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Style Hard Rock

Country Denmark
What would ultimately become Pangea started in 1983 when singer Torben Lysholm met drummer Tony Olsen on a train where Tony was talking to a mutual friend and then member of Tony’s band Lizard. He had seen Torben in a transmission on tv playing with his band Axa at the Aalborg Festival in ’83. Torben was brought in as a third guitar player and singer. Shortly after Carsten Neumann, a good friend of Torben’s and already gaining a reputation as a good musician, joined the band, replacing the previous bass player. A few personnel changes occurred and the band gained some local recogition as a heavy metal band.

Four things ensured the initial local success. One was Tony’s energy and showmanship with twirling sticks, big kits and his very heavy feel. Another was Carsten’s slap bass. Amongst other heavy rock musicians it was absolutely unheard of playing slap bass in this kind of music. Thirdly Torben got reckognized for his liquid style of playing as one of very few hard rock guitarists in the area plus his very melodic approach.

The fourth thing was the band’s first little taste of a hit song. Locally their song “Insecure Love” became very popular. A simple melody line over a simple riff on an acoustic guitar that evolves into a power ballad with a big guitar solo piece and a falcetto song ending. After having performed the song many many times the band dropped the song from the set. The song fell too far from the other material. The bands style did however soften a bit over the next few years and by ’87 the style was more in the classic american hard rock.

In ’87 the band took the name Pangea after Torben had read about the old mother continent in the danish Science Illustrated (Illustreret Videnskab) and thought it would illustrate music as a universal language brining people together. Many have since gotten the same idea which can sometimes clutter up searches in various databases in (web)shops. The two candidates for new band name was Pangea and Ragged Edge. Carsten Neumann had gotten that Idea from watching “Days Of Thunder” and thought Ragged Edge could be a reminder to the band itself to constantly challenge itself and keep moving forward even when times get tough.

In ’89 Pangea parted ways with their keyboard player, Thomas Kirstein, and decided it was time to bring in an ace who could bring a more grandiose sound to the band. Jan Engstrøm who had just parted with his band Carmen was an obvious choice. Apart from being just right for the band as such, he also turned the already crazy humor of the band up a notch. The band name was changed to Carmen for a period of two years.

Some great material (yet, not very plenty, to say the least) was written but the band seemed to be going nowhere and in ’91, Tony and Jan decided almost simultaniously to leave the band. This came as a surprise to Carsten and Torben who found themselves at a crossroad. They knew they wanted to play together but decided to be realistic and dig deep inside to see if they were actually as compatible as they believed they were. They decided to just start writing music that came straight from within. Whether it’d be folk, funk, punk, pop, jazz, metal, new wave, new age…whatEVER came out of their collaboration would be exactly what they were going be playing IF they were to stay together in a band. What came out was the new sound of Pangea. Bluesy hard rock with elements of jazz and though they decided to stick with Pangea as the band’s name, they also agreed that philosofically they agreed to assume the principals behind Carsten’s proposed band name Ragged Edge.

The first song to be written was “I Will Be There”. Then followed “Time Out” and “Two Down, Two To Go”. The latter being about the band almost breaking up of course. Now that they found that they had settled on a style and philosophy, they looked back at old songs and kept those that felt right.

Apparently that was just what the band needed. After making a new three song demo in a trio formation with a new drummer (who was only in the band for a very short while) they started being taken seriously by record companies and some negotiations took place, nearly getting the band signed to a smaller German label, but no deal was made.

Carsten and Torben regrouped with Tony after some consideration on both sides. Status within a band is always an issue and everybody has to be comfortable with the role. All in all it just felt absolutely right with these three persons in the band. The band name Snug Fit was never proposed though…

The band had their favorite producer in Jan Eliasson with whom they had made three demo tapes. At some point he either wanted to help the band move up in the world or he got intensely tired of this three piece menace and wanted to push them on someone else instead. In any case, he passed on the latest demo tape to Richard Jensen who signed a production deal with the band, opening up an opportunity for Pangea to maintain total artistic freedom which was in perfect line with the ways that proved to be working for the band in that sense.

Recording the first album took place in three turns. Six songs in the summer of ’92, “The One To Last” during the christmas holidays of ’92 and then the last four songs over the next year. In November ’94 a deal was made with JVC Victor Entertainment in Japan and they released the band’s debut album “The First” in ’95. A year after the release, Carsten left the band to join Savage Affair.

Nick Vogel joined Pangea for the recording of Manchild. He left the band again after some promotional efforts including making the video for “The Phone”. In 1997, the same album was released in Europe on Frontiers Records simultaneously with the release of Manchild world wide. The two albums sold appr. 80.000 albums and though the band was gaining a good deal of respect and many dedicated fans, an actual world wide breakthrough hadn’t happened yet.

A couple of videos were made for The One To Last and The Phone but it was hard to really get the ball rolling as the band didn’t actually go to Japan and Southeast Asia on promotion tours. Some coordination of it all was missing. In the ’98 they decided to give it a serious and ambitious go and in ’99 and they recorded a very expensive album while trying to get JVC Victor in Japan engaged in more extensive promotion in the far east territory.

Chris Rajkai joined the band for the recording of the third album after filling in for Nick Vogel when Pangea played the GODS Of AOR festival in ’98 and later a promo trip to Italy. Unfortunately, financial disaster had struck in Japan and with it’s ripple effect through the business globally, the album simply couldn’t be placed anywhere. All communication with JVC Victor ceased.

Chris Rajkai never formally joined the band so he never formally left either. However, moving to China was a pretty clear hint that he was pursuing a different career. Jan Engstrøm was asked if he would join the band again only this time on bass and he accepted. He had already worked on the third album as a backing vocalist. Suddenly the studio and production company closed down and was sold off. All that was left was data backups of the stuff that had been dumped from the 2″ production tapes onto harddisks.

This was followed by years of nothing really going anywhere and after having left the band, Torben released the Mysterell album on Frontiers Records in December ’04 with moderate success. Tony and Jan tried out other guitarists and singers but nothing really came out of those efforts. Like the song says, “Can’t keep a good band down!”. Now the band has regrouped to write the next chapter in it’s history and Lion Music stepped up to the plate and has now released Retrospectacular.

It wasn’t just a matter of digging out the old master and release that because the mixes weren’t as good as the band would like them to be. And since the orginal tapes were now gone for good it meant re-recording all guitar and bass parts. The rest had been saved along with Chris Rajkai’s phenomenal bass playing on It’s Too Late.

The original third album was a fifteen song deal but has been cut down to eleven songs when after a couple of years the rest of the songs weren’t found strong enough. Re-doing it turned out not to be as difficult as one could fear and it opened an opportunity for refinement and rediscovering all the great material.

The title Retrospectacular seemed quite fitting for this album and beside being descriptive of this third album and a celebration of something magnificent that was, it’s also a philosophical return to the band’s foundation and a reminder to live in the now and push yourself to look ahead and create something magnificent for the future.

Pangea – The First [1996]
Pangea – Manchild [1997]
Pangea – Retrospectacular [2010]

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PANGEA, 9.5 out of 10 based on 8 ratings
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