Bjorn Riis: Everything To Everyone

Mainman of Norwegian prog rock band Airbag, Bjorn Riis releases his fourth solo album Everything To Everyone, maintaining his and Airbag’s high quality of multi-layered music.

Release date:  8th April 2022

Label:  Karisma Records

Format:   vinyl / cd / streaming

Airbag are very familiar to us here At The Barrier with their soaring progressive sounds. There’s more than a facial resemblance to David Gilmour, who is clearly Bjorn’s guitar hero. This album is packed to the rafters with Gilmourish guitar licks; they are outstanding and pay affectionate respect to him and the Pink Floyd sound but yet there is an overall uniqueness to the album.

As well as himself on vocals, guitars, and a wide variety of instruments he has recruited an ensemble of  Henrik Bergan Fossum (Airbag), Kristian Hultgren (Wobbler), Simen Valldal Johannessen (Oak), Ole Michael Bjørndal (Caligonaut), Mimmi Tamba, Per Øydir, Vegard Kleftås Sleipnes and Anders Møller for this album, which was recorded in Subsonic Society in Oslo, mixed by long-time collaborator Vegard Kleftås Sleipnes, and mastered by Jacob Holm-Lupo (White Willow, The Opium Cartel).

In recent years I have listened to a fjord full of Scandinavian/North European Progressive Rock where groups seem to have taken up the mantle of our 70’s prog, classical bands and upped the ante. This latest offering hits the highest echelons of contemporary bands in sonic beauty, awesome production and pure musical entertainment.

For those like me who are sadly unfamiliar with Bjorn’s previous work, the opening track Run lets you know what he’s all about with rapid changes in tempo,  power and guitar styles. The first of two long pieces  Lay Me Down is a Big Dipper of vocal and instrumental pleasure. Its more powerful brother Every Second Every Hour racking up at thirteen minutes  20 seconds is by no means unlucky thirteen and is purely stunning. Sandwiched between them is The Siren which begins with languid piano and vocals, the guitars add and build up this mood, restrained but strong.

The track Descending should be called ‘ascending’ as it lifts Bjorn’s music to such a level it should be declared an ’area of outstanding beauty from its gorgeous lilting opening which like a powerful ocean builds up a to a tidal wave of sound then crashes down to a dreamy ending. I wanted far more than the meagre but splendid four and half minutes. Repeat plays were irresistible.

The final more acoustic title track is an open passionate display of affection for the love of his life, with orchestral washes of sound then an obligatory explosive guitar solo and intricate piano crescendo to bring it all to a sudden end. Throughout the whole album, there is a textural sound with a warm and immersive touch blending with explosive,  boisterous vitality.

Don’t even attempt to pick a favorite, listen to one track and you’ll think that’s the one, then hear another and you believe it surpasses the other but revisit the first and thoughts will sway. And so it goes on track after track!! This is way out front as my personal best album of the year so far.

Bjorn Riis online: Website / Facebook / Instagram / Youtube

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