like Pink Floyd and Genesis made a huge impact in the progressive
music world back in the early 1970s and even today young bands from
all of the world espouse the free form musical thinking these legends
brought to 20th century music. One group from Oslo Norway bringing
back that progressive rock ethos is Kosmoratik. The groups
9 track 2012 CD, Gravitation offers a 21st century update
on state of the art symphonic pop in the best spirit of the early
1970s. Featuring the vocals of Eivind Johansen and Lise
Lotte Ågedal backed up by the soaring electric guitars of
Odd Gunnar Frøysland, the group sound of Kosmoratik
is further fleshed out by a number of players here. Speaking to mwe3.com
about the Kosmoratik sound, the group's guiding light, Eivind Johansen
adds, I do consider us part of the prog-rock scene, in the sense
that we experiment with structures and have an open mind towards what
we do. We do not easily fit into any genres. The sound of Kosmoratik's
Gravitation CD is full bodied and always captivating while
the songs are filled with lush prog-rock soundscapes and memorable
melodic twists and turns. If you like well done progressive rock with
new ideas and fresh sonic vistas give Gravitation by Kosmoratik
a spin. Word has it Kosmoratik are readying a much anticipated second
release planned for later in 2013. www.kosmoratik.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Eivind Johansen of KOSMORATIK
mwe3.com: How did the members of Kosmoratik meet, what brought
you together and what is the background and history of the band?
JOHANSEN: I met Lise in autumn 2009 while playing in a band that
really wasnt going anywhere. At the time I had written some
new songs that seemed to fit perfectly with our voices, which was
a total revelation. And that spurred me on to writing more songs for
her and me to sing, as well as clearly deciding to make an album with
this new music. We did some demos in 2010 and met Odd during Easter
the following year (2011), when we started the recordings of what
eventually became the Gravitation album. But just before summer
that year we decided we wanted to re-record the album, and that became
the starting point for Odd and me working closely together in the
writing and recording process.
mwe3.com: What was it like growing up in Norway and at what
age did you start being a fan of rock and roll and also English progressive
rock? I know progressive music, rock and jazz, was always popular
in Scandinavia. What other musical influences and cultural influences
are important to you and the other musicians in the group?
EIVIND JOHANSEN: I became hooked on rock music at an early
age when being introduced to the wonderful world of Sgt. Pepper.
There was a record store in the small town where I was growing up
where you could buy singles that were considered old or just strange
for very reasonable prices. And thats what I used my weekly
allowances on for a long time. So in addition to the sounds of Led
Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath I also discovered bands like
early Fleetwood Mac, Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead. This led
to a lifelong love relationship with the muse of music.
progressive rock I listened to was the Moody Blues, of which I was
a big fan. But then all changed when I discovered YES and the Close
To The Edge album. I thought that was the greatest music ever
made! And of course bands like Jethro Tull, Traffic, Van Der Graf,
Focus and Frank Zappa & The Mothers also made strong impressions.
The seventies was such a great decade for music, with all this exiting,
powerful and fresh new music blasting out of loudspeakers and radios
everywhere. And it was a way of life too, I guess. I could not think
of any thing better to do or be involved in!
Im still a big fan of seventies music all sorts really; progressive,
reggae, punk as well as pop artists like Sparks, David Bowie or Queen.
I also like the words to carry some meaning, so I am fond of singer/songwriters
like Leonard Cohen, Richard Thompson, Roy Harper, Peter Blegvad and
the Finn brothers, to name a few, as well.
With Odd I share a strong interest in Pink Floyd and Genesis, but
he has also studied the music of Kate Bush which is one of his major
mwe3.com: Can you say something about the various guitars and
other instruments featured on the Kosmoratik Gravitation CD?
Also can you explain the chemistry between your vocals and the guitarist
Odd, whose electric guitar playing is quite brilliant throughout the
CD as well. You guys and the other singer Lise sound quite excellent
almost bordering on ESP!
EIVIND JOHANSEN: Well, thank you! We enjoy working together
and most of the time we do this in a trio format, which really brings
us closer to the heart and the core in what we do.
Odd is both a great guitar player and arranger whom Im very
happy to be working with. We share some of the same musical influences,
but I think most importantly we have found a way to complement each
On the album Odd played the guitars, bass and some of the keyboard
parts. In addition we used a Fender Rhodes, mini moog, grand piano
and the mighty mellotron, all analog instruments. We also had a string
quartet and oboe on some of the songs, which has become part of our
How do you think Kosmoratik fits in the big world of prog-rock in
2013 and whats more important to you these days, print mags
or the internet? Do you think the internet will eventually take over
as the main source for music information. What do you think about
Facebook and the other social media? Where will this computer thing
end? When will we be able to transport matter via the web? lol
EIVIND JOHANSEN: I do consider us part of the prog-rock scene,
in the sense that we experiment with structures and have an open mind
towards what we do. We do not easily fit into any genres.
But we are song-based and its important for us that the melodies
are strong. We aim for a sound that is warm and embracing, sharing
a musical space together with the listener.
Personally, I still buy the music magazines and have pleasure in reading
these, but I also use the internet frequently as a source for music
The internet, including Facebook, has been very important to us in
terms of being a meeting point to share our music with a worldwide
audience. This way we have fans all over the world, in the US as well
as in Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Brazil, Argentina and Egypt
to name some countries.
