IRAH Achieve Transcendence With New Single ‘Fast Travelling’

IRAHIn invoking the otherworldly operatics of Kate Bush levitating serenely through ‘Moving’, along with the yogic leanings of Madonna during her ‘Ray of Light’ phase (chanting her Shanti/Ashtangi mantra), IRAH‘s Stine Grøn has alighted upon the perfect mystical vocal delivery for ‘Fast Travelling’, the Danish trio’s latest single.

A song about “universal love“, it is filled with that mindful compassion which Grøn has been slowly and systematically trying to instil in her audience since the bands inception.

On ‘Fast Travelling’, Stine’s voice, so tender and bewitching, belongs to another world, in another time.  Already displaced from modernity, as the song progresses, Grøn’s delivery slips further away from the contemporary, as it flows through an ‘om shanti’ like chant into a blissful meditative state.

With idiosyncratic lightness, Oliver Laumann’s unparalleled percussive orchestration, is a moving combination of hypnotic timpani rolls, soft snare heartbeats and cymbals caressed by the gentlest of breezes.

Laumann, a gifted virtuoso percussionist, whose well honed craft has long given backbone to the experimental compositions of Danish artist, Kentaur, provides the perfect understated partner to synth player Adi Zukanovic.  The overall effect of Zuknovic’s stained-glass synth sequences, is to add subtle prismic warmth and colour to the near transparent purity of Grøn’s vocal.

It is not a gross exaggeration to say that the coming together of Laumann, Zukanovic and Grøn is quite the perfect musical storm.  Theirs is musical mindfulness at its most spiritually intelligent, delivered with a graceful fluency that belies the energy that sparks subtly beneath.

IRAH, already an established act in their native Denmark, are fast becoming firm favourites on the international scene; a rapid ascendance that has resulted in their announcing some late Autumn live shows (see below), including a London date at the Waiting Room on 10th November (alas no Dublin but we’ll keep dropping hints).

It is testament to their exceptional musicianship and exquisite musical portfolio that IRAH were asked to support the truly sublime and wonderfully talented, Julia Holter, when she recently played the Koncerthus in Copenhagen.  What a memorable night that must have been!

IRAH Tour Date
IRAH Tour Dates

In a one word summation, ‘Fast Travelling’, the title of which is an oxymoron in itself, is ‘Transcendental‘. By its very creation, the perfect storm has whipped up the perfect state of musical being.

With that, I’ll leave the final words to Stine Grøn …

Fast Travelling” is about universal love. The love that travels through time and space, permeates all living, leaving no one behind. The love that solves and heals everything. The invisible all-embracing energy that surrounds us in every moment, – and that we have infinite access to.”

‘Fast Travelling’ is taken from IRAH’s début mini-album, Into Dimensions, which will be released via Tambourhinoceros on 14th October and is available to pre-order it here.

HWCH Unveils Its Hot 100 (ish)

hwch social

Irish music festival Hard Working Class Heroes has unveiled the ‘shortlist’ of 100+ acts (there’s actually 105) that made the final cut for its now annual industry convention and new music showcase.

Whittled down from a longlist of 700 names, the A-Z of who’s new in Irish music was selected by a panel of judges comprising national and international industry names.

Running from Thurs 6th to Sat 8th of October across a plethora of Dublin venues including hotspots Odessa and The Chocolate Factory, the festival-cum-networking event will see tech meet music meet business in both formal and inform settings over its three day span.

In addition, HWCH has announced its inaugural Conor Walsh Memorial Bursary, in honour of the Swinford musician who tragically died earlier this year.  The task of choosing “the act who most embodies Conor’s talent and bravery among their number” will be afforded to the participating centum, whose votes will determine the act to be awarded the €2,500 bursary, which will fund recording or touring costs.

Some of the names to make the HWCH hot one hundred are Wyvern Lingo, Talos, Bitch Falcon, Evvol and PALE RIVERS.  Check out the full line up here.

Tickets for HWCH are on sale via DICE.FM (mobile app), with costs broken down as follows:

Weekend Tickets €45.00, Nightly Tickets €20, Individual Venue Tickets €10

Ponette Unveil Debut Single ‘Made Of Blood’

Ponette photo by jennybergermyhre.com
Ponette photo by jennybergermyhre.com

Unfurling a vocal as soft and fresh as ARY’s with all the quirky Nordic charm of Lykke Li, Norwegian singer Helene Svaland gently lures us into the dark and mysterious monochrome soundscape of ‘Made of Blood’, the lead track from upcoming EP, ‘I’m Alone’.

The debut single from newcomers, Ponette, ‘Made of Blood’ received its premiere on NRK P3Ruben, no mean feat for an initial release from a relatively new band.

The song explores a dark, claustrophobic underground furnished with scatterings of shimmying electro-spotlights and sombre pulses with the slightly out of kilter rhythm of an irregular heartbeat.  This stark and unadorned soundscape provides the perfect, dimly lit backdrop against which Svaland’s luminescent vocal shines.

Meticulously balanced shades of light and dark, convey both charm and disquiet in equal measure in this restrained and understated electronic tale.  It’s a good start from a band so new their Facebook page was set up less than two months ago.

No news on any gig dates yet, though given their relative newness, one would imagine that it might be a few months yet before Ponette dip their toes into the what can sometimes be, choppy waters of live performance.

