KOSMORATIK
Bridges And Boats
(Nordic Records)

 

Just late last year Norway’s great prog-rock band Kosmoratik released their debut album Gravitation. With the Summer 2013 CD release of a second Kosmoratik album, entitled Bridges And Boats, founder Eivind Johansen continues proving to be a quality singer-songwriter. Imagine Leonard Cohen or Mark Knopfler singing with Pink Floyd and you come close to the sonic complexity of Kosmoratik. Throughout the 10 track Bridges And Boats, Eivind is once again accompanied by his Kosmoratik band mates singer-songwriter Lise Lotte Ågedal and also, once again contributing his fretboard skills is the Pink Floyd inspired guitars of Odd Gunnar Frøysland, who also once again appears as Eivind’s songwriter partner throughout the all original album. The songs on Bridges And Boats don’t instantly spotlight the electric guitar, as Eivind and Lise are excellent singers, but when called for Odd cuts loose with some cosmic prog electric that will please Floyd fans. Just about each of the songs on Bridges And Boats has a wonderful ethereal effect and there’s enough melodic content to keep the senses engulfed. Sometimes Eivind sounds like Bob Dylan, it’s really eerie at times but Kosmoratik scores another winning long player with the very appealing pop-rock sound of Bridges And Boats. www.kosmoratik.com


mwe3.com presents an interview with
Eivind Johansen of KOSMORATIK


mwe3: How did you come up with the concept of the latest Kosmoratik masterpiece Bridges And Boats? Is there a story behind the album concept, the making of and approach to content? How about the song “Bridges And Boats” and how does it set the tone for the album?

EIVIND JOHANSEN: The album is about communication and different relations between people through time and distance. I see the ocean as a symbol of time and the lives we live, with bridges and boats being points of contact for reaching out to each other.
There is also an element of spiritual search through the potential and magic of the moment, in itself being a possible interface towards something greater than ourselves.

We wanted to start with this song as it outlines the theme of the album, and it also shows both sides of what we are doing; the electric side of things as well as our acoustic approach.

mwe3: Would you say Bridges And Boats is more acoustic or even somewhat neoclassical in nature, compared to the Gravitation album, even though Odd takes some great guitar solos on the new album. This time Bridges And Boats really sounds like Leonard Cohen singing in the studio with Pink Floyd.

EIVIND JOHANSEN: Yes, the album is definitely more acoustic than Gravitation. And I think that shows in particular on side 2, where we wanted to bring a feeling of calmness to the vibe of album. We were also trying to create a neoclassical or chamber music feeling on some of the songs. With Odd’s arranging skills I think we were quite successful in achieving that. Since Gravitation we have mostly worked as an acoustic trio, which has brought us closer to the heart or and core in what we do. And that to some extent also set the tone for the new album. Thanks; Leonard Cohen singing with Pink Floyd – that is a great compliment! Because we wanted to maintain the progressive rock elements from Gravitation, and even developing these further on some of the songs. And Odd takes some great guitar solos this time around too.

mwe3: How about “Waiting For You”? You can sense how it segues perfectly following “Metadata”. “Waiting For You” is kind of a haunting song.

EIVIND JOHANSEN: That’s all Odd’s work on “Waiting for you”. We wanted some songs “Metadata”, “Waiting for you”, “Be here now” and “Be” to hang together as one piece of music and words. And we worked hard to find the right way to segue “Metadata” into “Waiting for you”.

mwe3: The fourth track "Be Here Now" is one of the stellar sounding production numbers on the new CD. What was the concept of that track? The whole concept of “Be Here Now”, which was also a name of a George Harrison track, sounds somewhat metaphysical. A solid hook (“hold on to love, be here now” is brilliant) and Odd's guitar solo is one of the great moments in prog history in 2013.

EIVIND JOHANSEN: Well, thanks a lot! “Be Here Now” is a song about traveling in both a physical and metaphysical sense. It’s interesting that you noted the George Harrison connection, as I am big fan of his early albums, which has this sincere spirituality in the lyrics.

I am also very fond of the guitar solo on “Be Here Now”... it really shines, and the ending is very exciting with the guitar and moog doubling on the same line.

mwe3: “Be” is a great showcase of Lise’s beautiful vocals. Did you and Odd write the song for her? Speaking of which, how did you and Odd collaborate on these new tracks? You seem to be the beat poet and sensitive singer and he seems to be immersed in multi-textural progressive symphonic guitar sounds. A perfect combination! So is “Be” the perfect haunting love song just made for Lise’s sumptuous vocals?

EIVIND JOHANSEN: Yes, she sings beautifully on that track and we wanted her to sing more on the new album, doing some songs on her own. It’s indeed a love song, but with a spiritual motif.

The way we usually work is that I come up with the words, melody and basic structure of the song. And then in the writing process Odd is adding instrumental passages, riffs and counterpoint as well as arranging for the various instruments we want to use.

For “Be” we wanted to use the Fender Rhodes as the main instrument. But also to write a score for acoustic instruments that we would record layer by layer on the mellotron, and then adding the oboe on top to increase the organic feeling of the song.

mwe3: “If I Follow You” is another positive kind of love song, a great duet between you and Lise. The whole concept of someone following someone else, with love in mind, is very positive and uplifting. It may sound like a whimsical thought, but it’s uplifting. Your thoughts on that track?

