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Tusmørke, 'Underjordisk Tusmørke'

Underjordisk Tusmørke  (2012,  67.38)  ****½/TTTT

Fimbul
Watching the Moon Sail Out of the East

The Quintessence of Elements
A Young Man & His Woman
A Nightmare's Just a Dream
Høstjevndøgn
Salomonsens Hage
Singers & Swallows
Ode on Dawn
[by Les Fleurs du Mal]
Tusmørke, 'Riset Bak Speilet'

Riset Bak Speilet  (2014,  46.25/70.55)  ****/TT½

Offerpresten
Gamle Aker Kirke
Black Swift
All is Lost
Riset Bak Speilet

[CD adds:
Mener Vi Alvor Na?
Kairo
En Verden av i Gar
]
Tusmørke, 'Elektriske Skrekkøgler og Forhistoriske Framtidsfabler'

Elektriske Skrekkøgler og Forhistoriske Framtidsfabler  [as Tusmørke vs Spectral Haze]  (2015,  41.22)  ***½/T

Tusmørke:
  Demonologi
  Empathy for Evil
  Reptilhjernen Vet

Spectral Haze:
  Skallen
Tusmørke, 'Ført Bak Lyset'

Ført Bak Lyset  (2016,  44.17)  ****/T

Ekebergkongen
Et Djevelsk Mareritt
De Reiser Fra Oss
Ført Bak Lyset
Spurvehauken
Nordmarka

Vinterblot
Tusmørke, 'Sankt Sebastians Alter'

Sankt Sebastians Alter  (2017,  50.46)  ***/T½

Sankt Sebastians Alter (live)
La Peste Nera (Nicola Vinciguerra's Sankt Sebastians Alter remix)
Tusmørke, 'Hinsides'

Hinsides  (2017,  47.22)  ****/T

Hjemsøkte Hjem
I Feel Like Midnight (I Dream I'm Awake)
En Rykende Ruin
Lysskydrøm
Sankt Sebastians Alter
Tusmørke, 'Bydyra'

Bydyra  (2017,  47.36)  **½/T½

Tre Som Bor i et Tre
Trefar
Mellomspill
Rottekongen
På Biblioteket
Vi er Eid
Dyrene i Byen
Elvene i Oslo
Signekjerringa
Tenkeren

Trollmannen
Lær de Fattige å Trylle
Dyrene Bor Ute
Underboerne
Katabasis
Tusmørke, 'Fjernsyn i Farver'

Fjernsyn i Farver  (2018,  43.55)  ***½/TT

Fjernsyn i Farver
Kniven i Kurven
Borgerlig Tussmørke
3001
Death Czar

Tøyens Hemmelighet
Tusmørke, 'Osloborgerlig Tusmørke'

Osloborgerlig Tusmørke - Vardøger Og Utburder Vol. 1  (2018, recorded 20?-20?,  42.53)  ***½/T

Skattegravere i Grefsenåsen
Hovedøya
Gamle Oslo
Djevelen Fra Oslo
Kjentmannen
Akers Akropolis
Alvene i Oslo
Gamle Aker Kjerke

Current availability:

Mellotrons/Chamberlins used:

Tusmørke have a highly convoluted history, originally forming in the mid-'90s, before morphing into psych/progsters Les Fleurs du Mal, finally splitting and reforming in 2009 as Tusmørke again. Their debut, 2012's Underjordisk Tusmørke (Subterranean Twilight), is actually only six tracks (and forty minutes) long, Salomonsens Hage and Singers & Swallows counting as 'bonuses', while seventeen-minute closer Ode On Dawn is the sole Les Fleurs du Mal recording, finally available. The vocal-heavy album has a heavy psych/folk/prog '72 vibe about it, its acoustic/electric sound occasionally recalling Änglagård's debut, although the overall sound is less Genesis/Crimson, more The Incredible String Band and Caravan, although I've also seen slightly bemusing comparisons with various krautrock outfits. Like Änglagård, a considerable Scandinavian folk influence abounds, although the two outfits have taken it in different directions, Tusmørke utilising massed male vocals in a 'bordering-sea-shanty' style that may not suit everyone. Distilling highlights from such a strong release is near-impossible, although opener Fimbul sets the band's stall out nicely.

Our old friend Lars Fredrik Frøislie (Wobbler, White Willow) is Tusmørke's honorary fifth member, playing keys alongside someone calling himself 'Deadly Nightshade'. Both are credited with Mellotron, while Lars adds Chamberlin to two tracks, leaving just one track (The Quintessence Of Elements) tape-replay-free. You really can hear the difference between the Mellotron and Chamberlin violins used in tandem on Fimbul, the Chamby violins turning up again on A Nightmare's Just A Dream, with Mellotron strings, flutes (alongside the real one), choirs and cellos elsewhere. And is that M400 church organ all over Høstjevndøgn? It's the only track with a real (as against early '80s Korg clonewheel) Hammond credited, but it sounds more like Mellotron. To my surprise, Les Fleurs du Mal used an obviously real Mellotron (played by Trond Egil Aasen), too, used to good effect on Ode On Dawn, complete with some wonderful (if accidental) volume surges.

