Novocaine - 'Swept Away'
Whilst we sit here patiently (ok really impatiently...) awaiting a Vinyl shaped package to arrive from Bergen containing the new Major Parkinson album 'Blackbox', we're reminded of the huge wealth of great music from that Norwegian city. 'Novocaine' may be a familiar name with Norwegian readers, but they are a band we haven't featured before. They released an album entitled 'Swept Away' earlier this year which is worthy of a listen, and in particular their single 'Paradox' is definitely worth adding to your latest Nordic playlist.
'Novocaine' were formed way back in 1999, playing a vast number of gigs and having one single, a really likeable indie rock track entitled 'Dancing' (still available on Spotify under the name 'Novocaine 99') which made an impression on Norwegian radio. Unfortunately a long hiatus began in 2013 and they never released further material until this year when they finally released their debut album. I guess their story is similar to another band we've featured recently from Bergen, 'kathinka', whom we hope to feature again soon.
'Swept Away' is a powerful rock album and 'No Need To' sets the tone, with Sigbjørn Hovland's melancholy vocals and a big indie rock guitar sound, and maybe some progressive rock influences in there too. But the highlight for me is their ability to build up to these huge blissful musical climaxes, and 'Paradox' does exactly that, after an understated brooding opening the track develops with such intensity, and the instrumental section at the end is hugely enjoyable post rock noise.
'Paradox' is definitely the highlight for me, but there are other tracks worth consideration. 'A Childhood Memory' has a sorrowful melody which I like, but the highlight again is the long instrumental section which takes over the track in the middle and latter stages - and I get the feeling the band just really enjoy getting carried away in those big guitar led sections. 'Evening Star' has a more traditional rock anthem chorus, but it still has that tinge of melancholia, whilst I really like the huge building crescendos in 'No Control' and the sweeping intensity of 'Swept Away'.
There is just so much going on this week that I still probably haven't had chance to fully appreciate some of the real subtleties of the album, but 'Novocaine have an ability to write big rock melodies accompanied by this huge instrumental sound that's clearly influenced by classic, progressive and post rock styles. For me they're at the best when they 'go large' instrumentally in that post rock style, and when they get it right as in 'Paradox', it is both blistering and hugely enjoyable. With such big instrumental sections, this is a band whom I also think would be great live, and for those of you who are lucky enough to live in Norway you can see them next week at the Haugaland Prog and Rock Festival (more details on their Facebook page), which also includes a few new names to us, which we'll definitely be taking a listen to as well.