellotron and kicks into gear a mammoth solo, full of pent-up feeling and lots of wah-wah pedal, I mean WOW! The explosive climax is reached and then begins the sweet afterglow, sensations frayed and sensitive, deliberate caresses and feathery touches.

"The Chase" would perhaps indicate a more violent expression of speed and lack of control but this is a suave artist at work, incorporating instead some much needed bombast, a thrilling guitar-driven ride that buzzes and swoons. The mid-section gets very silent and tingling, as if in some hallucinatory trance, not really surprising as Riis likes to infuse some psychedelia into the mix, which means that , of course, the mood reverts to the initial intensity, howling synths blowing in the background and the guitars daring to riff and riff hard. What a surprise as the piece ends in serene tranquility. Brilliant!

So as to illustrate the constant sense of creativity, a synthesized electric piano colors the opening moments of the title track, the longest one here clocking in over 13 minutes. "Breathe slowly now and don't be afraid, lay down and rest your head, it's over now". Yup, that about sums it up, a kaleidoscope of emotions wrapped in a soporific glaze, enhanced by a moving chorus full of emotion and wanting. And then, you guessed it, the delicious guitar moves in for the kill, a bluesy scrambling of notes that intends only to instill goose bumps. Again the massive mellotron and the whooshing synths wail in the background giving Bjorn all the impetus to rage on his instrument. Halfway through, barely audible police sirens announce some unforeseen tragedy, you suddenly realize that the subject matters is pretty gruesome, that out of body experience one can experience in a car accident , when there is that brief moment when you ask yourself, Am I still alive? Am I still breathing? The lullaby carries you to the answer that fate has decided. After all, the line between life and death is a thin and precious one.

On first glance, this is perfect late night music, ideal atmosphere for just relaxing and getting ready for some eventual dreaming. But do not be alarmed, it's very intense, fiery and quite volcanic stuff. It also delves into much stronger emotions than one would expect. That is the mark of a creative mind. Bravo Bjorn!

4.5 automotive serenades

Thanks to tszirmay for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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