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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 237 - 12/25/15

Neonato
The End Of Music
Crispin Glover Records

The four members of Neonato are experienced musicians of both the national and international scene. Three of them met around 1980 when they played in different punk bands in the town Arendal on the southern coast of Norway. Bård Thorstensen (guitars) and Geir Emanuelsen (bass) soon abandoned punk for heavy metal in the band Theo that they kept going to around 1990. Bård then left for Stockholm where he co-founded and soon found success with the rap-metal band Clawfinger whereas Geir went to Oslo and did the same with the rock'n'roll orchestra Go Go Gorilla. Both of them has been members in different bands after and in parallel with the ones above, for instance Geir in Beat Tornados and Bård in the the skate-bluegrass-country band Melkesyra (The Lactic Acid). Meanwhile Thomas Robsahm (keyboards) joined post-punk bands, most notably White Lord Jesus before he abandoned music for a couple of decades to make a career in the movie business both as director, producer and consultant; later also with TV. After receiving a keyboard from his girl-friend when he turned 40, he resurrected White Lord Jesus that released two albums and he has also recorded solo material for films and other occasions. Tom Rudi Torjussen (drums) is younger than the others and appeared on the local musical scene in Arendal around 1990. After the stint in local bands, he started as a session-musician, joined the soft-rock band Jim Stärk around 2000 and soon found success with them, but quit in 2009. He has played sessions with numerous Norwegian and international artists, mainly in the jazz and Sami field, been a member of the jazz-ambient-experimental band Okavango along with Bård and the heavy-trio Stone Free along with Geir to name a few.

Neonato means newborn baby in Italian and The End Of Music is the band's firstborn album. Neonato plays cinematic instrumental music, the record company tells us. And further: The band merge music/soundscapes with film to make an extra dimension to the performance. The music is created from structuring free improvisations, and thereafter tailor-made films is made for each and every song. Unlike ordinary film music where suitable music for a film is found in the archives or composed specifically for a film, I guess this is the other way round, though I've only seen the film for two of the eight album tracks. The music came first and the films were shot or at least edited to fit the music, though it's not music video as such either. Art film to suit the music might be closer to the what we're dealing with in "Clouds Seen From Above" whereas "A Home At The End Of The World" is a social comment closer to music video format with quick cuts. The latter seems to have nothing to do with the Michael Cunningham novel (from 1990) or Michael Mayer film (2004) based on the novel.

The music might be characterized as mainly moody, atmospheric or even cosmic. Though there are some helicopter-alike sounds at the start of "Magnificent Desolation", the mood and spoken words via radio gives me pictures of an astronaut in space calling ground control. The music is not entirely instrumental, only almost. The track "Neonato", the most pompous offering of the album, has a male choir repeating the title in a close to operatic way. "Clouds Seen From Above" has some beautiful female wordless singing and there seem to be a little bit wordless song of the title track, too. Both the title track and "Magnificent Desolation" have a bit of country & western twang in the guitar, but luckily without being importunate. In "Neonato" and the title track one might notice that Bård has played metal guitar for decades and remixed several tracks by Rammstein. Especially the latter has a little bit of light kinda Clawfinger and Rammstein guitar. Very light! Here's also traces of Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd in some of the guitar passages of "Clouds Seen From Above". Flavors of Porcupine Tree moods of the 1990s before they started to flirt with metallic guitars are a bit more dominant. First and foremost, though, Neonato sound like themselves and some of the music Thomas has recorded with latterday White Lord Jesus and on his own for real feature films and other purposes. I also have to mention the long and calm "Evening Song" with nice moody guitar and wind chimes. And "Slaves Forever" with some close to dissonant passages. Thomas directed a documentary from 2010 called Moderne Slaveri (Modern Slavery) that he co-composed the soundtrack for. There might be a connection here.

One might speculate what The End Of Music mean in this context. But like "Evening Song" being a track without song, I guess the album title might be a hoax. I don't believe any of the four involved musicians have any plans to quit music. I mean, they can't, after an album as great as this. But Tom Rudi has left the band because of too many other drummer commitments. This might mean that The End Of Music will be Neonato's only child. Though hopefully not. The band is looking for a new competent drummer right now.

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