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Dig Deeper – In Central European Time

Alien Agency

Dig Deeper - In Central European TimeFor Dig Deeper‘s third long-player, leader Einar Kaupang has chosen to cast a light on the plight of refugees as seen from the perspective of a Norwegian citizen; one who is discontented with the inhumane attitudes and “close the border” mentalities of that government, and the knock on effect they will have on those poor souls attempting to improve their plight.

This is their third album in the last five years, and is a continuation of the themes explored on this year’s Stars Tonight EP. The frustrations of living in a privileged society and looking around and seeing the misfortunes befalling those unlucky enough to have been born into trouble has clearly affected the way Einar writes his songs and changed his perspective.

Thankfully, they play the kind of drawn-out, Americana-influenced guitar rock that lends itself perfectly to a long, story-based narrative. They come from a similar direction to Richmond Fontaine and ply that kind of desert soundscape that whispers in your ear and whistles down empty boulevards and through sandblasted canyons. Opener “How Can I Be Certain” drifts with a restless quality, it wants to settle down into a groove but it just is unable to do so. There is a sense of slight disturbance in the background and the sound of travel in the distance.

It shares that sense of travel with some of the War On Drugs tracks, but this is less about personal introspection and more about highlighting a traveller’s lack of a sense of belonging. The refrain “Will anyone know I was here?” and the haunting line “How can I be certain I will meet you in the afterlife?” give an indication of the sort of soul-searching that the band are experiencing and the frustrations they are trying to highlight to the listening public.

There are only six tracks on this album, but the running time is around forty-three minutes, so each track has plenty of opportunity to stretch out and on “Stars Tonight”, they channel their inner Green On Red a little. The vocals have a touch of that Chuck Prophet wavering quality and the guitar work is gritty and roadworn. When Einar delivers the line “…turn a blind eye on human rights” in that slightly angry, inquisitive tone, you feel him wringing his hands with the despair of the situation.

There is more of a country feel to “Don’t ask too much”, and this is a classic country tale of two people spending time together, one of whom clearly has a past they have no desire to discuss. There is pedal steel breaking your heart softly in the background as the song crawls at a melancholy pace, and where guitar solos are introduced, it is with such a subtle touch that they convey as much emotion and create as much a part of the overall image as the words.

“The Ticket” is a short number which is particularly memorable for the couplet “Winter is leaning in, but I’m not getting off before I see Spring.” I love that image of somebody finally gaining a ticket to the promised land, leaving a cold winterscape and knowing that somewhere ahead lies warmth for the soul, but on closer “Sky Brown Sky” is where the anger seems to really take hold. The lyrics are obscured with reverb, but the almost transatlantic Spacemen 3-like groove of the song seems to allow all the band members to throw their frustrations into the mix. The guitars are frazzled and firey, a sitar is sitting in, setting a counterpoint, trying to inject some sort of Eastern philosophy into the Western maelstrom, the vocals hunt you down like Alan Vega as the rhythm section pushes on an on into the unknown future, taking you with it whether you like it or not.

This is a really strong set of songs and of great emotional depth. Whether the Norwegian government are listening, who is to know — but I think we all should. Einar and the band make good observations and couch them in some lovely musical clothing. It is from the heart and we should definitely thank them for that.

-Mr Olivetti-

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