Apollon Sampler PROG 135 by Various ArtistsRelease date: November 21, 2022
Label: Apollon Records
Founded in 2015 and located in Bergen, Norway, Apollon Records started out originally as a Karisma sub-label ten years ago before starting its own label two years after. For co-founder Robin Mortensen, he knew where he wanted to take flight. In an interview with PROG Magazine issue 132 last year which did a feature on the label, he knew that he would take a risk. “I wanted to start a more indie-rock label. And also over the past few years, there’s been a big increase in new prog bands in Norway, so we needed a new label for them too.”
With Apollon, you have some of the most incredible sounds, ranging from; Caligonaut, Kornmo, Breidablik, Suburban Savages, Kryptograf, Major Parkinson, and one of my favorites, Ring Van Mobius, Mortensen knows his musical taste very well. That and this incredible sampler that was issued back in issue 135 which not only covered the history of The Moody Blues’ 1967 groundbreaking album, Days of Future Passed, but how PROG Magazine would not just have readers, but listeners going beyond the old and into the new with Apollon Records.
Since PROG Magazine has been my bible after unleashing their first issue back in 2009, the Apollon sampler (which I reviewed most of their albums for Echoes and Dust), it shows that there’s more than meets the eye. From the Eagles-tinged sound of the West Coast sound of the Asylum label with unearthed band Flying Norwegians’ ‘Wounded Bird’, it can spell the essence of ‘Already Gone’ from their third studio release On The Border originally released in 1974.
Speaking of Flying Norwegians, there’s the Floydian crisp that Professor Tip Top does with its Gilmour textures from the Wish You Were Here sessions with Anathema handling the production levels for the ‘Shining’ to appear while Kryptograf lays down the law with some sludge/dooming effects with the waltzy ‘Asphodel’. There are some drones of Purson’s ‘Rocking Horse’ that comes to mind as if the band were tipping their hat to Rosalie Cunningham.
There’s also some well-known beauty from the sampler that you might want to take note of – Laughing Stock’s tragic textures of Zero’s life on Nad Sylvan’s vocal lines for ‘The Call’ to happen by lending the main character out of the muddy tunnels and see the light in all of its glory, Jacob Holm-Lupo’s corvette of the Donner, driving down to an early ‘80s score of Wendy Carlos with the ‘Andromeda Waltz,’ followed by attacking of all the senses with Pixie Ninja’s ‘CosmiK’.
And let’s not forget Trond Gjellum’s insane textures with Suburban Savages’ ‘Iconoclast’ who bring in not just the Rock In Opposition genre, but a whirlpool of terror of wildly carousel arrangements between Lesterberg, Krabberød, and Meidell, throwing the rule book into the fire and breaking it down, one by one, channelling both Kavus Torabi’s Knifeworld, ‘70s Italian prog, and the medieval inspirations from Gentle Giant.
Not to mention the motorcycling, tidal-waving bass and drum setting for lift-off with Ring Van Möbius’ ‘The Mobius Ring’ to get you up-and-running by paying homage to unsung Canterbury heroes, Egg. And Major Parkinson making a departure from their theatrical roots into the electronic territories of ‘80s synthpop with the tragedy occurred of ‘The House’. That’s quite a ballsy move for Parkinson to take a big step by proving themselves their more than just their Cabaret sounds. And man, they bring it up a notch!
If you’re very new to the Apollon label, then this sampler is an introduction as you embark on an amazing journey as the bands that are on this sampler, are proving listeners that prog is more than just a four letter word. And for Robin Mortensen, he has come a long way to get these bands, the proper recognition they deserve.