Airbag – A Day In The Studio, Unplugged In Oslo: Album Review

A record of the Airbag acoustic set streamed in early Autumn of 2020.

Release Date: 3rd December 2021

Label: Karisma Records

Format: CD / Vinyl / Digital

After the success of A Day At The Beach in the summer of 2020, Airbag was understandably keen to showcase the songs in a live setting. Alas, due to all the covid-19 restrictions, a normal tour or normal shows weren’t a reality. As an alternative, the band went into Subsonic Society Studio in Oslo, where they recorded their last studio albums, to perform an acoustic set streamed in the early autumn of last year.  

With the plan to tour the new album in tatters, the alternative was “to do something special that would keep us connected to our fans and also to say thanks for everyone’s support in these trying times. Doing this acoustic session allowed us to revisit songs from the new album and a few old ones as well. A new challenge for sure but a fun and inspiring experience.

Indeed it is. A tantalizing glimpse into another version of Airbag where the grand arrangements and spine-chilling lead breaks are put on the backburner for a more mellow experience. Starting with the familiar, we get acoustic versions of 3 songs from A Day At The Beach. Machines And Men seems particularly suited to the acoustic format – it may well have started life this way. The opening line “Here they come, marching on, one by one,” accompanied by the sombre low-key guitar sets the mood perfectly. To compare this to the recent outstanding work of The Pineapple Thief is a genuine compliment. The same goes for Into The Unknown, maybe even more so. “I dont wanna go, into the unknown” they sing, and you can appreciate the sentiment, yet in the new guise they’re dipping their toes with some trepidation only to find – “come on in, the water’s lovely.”

While the laconic strum and careful harmonies of Sunsets again recalls the new trends in Progressive music led by the likes of the aforementioned the Pineapple Thief, we get a nice window into Airbag history with three further tracks: Colours and Sounds That I Hear from 2009’s Identify album, before we travel back further with the inclusion of the previously unreleased / early demo song, Come On In. The latter while Sounds That I Hear and particularly Colours, almost sees them evolve into Airbag & Neil Young. Most mellow and relaxing, the short section in Come On In, where a solo part interjects, feels strangely jarring within the dreamy framework.

Both cd and vinyl come with a DVD featuring the original streamed session. Both offer that glimpse into the other side of Airbag and one that hopefully won’t be forgotten when they have the opportunity to plug in again.

Airbag: Website / Facebook / Bandcamp / Instagram / YouTube

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