Norway’s Airbag are named for the opening track on Radiohead’s “OK Computer” and not for the safety device in automobiles. While I’ve never liked the band’s name very much, I do love their brand of progressive rock. Since discovering their second album “All Rights Removed” back in 2011, I’ve loved them.
I like to describe them as Porcupine Tree with David Gilmour on guitar. To be fair, they have a very strong Floydian element to their music. In fact on “Disconnected,” Airbag have “disconnected” those 2 influences and explored each separately on this album. See what I did there?
For example, tracks like “Broken” and “Slave” are VERY Floydian musically. This begins of course with guitarist Bjørn Riis who does sound remarkably like David Gilmour. But he isn’t ripping Gilmour off at all. Riis is a phenomenal player. His solos are very Gilmour-esque but his fills remind me more of Steve Rothery back in the day. But beyond that, on these tracks bassist Henrik Fossum does the “bah-BUM” bass line that Roger Waters did on classic slower songs like “Comfortably Numb” or “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.”
Even with these obvious influences, Airbag always pull it off because they are amazing musicians who write some great melody lines. Vocalist Asle Tostrup still reminds me of a mix of Steven Wilson and Pendragon’s Nick Barrett. He has a great voice that fits the music perfectly. He always sounds heartfelt and connected to the music. Not disconnected. Ok, I’ll stop that.
The album starts with “Killer” which for Airbag is a rather aggressive track! The intro reminds me a bit of “Eminence Front” by the Who. It’s edgy and rocks. The title track is the big epic for this album and of course has all the things fans of Airbag love: melody, tension, drama, and beauty. The closing track “Returned” reminds me a lot of “Feel So Low” by Porcupine Tree. Perhaps it’s a bit too close to that song.
If you are a Pink Floyd fan or love Chris Maitland-era Porcupine Tree or even like when Steve Rothery ran Marillion, you need to check out Airbag immediately. “Disconnected” will definitely connect with you. Sorry I did it again. If however you are not the slightest bit into any of those bands, odds are there’s probably nothing here you’ll find interesting. For me, Airbag are being Airbag once again on “Disconnected” and I love it.