TUSMØRKE - Fjernsyn I Farver
The origins of Tusmørke go back to the Nineties, but a first album only came out in 2012. Since then, the Norwegians have been incredibly busy, especially in the last few years. I first got into contact with their music in 2016 with their third longplayer Ført Bak Lyset, which was an exceptional showcase of vintage progressive folk rock. Last year, they even released two longplayers. First up was Hinsides whose B-side sported a generous 20+ minutes long track, and then later in the year Bydyra that they recorded with a children’s choir in order to make progressive rock music interesting to prepubescent kids. It was a different listening experience, but definitely a unique one at that.
The new year is not even half over, and the quartet is already back with their sixth longplayer. You’d think that they should be close to burning out, but believe it or not, but Fjernsyn I Farver (Colour Television) is another incredible addition to their catalogue. The album only contains six tracks, two thirds of which make it slightly over eight minutes, so that it eventually reaches a regular playing time.
The album starts with the title track, and if I thought that Ført Bak Lyset already had an incredible opener, Fjernsyn I Farver is an even more exciting piece of music. The eight-minute song starts with a disco rhythm. The drums are a simple "four on the floor" rhythm, with the bass guitar moving jauntily along, and a flute adding a jolly counterbeat, with some strange keyboards also making an appearance. But hey, what is missing? I tell you straightaway: there are no guitars to be heard on the album, which is unusual for a folk rock band, but Tusmørke make it really work. Fjernsyn I Farver even has such a catchy chorus that I found myself singing along, even though I don’t master the Norwegian language.
The following Kniven I Kurven (The Knife In The Basket) is another eight-minute track which has a more sedate beginning carried once again by flute and this time also piano. The chorus has a very conjuring atmosphere and uses echo effects on the vocals. All in all another great track. Borgerlig Tussmørke (Civil Twilight) is the only song under four minutes, and at that a really charming ballad that ends with a really rousing part. If they played prog on the radio, this would be a hit song.
The second half of the album feels a little darker and harsher. 3001 starts with one minute of spacy beeps and bleeps, maybe a tribute to Arthur C. Clarke’s novel 3001 and the Golden Age era of science fiction. The song itself is quite heavy, showing that you can rock hard even without guitars… just add enough enough distortion to the bass guitar and the electric organ. Death Czar is the only English language song and begins with some kind of samba beat before turning into the band’s trademark mix of progressive folk rock and a healthy dose of space rock. At a little over six minutes, this is also one of the record’s shorter pieces. The album concludes with Tøyens Hemmelighet (The Secret Of Tøyen), at nearly nine minutes the longest track. This is once again a song in the spirit of the first two tracks: full of fantasy delight, the strange understated Norwegian vocals and an incredibly rich instrumentation. I guess these guys must have quite the setup on stage, with the keyboarder alone playing all of these instruments: Minimoog Model D, Korg CX3, William de Blaise harpsichord, Steinway & Sons Grand Piano, Hohner Clavinet D6, Mellotron M400, Hammond C3, Wurlitzer 200 and Solina String Ensemble.
Progressive folk rock used to be really big in the Seventies, with bands like Jethro Tull, Renaissance, Magna Carta and Black Widow putting their stamp on the musical scene back then. Tusmørke often remind me of Black Widow, but dismissing the Norwegians as mere copycats would be an insult to their skills and talents. In fact, they are open to experimentation, be it the disco beat on the album’s opener, or last year’s children’s album. And even when they keep it traditional, they never forget to come up with unforgettable songwriting. I have been following this band for the last few years, and it was really a pleasure to finally write a review about one of their albums.