"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Tusmørke - "Underjordisk Tusmørke" (CD)

Tusmørke - "Underjordisk Tusmørke" CD cover image

"Underjordisk Tusmørke" track listing:

1. Fimbul
2. Watching the Moon Sail Out of the East
3. The Quintessence of Elements
4. A Young Man and His Woman
5. A Nightmare's Just A Dream
6. Hostjevndogn
7. Salomonsens Hage (bonus track)
8. Singers & Swallows (bonus track)
9. Ode on Dawn (bonus track)

Reviewed by on November 16, 2012

"The charm lies in the fact that this isn't just underground by 2012's standards -- this is underground by the standards of the late 1960s, when heavy metal was being seeded in the soil of progressive rockers."

"Underjordisk Tusmørke" means "Subterranean Twilight" in Norwegian. As such, it's no shocker that this is literally and metaphorically underground music. The charm lies in the fact that this isn't just underground by 2012's standards -- this is underground by the standards of the late 1960s, when heavy metal was being seeded in the soil of progressive rockers.

When “psychedelic” was not just used to describe a drug, but also a fashion sense, a philosophy, and an experience of general euphoria, bands like The Moody Blues, The Beatles, Blue Cheer, and the like were bubbling up from the proverbial primordial soup that was modern rock n' roll. The flute was suddenly given a new home in the hands of rockers, mellotrons were developed so that symphonic strings could be taken on the road easier, and pop formulas were altogether scratched and re-made. This is where the music of Tusmørke lies, an anachronism in the 21st century.

In composition, delivery, and production, this debut album defies its time period by utilizing vintage recording equipment and an adventurous synthesizer-and-bass-focused approach, bolstered by the mixing and backing keys of Lars Fredrik Frøislie (White Willow.) The first track, "Fimbul," nodding to the Fimbulwinter (a harsh winter before the end of the world) of Norse legend, rolls in at full jangly speed with bass, flute, drums, vocals, a Rhodes piano, and mellotron with no guitar needed. The bass is a very present character in the mix, alongside vocals that are hard-panned left and right for an intensely Moody Blues circa "In Search of the Lost Chord" feel.

Comparisons to Otyg and Vintersorg's lighter recordings will undoubtedly be made, due to the substantial folk element that rears its head on songs like "Watching The Moon Sail out of The East," "Hostjevndogn," and "Salomonsens Hage." Thankfully, those that jumped off of the Opeth train when "Heritage" hit, for the reason that it felt like an awkward medium between vintage prog and metal and decidedly not good, have the option of riding the Tusmørke train in the meantime for legitimate pure folk-prog thrills. "A Young Man and His Woman" and "The Quintessence of Elements" both pack a punch, the latter with a punk attitude and the former with a B3 organ-heavy roll.

The bonus tracks are fine additions to the 42-minute-long album proper, although "Ode On Dawn" drags on and on with jam bits and vocal lines that don't necessarily work to move the song forward. "Salomonsens Hage" even features a very "Godzilla"-like riff driving the song, along with goofy maniacal laughter. The album is certainly meant for fans of a certain persuasion, and only serious adventurers need to take the Tusmørke trip. Those that do take it will no doubt experience a pleasant high.

Highs: Fantastic vintage equipment, unique folk-prog composition, and legitimacy of the overall classic 1960s-70s feel.

Lows: The exclusivity of the sound doesn't make for a broad appeal.

Bottom line: An anachronistic prog-folk psychedelic jamboree and a strong debut album.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)