Airbag- Identity (Reissued Album Review)
In 2009, Norwegian Progressive Rock icons, Airbag, blitzed onto the scene with their ambitious and cinematic debut record, Identity. The album, which is receiving a reissue from Norwegian Based Prog label, Karisma Records, would go on to help them secure a passionate and loyal fanbase reaching all across the globe. Identity acts as a bridge between the real world and a sparse fantasy dreamland for the listener to be alone on their own planet with the music that surrounds them on this record. Heavily inspired by the groups that came before them, most notably Pink Floyd, the band is able to differentiate their sounds enough to elaborate on the ideas of the groups that did help them form the music throughout Identity. The resulting sound on the album makes for a very atmospheric listen, best enjoyed while tackling a different task, working as an escape from your mundane everyday life.
Airbag are able to display their talent as musicians throughout this record by playing their instruments in a way that oozes out moodiness and a certain amount of soul, adding to the desolate and hopelessness that surrounds Identity. These moments act as almost a cry for help, making the louder guitar solos on a track like ‘Steal My Soul’ that much more pivotal to the makeup of what Identity means as a complete project. It is a record that varies in its dynamic range throughout, which is pivotal for creating a record with as much personal density as Identity.
While this record does feel like it’s more about the instrumentation and overall atmospheric feel, it still possesses lyrics that are introspective and help us understand where the music is coming from. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the lyrics that surround Identity are personal accounts that feel like they are exaggerations of what someone would be going through in reality. We are able to see how our protagonist's mind works on a track by track basis. Take the lyrics from the second track for example, ‘No Escape’ which is the first track on the album to feature vocals:
‘There’s a corner in my house
They’re telling me it’s mine
Why does it feel like I’ve been here before
Please pull me out of this dream and out of this life
’Cause nothing that I see is for real
The idea of what is reality and what is in a person’s head seems to be at the heart of this record, which makes it feel like a personal struggle that takes place within one’s mind on a regular basis, which makes the overall, dreamlike sound really come to life throughout the entirety of the record, and isn’t something that you may appreciate if you plan on only giving this album one listen and tossing it in the bin. This is a labor of love meant to be consumed in one sitting, as many times as you feel is necessary and really makes a powerful statement for itself. One could argue that it is either too ambitious or too much like Pink Floyd for their taste, but this argument is one that is rooted in a certain favoritism for the classic Prog acts, and really is just an excuse for people who think music died in the 70’s. This album displays the natural progression that a genre takes while still paying homage to the traditional ethos of the Progressive Rock movement.
Identity is a very well thought out record that really started Airbag’s dominance and reputation in the Progressive Rock space, and one can see why they are so highly regarded while listening back to this record. There is so much depth and thought that went into creating the cinematic textures that surround Identity. Sometimes, when artists choose to come out of the gates with an ambitious record as their first album, they fall flat on their face, as the listener may not understand the route that the group is attempting to go down, but Airbag deliver with a record that is equally balanced in accessibility and complexity at the same time. This is a must listen for anyone who claims to be a fan of Progressive Rock and cinematic, cohesive experiences alike.
The debut album by Norwegian Prog Rock icons, Airbag has been reissued and out for release June 11th Via Karisma Records. The vinyl release of this reissue will be available on August 13th of this year. The Vinyl package contains 2 LP’s cut on beautiful 180 Gram white vinyl and contains a 12 page booklet. You can pre-order your copy of this record at: https://www.karismarecords.no/shop/artist/airbag/airbag-identity-remaster-limited-deluxe-lp/
Favorite Tracks: Safe Like You, Steal My Soul
Least Favorite Track: How I Wanna Be
Listen to the track 'Safe Like You', from Airbag's 2009 debut record, Identity, below: