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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 76 - 12/19/02

Madrugada
Grit
Virgin Records Norway

Grit is Madrugada's third full-length release, and if you had any doubt about this band's quality and stamina, there is no need to worry, they deliver. A few fans were probably worried by the somewhat weak follow-up, The Nightly Disease, to their solid debut, Industrial Silence, and the news about drummer Jon Lauvland Pettersen leaving the band. But here they are, fit as ever. In came new drummer Simen Vangen, just like that*. He is said to have a jazz background, but I am not able to hear that on Grit. The album feels lighter in spirit then the earlier releases, and I think the somewhat light drum sound adds to this feeling.

Against all odds, though, the main improvement from the previous albums is the obvious coherence of this one. There are no loose parts and hardly any fillers. This could have been the definitive album for Madrugada, were it not for a couple of songs that sounds like new versions of old ones, and, perhaps more worrying, the fact that there are few tracks that really stand out, the exception being the slow and moving "Majesty", which is simply great. Otherwise, it is one memorable track after another, an emotional rollercoaster ride as Høem's lyrics explore the darker and lighter sides of life. Their new 'punk' direction is somewhat exaggerated - songs like "Ready" and "Seven Seconds" are more stylized and controlled than aggressive and spontaneous, but they still sound refreshing.

Alert 1: A hidden track called "(Ghost) Loves Institution" comes after about 30 seconds of silence at the end of the CD. Vocalist Høyem's narrative, accompanied by voo-doo music, works very well, and is not so very different from what Robbie Robertson did on "Somewhere Down The Crazy River" from his self-titled 1987 solo debut.

Alert 2: Unfortunately it seems like Madrugada has no control over Virgin's decision to use software protection techniques on new releases ... Bad idea, of course, but luckily the album is available on vinyl! :-)

* There has been very little talk about this line-up change from the remaining original members, and also the Norwegian music press seems to be ignorant about its importance on the band, and particularly its impact on this record. Vangen is credited for playing the drums only, and it seems uncertain whether or not he is or will become a permanent creative member of the band. Questions arise, like were the drum tracks done in Tritonus Tonstudio in Berlin, where the rest of the band recorded this album under the guidance of producer Head (PJ Harvey), or were they added later, during the 'additional' recordings that took place later in Oslo? I expect the full story will arrive in due time ...

Copyright © 2002 Knut Tore Breivik e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Madrugada articles/reviews: A Deadend Mind EP, Beautyproof (single), EP, Electric EP, Hands Up - I Love You, Higher EP, Industrial Silence, Industrial Silence, New Depression EP, Punktum, Mo i Rana, 28.11.1999, Ready EP, Rockefeller, Oslo, 31.03.2001, The Deep End, The Kids Are On High Street, The Nightly Disease.

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