EIVIND JOHANSEN: Yes, it’s kind of whimsical both in content and in performance. Odd found these school instruments like recorder and glockenspiel for kids to create the joyous instrumental feeling on that track.

It’s a love song, but it also has references to making a new start in life and the possibilities that could bring.

mwe3: One of the center pieces of the album “Anchor And Compass” is actually subtitled “Classic Rock”. It starts off slow but has a great hook. What inspired “Classic Rock” (undercover cops in cars)? It almost sounds like two songs in one, before the great guitar solo and mellotron fills or is that strings? There’s some great drumming on that song too. Who plays drums on Bridges And Boats and how about the other musicians who contributed on the bigger tracks? The whole concept of calling a song “Classic Rock” is quite brilliant in my opinion.

EIVIND JOHANSEN: That’s one of my favorites on the new album too, and yes, it can be heard as being in two parts, with the second part taking off when the drums kick in. It’s a song about music and friendship going back to a time in life when music really mattered and had such a tremendous impact on the lives of my friends and me. So, it’s a celebration of the power of music and the greatness of youth. And I wanted to call it “Classic rock” to celebrate that moment in time.

As for the undercover cops... when growing we were always kind of paranoid when it came to illegal substances and the scary threat of police in undercover, whom we seemed to notice everywhere and very often imagined as hiding in cars either parked or driving by...

However time has showed this threat to have been greatly exaggerated or even non-existing, as I think the local police force never had much interest in what we were doing, illegal (though) it may have been.

The drums are played by our friend Andre Banini, who plays the drums throughout the album. There is a string section on this track, and we used this string section for some of the other songs as well. They are called “Strings Unlimited” and are well known here in Norway working with various projects and different kinds of music.

Of the other players on the album, we had the pleasure of working with Torunn Irene Kristensen again. She is a very gifted young oboe player, and she also played on Gravitation. Jørgen Mathisen, who played the saxophones, is another great young musician working, primary in the outer limits of jazz, and we really dig his playing on the album. Other than these; it’s all Odd’s work!

mwe3: Track 9 on Boats And Bridges, entitled “Strangest Dream” is one of the great songs of 2013. Lise does a great job on that song. Did you set out to create a vast, sweeping production number on that song? What do the lyrics mean and, do you find that writing big numbers that are clearly indebted to classic rock or “prog”, is more challenging or less challenging to write than say, track 8 “Body Of The Song” which is very low key. So then, is “Strangest Dream” an attempt to write a very commercial, catchy “production piece” song? Because if so, it worked! Just a brilliant track... Can you tell us who’s playing what on that song?

EIVIND JOHANSEN: Thanks for saying that! We wanted it to be a big sweeping production number in a classic rock sense. And we wanted it to be catchy as a good pop song. Except for the drums and vocals it’s all Odd playing on this track too.

As for these two songs, for me I think the song “Body Of The Song” actually was harder to write. I labored on that song for quite a while, whereas the original version of “Strangest Dream” was written fast, over a couple of days only. But then again Odd’s input to the music writing and his arrangement is what makes it both immediate and complex. The first version of “Strangest Dream” was actually an acoustic, low key folk inspired song, but it turned into something different entirely. It’s also the first single of the album.

The song has a story to it, in which I met by chance an Amnesty representative from Iran on the streets in Oslo. Our conversation started out rather badly, with him finding me as just another ignorant and disrespectful passerby with neither sympathy nor compassion for his cause. But then all of sudden everything changed into something new and magic, when I by chance mentioned my interest in the great Persian poet, Hafez. And we ended up talking about poetry and humanity, and meeting each other anew without prejudice or doubt of each other's intentions.

mwe3: “Father’s Day” sounds like a quiet way to end Boats And Bridges. Is the song an homage to fathers of the world? We have only one father right? And I miss my dad every day.

EIVIND JOHANSEN: Yes, that’s very much what it’s about. We wanted to end the album in a quiet and thoughtful mood, as the end of a journey. Also I think of it as is an open ending, towards what comes next, when it comes to music from Kosmoratik.

mwe3: So what’s next? Are you writing or planning something more? Two Kosmoratik albums in, where to go next with the group's sound and vision?

EIVIND JOHANSEN: We did also record three other songs when working with Bridges And Boats, which didn’t make it to the final version. Yes, we even talked about making a double album at some time in process, but eventually we had to put these songs on hold, choosing the ones we felt best tied in with the concept and vibe of the album. We also have other strong material going back to the Gravitation sessions, and some new songs still unrecorded. So there is plenty to choose from for a third album.

But we haven’t yet decided how we want to proceed with a third album. There are different possibilities like working with a band in the studio, focusing on the more progressive elements of our music, working with a well known producer, etc. But this is something we have to decide upon later. For the time being we are focusing on promoting the new album, both here in Norway and to some extent abroad, or at least as much as we can.

We really feel our music has a global appeal, and we have fans all over the world, which is really fantastic for a small band from Oslo, Norway! And we hope that even more people will get to know our music, establishing a platform for playing the music live to an international audience. But we’ll have to walk this way step by step. And as of now, we are very excited to see where it’s taking us, be it near or far.

Thanks to Eivind Johanson @ Kosmoratik.com

 

 
   
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