AS THE TIRED TRAINS CROSS EUROPE-LUCID MOMENTS-VINYL EDITION.

AS THE TIRED TRAINS CROSS EUROPE-LUCID MOMENTS-VINYL EDITION.

Nowadays, the gonzo music journalist approaches press releases with a degree of cynicism. They’ve decided to take Public Enemy’s advice and; “don’t believe the hype.” That’s not surprising.

Usually, when an artist or band sends an album to be reviewed, it comes complete with a press release about the artist’s achievements. Sometimes it runs to several pages. Occasionally, the press release is the equivalent to a novella. By the time a critic has ploughed through the artist’s achievements, they’re fully expecting a Grammy Award winning album, or at least a Mercury Award winner. Sadly, though, they’re often disappointed. 

What they often discover is an album of third rate hip hop or nu soul. Most critics have experienced this. They’re left feeling disappointed and deflated. It’s at this time like this, that Johnny Rotten’s quote “do you ever feel like you’ve been conned?” rings true. Sadly, certain labels are famous for over-egging the musical pudding. Others labels, including a new Norwegian label, Big Pink Records take a very different approach. That’s to be welcomed.

Back in September 2015, Norway’s latest label, Big Pink Records announced the release of their first ever album; the debut album from As The Tired Trains Cross Europe, Lucid Moments. It came complete with a press release that combined honesty, modesty and brevity. There was no wading through page after page of information. This was a refreshing approach. By the time one had digested the press release, an air of mystery surrounded Vegard Eggum, the man behind the enigmatic sounding As The Tired Trains Cross Europe. I wanted to know more about As The Tired Trains Cross Europe’s debut album Lucid Moments. 

So back in September 2015, before the release of Lucid Moments on CD and as a digital download, I sat down with Vegard Eggum. He told me about the making of Lucid Moments, and his latest musical vehicle As The Tired Trains Cross Europe. Modestly, Vegard Eggum described how “As The Tired Trains Cross Europe started life as a studio experiment.” It was just: “one guy, no rules and a hundred ideas.” Since then, As The Tired Trains Cross Europe has been picking up passengers across Europe, and music lovers have been enjoying and embracing the delights of the musical journey that is, Lucid Moments. So this is the perfect time to catch up with Vegard Eggum. 

To do so, I jumped aboard As The Tired Trains Cross Europe as it stopped in a nearby station. When I meet Vegard Eggum, he’s a happy man, celebrating the much anticipated, release of the vinyl edition of Lucid Moments. This is just the latest chapter in a story that began three months ago.

Since September 2015, when Big Pink Records released Lucid Moments, it’s been a roller coaster ride for Vegard Eggum. Lucid Moments received critically acclaimed reviews. This augured well for the release of Lucid Moments in Norway.

When Lucid Moments was released, the commercial success even surprised Vegard Eggum. “The response has been great, I’ve received calls and messages from old friends I haven’t talked to for ages. People I do not know at all, just cause they want to tell how much they love the album. For me that has been the greatest reward I could ever ask for, it gives me the power to push on and I’m so grateful for all of it.” This commercial success lead to As The Tired Trains Cross Europe becoming a rising star of the vibrant Nordic music scene.

Lucid Moments has received radio play in Vegard Eggum’s native Norway. This resulted in him being interviewed by the press and radio. Then to promote Lucid Moments, As The Tired Trains Cross Europe headed off on a mini-tour. 

On that mini-tour, As The Tired Trains Cross Europe were soon winning friends and influencing people. Each night as they took to the stage, the won the audience over with a selection of songs from Lucid Moments. However, As The Tired Trains Cross Europe’s debut album. Its profile was about to rise.

A few weeks ago, Norway’s biggest chain of record shops made Lucid Moments their record of the week. This was a huge boost to As The Tired Trains Cross Europe’s profile. Suddenly, Norwegian music lovers were being introduced to As The Tired Trains Cross Europe, and their debut album Lucid Moments.  Vegard Eggum’s latest musical vehicle had come a long way in a short space of time. However, Vegard Eggum wasn’t a newcomer to music.