Oslo based Ponette are Helene Svaland, Johannes Amble, Ivo Gutu, and Johan Fredrik Bolli.  You can follow them on Facebook and via their official website.  Lose yourself in the captivating shadows of ‘Made of Blood’ and put a note in the diary for 9th September, which will see the release of the band’s debut EP, ‘I’m Alone’.

‘Made of Blood’ is available to stream or download now via the following digital channels:  Spotify: https://goo.gl/ndPkK6 iTunes: https://goo.gl/x98zFA  Tidal: http://goo.gl/Q5kueO

Bayonne’s Crystal Clear Music ‘Appeals’

Bayonne aka Roger Sellers
Bayonne aka Roger Sellers

If you pulled a galaxy of stars down from the night sky and, cast them, as an elfin net shot through with beads of shimmering energy, across a studio of piano keys and samplers, the result would be on a par with the resplendent iridescence that is ‘Appeals’, the latest offering from Austin (Tx) based electro-whizzkid producer Bayonne.   

Waltzing droplets of twinkling starry energia spin and soar, burst and explode in this new fantasia from the Texan electro-oracle, a stellar sonic web spun with a rapidity and pinpoint accuracy akin to that of the mesmeric ‘speed of sound’ musicianship of Philip Glass.

As a frenzy of piano loops is infused with electronic rotations and even more layers of cyclical sequences, an assortment of spectacular images is conjured up, from running through the snow-kissed vast lands of the Nordics, to the animated flow of bubbling brooks bouncing downhill over shiny coloured stones, feeding their hinterlands with life and vitality.

But the picture that most springs to mind when listening to ‘Appeals’ is that of purity and transparency, of healing and invigoration, all the things one thinks of when the word ‘crystals’ is mentioned.  And, it is indeed crystals that form the centrepoint of the new Zach Stone directed visual for this Bayonne composition.

Speaking of the visual Stone explained, “The visuals for ‘Appeals’ were an experiment in creating the illusion of growing crystals using household objects like ziploc bags, cellophane, and plastic trinkets. We shot a lot of real crystals as well, attempting to blur the line between the organic and artificial materials.” 

Primitives Artwork
Primitives Artwork

‘Appeals’ isn’t just electronic pop.  It is wildly beauteous, electronic pop-fantasy that dances and pirouettes with vital and enigmatic charm.  A magical iridescence of sound, this song is a perfect combination of jewellery box fascinator, modern day experimentation and best of breed pop, stamped with all the hallmarks of virtuoso musicianship and technique, finished off with high-end, precision production.

Speaking about the germination of the idea for ‘Appeals’, Bayonne explained: “‘Appeals‘ was one of the first songs I ever composed using a sample cut completely from an older song. The piano loop at the beginning was cut from a song that I recorded when I was about 17. I liked the way the piano sounded, so I wrote a whole new song around that loop.” 

Watch the wondrous visual to ‘Appeals’ and lose yourself in the scintillating energy of the musical stars with which Bayonne has lit up our nocturnal world.

Bayonne will play a series of live dates in October including London’s Shacklewell Arms on 20th and Bristol’s Simple Things on 22nd.  You can keep in check with more gig, music release and other news via his socials, details here:

Facebook  Twitter  Website  Instagram

Bayonne’s debut album ‘Primitives’ is due for release on November 4th via City Slang and can be pre-ordered here, ‘Primitives’ .  [You can also view the tracklist below.]

‘Primitives’ track list:

  1. Intro
  2. Appeals
  3. Spectrolite (video)
  4. Marim
  5. Waves
  6. Steps
  7. Lates
  8. Omar
  9. Living Room (Bonus Track)
  10. Hammond (Bonus Track)
  11. Sincere (Bonus Track)

Tempesst Celebrate Those ‘Broke Down Blues’ …

Tempesst Photo BDB Land
Tempesst Photo BDB Land

… or, in other words, when you’re down, there’s only one way to go, so why not join ‘Brian’ and look on the bright side!

Music is a funny thing, and the throw-back connections it can so quickly form in your minds eye, or ear even, can oft be especially bizarre.  Take this track, ‘Broke Down Blues’ by boomerang Londoners, Tempesst.  I clicked play on the YT link, ‘cos that’s what I was supposed to watch right, their new live video shot amidst the chimneyscapes of East London.

Except of course all I can hear when the percussive beat kicks in is America’s ‘Horse With No Name’. The mind boggles!  Of course my #tbt kinda mind isn’t helped by the slacker-Americana vibe and yodelayheehoo cowboy drawl of the vocal!

A couple of stiff coffees later…and I can still hear cowboys, except now as the strings kick in, we’re heading in the direction of Dexy’s Midnight Runners.  So I down tools and go on a bit of an investigatory snoop around the socials to check out just who Tempesst are and what they’re about.

Toma Banjanin, Andy Banjanin, Eric Weber, and Jesse Hutchence are the key ingredient make up of this band who claim to be from London but I’m convinced are from Australia.  Further digging confirms that not only am I correct, yes there are Oz connections but furthermore, the Banjanins*2 are not just bros, they are in fact twins.  Now while they’re FB says they’re unsigned, this single, ‘Broke Down Blues‘ was released by 0E0E, spin off label of Norwegian giant, Propeller Recordings.