One of the highlights on the Kosmoratik Gravitation album is
the track Nothing Is Static, is it really a kind of poignant
love song? Theres some great guitar interplay by Odd on that
track. Tell us more about that song. Be free of Mayas Illusory
EIVIND JOHANSEN: Yes, its a love song with a twist,
I guess. And I really dig Odds guitar playing on that track.
Its a song referencing George Harrison as well as Hafez, the
great poet from Iran. It was actually the last song we completed during
the recording sessions, and it was not originally intended to be on
the album. But we made a last minute change in the sequence, taking
out one song and replacing it with Nothing Is Static.
mwe3.com: What about the song Cosmorama. It has
a Pink Floyd kind of effect but theres a Kevin Ayers kind of
vocal sound. Is there a mellotron on that track?
EIVIND JOHANSEN: The Kevin Ayers connection is a very interesting
observation. I was very sad to learn that he had died recently. I
had been a fan of his for a long time, loved his music, and his way
of talking tunefully, always appealed to me.
So, to me thats a very good thing combining Pink Floyd and Kevin
Ayers influences. But we did not do that intentionally. I think Kevin
must have sneaked into my way of singing when I was not noticing.
Yes, its a real mellotron on that track. It was played by our
friend Jo Wang.
mwe3.com: How about Years Ago Miles Apart? Now
thats a great example of prog-rock at its best. The drum sound
of Bjarte Jørgenson
highlight of the entire Gravitation CD.
EIVIND JOHANSEN: Thank you! I think thats my favorite
track on the album. I like the way the rhythm is moving forward relentlessly
with this heavy riff, towards the chorus that is both kind of desperate
and sweet. And then theres the tension provided by the strings
and the mini moog leading up to a release with Odds short, but
fabulous guitar solo.
We worked hard to get the drums right, and I think we did succeed
on this track in particular.
How about the song Don Quixote? Nice blend of your vocal
with Lise. Were human beings, animals and machines...
EIVIND JOHANSEN: Its a song about opposites; darkness
and light, movement or stillness and so forth. This is a song we always
do live, and people really seem to like this song.
The Rhodes piano solo played by Odd is the only bit on the album that
we kept from the first recordings, which meant we had to maintain
the structure, but replacing all musical and rhythm elements. This
was quite hard as it was recorded live without using click track.
mwe3.com: In Spite Of All (Life Was Grand) sounds
like a wistful kind of song, with a solid hook. What inspired that
EIVIND JOHANSEN: It was inspired by seeing old friends and
noticing both how much and how little we have changed. Its also
a tribute to what I like to think of as the courage of youth.
There is a music video of this song on you tube which we are very
happy with, that both includes some original footage from a youth
club in the late seventies as well as us actually recording the song.
mwe3.com: Lilac Smile seems to be one of the big
production tracks from the Gravitation CD. Just brilliant.
Where did that one come from? tick, tock, Im waiting
on the night nurse... Odds guitar is just great on
EIVIND JOHANSEN: Yes, it sounds great and the mixing engineer
Manfred Faust did a very good job on that one, and Odds playing
is really shining too. I also like the Rhodes on this track, which
was played by Arthur Piene.
was spending some time in hospital a couple of years back, and I wrote
the lyrics inspired by hospital life, opiates and painkillers while
partly being in this dreamlike existence. A friend of mine used to
say time is not passing, time arrives which I used
in the song, as I found this a very nice way of looking at the concept
of time. Also the lilac flower blooms intensely for a very short period
here, just like the Norwegian summer itself.
Were putting together a new live band these days and we will
be playing this in the new set, which we havent done earlier.
mwe3.com: Do you practice playing music and/or vocal practice
and how much time is involved in rehearsing and what is the songwriting
process for you? Do you write the lyrics or the music first?
EIVIND JOHANSEN: I tend to write and practice all the time
actually. I am always working on songs at different stages. I basically
develop the music and lyrics at the same time. The process is usually
quite slow, with the elements gradually coming together. On occasion
I write faster, with the songs emerging almost fully formed.
When Odd and I write together I usually have the melody, chords and
lyrics, as well as the basic structure for the song in place when
we meet. Odd then adds riffs, contrapuntal elements and instrumental
passages and arranging the song for the instruments we feel will work
What do you like to do to relax in Norway and what you do for fun
over there? Not only music related if you can elaborate.
EIVIND JOHANSEN: Well, we do have snow, and quite a lot of
it too, almost half of the year, so skiing is popular during the winter.
During the summer we tend to stay outdoors, enjoying the brief summer
months and not looking forward to the coming winter.
Personally I am very fond of the springtime when everything suddenly
is exploding into green all around you.
I am also more of an urban type of person so I enjoy city life; movies,
going to book and record stores and meeting people.
mwe3.com: Tell the readers more about what the future has for
Kosmoratik as far as new music and performances. I hope you plan to
add some new big production numbers (in the spirit of Lilac
Time) on the next album and you keep the melodies strong too.
JOHANSEN: We are putting together an electric band for gigs during
the summer and autumn. But most importantly we have just finished
mixing our 2nd album, which will be called Bridges And Boats.
The melodies we believe are strong. And we are using a string quartet
and some big production this time around too. But there are differences
to Gravitation as well. Lise Lotte and Odd are singing more,
and there are several acoustic numbers, which I hope youll like.
This time we have done most of the album in house with
Odd also doing the mixing. Poor chap, he really has carried the weight
on this one. But it has been an interesting learning experience doing
it all by ourselves.
Thanks to Eivind Johansen @ Kosmoratik.com