Shining

Shining

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Norway's Shining have a made a long musical journey since their 2001 debut, Where the Ragged People Go on BP Productions, and 2003's Sweet Shanghai Devil on Jazzland. Those two acoustic modern jazz offerings bear scarcely a musical trace to the prog/noise/heavy metal hybrid they created on 2010's Blackjazz, and developed it to an even more extreme edge on 2013's One One One. This self-titled double-disc from Rune Grammofon pairs 2005's In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster and 2007's Grindstone. These albums not only document the beginning of their transition but reveal them in excellent, restless, creative form. In contrast to its forebears, the 2005 album sounded like it came from another planet. The brave, modern European jazz that the group recorded earlier gave way to a kinetic, aggressive, amplified sound that owed to prog rock (think Red-era King Crimson), Rock in Opposition (Henry Cow, Art Bears), and horn-blasted jazz improv (Last Exit). These elements are woven together in jarring (more often than not), startling ways -- though there are a few softer moments. In contrast, Grindstone is comprised of (mostly) tighter compositions, though some are musically far more abstract in structure. The arrangement discipline from leader Jørgen Munkeby's other band, Jaga Jazzist, is readily apparent. There is a proper first nod at metal classicism on the opening cut -- titled after the preceding album -- in its use of Black Sabbath. "Wintereisse" makes clear that the group had been also been listening to Art Zoyd and early Univers Zero. Elsewhere, "The Red Room" -- aggressive, fast-paced, electric jazz-rock -- takes the fore. But in the center a sort of spacious, understated group of short tracks are curious exercises in texture and tone. One can hear influences from King Crimson's middle period, Soft Machine, Frank Zappa, and Silver Apples in the varied construction of carefully sequenced tracks, but other than the obvious Sabbath tribute, the articulated persona is Shining's alone. These records are not only fascinating exercises that reveal the sonic and musical evolution of the band, but are individually exceptional. Together they connect all the dots on the map and provide a startling aural portrait of a group beginning to realize just how much damage they could levy on an already fractured musical frontier.

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