Broke Down Rules

Choral harmonies redolent of the top notes at the intro to ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ (#tbt won’t go away). swathes of slide, lying back in a hammock lazy cowboy drone guitars muddled with Americana acoustic, and a vocal marinated in molasses swirl around in front of a backdrop of slacker percussion.

‘Broke Down Blues’ is an easy on the ear, delightful on the soul, kinda song that fits well coming towards the end of a hard week.  “Celebrating the broken” (we like), its ‘things can only get better’ attitude spins only positive from negative, which is how things should be … no point in kicking a guy when he’s down, why not just reach out your hand to help him get back up instead.

The stripped back live version of the video shot in East London, adds to the easy feeling vibe of the original.  Whilst pushing the vocals a little more to the fore. this pared back offering exposes a more interesting instrumental sound, with its duality of acoustic guitars offset by the quirky combination of xylophone and harmonium, all led by the beat of a single drum with tambo on the side.

Who wouldn’t want to see these boys do a live-jam … sunny evening, couple of beers, cool beats, what more could you want?

‘Broke Down Blues’ is available on all digital channels via 0E0E, link here – https://0e0e.lnk.to/broke-down-blues

You can watch the Eastenders Live Episode here, or scroll down further for the pre-recorded “one we made earlier” via Soundcloud! Either way, dip your toe in the Tempesst social pond, here, and get to know what is surely an Americana cum Psych outfit worth further exploration.

Tempesst headline London’s MOTH CLUB on 29th September, get your tickets here:  http://bit.ly/28P1iMq

 

Apothek Have Cordially #Invited You …

Apothek Photo Anne Valeur
Apothek Photo Anne Valeur

to listen to their latest single … a song worthy of the term, ‘priceless’.  A priceless piece of composition.

‘Invited’ is the fourth single release from their upcoming album by Norwegian duo Apothek. An eponymous nine-track album which by now, has become a much anticipated debut.

Its landscape is built up from loops of airy synth, laid across a sparse crevasse like strings of fairy lights flashing in a night-garden.  Scatterings of random splodges and samples of electro noises, some eerily intergalactic, others like chittering aliens, populate a growing soundscape until it explodes with a burst of war drums and gnarly drum loops, into a panoramic vista of endless proportions.

The instrumental is equal parts Larsen as mad scientist and master tailor; the result is a broadsheet of electronic indulgences interlaced with a delicate embroidery of classic keys sequences.  Melding both futurist and classicist visions, Larsen forges a sky at night canvas which, with his luminous vocal palette, Mykleburst colours and highlights apropos of the songs lyrical nuances.  And what nuances, what sentiments, what images inked across the nocturnal typeface with exquisite vocal precision.

“And try to remember through the veils of all the marriages, and how you rose from the secret of the skies, bearing your beating heart”….

“Prickly hided and the skinny eyed, slack bodied animals, a subway roar shakes the air out and the stilettoes vibrate”

Apothek’s musical journey has been a bit like a Viennese waltz.  What started in adagio, quietly and gently, without much show or fuss, has gradually gained momentum through a continuous blur of turns and change steps, waltzing into the andante whirl in which it finds itself today.

Larsen and Mykleburst have developed their sound in a fashion similar to the patissier building a mille feuille. By endlessly layering experimental electronica upon organic acoustic, they have created a multifarious sonic diversity, a scalable network that offers up a vast foundation and limitless scope for their future projects.

‘Invited’ is not just the result of clever juxtaposition, it is a strikingly unorthodox fusion of opposites; on-point, imaginative lyrical poesy and electronic fantasia at its finest.

Apothek’s self-titled debut album will release via Propeller Recordings on 30th September (the week I celebrate my birthday – all presents gratefully received!).  You can pre-order it now though, follow the link: http://apple.co/2aUn7eN

Keep up to date with all of Apothek’s antics via their social pages:

apothekmusic.com | facebook.com/apothekmusic twitter.com/apothekmusic | instagram.com/apothekmusic

Øyafestivalen – The KlubbØya Live Review

Panda Panda Subscene KlubbOya 2016
Panda Panda Subscene KlubbØya 2016

Where the roving reporter chronicles their Øya pub club-crawl and all that it entailed!

O is for Øya, Oslo and Oh My God! How Much? (no wonder the Norwegians continuously offer up profuse “tusen, tusen takks” when they’re reeling in your hard grafted tusen, tusen krone!).

This Øya trip raised the ‘bar’ to an all time Gin og Tonic high, as we hit new heights both physically and financially in the Radisson Sky Bar.  Beautiful view! ‘Twud want to be at 135 NOK or 15 euro a hit and not even a complementary bar snack in sight!

Anyway, I deviate.

Oslo is home to a musicfest called Øyafestivalen, an annual shindig held early to mid August when the winds are warm, the sun is high, the skies are blue … needle-vinyl-scratch!  Øya is held every August when you’d think the weather would be pretty clement with a day-glo summery vibe, yes? #Computersaysno!

Foto Isak Froseth for Oya Official
Foto Isak Froseth for Oya Official

I arrived in Oslo on the afternoon of the fest-opener, Klubbdagen, to be greeted by the inclement glumness of grey skies and drip drop showers.  Oh well, says I, the rain can’t get you indoors and indeed it couldn’t as I kicked off my evening’s musical ramble at the Verkstedet venue, having worked out my bearings sans compass but with a lot of inky arrows dotted along my brand-Øya map!