Far from it.  Vegard Eggum’s life has revolved around music. That’s been the case for as long as he can remember. Music has always played an important part in his life. However, Vegard never received a formal music education.  “I have no formal musical education, I’m self taught. I have had two or three guitar lessons my whole life-the rest I’ve figured out by myself. But I have had some great help in understanding the formal language of music from my very good friend and composer Julian Skar, he made me realise that it is important to speak the same language.” Parts of that language he learnt from musical masters.

Growing up, a disparate selection of artists have helped shape, inspire and influence Vegard Eggum musically.  He explains that he was: “inspired by David Bowie, Flaming Lips, Frank Zappa, Neil Young, Swans, Beck, Captain Beefheart, Miles Davis and King Crimson.” It’s King Crimson that’s been the biggest inspiration on Vegard. However, each and every one of these artists inspired him. He soaked up their music like a sponge. However; “I have ever made music that is directly in relationship with them, but there is something with the way they moved through uncharted paths, combining elements from whatever came their way-that has always been a huge inspiration.” That inspiration Vegard says is: “to be progressive,” as he embarked upon a career as a musician.

That Vegard Eggum would became a musician, was never in doubt. “I started out in bands at the age of twelve, playing in various garage bands, but it was around 2000 that we formed Uramuse, the lineup that would later become Meadows and io. This was a huge part of Vegard’s career.

“Meadows and io was my life for about ten years, moving through several name changes and adding members as we went. A few years after we released our debut album Fieldwork in 2009, we came to the point where had to let it rest for a while.” However, this isn’t the end of Meadows and io. Vegard is sure that: “M and io will resurrect when the time comes and the stars are all aligned.” However, Meadows and io is just one facet of Vegard Eggum’s career.

He’s been involved in several other projects. “Sky Is A Roof is the solo project of Pål Henrik Hagen, who is the guitarist in M and io. I’ve been his sidekick since the mid-2000s. Sometimes I’ve played bass, other times guitar, banjo and keyboards. I’ve also worked as a producer and engineer.  I’m a hired gun doing whatever is necessary.” Vegard seems to be happy making music, and is versatile enough to play with a variety of bands. 

“I also play in the Krautrock, new-wave-ish band Sightseers, and with the dusty blues-maestro Uf Myrvold. As well as that, the whole Big Pink family meets up for  noise-blow-out sessions that we call Soup Sessions, cause we make soup and play extremely loud improvised music.” However, despite enjoying life as a member of a band, Vegard Eggum was determined to put some of his “hundred ideas” into practice. So. Vegard Eggum decided to begin a new chapter in his carer

This latest chapter in Vegard Eggum’s career began at his Happy Hunting Studio. This is where As The Tired Trains Cross Europe was born.  Vegard describes As The Tired Trains Cross Europe as: “an accident waiting to happen. I’ve been writing songs for nearly twenty years, many of them for bands that I’ve played with, but there has always been a huge pile of orphan songs-stuff that never got it’s own place, that never fitted in. When Meadows & io, was ‘put on ice’ for a period, this pile of unused, orphaned songs started to become a problem. It started to feel like I was making music for no reason at all, just writing them and putting them in a drawer.  It was killing my line of creativity and I knew that I had to do something about it.”

With his creativity starting to be affected, Vegard had to do something. “So I started a studio experiment, as a kind of a treatment of my own creativity. There was no real plan so I wanted to see how far I could take these songs on my own, not involving anyone else. As time went and I finally got my nerve up to show some of the stuff that I’d done to a few friends – it suddenly came clear that there was more to this than I first expected and that I was making a record without actually knowing it. Then it all fell into place and my old determination and focus came alive.”

With a myriad of instruments and effects for company, Vegard Eggum got to work. By then, Vegard had chosen the ten tracks that would become Lucid Moments. Soon, Vegard Eggum was playing all the instruments and adding vocals. Vegard Eggum also took charge of production and mixed Lucid Moments. That’s not surprising, as Vegard had “studied music production, but that had mostly to do with recording and mixing.” However, when Vegard Eggum started, there was still a sense of the unknown.