2014's Riset Bak Speilet carries on in a similar vein, stronger tracks including Gamle Aker Kirke, the jaunty folk/metal of vinyl version closer Riset Bak Speilet itself and the ten-minute CD-only En Verden Av I Gar. Other notable features include the real brass on opener Offerpresten (although I'm not so struck on the track itself) and the organ solo in the fuck-off heavy All Is Lost, which is pure Canterbury. The band continue to give themselves silly nom-de-plumes, Frøislie's being The Phenomenon Marxo Solinas. Although they're not always audible, he plays Mellotron on all but Mener Vi Alvor Na? and Chamberlin on Gamle Aker Kirke, Black Swift, the title track and En Verden Av I Gar, mostly strings (and a burst of church organ somewhere?), plus definite Mellotron flutes (under the real one) on CD bonus Kairo.

2015's Elektriske Skrekkøgler og Forhistoriske Framtidsfabler (according to Google translate, rather wonderfully, 'Electric Horror Keys and Prehistoric Future Fables') is a split release with Spectral Haze, one vinyl side each, Tusmørke's three contributions all being at the more energetic end of their range, while Spectral Haze's seventeen-minute Skallen sounds exactly like 1972-era Hawkwind. Skallen might just actually be the best thing here, even if it's only present by accident, but the Tusmørke tracks are all worth hearing for the committed fan. No credited Mellotron, but it seems more than likely that Frøislie (listed as producer) plays the string part on Reptilhjernen Vet. The following year's Ført Bak Lyset is another rocking, yet folky effort, particular highlights being opener Ekebergkongen, which almost-but-not-quite quotes from Grieg's In The Hall Of The Mountain King in its flute refrain, De Reiser Fra Oss, with its beautiful, gritty Hammond part and closer Vinterblot. Once again, uncredited Mellotron (obviously Frøislie), with strings on Spurvehauken and Nordmarka, particularly upfront on the latter.

2017's Sankt Sebastians Alter is a rather odd artefact, a cassette-only release consisting of two side-long pieces, a live version of the title track (from Hinsides) and Nicola Vinciguerra's remix of La Peste Nera, although quite where he remixed it from is unknown. Sankt Sebastians Alter itself is superb, featuring Frøislie's doomy Mellotron strings, while La Peste Nera is probably best described as 'dark ambient', bar a couple of minutes halfway through when the intensity level briefly goes through the roof. Hinsides is even crazier than Tusmørke's previous work, which is saying something, veering between Scando-Latin (!) opener Hjemsøkte Hjem, complete with massed Yamaha CS80 swoops, I Feel Like Midnight's tribal rhythms (yes, English-language vocals), the deranged massed crumhorns at the end of Lysskydrøm and the album's crowning glory, 23-minute closer Sankt Sebastians Alter, an epic worthy of the name. Frøislie's Mellotron (and Chamberlin?) only appear towards the end of the album, with what sounds like Mellotron cello, doubling a real one, on Lysskydrøm (spot that filthy double bass note!) and flutes and cellos on Sankt Sebastians Alter.

The deeply eccentric Bydyra, from later the same year, treads unfamiliar ground for the band in its massed children's voices, utilised across the album, while Rottekongen channels funky '70s pop, replete with a munchkinised lead vocal. Better tracks including Elvene I Oslo, Lær De Fattige å Trylle and synth-heavy closer Katabasis, while Frøislie's ARP solo on Underboerne is excellent, but, overall, this presents as a failed experiment. Mellotron? Strings on Trefar, a background string line on Signekjerringa, choirs on Tenkeren and stabbed strings on Lær De Fattige å Trylle. 2018's Fjernsyn i Farver is less experimental, but a great improvement, a welcome return to the band's 'heavy folk/prog' sound. Highlights? Kniven I Kurven, Borgerlig Tussmørke and closer Tøyens Hemmelighet, I'd say, but nothing here should disappoint. Three Mellotron tracks from Frøislie, with choirs and church organ on Borgerlig Tussmørke, background choirs, complete with tape-choke, on 3001 and what sounds like a non-standard string sound on Death Czar. The same year's Osloborgerlig Tusmørke - Vardøger Og Utburder Vol. 1 carries on in a similar, if less full-on vein, highlights including Akers Akropolis, Alvene I Oslo and lengthy closer Gamle Aker Kjerke. Several tracks of M4000D samplotron, mostly inaudible, leaving the only genuine Mellotron work as the choirs on Alvene I Oslo.

The cynical amongst you might be thinking, "Ho hum, more Mellotron-fuelled Scando-prog releases"; technically correct, but Underjordisk Tusmørke is an excellent album, diverging from the 'mainstream' (such as it is) to the point where, say, Flower Kings fans will probably recoil in horror. That, dear readers, is a recommendation. The lone Les Fleurs du Mal track is almost worth the price of admission on its own; we can only hope that the band's semi-promise in the CD booklet to record the rest of their oeuvre comes to fruition in the not-too-distant future.

albums

Leker for Barn, Ritualer for Voksne  (2019,  43.40)  **½

For some unknown reason, 2019's Leker for Barn, Ritualer for Voksne was recorded using an M4000D hardware sample player. The album features an unwelcome return to the children's choir from Bydyra, several tracks referencing nursery rhymes, rounds and other children's songs. More listenable tracks include Sjubidubidu Sju (with upfront samplotron strings) and Jeg Gikk Meg Over Sjø Og Land, but, unless this description sounds like it's up your street, I wouldn't go too far out of your way for this.

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