“Norwegian three piece formation Kornmo (from Trondheim) 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 his friend of 50 years and previous band mate from Morild, Odd-Roar Bakken, 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. Kornmo is a project that solely records original progressive instrumental music, and the band does not perform any live gigs. Each member of the band has his own speciality. Nils Larsen composes all the music and plays bass. Anton Larsen plays drums and does all the mixing and most of the production and engineering work. And Odd-Roar Bakken plays guitars and keyboards and makes the music come alive. Together, the band arranges all the songs in the studio (moving the home studio between Odd-Roar's basement and Anton's living room). Thus far this collaborative effort has yielded two albums: Svartisen (2017, remixed and remastered in 2019) and Vandring (2019). Kornmo is inspired by bands such as Camel and Jethro Tull, as well as artists like Mike Oldfield, Björn Joson Lindh, and Pekka Pohjola, blended with a distinctive touch of Nordic folk tones”. Information provided by Anton Larsen, early July 2020.
During every listening session I got more and more excited about the debut album Svartisen (the music is inspired by the glacier found in Glomfjorden in the north of Norway by the same name, which loosely means “the black ice”): what a wonderful and inspired tribute to the Seventies symphonic rock (my favourite prog genre), performed by good musicians who can also write very tasteful and refined compositions in the genuine symphonic rock tradition, wow!
The 11 instrumental tracks sound melodic, harmonic and dynamic, with many flowing shifting moods. OK, pretty simply structured but very tastefully arranged with the focus on wonderful work on guitar (Steve Hackett and Andy Latimer inspired, and lots of overdubs in order to create a'twin guitar' sound) and vintage keyboards (cascades of Hammond organ and Minimoog). One moment the climate is dreamy with acoustic guitar and soaring Mellotron violins, or tender piano and fragile electric guitar. The next moment you can enjoy slow and compelling atmospheres with moving guitar and lush Hammond, or sumptuous outbursts with flashy Minimoog flights (like in Fallvind) and fiery guitar runs. To me Camel sounds as a main source of inspiration, especially in the tracks Snø, Nordlys, Smeltevann (swirling Hammond and flashy pitchbend driven Minimoog), Uvær (dynamic and bombastic with fiery guitar), Snøtind (great work on the Hammond) and the beautiful closer Føn (a Symphonic Rock Heaven, the wonderful violin sound comes from the Nord Stage as a MIDI-keyboard). Alongside Camel I also trace obvious elements from other Seventies symphonic rock bands and artists, but Kornmo certainly doesn't sound derivative, lots of own musical ideas!
Highly recommended to every symphomaniac on this planet, and beyond!
This second bout from Norwegian trio Kornmo (the title Vandring means “wandering”) is in the vein of the warmly welcomed debut album Svartisen, which means simply structured melodic and harmonic 24-carat symphonic rock, with strong echoes from Camel, these guys know how to please a symphomaniac! I also notice an improvement in the writing skills, and the interplay. And again Kornmo delivers lots of variety and dynamics in its music.
Dreamy with beautiful sensitive electric guitar work and an intense cello sound in Demring.
Many flowing changing amtospheres featuring with flashy Minimoog, a swirling Hammond soli, fiery and finally a heavy bombastic outburst with powerful guitar and lush Hammond in Oppbrudd.
Dreamy with tender piano and Mellotron flute, then moving guitar (Latimer inspired) in a slow and compelling rhythm in Vemod.
A strong build-up from dreamy to more lush, embellished with Mellotron, twanging guitar, Hammond and finally a howling twin guitar sound in the Nord.
Another strong build-up from mellow to bombastic featuring a vintage keyboard drenched final part and varied guitar work (Symphonic Rock Heaven) in Taiga.
First dreamy with piano and soaring keyboards, then a slow rhythm with lush Hammond waves, halfway beautiful cello play, culminating in a compelling dark atmosphere and moving guitar (Latimer/Hackett), and finally tender cello and and twanging guitar in Kveld.
Bombastic with Hammond and Minimoog, and heavy with blistering guitar, in between a dreamy interlude with Mellotron flute and cello in the dynamic track Ild.
From a dreamy climate to a sumptuous outburst, embellished with Hammond, Minimoog and Mellotron, topped with a twin guitar sound, and in the end mellow acoustic guitar in the mid-long Aske.
The final track Føniks delivers a lush instrumental and cascades of shifting moods: from a folky acoustic guitar and melancholy cello sound to a heavy explosion with raw rock guitar work and propulsive rhythm-section, then from moving guitar runs and Mellotron violins to bombastic with powerful and howling runs guitar with Hammond (again Symphonic Rock Heaven), concluded with a soaring tremolo Hammond sound, wow!
But my absolute highlight on this second effort by Kornmo is the band's first genuine epic composition, entitled Nunatak (close to 13 minutes). The first part contains a blend of swinging piano, and bombastic outbursts with a church organ sound, and Mellotron flute. Halfway a slow rhythm with Minimoog and Hammond, and powerful electric guitar work with fiery runs. It sounds very dynamic. In the second part a swinging rhythm with sensational pitchbend driven Minimoog solo, then melancholy violin classical sound, raw guitar and Mellotron violins. A nice musical idea is that this interlude is blended with the classical piece Bourree. Next fragile electric guitar and soaring Hammond, and a slow Minimoog solo. Finally a strongly built-up guitar solo, from sensitive to fiery, topped with lush Hammond, what a splendid, very compelling grand finale, this is Kornmo in its full splendour!
If you are up to a trip to the unsurpassed Seventies symphonic rock era, this Norwegian trio will delight you!
Finally Anton Larsen about the near future: “We are quite deep into the recording stage of our next album entitled Fimbulvinter. This will be a darker album with lengthier tracks, still in the concept album format. In Norse mythology the Fimbulvinter was a winter that lasted 3 years and signalled Ragnarok - the end of all life. Despite the dark subject matter, this is not intended to be a "final album" in any way - we fully intend to make several more. As we speak we have recorded around 55 minutes of music for Fimbulvinter, with approximately 20 left. I hope to begin mixing around Christmas, but we won't rush the recording.”
Svartisen: ***+ Erik Neuteboom
Vandring: **** Erik Neuteboom
(edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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