Vegard Eggum describes how he: “hit record just to see how far he could take it on his own. There was no real mission, no real plan, only the need to create.” The result was Lucid Moments a musical journey through the conscious and unconscious mind of Vegard Eggum.” This was no ordinary journey. Vegard Eggum describes it as “a dark yet colourful road filled with hope, wonder and fantastically great songs.” With these songs recorded, all that Vegard Eggum needed, was a name for his new musical vehicle.

It’s never easy to pick a name for a new band. However, Vegard Eggum had a name up his sleeve for ten long years.   “I picked up the name about ten years ago when I read “Dangling in the Tournefortia” by Charles Bukowski. It just stuck with me and I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to use it. When I suddenly figured out that I was making a solo record it just came clear that this was the moment I had been waiting for.” So As The Tired Trains Cross Europe was born. Vegard cautions that: “I might mention that during the years, my memory altered the quote a bit, so you will not find it in the same form in Buckowski’s book.” That didn’t matter, Vegard had a truly distinctive name for his new musical vehicle,  As The Tired Trains Cross Europe. They were ready to make their presence felt.

That’s what they’ve been doing since the release of Lucid Moments in September 2015. After critically acclaimed reviews, the release of Lucid Moments swung round. Sadly, the vinyl version of Lucid Moments had to postponed. Somehow, when the vinyl arrived, the LPs were damaged. It was like a dagger through Vegard’s heart. While the release of the CD and digital download went ahead, Vegard found himself looking for another pressing plant. However, there was a backlog of vinyl waiting to be pressed. So it was over two months before Vegard received the pristine vinyl copies of Lucid Moments. They come baring the distinctive album cover that countless people have remarked upon.

Lucid Moments’ album cover is fast becoming a modern day classic. While it looked good on the CD copy, it’s a work of art on the vinyl version of Lucid Moments. Vegard explains that: “the Lucid Moments album cover was created by the talented artist Yola Maria Tsolis. The first time I saw it I was completely blown away, it felt like she had tapped in to my mind and created the cover art especially for me. I’m so proud to have my music enclosed in her excellence.” So is everyone who has bought a copy of Lucid Moments, which comes with what has to be one of the album covers of 2015. However, there’s more to the vinyl version of Lucid Moments than a stunning album cover. As The Tired Trains Cross Europe’s music is equally impressive.

Velvet Maze opens side one of As The Tired Trains Cross Europe’s debut album Lucid Moments. Straight away, the rhythm section combine, laying down a loping, dramatic arrangement. They’re joined by pans and percussion. As pans quiver and shiver, Vegard Eggum slowly and deliberately delivers the lyrics. He combines power and passion, delivering the lyrics with feeling. By then, Vegard sounds uncannily like David Bowie. Everyone they say, has a doppleganger. The Thin White Duke’s is Vegard Eggum. Later, he adds harmonies as Velvet Maze continues to draw the listen in. Resistance is impossible. Constantly, Velvet Maze teases and tantalises with its glorious genre-melting sound. Elements of eighties electronica, Krautrock, pop, post rock, psychedelia, reggae and rock can be heard as this musical adventure begins.

It continues with the ballad The Battles That We Escape. Just a crystalline guitar rings out, before tender harmonies give way to Vegard’s heartfelt vocal. When Vegard’s vocal drops out, it’s just the guitar. That’s all that’s needed. Anything else would be overkill. It’s only once the vocal returns that, the arrangement shares its secrets. Gradually, it builds. The rhythm section join the guitar, with the bass adding a moody sound. This reflects the cinematic lyrics. Vegard sings of dreams, escaping from battles, dining with kings and queens and even armageddon. It’s truly a musical journey through the conscious and unconscious mind of Vegard Eggum.

