Shining – Live: Blackjazz

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Like some improbable meeting on the dissecting table between Meshuggah, The Mars Volta, and Dream Theater, Norway’s Shining traffics in some of the most eminently listenable music that claims the potential audience-less middle ground between prog, metal, and jazz.

Upon first listen you’d be forgiven for giving up on music this unrepentantly athletic and intense. Part of the reason would be that the texture of their intensity sometimes resembles that of your average screamo band (on the surface, at least). You know what I’m talking about: self-consciously sprinting through angular metal-borne postures because slowing down might expose an underlying vacuity.

The sheer glee that Shining exudes on Live Blackjazz instantly erases your suspicions that Shining’s CD-skipping fever dream is anything less than genuine. I can’t stop smiling when I hear it and I suspect these guys can’t either. At the end of the day, that is one of the better definitions I can muster for that mystical X-factor that makes me enjoy Sade and Portal with equal enthusiasm: an artist playing the best possible music they can imagine.

Way to imagine, Shining. This burly set (actually quite lean for prog at 62 minutes) seals the deal with my new favorite cover of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man”. Spectacularly heavy and effortlessly kinetic, I can’t imagine a band having the poor fortune of following them. Here’s hoping for a US tour.

— Alee Karim

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[Editor’s Note: A deluxe edition of Live: Blackjazz, featuring live performances with the same production, mixing, and mastering team of Shining’s Blackjazz studio album, was released on DVD on October 11, 2011.]


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Live: Blackjazz – Track-By-Track Preview

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Amazon (CD)
Shining (Norway, CD and DVD)

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