Dim Gray add their own unique stamp to whatever classes as the post-progressive tag.
Release date: 25th June 2021
Label: Grim Day Records
Format: 2LP & CD options
The Norwegian trio – Håkon Høiberg (guitars, vocals), Oskar Holldorff (vocals, keyboards) and Tom Ian Klungland (drums, vocals) – latch onto a post-progressive/art-rock (now there’s a blend to go to bed with) signature tag with some twists.
The band’s backgrounds and influences from a wide variety of music see them incorporating elements from folk to pop, lush widescreen strings, and a touch of indie cool. The result is a forward-thinking, wide and sophisticated palette of sounds. This is a brand new release of the 2020 debut with the physical 2xLP and CD formats (with bonus songs), whilst a live video of the album song Dreamer’s Disease (see below) has been made available.
Describing their lyrical approach, the band explains: “rather than tell a linear story, we attempted to structure it as a circular narrative, with the protagonist trapped in a downward spiral, a vicious cycle without a clear beginning or ending. The story can be interpreted in various ways, but the lyrical themes remain centred around loss, longing and loneliness, and the psychological toll these feelings can take on a person.” Quite a foreboding notion and for a young band, just a glimpse into the lyric book suggests an unexpected maturity.
First impressions match up the expectations to the actuality. A cross between the melodic side and the sharp dynamic shifts of Radiohead (in their guitar phase rather than their avant-garde electronic experimentation) and the cool songwriting chill and nous of Keane. The opening moments of Again flit between intimate dreamy vocals and classical sonics and instigates a journey through a fusion of styles. I even get a hint of the alternative sounds that might be classed as Americana Rock that a personal favourite band, Flight Brigade, have made their own. Embellished by widescreen textures, there’s an air of luscious quality which even holds firm when the instrumentation is more stripped back. Check out the pairing of the excellent and uplifting Rath and Wandering that emphasise the contrast yet maintains the same class.
A delicacy and lightness carry the section where a lovely Light Anew segues into an almost silent Yore and the soft acoustic Song For E. Call it folk-influenced, call it Art Rock, Dreamer’s Disease shakes off any thoughts of a calm reverie with some sharp and severe aggression.
Black Sun contains some Knopfleresque guitar passages – there’s a love/hate element of Dire Straits within the trio. Also present is an abundance of spiraling and reflective passages that Dim Gray punctuates with flurries of bright guitar, restrained power and intensity. It not only brings closure but becomes a six-minute snapshot of Flown.
A clutch of bonus tracks (live and extended) add a coda to the main course of hold your breath ambience. Ice And Sea is a tremendous little electric folk hoedown that is certainly worth hanging in for. Combining the haunting and the sophisticated, Flown has lots to admire and enjoy.
Here’s the live version of Dreamer’s Disease: