Review and Full Album Premiere: Tusmørke, Fjernsyn i Farver


Norwegian ultraprogger weirdos Tusmørke release their sixth album, Fjernsyn i Farver, May 4 via Karisma Records. The temptation is going to be to try to keep up with where the Oslo-based five-piece go on the follow-up/companion-piece to 2017’s Hinsides, but I’m not sure that’s either the way to go when it actually comes to listening or what the band intends for the listening experience. With strong currents of flute and various organs and keys, New Wave-style rhythms, bilingual lyrics and enough turns of mood and sound to be legitimately dizzying, I think Tusmørke on these six tracks are happy doing their own thing. They are way, way out there. Way gone.

Mind you, I’m not saying that an attempt to hold pace with Tusmørke on the six-track/43-minute outing isn’t worthwhile, and if you’re the type to keep tabs literally or figuratively on every move a band makes on a given record, then you should at least know that songs like the opening title-track, its proclamation-laced eight-minute compatriot “Kniven i Kurven” — the similar title construction of which to the track preceding and the album itself hardly feels coincidental — will keep you busy for some time to come. There’s a plan at work, and these songs are crafted rather than kitchen-sinked — elements like flute and Wurlitzer aren’t just thrown in. They serve no less purpose to the overall proceedings than vocals, guitar, bass or drums, and as the band careens between genres and a chiaroscuro thematic, they mostly depart the serene and classic progressive feel of Hinsides — the three-minute “Borgerlig Tussmørke” notwithstanding — in favor of a late-’70s, semi-electronic spirit that’s alt-universe danceable on “Kniven i Kurven” and given more to spacey swirl and Magma/Amon Düül II-ish headspinning on “3001,” which arrives ahead of the English-language “Death Czar,” Tusmorke Fjernsyn i farverthe penultimate inclusion, on which declarations about the cosmic egg from which the universe hatched and other such ideas are laid bare.

The title Fjernsyn i Farver translates to “color television,” and while I’m not entirely sure how that plays into the ideas explored about reflected light — also, my ignorant American ass speaks not a lick of Norwegian beyond a few choice words picked up from repeated exposure in black metal: “skog,” “svart,” etc. — the depths of the arrangements throughout the title-track, “3001” the percussively insistent “Death Czar” and the sense of reconciliation in the prog-boogie of closer “Tøyens Hemmellighet” give the record as a whole a richness of character that the utter hack in me almost can’t stop himself from calling “colorful.” Nonetheless, the sonic variety and diverse personality that Tusmørke adopt for this album and the ease with which they prove malleable to that intent, can only be considered a win on the whole. And while the exploratory complexity of the material is a central factor to the listening experience, neither is Fjernsyn i Farver without a sense of songwriting and craft at work. I alluded to it somewhere above, but this isn’t a happenstance collection, and the chorus of the title-track proves it as much as the obvious consideration put into the flowing instrumental grace and far-away echoes that bring “Tøyens Hemmellighet” to its end.

Rather, opaque though it might be especially for those of limited linguistic skills such as myself, Fjernsyn i Farver brims with purpose in its execution, and each element at work is a part of it. The active nature of their rhythm, the clarity of thought put into each track and the variety they present throughout may be difficult to trace step by step, but taken in its entirety, the sweeping breadth that ensues is both immersive and affecting in any language.

I have the pleasure today of hosting the full premiere of Fjernsyn i Farver below ahead of the release later this week. You’ll find it on the player here, followed by the best band quote I’ve gotten in a while to go with one of these streams, which actually goes a long way toward explaining what Tusmørke are up to conceptually here. There’s also more background from the PR wire, which includes what I assume is a complete list of the instruments used on these tracks.

Please enjoy:

Benediktator on Fjernsyn i Farver:

Fjernsyn i Farver is a companion piece to our last album Hinsides. All the songs came about in roughly the same mindframe and spacetime. We then sorted the songs into two categories, Death and Space. Hinsides was thus the death album (“death” is pronounced “dess” in Norwegian), while this is the space album, both sci-fi-wise and psychedelically.

Don’t expect the sound of ’67, though; we are more inspired by Goblin, Norwegian new wavers Kjøtt, Norwegian hardrockers Høst and bird watching. How come? Well, space is full of horror, hardness, rocks and waves. Also, Benediktator and Krizla are keen ornithologists. The world was hatched from the cosmic egg, laid by the bird of paradise. The yolk of our existence is still surrounded by the white, the blinding light that blocks our true sight. The question isn’t: Where do visions come from? The question is: Where do they go? The answer is, unfortunately, in Norwegian.

“Fjernsyn i farver” (“Colour Television”) is Tusmørke’s sixth full length album, loosely based on two concepts of light, time and reality. How everything we see is a reflection made by light from the sun hitting an object – The reflected light is registered by our eyes, but the reflection is also sent out in all other possible directions, travelling at the speed of light. The unobstructed reflections would travel forever onwards into space. If we could devise a means to move faster than light, we could overtake these reflections and view them again, seeing history backwards.

The second idea is that light is not seen as anything until it hits something and is reflected back, creating an image in colour for the human eye. So if there were no physical objects to reflect the light, there would be an eternal totality, a darkness of sorts, since light would not be seen.

With artwork by Linn Solveig Halvorsrød and design by Tom Korsvold, tracklisting on the album us as follows:

1. Fjernsyn i farver (Colour Television)
2. Kniven i kurven (The Knife in the Basket)
3. Borgerlig tussmørke (Civil Twilight)
4. 3001
5. Death Czar
6. Tøyens hemmelighet (The Secret of Tøyen)

Featuring members of WOBBLER, JORDSJØ and ALWANZATAR, TUSMØRKE’s lineup fields an almost dizzying variety of instruments, and is comprised of Benediktator on Bass, vocals, Glockenspiel and percussion, Krizla on Flute, vocals, electronics and percussion, The Phenomenon Marxo Solinas on Minimoog Model D, Korg CX3, William de Blaise on harpsichord, Steinway & Sons Grand Piano, Hohner Clavinet D6, Mellotron M400, Hammond C3, Wurlitzer 200 and Solina String Ensemble, and HlewagastiR on Drums and percussion.

Tusmørke on Thee Facebooks

Tusmørke on Bandcamp

Karisma Records US webstore

Karisma Records EU webstore

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