Kornmo - Fimbulvinter

(CD 2021, 71:29, Apollon Records ARP065CD)

The tracks:
  1- Fimbulvinter(8:13)
  2- Jutulhogget(07:17)
  3- Dovre Faller(19:10)
  4- Kjempene Våkner(26:17)
  5- Mega Annum(10:31)

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Norwegian trio Kornmo arose early 2015 from the ashes of the band Morild which disbanded around 2014. Chief composer and bass player Nils Larsen wished to continue making music, but sought a slightly different challenge this time, namely focussing entirely on instrumental music. Along with Odd-Roar Bakken, his friend for 50 years and previous band mate from Morild, he started a new musical project to fulfil this wish. To complete the band, Nils asked his son Anton Larsen to join on drums, now Kornmo was formed. It is a project that solely records original progressive instrumental music, and the band does not perform any live gigs. Fimbulvinter is the third album by Kornmo, after Svartisen (see review) from 2017 and Vandring (see review) from 2019. The title is derived from the famous Norwegian myth Ragnarok and means Great Winter, a dark period, and according to the band that points at the climates on this new album, more dark than the previous two efforts. I wrote about the music: “this is instrumental 24-carat symphonic rock that sounds melodic and harmonic, with flowing shifting moods and dynamic outbursts, simply structured but very tastefully arranged with the focus on moving Steve Hackett/ Andy Latimer-inspired guitar work and lush vintage keyboards”.
Well, again 'instrumental vintage keyboard driven Old School symphonic rock' rules in the 5 long compositions (between 7 and 27 minutes). The emphasis in the simply structured arrangements is creating a kind of 'musical warm bath', with wonderful work on Hammond organ, Minimoog and Mellotron, often in combination with sensitive guitar play, and fuelled by a flowing rhythm-section.

From dreamy with tender acoustic guitar, soaring Hammond and spacey synthesizer flights to a slow rhythm with moving guitar in the title track.

From mellow with Minimoog and Hammond to gradually more lush and dynamic with halfway Mellotron violins and then swirling Hammond in a mid-tempo, topped with again intense work on the electric guitar in Jutulhogget.

Dovre Faller is one of the two epic compositions, it alternates between dreamy and bombastic eruptions, with echoes from Seventies Camel. Lots of howling guitar runs. And the vintage keyboard sound is wonderful: from sumptuous Hammond outbursts and fat Minimoog flights to a church organ sound and dreamy Mellotron flutes, I love it! The conclusion is beautiful featuring mellow organ waves and acoustic guitar.

The other epic composition is Kjempene Våkner, the most dynamic one with many flowing shifting moods, between mellow and bombastic, embellished with Mellotron flutes and varied work on the Hammond (from soaring to majestic eruptions) and sensitive electric guitar. In the second part a powerful Minimoog solo, concluded with first a bombastic and then a dreamy interlude.

Finally the mid-long track Mega Annum. It starts dreamy with Mellotron violin and piano, gradually the sound turns into more lush, coloured with Hammond and Minimoog. Halfway sensitive and howling guitar runs with soaring Hammond, and finally a wonderful blend of Hammond, piano and Mellotron, trademark Kornmo.

I am pleased with this new Kornmo album, to me it sounds as their most elaborate and compelling effort, recommended to fans of vintage keyboards, and melodic and harmonic symphonic rock like Seventies Camel, Barclay James Harvest and Mike Oldfield.

***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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