Airbag emerged when a group of friends went to see Pink Floyd on their Division Bell tour, 1994, with Identity being their debut album, released in 2009 and now being reissued in 2021 after being remixed and remastered with some vocals and guitar being rerecorded. Prior to Airbag, however, they were a Pink Floyd tribute act, the Pink Floyd Experience, and listening to this album, particularly tracks like Safe Like You and How I Wanna Be, there were moments when I wondered if I was hearing the tribute band as opposed to an actual band!
Identity comprises tracks made up from remixed versions of songs previously released on their second and third EPs, and there’s little doubt about the quality of the music on offer here. The playing is good and their influences are obvious, with heavy reminiscences of the Floyd, Porcupine Tree and Anathema, and they evoke dreamy images of lush atmospheric soundscapes, with synths to the fore, organ sounding like the late Richard Wright plus some guitar breaks which clearly have David Gilmour in their sights.
The result is an album containing a series of pleasant, very listenable neo-prog pieces of music, with no complicated time signatures or convoluted arrangements. And therein lies the problem… it’s all very nice but nothing much lives on in the memory. After the broody instrumental opener, Prelude, the songs on the album are largely the same, everything played at one tempo, mostly slow and often quite repetitively. Safe Like You is eight minutes long and played at one pace. The album lacks any real imagination, and only on standout tracks like Steal My Soul and Colours do the band inject any real emotion and ‘feel’ into their music. Steal My Soul is the fourth track on the album, but the first where the musicians actually stretch out and inject a little variation into the music.
Since making this album, Airbag have gone on to become a force in Norwegian prog, and they’ve moved on to making more conceptual albums, playing longer, more guitar driven songs with a darker lyrical content but, on the strength of this album, they’ve simply proven how influential the Floyd really were in their creative heyday!