Due to the compression of so many bands into a super short space in time, I opted to see just four acts, with a possible fifth depending on how both evening and bod went.  First up out of the traps was Ludvig Moon, a band with more members than The Specials, or so it seemed as they struggled to find ‘personal space’ on the tiniest of stages in an equally ’boutique’ venue resulting in a band-member overflow spilling out onto the venue floor.

Comprised of Anders (vox/guitar), Ole T (keys), Herman (guitar), Kristofer (drums), Andreas (bass), and Lydia (vox/guitar), Ludvig Moon are still a very young band despite their five years mileage on the clock. Signed to Riot Factory, their releases have been limited to an eponymous EP (of uncertain release geography) and this year’s smash single, ‘Cult Baby‘ whose epicness was drooled over by the likes of Best Fit.

Ludvig Moon Verkstedet Oya 2016
Ludvig Moon Verkstedet Oya 2016

Straight up … Ludvig Moon are a very good band live.  The timbre of the vocals and the instrumentation is pretty much studio to stage without too much of a shift.

On the night though, there was something of a disconnect, as faint as a skipped heartbeat, between both vocalists which, unfortunately, ran the first five minutes of the set ragged.  However, this is nothing that more live gigging and a bit more practice shouldn’t iron out.  Hey even Chris Martin had a total “slam the brakes, what key am I supposed to be in?” moment at Glastonbury for goodness sake!

Live syncing is never easy and I just felt that their nerves got the better of them, but once they settled, it all flowed, and flowed well, so much so in fact that a  30minute cut off did them an huge injustice, as they were just beginning to blossom when their moment in the sun came to a hard stop.

Instrumentally Ludvig Moon are solid, their only downfall is the inexperience of youth.  Musically, they are already there…performance-wise, they are within touching distance of reaching their stride.

One of the songs on their setlist was ‘Swim Dream’.  Obviously a huge fan favourite it went down a storm, and if you peruse this live ‘garden edition’ you’ll understand why!

**If you’re really observant you’ll spot a rogue escapee from Dråpe … one whom I keep running into ’round and around’ Norway’s hotspots!

Next!

To be honest, Chain Wallet were a band I knew very little about before seeing them in Oslo.  Made up of Stian Iversen, Christian Line and Frode Boris (with Marius Erster Bergesen, Adrian Søgnen & Lars Finborud joining live) they hail from that western hub of Norwegian music, Bergen, birthplace of many of Norway’s musical elite including Susanne Sundfor and Anne Lise Frøkedal to name but a few.

Having to glide at high speed down Torgatta from Verkstedet to Internasjonalen caused me to miss their kick off.  Arriving at the venue, it was apparent that they were already full steam ahead and, so was the beyond capacity throng.  The hyped up audience was packed so tightly there was literally no room to move.

There was a particularly good reason that such an huge crowd pitched up; Chain Wallet are incredibly good, I mean amazingly superb, live.  Tearing the varnish off the wood and the paint off the ceilings kinda good.

Chain Wallet Photo by Synne Sofi Bårdsdatter Bønes
Chain Wallet Photo by Synne Sofi Bårdsdatter Bønes

Chain Wallet’s music is a modern mirror of the type of 80’s chart-busting sophisticated pop sounds that the likes of Prefab Sprout and Deacon Blue used to produce so well. Enigmatic, tuneful, animated, their music gently draws you into its feelgood soundscape and notwithstanding a faint hint of melancholy drifting around the edges of its melodies, Chain Wallet’s portfolio is pure pop perfection.

Of the three bands I saw perform on the club-night, Chain Wallet’s set was the most cohesive, had the strongest sound and was the most perfectly synchronised.

With a pretty strong line in guitars, confident yet warmly inviting vocals and an ‘in total harmony’ RS, Chain Wallet’s self-assured translation of their superior pop compositions from record to live is pretty faultless.

The band’s eponymous debut album will be released via Jansen Plateproduksjon on 7th October, but is available to pre-order now – http://www.jansenplateproduksjon.tigernet.no/artist/17373–chain-wallet.

You need to be ALL OVER IT!!  (I’m soooo looking forward to reviewing it!!!). 

Chain Wallet wrapped their set with this coolness…get down with it.

Fangirling alert!

If watching Chain Wallet gave me palpitations, standing in front of the magical Hanne Kolstø as she performed a tranche of her greatest hits live brought me to another plane.  I think I reached that nirvana musical folks say they strive for – transcendence.

I had waited so long to see this artist play live, that it was with a lot of nerves and a much bated breath I anxiously waited for her to take to the stage.  Disappoint, she did not. Far from it!

If anything, Kolstø’s performance was the best of the night, and certainly one of the highlights of the festival in toto. (so much so that it’s going to get its own individual review)

Internas Oslo
Hanne Live at Internasjonalen Aug 2016

 

Hanne’s music is existential indie-pop: honest songs brought to life by intuitive, adept musicianship and produced with class and finesse.  Exceptional is probably the word that springs to mind!

Sublime, fiery, feisty, evocative, intense, passionate, Hanne Kolstø gave this performance her all, and then some, and still had fuel in the tank for more at the close.  The audience roared and so did I…  Kolstø the consummate performer, with a pitch perfect faultless delivery, a choir of instruments singing in unison, she alone made the effort of travelling to Oslo worthwhile.

