The Norwegian band Arabs In Aspic emerged in 1997. Their music contains a wide range of influences: from stoner rock to sixties psychedelic rock and seventies progressive rock. This blend of styles could already be heard on their previous albums and their latest album Pictures In A Dream is no exception to this rule.
On the brand new album Jostein Smeby (guitars, vocals), Stig A. Jørgensen (keyboards, vocals), Erik Paulsen (bass guitars, vocals), Eskil Nyhus (drums, percussion) and guest female vocalist Rune Sundby (Ruphus) remain close to their favourite styles of music. This means in practice that their music has been inspired by the music recorded for the early albums of bands like Deep Purple, Yes and Pink Floyd. However, King Crimson (John Wetton- era) must have influenced them as well, hence the name of the band. Maybe it's a bit sad for fans of the Mellotron that this vintage instrument is used less than on their latest album Strange Frame Of Mind (2010, see review). But there's still enough to enjoy on Pictures In A Dream.
All songs are very well performed with strong (harmony) vocals and fine instrumental parts played on the electric guitars, organs and synthesizers. A nice addition is the acoustic version of the title track which shows that they're able to play unplugged as well. Not all songs were sung in English, but a couple of tunes were done in the Norwegian language. For me this isn't a problem at all because the music that supports these lyrics sounds very good. It sometimes sounds a bit in the vein of the Swedish band Kaipa from the albums they recorded in the seventies before they broke up. From time to time the weird kind of psychedelic artwork on the cover perfectly fits with the music since many songs contain a rather strange, but beautiful psychedelic rock sound.
People who already possess albums of Arabs In Aspic will enjoy Pictures In A Dream just as much as their previous work. If you enjoy the music by all the above-mentioned artists you should check out this album as well. You probably will be as much surprised as I was. On their latest effort Arabs In Aspic continued the music they started with on their debut: well-sounding songs that will be enjoyed by many devotees of progressive rock!
***+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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