It's just as easy to say, "Interesting how this evolved," as it is to say, "This clearly was always the plan." The ambiguity keeps me coming back to it, I have never heard of a musician doing something like this.
The three songs that were held back are the songs that would perhaps objectively be considered the 'weakest'. Was the choice to hold them back based on a perception of the market and whether Magne thought the general public would be open to them? Is it possible that the limited album concept was born out of a lack of confidence in the entire package? Was it always up in the air whether those songs would be released into the world in any format? If so, then why were the lyrics on Magne's site from the beginning, and what made Magne decide to go for it and add them to a traditional release?
There are those who say the last 5-6 months and the various releases were all very deliberately planned and that the fans have been taken advantage of; that Magne knew by releasing in different formats and varying the tracks, he could make more money from the same crowd of die-hard fans. I really don't give much credence to this, but even if it were true I'd say it's a sound marketing plan and good for him if it worked. It probably took a lot of energy and a lot of his own resources to come down the path he's taken with this album, seems to me that if he made any money from this project he deserves it. It's not as if some unknown record company executives have been pulling a bunch of strings from a private board room and making money on an artist's sweat and creativity by taking advantage of the dedication of fans; I would have a serious problem with that for sure. No, this whole project seems to be home-grown and Magne was there all along the way - participating, directing, adapting - to create a product that has continued to have appeal. I can't find anything about that to complain about.
But back to the three 'new' tracks. My favorite of them is (as I mentioned before) 'Too far, too fast.' This one has been mentioned in a couple of album reviews; once in a good way (as a standout track on the album) and once not so good (the reviewer didn't think the vocals were strong enough). I can't explain what I like so much about it, the tone is wonderful, the vocals are rough and personal, the tempo makes me smile every time. Some of my favorite lyrics on the album are in this track:
So take a day off from your life
and spend it here with me
Drop your guard just one more time
and then I'll set you free
I am so drawn to the complexity of this relationship. The appeal to openness, the closeness already implicit, combined with the whole notion that something ended almost as soon as it began - and that the freedom may not be what was originally planned but it has a beauty of its own. When I first read the lyrics on the site, I thought it must be a very sad song, a song of loss and disappointment, of grasping something for only a short time before the light burned out...but listening to it creates instead a warm, reminiscent tone of togetherness and partnership in a way. It could be a romantic or a friendly relationship. There is surely something in this song that could strike a chord in every listener. We've all experienced that 'too good to last' feeling, but what is refreshing about this is the acceptance and respect for what was.
'Watch this space' is so intriguing and personal. The bond implied is so strong and yet there is a need for some kind of healing.
Watch this space
cuz one of these days
I'll make it up to you
and put everything back into place
Nothing is asked except an openness, a willingness to let someone else connect the dots and re-establish order. It is almost an appeal for trust, for forgiveness - yet there is no apology and no blame-taking. This isn't the classic 'I've done you wrong' kind of song, in fact whatever needs fixing could very well be outside the two individuals and their relationship. In that case, it makes the assurance that much more powerful and caring. Life is full of things we can't make sense of, this is a universal experience. It is a true friend who offers to make sense of things for us in the midst of their own normal confusions and disorder.
Obviously I really like these songs and I'm glad they were included on a traditional release. But I do still wonder what the plan was and how it evolved, and what all this taught Magne that he can use for the future.