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22 - You Are Creating: Limb 1 & 2 Award winner

22
You Are Creating: Limb 1 & 2
by Robert Amer at 31 January 2019, 7:38 PM

There are many things in everyday life one often takes for granted, including the needs that nourish and protect the body and the myriad of internal and external tools readily available to nurture the soul. Among the latter is the inherent ability humans have to profoundly connect with music. Many theories exist as to why people across all backgrounds and locales gravitate towards music’s captivating rhythms and melodies, and Norwegian progressive rock band, 22, has ambitiously set out on an expedition into the core of this universal affinity in its new double album. In short, the ensemble asserts, “consciously or not, humans use music to explore their own life, world, and being,” and that, “pitch and rhythm in different arrangements (songs) are just tools provided by the artist, which the listener utilizes and thus creates the experience of music.” These hypotheses provide the conceptual foundation of the release. “You are Creating: Limb1 focuses on the mental programming facilitating this connection, and “You are Creating: Limb2 delves into how musical or other forms of external inspiration can germinate in the mind and manifest into reality through action—with head and hand being the respective limbs. In addition to these musical relationships, the quartet also investigates the neuro-linguistic messages one sifts through in making sense of the world and one’s place in it.

Throughout the album, the music and concept are interwoven seamlessly. The cerebral “Limb1” opens with “Inspec”, an exposition starting in silence and scattered chimes, preparing an energetic instrumental entrance, which informs the first line, “And then you hear a sound.” This depicts what many beliefs regarding creation present: a sound emitting from nothing. The same can be said for inspiration found in music; when it bows a heartstring, it is seemingly comes from nowhere. “Staying Embodied” begins with an anxious stream of pitches from guitarist and lyricist, Magnus Børmark, mirroring the unsettling lyrics which subsequently resolve in the form of an anthemic refrain musing on one’s tendency to favor repeating memories or self-preserving narratives over being in the present moment, which recreational listening habits can encourage. In perhaps the album’s catchiest song, “Sum of Parts”, the versatile, expressive, and flexible voice of Per Trollvik relates the paradoxical messages infectiously with a large pallet of emotional colors, as he does throughout the release.

“Limb1” ends with three highly effective tracks that again merge conceptual intent and musical expression. “Adam Kadmon Body Mass Index” features a chaotic, yet groovy riff that can make one carsick with its largely atonal musical swerves and gear shifts, though this harmoniously resonates with the conflicted lyrics to come. In stark contrast, “Ectypes” creates a sense of floating atop life’s existential river through a spacey lullaby in one of the most structurally simplistic songs, again, aptly supporting the lyrics. The focus on music is re-established in the last proper track on “Limb1”, “You Are Creating”, a stirring and direct finale that embodies the musically and psychologically meta quality present in both Limbs.

“Limb2” is the hand and fittingly focuses on taking action, utilizing the same exceptional union of words and music to provide the listener with a set of tools for self-examination. “Call Me Trimtab” serves as a finely crafted mirror for the procrastinator lounging somewhere within everyone. “Autumn Stream” is a comforting proposal to embrace reality, to take the plunge and align one’s truth with action and to overcome the resistance of comfort or safety. This resistance is cleverly expressed in the final word, “change”,  which is sung over a very dissonant chord in an otherwise consonant song. If “Call Me Trimtab” is a mirror, “Slyphs” is a pair of glasses to aid one in living out one’s truest desires and clearly seeing which actions to take—and the consequences for not taking them. This is portrayed in the contrast between the minor-keyed verses, the sweeping major-keyed first half of the refrain, and a return to the sternly energized, minor-keyed second half. Finally, “Akira” closes the album in a beautifully minimalistic manner, ending with another poignant question to sum up the album, leaving the “end” unresolved, musically and lyrically.

22 digs deep in their expedition towards the core of what makes humans so receptive to music in “You Are Creating: Limb 1 & 2”. Curiously, though many songs have similar structures, each stands on its own and utilizes novel melodies and devices in a stimulating way. Concept albums can have patches of flat tracks, but both Limbs are consistently engaging. Many tracks on the album can compel a listener to listen to them over and over, though others shine more as a part of the experience crafted by the album as a whole. The musicianship is outstanding and without the indulgent displays so common in progressive music. Instrumental sections are economic in intent and duration and potent in effect. Music-lovers will find in both “Limbs” a psychological launchpad into the motivations and proclivities beneath their musical and cognitive habits that will be interesting at the very least, and deeply and refreshingly thought-provoking if one finds themself moved.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 10
Memorability:10
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
You Are Creating: Limb1
1. Inspec
2. Staying Embodied
3. Sum of Parts
4. A Mutation of Thrushes
5. Adam Kadmon Body Mass Index
6. Ectypes
7. You Are Creating
8. Node1

You Are Creating: Limb2
1. Node2
2. Call Me Trimtab
3. Dillemanns’ Clarity
4. Autumn Stream
5. Chroma Key
6. Sylphs
7. V
8. Akira
Lineup:
Per Kristian Trollvik - Vocals
Magnus Børmark - Guitars, Vocals
Mats Paulsen - Bass, Vocals
Andreas Kjøl Berg - Drums
Record Label: Long Branch Records
     


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