Sverre Knut Johansen - Planets
Planets, released late 2012, was Sverre Knut Johansen's first proper studio album since 1999. Three years in the making, the CD features 74 minutes of quality instrumental/electronic music, and shows that the acclaimed norwegian Origo Sound label is still alive and kicking, 22 years after its start.
The disc opens with the Vangelis-like Twin Sunrise, which is 4 minutes of music in major, with some peculiar snare drum from Bjørn Stiauren added to the mix. Planets I is rhythmic and melodic, at times a bit monotonous, but with clear hints of Johansen's classic 1994 album Distant Shore. Dreamspace Part I is dedicated to Isao Tomita. It's celestial, fragile and exquisite space music. Highly melancholic, with sampled vocals added. Renowned electric guitarist Eivind Aarset plays on seven of the album's ten tracks, and on In Orbit he really shines, on this slightly experimental tune in minor. Vocalist Ann-Margrit Siegrist Silfverhielm sings her wordless vocals on the totally relaxing Nebulae, before Planets II, possibly the best track, starts slowly and builds itself up, until a brilliant improvised part with singing synths and Aarset's guitar sets the song on fire. Origins is ambient music of the highest quality, but at almost 12 minutes the track wears out its welcome a bit after some time. Further memories from Distant Shore haunts Apsis, a wonderful melancholic tune featuring powerful real drums. The almost commercial-sounding Planets III runs for only 3:20, and in a fair world this tune would have been played on radio stations around the globe. Dreamspace Part II is the last track, almost 18 minutes of various melodic themes overlapping eachother, similar to Transition Suite on Distant Shore. 18 minutes doesn't feel too long here, as so much is happening in the soundscape. An ambient part makes room for groovy, danceable rhythms, in a well-produced end to a great album that deserves to be heard by many listeners.
Personally, I feel that an acoustic guitar and a saxophone cold have made the album even more varied and exciting. I would also have loved to see some liner notes on an album like this, where the compoer himself explains the story behind the recording of the CD. And the link to the Origo Sound website does not function. Other than these remarks, a splendid album!