‘One Plus +’ was one of my favourite songs before seeing Hanne Kolstø play KlubbØya.  It lived up to the live performance and my heightened expectations.

Riding high on the crest of a musical wave I wasn’t long being flushed back down to earth by the deluge of rain in which we had to walk to our next destination- Subscene – to check out Trondheim troupe, Panda Panda.

Oh what an unfortunate choice of venue…(if it was their choice, I’m unsure).  Too stark, too big, Subscene is seriously lacking furnishings, adornment and most importantly, atmosphere.  It was dead, and nothing Panda Panda could do, play or sing was ever going to change that fact.

I first saw Panda*2 perform live up in Blaest in Trondheim, during the annual TC music festival.  They played the opening night to a huge and enthusiastic crowd and their performance was beyond adrenalin on steroids good.  They were stellar; animated, enthusiastic, and in the zone.  They were lit & fired up like they’d been plugged into the Norwegian grid.

While they tried to convey the same verve and, gain the same audience rapport in Oslo that they’d had in Trondheim, sadly it just didn’t happen.  Whether through rain-soaked tiredness, or feeling the flatness of the venue, the crowd just ‘weren’t there’.

Herman Wildhagen, Photo from PP FB page
Herman Wildhagen, Photo from PP FB page

Which was a shame, because on balance, Panda Panda’s performance was pretty good, and at times, quite amazing.

They mixed it up, crossing some untried newbies with more tried and tested knockouts such as ‘New Friends’.  When they got everything right, it was phenomenal, but there were moments when quite frankly the guitars and drums hit a level beyond ‘noise’ that completely drowned out the lead vocal.

Ragnhild Jamtveit has such a light pitch to her very pure vocal that taking the ‘fuzz’ beyond a certain decibel level is the equivalent of hitting the mute button on her mic.

I genuinely like, admire and am a fan of Panda Panda, and, sincerely want them to do well.  But until they tighten up their on-stage sound they are at serious risk of doing a huge disservice, not just to themselves, but to their supersonic songs!

That said they, especially Jamtveit and drummer Oddbjørn Sponås, totally killed their cover of Abba’s, ‘The Winner Takes It All’.  While the former has sufficient vocal reach and nuance to both carry and emotionally nail this song, the latter is pretty much given free rein to let loose and show his wares, which he did on the night with dynamic aplomb.

With my ears fuzzed, and my pockets a lot lighter than when I set out, I trudged back to my hotel through the dark, dank streets of a not-so-summery Oslo night.  Slightly disappointed, I wasn’t deflated, confident in the knowledge that Panda Panda, who are blessed with talent in copious bucket-loads, are capable of so much more.

This is a band who write blisteringly good songs, which they play with exceptional musical ability, and whose lyrics are teased and translated with intuitive nuance and superb vocal sync and control.  To prove that point, I’ll leave you with an insight into how good Panda Panda can be live.

Øyafestivalen – The Ones That Got Away

Foto Fabian Framdal Fjeldvik
Sløtface Foto Fabian Framdal Fjeldvik

In which rather than mourning my Øya losses, I celebrate the anticipation of seeing them play live at another point and place in time …

When you start attending music festivals you learn pretty quickly that no matter how many times or ways you twist and turn the programmes, it is physically impossible to make it to every live set or gig on your bucket list. Crossover schedules call for tough decisions, or failing that, some coin tossing whilst valiantly trying not to cheat when the chosen side lands facing down!

It was no different with this years Øyafestivalen club-night which played host to a rainbow of artists from across a vast and varied Nordic spectrum.  Rather then focussing on the fact that I missed out on several wanna-sees, I like to think of these as the ones that got away; bands who I can continue to pursue in the happy hope that I will one day get to see them play live.

The Øya club-night was possibly my most testing off-site festival challenge to-date, and if you have a look at the night’s programme you’ll understand the predicament in which I found myself.

Foto: Magnus Haaland
Lumikide Foto: Magnus Haaland

First off not only were the lovely Therese Aune and the super groovy newbies Lumikide, whose lustrous single ‘Golden’, is as radiant as its name denotes, pitched against each other, worse still they were pitted against the Øya delegate registration cum meet n’ greet. WHATTTT!

I longed to be transported into the fascinating landscapes of Aune’s imagination.  To be whisked up and away on a treadmill of ebony and ivory, blown along by the warm wind gently borne of harmonium bellows. Sighs.

Signed to Riot Factory and with a smorgasbord of creative soundscapes forming an impressive back catalogue, Therese Aune is one of the most understated and widely respected talents on the Norwegian scene.  It would have been neat to have found out if there were offerings a-new from Therese, especially as there was a rather quirky Soundcloud upload as recently as four months ago, entitled – ‘Sound Horn OK Please – Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ (of Dylan Thomas fame) which you can listen to here.

Alas, it was not meant to be but, Therese, if you’re reading this, do please send word if you are due to release any new material!! My portal is always open and receptive to new tunes!

I also wanted to see what more those purveyors of aureate indie-jazz, Lumikide, had to offer in addition to the multi-dimensional wonder that is their latest single.

With a disarming vocal so warmly inviting it could have insta-thawed the ice age, ‘Golden‘ is a wonderwall of all that is good about that canny Norwegian trick of melding pop-jazz with indie.

