Dig Deeper – In Central European Time (Alien Agency – Out 7th Oct 2017)
Politically charged and poignant Americana from the shores of Norway.
Having become increasingly aware of Norway’s Dig Deeper over the last few months, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of growth shown on their new record In Central European Time. The album strikes a particular chord in today’s hostile world through its emotional and, I would argue, crucial subject matter. Singer and chief songwriter Einar Kaupang describes his and the band’s motivation for creating the record:
“When we realised we were stuck in a northern outpost, where those elected to political power were working to close borders, refuse people in need basic rights and brag about having the strictest policies on immigration in Europe, we decided to make this record.”
Charting the journey of a young refugee leaving his home, only to be faced with hostility and closed-mindedness from the world around him, the album’s message is particularly poignant in this day and age given the rise of far right populism and anti-immigration sentiment being seen across much of the continent and on our own shores. There is a clear narrative thread throughout the album, which comes in at 41 minutes and 7 seconds in length, impressive given that it only comprises 6 songs. A palpable sense of desperation and despair runs through the opening tracks “How Can I Be Certain” and “Stars Tonight” which gives way to genuine threat in “Don’t Ask Too Much”. “Hey!” is a lament to how life could have been while “The Ticket” evokes a sense of hope, a moment where everything changes for our young protagonist. The album culminates with “Sky Brown Sky” which leaves us with a sense of uncertainty for the future in a harsh and unforgiving world.
The ambitious subject matter is more than matched by the impressive instrumentation which creates a sonic space that seems to stretch for miles with its long, lingering guitar sounds and slow rhythmic grooves. There is not much variation in tempo it has to be said, and every once in a while the album does veer into self-indulgence, at times lacking the urgency with which such an important and emotionally charged topic deserves to be treated. Indeed several of the songs are approaching 8 minutes in length. However, while these could be seen as criticisms the album in fact manages to turn them to its strength; the dreamy, psychedelic sheen which colours the production creating a powerful sense of drift, of never belonging anywhere which lends itself perfectly to telling a story such as this.
On In Central European Time, Dig Deeper have achieved something quite remarkable. By using the sounds and sonic conventions usually associated with American alt-rock, they have managed to tell a distinctly European story. Furthermore it is a story that resonates with love and understanding, hope and compassion, qualities that are sorely missing from the political discourse of our time.
Review by Jonny Cloke