There’s a sense of urgency as the rhythm section drive the arrangement to Enemy along. This urgency is apparent as Vegard delivers the vocal. He sings of the “Enemy that haunts me, creeping up behind me, short sword stabbing me.” His fear seems real. Sometimes, it comes close to paranoia. Especially, as he sings my soul is dying, tell me it’s not just me?” This fear and paranoia continues to make its presence felt: “cannibal torture, eating out my inner orchard, eating out my inner me.” The way Vegard Eggum delivers the lyrics his fear seems very real. It’s as if he’s lived the lyrics, and his delivery of them is a cathartic cleansing, which releases his inner demons.

From the opening bars of the wistful sounding East Vs. West  Vegard Eggum has the listener hooked. It’s just Vegard and his trusty guitar. He plays slowly and deliberately. Sometimes, there’s a country-tinged sound. Mostly, it’s as if Vegard is choosing every chord with the utmost care. Then he delivers a probing vocal, as he wonders: “why my soul turned to the east?” He can’t seem to work out why? That’s when Vegard adds ethereal harmonies. It’s as if he’s still trying to work out “why my soul turned to the east?” The question seems to haunt Vegard, who delivers an impassioned, despairing vocal. This vocal sounds like John Lennon circa Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey.

Wives and Children closes side one of Lucid Moments.. As the arrangement unfolds, it has an understated, airy sound. Drums clap twice and Vegard strums his guitar. Soon, he’s delivering a tender, heartfelt vocal about family life. All isn’t well as Vegard paints pictures with his lyrics. Later, there’s a sense of urgency as harmonies and a guitar are added. When the vocal drops out, Vegard stretches his legs, becoming a one man band. When his vocal returns, it’s best described as a a soul-baring confessional. What’s essentially a roller coaster of emotions continues to unfold, before reaching a poignant crescendo.

Gold Rush, which opens side two of Lucid Moments, has a harder, rockier sound. This comes courtesy of the rhythm section and guitars. Similarly, Vegard’s vocal has a tougher sound. That’s until the arrangement takes on a captivating, melodic sound. Then Vegard’s vocal becomes hopeful, heartfelt and needy. Cooing harmonies and tinkling keyboards have been added. By then, it’s obvious that hooks certainly haven’t been rationed. It’s another irresistible and cinematic sounding track that shares its secrets over four melodic minutes.

Tender and With Soft Lies is the only track where Vegard didn’t play every instrument. Annema Fromyhr Eggum was drafted in to play the cello. That’s still to come. Before that, the arrangement has a slow, deliberate and rocky sound. There’s more than a nod to Neil Young. It’s just Vegard and his needy, hurt-filled vocal. He’s been betrayed, and his hurt shows. Behind him, a the rhythm section and harmonies seem to have been inspired by The Travelling Wilburys. The harmonies add a melodic hue. Then the wistful sound of the cello reflects Vegard’s hurt and pain. Later, the arrangement takes a diversion via jazz, post rock and rock. This shows musical adventurers Vegard Eggum’s determined to innovate, and to create music that’s both melodic and emotive.

Just a lone acoustic guitar opens Secret Doors. Stylistically, this picking style reminds me of Nick Drake. It sets the scene for what’s an impassioned, tender vocal. With just the acoustic guitar accompanying the vocal, it allows the listener to focus on the lyrics as the arrangement meanders along. That’s until Vegard’s dramatic interjection. His vocal soars above the arrangement. Mostly, though Secret Doors has an understated, minimalist and folk-tinged sound sound. However, that’s all that’s needed to frame the vocal and showcase Vegard Eggum’s versatility.

Washes of synths accompany Vegard’s guitar and needy vocal on Lucid Moments/Lone Birds. As arrangement quivers and shivers, it takes on an almost futuristic, sci-fi sound. This doesn’t overpower the arrangement. Instead, it compliments Vegard’s vocal. Then after two minutes, As The Tired Trains Cross Europe kick loose. The arrangement grows in power and drama. Drums pound, hypnotic harmonies chant and a myriad of disparate sounds combine. Seamlessly, they make sense as this song of two parts takes shape over five captivating minutes.