Layers of evocative vocal with that intriguing plaintive edge so idiosyncratic of the Norwegian style, intense hazes of guitar chords, blurry and blingy synths and that wonderful, wonderful drumming of Axel Skjelstad, trained in the jazz style, but whose intuitive feel for exploratory percussion is quite exceptional.  ‘Golden’ is a meld of all of these succulent ingredients, poured together to create this most exquisite of elixirs.

I wanted to hear more of what this band were capable of and how they might sound outside the safety zone of the studio, but alas Oslo, it was not to be!

I set my gig alarm for 7pm.  Surely that would give me enough time to register, pick up my bits n bobs and whisk myself off to venue number one, map flapping in hand (actually it was more map sagging in hand as the weather on the night was just abysmal!).

Ok so where to start … well there was Sløtface in the immense Parkteatret at 7pm.

One of my favourite young bands of the Nowegian now, Sløtface produce slickly finished, sassy punk inspo’d sounds, with razor sharp lyrics laced with kick ass attitude. Their latest number ‘Take Me Dancing’, is their most mature offering to-date. A cheeky little flirt, it’s a catchy soundscape of twist n turn bass chords, rolling percussion and a segue of clean and fuzzy guitar opposites that sync with uncluttered ease.  Together they form an animated springboard for Haley Shea’s expressive vocals which in this instance are topped off with a deliciousness of angelic harmonies.

Sadly I have to be due north at the same time as their set finishes, so I make the strategic decision that as I have already seen these guys rock out live up at Trondheim Calling, I can live a bit longer on the memory, making a promise to keep them on the “must see again” list.  Bearing in mind that they will undoubtedly tour their forthcoming album in 2017, it’s a promise I am quite likely to keep!  For now, let Sløtface take you dancing around the virtual streets of Oslo.

Having settled on a hot date with Ludvig Moon meant that I also had to take a rain-check on Kildaphew – which didn’t impress me one bit!  However, there was some silver lining zipping around the edges of those dark and rainy Oslo overhangs in the form of a Kildaphewian appearance on stage with ARY, when one half of this fantastic pairing, Danielle Christine Brogden, sang backing vocals to Ms. Loinsworth’s live set.

Kildaphew Lene Johansen Photography
Kildaphew Lene Johansen Photography

Purveyors of experimental electro-rap dipped in funk and wrapped up in a Windies vibe, theirs is one of the most lush sounds you’ll hear this side of 21stC soul.  Danielle’s voice is pitch perfect chocca mocha velvet – sweet, rich, enticing, and moreish.  Their instrumental sound is a collection of cross-border flotsam and jetsam woven with such a delicate and masterly touch as to create a perfectly seamless blend.  Did I want to see them? Hell yeah.  Shame on you programme timing!

On the 100% must see list (a desire reinforced having witnessed Danielle’s brilliant vocal shadowing of ARY the following day), for now I’ll have to satiate my calypso-hip hop needs by hanging out on their Soundcloud page – check this beauty of a track out!

Internasjonalen beckoned with Chain Wallet and Hanne Kolstø in its illustrious line up.  All of which meant that as far as Siv Jakobsen, Pelicat, Sgrow, nrwy, Strangelove and The Hallway were concerned, it was take a ticket and wait for your number to be called (like a watched pot, at some point in a never boiling future!).

The Hallway, John Dee, Oya
The Hallway, John Dee, Oya

Mixing classical and techno backgrounds to produce musical purity of a quality that outclasses many of their peers, Sgrow is a band whose vocal and sonic expressiveness has the clarity of its Nordic roots, the experimental drive of personal inspirations and, the melodic warmth and curious compulsion of the futuristic driven techno age in which it exists.  Missing their set was possibly my biggest mistake of the night!

Luckily, I had the pleasure of meeting the Sgrow folks for a coffee a few days later, which made up in part, for my not seeing them live.  Although, given the fact that they have wrapped up their live set for the present time, it looks like it’ll be quite some wait before I eventually get to see them kill it on stage.  In the words of all the best musical stalkers … “I’m waiting”!  

The Hallway were a band I desperately wanted to see live, especially having heard their now internationally released EP, Vestad a few weeks prior to heading to Oslo. However, as I had been waiting to see La Kolstø since March, sadly, it was a non-runner on the night.  Theirs is my kinda sound, my kinda vibe.  Melodic indie rock with just the right amount of bite, classical snatches of string samples, a little flash of American grunge and a pleasing but ever so slightly terse vocal.

They’re a bit Green Day muddled with Smashing Pumpkins in an ice-capped Nordic kinda way.  Addictive, infectious, vibrant and on the poppy side of rock enough to appeal to the mainstream. The Hallway deserve only good things, and with sparkling creations like ‘I Used to Know’ they’ll probably get them!

So, you can see the challenges that faced me on the night.  To make things worse, all things Toothfairy were happening over at The Villa.  Having been told that the venue would be packed to capacity from early doors pretty much sealed their fate; I didn’t have the time to flit to a venue only to find I couldn’t get in and have to perform an instantaneous volte face to plan B.  Gone, in one fell swoop, Coucheron, Nils Noa(weeps!), Carl Louis and Baya.

