Airbag - Disconnected

Airbag Disconnected cover
Karisma Records
Airbag is a Norwegian (currently) quartet that has been going on for more than a decade now, worshiping in the altar of David Gilmour, to put it mildly, not the only pilgrims on that road, mind you, but ones that offer something truly on par and in good taste as the largely influential guitarist.
What’s good about them is that despite them taking the blueprint and directions from their love of Gilmour, they get lost and despite Porcupine Tree and H era Marillion, diversions, they always end up somewhere else (pun intended). They are on this album also very reminiscent of the transitional Anathema albums (ie “Judgement” etc.) both in sound as well as mostly in feel.
But the proof of any idea, any concept, anything really, including the pudding is in the eating and consumption of the latest Airbag, leaves you highly content, if not slightly melancholic. Each of the six songs focuses on alienation between individuals, the failure of society due to that and the states of failure/damage that causes both individually and on a collective level.
“Killer” the opening track, is rather vibey and pop-rock like, but in an urban and smooth, subdued way, reminiscent of both some Floyd as well as some U2 cloudscapes that the brilliant solo melts into, very much like a Dali painting, so beautiful but oh, so out there bizarre..
“Broken” is a lot more introspective, slower, sorrowed & mournful in what can come across only as a modern day paradigm of how to express isolation in a poetic fashion…
“Slave” is viscous, depressing and enveloping, a mix between the searing of Anathema’s “Lost Control” and the insanity and hopelessness of Floyd’s “Don’t Leave Me Now”. Obviously directed at failing relationships, it’s so bitter that its solo alone is the means to sweeten it up just enough, to make it bearable.
“Sleepwalker” is an apt enough title for the next song that combines airy acoustics and a thick sustained backing guitars, painting a canvas of zombified people who wake and go to sleep – living their lives in such a way as to avoid scarring, while in reality they sleepwalk all the time. Again the well-timed solo is right on the money, keeping the song from going south.
“Disconnected” manages, despite its length and slow pace, to keep the listener engaged. While it pretty much does away with most of the lyrics during its first few “hypnotic” minutes, its middle section tastefully (via a solo) interconnects that part with a second and final verse-frain that just leads to more free-form almost improvised soloing that’s hauntingly beautiful.
Lastly, “Returned” reminded me a bit of Steven Wilson, but a lot better done. An acoustic, relaxed song with dreamy soundscapes, mostly piano with some soft guitars floating above; it’s a beautiful way to bring closure as well as allow glimmer of hope to shine through all the bleakness that has preceded it. It leaves you in a tranquil, pacified state that’s almost fetal like.
Another truly soulful and beautiful work by the Norweigians that might not reinvent the wheel, but gives it a couple of more revolutions in a way that will not disrupt the flow of time.