[Review] Caligonaut – Magnified As Giants

Caligonaut is the solo project of Norwegian guitarist and singer Ole Michael Bjørndal, member of the Oak, Airbag and Bjørn Riis projects. His debut album “Magnified As Giants” released on February 26, 2021 via Apollon Records featuring musicians from the Nordic Prog environment. Containing 4 long tracks of Nordic style 70’s Progressive Rock with Psychedelic contaminations, managing to make these sounds current with a personal touch. The album opens with “Emperor” which starts with a dreamy piano and keyboards and then morphs into a more Heavy Prog track with intricate textures and hard guitar riffs. The tempo changes are an added value of the sound, which at 2 minutes changes into a 70s-inspired section with a fine Mellotron in the background. The vocal that alternates solo moments with other choirs is warm and expressive and interprets the various phases of the piece with intensity. Very elaborate and full of interesting passages and phrases between guitar and keyboards, this track immediately plunges us into the Prog atmosphere of the disc, taking us back to the 70s, truly a brilliant opener. The intensity increases with the passing of the minutes and in the central part an instrumental section offers interesting solo ideas and then in the second part alternating more symphonic moments with others more Heavy with valuable instrumentals. “Hushed” begins with an acoustic guitar arpeggio that intertwines with the piano and a delicate vocal creating a more Folk Prog atmosphere. Around 2 minutes the rhythmic session enters and the track begins to increase in intensity, also evolving the vocal with a very intense and emotional choral refrain. The ability to develop the theme of the tracks and continuously evolve it, managing to make the sounds of the 70s current, is certainly a merit of the artist. The atmospheres are melancholic and full of pathos and in the central part a guitar solo introduces us to the instrumental section, highlighting Ole‘s technique. In the second part a long instrumental recalls the sounds of Genesis with pompous keyboard openings that alternate with very engaging sung parts, another very interesting and well developed track. Here we are at the title track “Magnified as Giants” which is also the shortest in duration, it starts with an arpeggio that recalls Hackett’s style on which Ole’s soft vocal is inserted. A predominantly acoustic and softer passage that dampens the tones amid long and epic more intricate prog tracks. However, it is very elaborate and full of musical intertwining and interesting ideas, where Folk Rock mixes with Prog. Closes this beautiful album “Lighter than Air,” an epic track of over 19 minutes that begins with a dreamy atmosphere with melancholy features reminiscent of VDGG. The keyboards create a good background, while the guitar offers Bluesy solo cues in the first instrumental section, leaving room for a short but intense synth solo. At 5 minutes with a change the track accelerates and increases the intensity with continuous changes of tempo and excellent mixes of guitar and keyboard. In the central part a long instrumental section where the guitar begins with a good very technical solo followed by the synth, giving life to one of the most intense sections of the album. the second part alternates sung parts with instrumental sections with keyboards and guitar at the center of the scene, accompanying us until the end of the album. This artist, making his debut as a soloist, is not new in the modern Prog scene and with this record release shows all his skill in the compositional and executive phase. Supported by high-level artists, Caligonaut is a very interesting project that brings the sounds of the 70s back to the present day, giving it new life and a personal touch. The Nordic sound matrix is evident and the artist is good at developing long pieces with the right balance between sung and instrumental parts, enhancing the technique of the artists involved. A must listen for all lovers of both classic and modern Progressive sounds, making it one of the best releases of 2021, we hope to be able to listen to other releases from this project in the future.

Tracklist

1. Emperor (14:35)
2. Hushed (10:43)
3. Magnified as Giants (05:46)
4. Lighter than Air (19:34)

Lineup

Ole Michael Bjørndal / Guitars, Vocals
Kristian Karl Hultgren / Bass
Lars Fredrik Frøislie / Keyboards, Mellotron, Synthesizers
Andreas W. S. Prestmo / Backing Vocals
Henrik Fossum / Drums (1)
Arild Brøter / Drums (2,4)
Iver Kleive / Church Organ (2)
Åsa Ree / Violin, Backing Vocals (1,2)
Stephan Hvinden / Rhythm Guitar (2)

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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