My evening drew to a close as I walked in what could only be described as a deluge of rain towards Subscene and the Panda Panda live set, conscious as I was doing so, that I was walking away from opportunity of seeing Frances Wave. “OH cruel Fate, when wilt thou weary be?”

My club-night came to a close and as I walked the short distance back to my hotel through the late night misty murky Oslo streets, I despatched pointless regrets on the North Sea breeze, welcomed the light at the end of the tunnel of possibilities and gently hugged the anticipation of what was still to come.  Hope springs eternal.

Øyafestivalen supported by Music Norway, runs annually in Oslo, usually around the second week of August.  For full details check out the official website http://oyafestivalen.com/

Øyafestivalen … Internationally Speaking.

Julia Holter
Julia Holter

Where the author recommends their top 5 tips from the #Øya2016 International line up.

OYa

There is no mean array of ‘international jetsetters’ flying into Oslo from today for their annual musicfest with an environmentally friendly twist, Øyafestivalen. With revered acts from across the spectrum taking part, it’s a hard task to choose the creme from the creme de la creme, but hey, someone’s got to do the heavy work!

CHRISTINE & THE QUEENS

First up we have on-trend Queen of the Now, Christine aka Héloïse Letissier.  A multi-media artists hailing from Nantes, France, her name comes out of her long term association with drag queen musicians.  Signed to Because Music since 2012, she has released multiple recordings, but it was latest album, ‘Chaleur Humaine‘ that sent her spinning like a #tilted top into the arms of the international musicverse.  Christine and the Queens will play the Sirkus stage at 3.55pm Wednesday and her performance should prove to be one of the most unique of the festival.

LAST SHADOW PUPPETS

One time poster boy for northern kick-ass, Alex Turner has recently become something of the “guy the media love to hate”. Where once the Arctic Monkeys’ frontman was seen as a leading light of the new wave of Brit indie rockers with his Sheffield scowl and swagger, it would now seem that he has swaggered one step too far for some, and has become something of a piñata for a horde of meowling music media.  Personally, I think they’re missing the point of the Last Shadow Puppets and their hammed up, camped up, OTT on stage personae.  Call Kane and Turner defectors all you want, LSP make great guitar driven baroque pop with well crafted, entertaining lyrics accompanied by inspired videos.  I for one shall enjoy watching the northern swagger abound on the Amfiet stage, Wednesday 4.50pm.  Expect to be entertained!

MASSIVE ATTACK

Massive Attack
Massive Attack

Is there anyone on this planet who has remained unmoved by ‘Teardrop’, or, whose heart of stone hasn’t caved on viewing the video … that beautifully, wonderfully conceived of visual (I’m getting goosebumps just thinking of it).  Masters of invention, world-class collaborators and perennial chameleons of reinvention, Massive Attack swing from trip hop to delicate, soothing electro-pop ballads to rousing pop anthems brimful with unforgettable hooks.  Around for the guts of 30 years, there is a reason why Massive Attack have established a worldwide following, and those lucky enough to be in Toyenparken at the Amfiest main stage at 9.30pm Wednesday will bear witness to it!

DAUGHTER

Daughter oh Daughter, how you delight me with your delicious indie-folkie delicacies.  This trio is an international mix of Swiss born Igor Haefeli, Frenchman Remi Aguilella and North Londoner, Elena Tonra.  With a vocal that flows like quicksilver and a subtle intensity that catches you right off guard, Daughter produce spectacularly good music without fuss or fanfare.  They released their critically acclaimed top 20 album, ‘Not To Disappear’ earlier this year, so you can expect snippets from that as well as the ‘known’ songs from their back catalogue.  Masters in the art of understated, their performance at Øya will probably elicit adjectives like bewitching and spinetingling!  Daughter play the Vindfruen stage, Friday 5.50pm.  Will play on your emotions, but hey, isn’t that what festivals are about?

TOP TIP… hands down, JULIA HOLTER.

When it comes to American uncategorisable singer songwriter performer musical magician I have one shit-serious blind-side – Julia Holter.   I cannot be wavered in my magnetic attraction to Holter’s unique and utterly enchanting talent.  So much more than a singer/songwriter, this multi talented, multi-instrumentalist creator of magical charms is to 21st century experimental art-pop what Tori Amos was to the 20th.  Left-field abstract sometimes indie, sometimes ambient, Holter is in the mould of those other undefinable artists of her age – Newsom, Kate Bush and Laurie Anderson.  Her talent is a gift, and she will bestow this gift on those lucky enough to be in front of the Vindfruen stage at 3.55pm Thursday!

The main Øyafestivalen is located in the Toyenparken area of central Oslo.  It runs from Wednesday 10th through Saturday 13th and promises to be a hell of a lot better than the current meteorological situation in the Norwegian capital!!

Øyafestivalen … Personally Speaking

Photo of Hanne Kolsto Steinkjerfestivalen.no/
Photo of Hanne Kolsto Steinkjerfestivalen.no/

When it comes down to it, music is all about personal taste.  Put ten people into a room and ask them to pick their favourite artists.  How likely would it be that they would all choose the same names?  Surely whatever artist crossover there might be would be unlikely to result in a similar choice of go-to songs?

Music makes the world go around, as do love, cute animals, chocolate and gin (not necessarily in that order).  For those of us for whom music is a consuming passion, picking favourites and making recommendations from across as wide a spectrum as the line up on offer at Øya2016 is one bloody difficult task.

