Blackbox by Norwegian progressive outfit Major Parkinson started a kind of internal struggle. As a reviewer I am proud to be open to any musical style and not just judging an album by the first gut feeling I get. But this album was so different and after a few spins, I started to label the album as depressive rock, I felt down and desperate only listening to it. But still, there was a kind of an itch under my skin, constantly pulling me towards the little promotional wallet that holds Blackbox. Over the weeks, my itch turned into warm mellow feeling and finally Major Parkinson cracked my brain and showed me the natural beauty of their fourth album Blackbox.
Major Parkinson doesn't follow the regular path, that progressive rock bands take and although there are two guitarists in the band; Sondre Rafoss Skollevoll and Øystein Bech-Eriksen, Major Parkinson is absolutely not guitar driven. Lars Christian Bjørknes keyboards and piano form the basics and also the addition of Claudia Cox violin to the line-up creates a different vibe as I was used to. But what stands out the most are the vocal parts of Jon Ivar Kollbotn. He adds a dark mark on the tracks, like Tome Waits and Nick Cave had a kind of patent on. Even elements of good old Leonard Cohen gently emerge, when you listen to the album for the twentieth time. On a number of tracks, Jon Ivas is accompanied by the female voice of Linn Frøkedal, who occasionally adds a touch of Bjørk to the music on Blackbox. I guess the final track and tittle track Blackbox proves this statement. This composition is a very strong electronic, though dramatic and even bombastic song that features a very strong brass section. A song that had ambitions to become a pop song, but just chose to be different! Baseball, like Blackbox sees the poppy vocals of Linn and combines dark atmospheric elements with musical and vaudeville parts, creating something unique.
I now notice, trying to explain the compositions doesn't really work, when I try to analyse and rationalize them on paper. Blackbox is an album you need to hear. And even it takes you a fair amount of time to drill through you skull and settle in the brain, Listen!! Again and again, It reached through my thick skull and caught me, making me hooked on Major Parkinson.
***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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