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July/August 2005

Shining
In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster
Rune Grammofon

The Rune Grammofon label describes the Norwegian quartet Shining as "progressive artrockmonsterjazz." But that tag is hardly expansive enough. On its third full-length, In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster, the band evokes John Carpenter's clunky synth scores ("The Smoking Dog"), Tom Waits' junkyard ballads ("Perdurabo") and King Crimson's blackened prog-rock ("Goretex Weather Report"). Yet for all its cross-disciplinary energy-not to mention its aggressive digital editing-Monster is still a jazz record at heart. You can hear it in the French Quarter-ish reeds that slink through "Romani," in the boplike rhythms that drive "REDRUM," and in the ECM-style asceticism that turns "31=300=20 (It Is By Will Alone I Set My Mind in Motion)" into a series of ghostly washes.

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Shining

Shining's jazz foundation is there, too, in the group's approach to song structure-composer-bandleader Jorgen Munkeby leaves himself and the others plenty of room for improvisation and displays of instrumental prowess. That Shining's latest transcends aural schizophrenia should tell you much of what you need to know about the quartet's alchemical approach. Not only does In the Kingdom add up to more than a parade of influences, it actually comes across as something truly foreign, something close to otherworldly.

Originally published in July/August 2005
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