However, there are times when the fence becomes just that bit too hard, and one feels the need to jump off and, as the song goes, “express yourself”.  So, without any intention to cause offence or personal injury … just cos a certain band ain’t on this list, don’t mean I don’t rate them … here are my personal Norwegian must sees during Øya this week.

HANNE KOLSTO

From the moment I heard this gal’s voice I fell in love with its overwhelming emotional depth and ferocious honesty. Hanne Kolstø sings songs crafted with visceral feeling, penned with the ink of experience and delivered with a searing openness that strips her bare of any places behind which to hide.  Self-deprecating, achingly funny and very, very real, Kolstø is a wonderfully charismatic performer with a rare, unfailing ability to get under the skin of her audience. Kolstø doesn’t just connect, no, she touches the very raw nerve of those who go to see her mesmerising live performances.  Having earlier this year released the album ‘Live at Tøyenkirken, a piano acoustic rework of some of her best known and loved songs which received huge critical acclaim, without doubt Hanne Kolstø is one of the live must sees of Tuesdays KlubbØya club-carnivale.  Hanne plays Internasjonalen at 9pm.

PANDA PANDA

Unfortunately Hanne clashes with Sgrow … that’s life, this is what festivals are all about … personal challenges and making tough decisions.  Following the plot ain’t easy on club night and in order to see out the full Kolstø performance I must also forego seeing The Hallway.  On top of that I am then left with the nightmare of choosing between Therese Aune and Panda Panda.   Sorry guys, the Pandas have it.

Hailing from Trondheim, this relatively new young band only recently signed to the Riot Factory label, are building up to the release of their debut album.  The first EP, Millions, was a tearaway success, and from what I can gather new music in on the cards for their set at Subscene.  Their brand of vibrant, multi-coloured, youthful indie with its delightful golden vocal duets fuels quite the rush of sonic serotonin; if you don’t walk away from seeing Panda Panda play live feeling uber-energised then I strongly recommend you go to a GP to get your pulse checked!  They’ll hit the Subscene stage running at 10pm and if their KlubbØya performance is even only half as good as that at Trondheim Calling, they’ll rock the roof off the joint.

Another clash on club-night means I’ll miss out on seeing Toothfairy rising star, Strangelove.  He plays The Villa at 9pm and if electronic genius is your thing, then Strangelove is your guy.

ARY

Wednesday however, proves more lucky when it comes to Toothfairy artists.  The sublime ARY will take to the stage at the rescheduled time of 5.50pm having switched slots with SKEPTA.  With whispers of new music tingling the ears, and after spending the Summer honing her live performance across a pretty extensive Euro circuit, ARY’s set at Øya should be pretty special.  Possibly one of the best of all the emerging new talents rising through the mists of the Oslo skies, ARY is definitely one to watch and without doubt one of my top picks for this years festival.  ARY plays the Sirkus stage, 17.50 Wednesday 10th.

FARAO

Farao

Farao … just the name alone conjurs up images of a modern day Amazonian Queen.  Strong, powerful, hugely talented, ably creative, Farao is one musical class act.  Now based in Berlin, she is currently working on new music for her second album.  If it’s quality is even a shadow of its predecessor, it will be mind blowingly good.  Friends with other female powerhouse EERA (and with a voice and style not too dissimilar) Farao is by now a well seasoned performer and her set on the Hagen stage, 4.55pm Friday, should be one to remember.

 

FROKEDAL

It is an absolute heart-breaker for me that (due to personal reasons) I will miss the first chance that has presented itself to me to see Anne Lise Frøkedal play live.  One of my top three fave Norwegian artists, I could listen to the sweet melodia of that voice forever and never tire of it.  If anything Frøkedal’s ‘picturesque‘ folky cum indie music transports me mind, body and soul into another world – one of peace, contentment and mindfulness.

Her album ‘Hold On Dreamer‘ has been one of the best album releases this year and with several hit singles lifted from its grooves,  Frøkedal has pretty much cemented her reputation amongst the critical few who do the acclaiming! It is with a heavy heart that I will get on that plane back to Dublin knowing that one of the best sets of the festival has yet to come, and that I alas, won’t be around to enjoy it.  Frøkedal and her band Familien will play the Amfiet stage at 3.55pm on Saturday … say hi from me and enjoy!

ELECTRIC EYE

Finally if there is any band I could ‘suade you to go see, it would be Bergen boys, Electric Eye.  You ain’t seen a gig if you ain’t seen an Electric Eye gig.  These guys blew the roof of their by:Larm venue back in March and ripped shreds out of SWSX and their latest album Different Sun was in altogether a different league.  Their more than masterful instrumental abilities and stonking psych sounds will have your heart pounding, pulse racing and brain whirring in no time.

Their live set is beyond bloody brilliant …  miss it, YOUR LOSS.  These guys are better than good at what they do, the are THE BEST.  Psych crafted with magic-infused guitars, sitars and synths and drumming that is more alive than the sapient pearwood ‘luggage’ in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.  Electric Eye are my TOP TIP for Øya2016  – they’ll set fire to the Sirkus stage at 3.05pm Saturday 13th.

Norway’s Øyafestivalen runs from Tuesday 9th to Saturday 13th inclusive.  Full details of the club night and Toyenparken programme can be found on their official website, available in both Norwegian and English.