Mountain closes side two of Lucid Moments, the first album from As The Tired Trains Cross Europe. Guitars shimmer, drums pound and Vegard delivers a thoughtful vocal. There a sense of sadness and inevitability in his voice. He sings of relationship that’s ending, but warn that it’ll never really be over. Nowhere to hide your soul, it is everyone you meet…no escaping your actions, you’ll never go back in time.” Behind the vocal, a slow, sombre and mesmeric arrangement provides the perfect accompaniment. They’re like yin and yang, as the first musical adventure from As The Tired Trains Cross Europe draws to a close, leaving you wanting more.

That’s no bad thing. Nowadays, albums are often sprawling affairs featuring fifteen or more tracks. That’s totally unrealistic. No artist can write, record and produce fifteen quality tracks. That’s asking too much. As The Tired Trains Cross Europe realised that, and for their debut album Lucid Moments, Vegard Eggum penned ten tracks. 

These tracks were recorded at Vegard Eggum’s Happy Hunting Studio. They became Lucid Moments, which was originally released by Big Pink Records on CD and digital download in September 2015. Lucid Moments is no ordinary album. Instead, it’s the work of “one guy, no rules and a hundred ideas.” 

That’s how Vegard Eggum the man behind As The Tired Trains Cross Europe describes the making of Lucid Moments. Modestly, Vegard describes how he: “hit record just to see how far he could take it on his own. There was no real mission, no real plan, only the need to create.” The result was Lucid Moments: “a musical journey through the conscious and unconscious mind of Vegard Eggum.” This was no ordinary journey. Vegard Eggum describes it as “a dark yet colourful road filled with hope, wonder and fantastically great songs.” That’s no exaggeration.

As The Tired Trains Cross Europe is the perfect showcase for the the multi-talented Vegard Eggum. He wrote, recorded, produced and mixed the ten tracks on Lucid Moments. It’s a musical roller coaster, where As The Tired Trains Cross Europe flits between and combines elements of country, electronica, folk, jazz, Krautrock, Nordic Wave, pop, post rock, psychedelia, reggae and rock. The result is a musical journey that all music loves should experience and embrace.

Over Lucid Moments’ ten tracks, Vegard Eggum becomes storyteller and troubadour. He embraces these roles, delivering vocals that are variously cathartic, heartfelt, hopeful, hurt-filled, impassioned, needy and soul-baring. Lyrics come to life, as Vegard Eggum lives them, on Lucid Moments, the debut album from his latest musical vehicle, As The Tired Trains Cross Europe. This was the perfect way to launch Norway’s latest record label, Big Pink Records.

Now three months later, As The Tired Trains Cross Europe return with the delayed vinyl version of Lucid Moments. It’s an album that’s perfectly suited to the vinyl medium. Lucid Moments has a lovely, open sound and reminds me of many well mastered classic albums from the seventies. There’s also a warmth to Lucid Moments, that’s often missing from many CDs. That’s not the case with the CD version of Lucid Moments. The warmth is omnipresent on both the CD and vinyl versions of Lucid Moments. What’s also present on both versions is the stunning album cover. 

Lucid Moments’ album cover has one of the best album covers of 2015. It’s the work of artist Yola Maria Tsolis. This hugely talented Norwegian artist allowed As The Tired Trains Cross Europe to use the image for the cover of Lucid Moments. It’s striking and spellbinding image, that guaranteed to draw people’s attention to Lucid Moments, As The Tired Trains Cross Europe’s debut album. It’s also the debut album from a new Norwegian label, who have big plans for 2016.

Norway is home to some of the best independent record labels in Europe. Hubro Music and Rune Grammofon release music that’s ambitious, influential and innovative. They’ve been doing this for years. Now, Big Pink Records are about to follow in their footsteps, and plan to release many more albums in 2016. However, what better way to launch a new label, than with an album that’s without doubt, one of the best debut albums of 2015. It comes courtesy of As The Tired Trains Cross Europe, whose debut album Lucid Moments, is a musical journey through the mind of musical adventurer and explorer Vegard Eggum. 

AS THE TIRED TRAINS CROSS EUROPE-LUCID MOMENTS-VINYL EDITION.

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