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Thread: Music From Norway: Just how important is it, really?

  1. #1

    Music From Norway: Just how important is it, really?



    My commissioned piece for Music Norway, "Music From Norway: How Important Is It, Really? published today at the Music Norway site.

    When asked, by the newly minted Music Norway, which brought two separate organizations together at the beginning of 2013 – Music Export Norway (responsible for exporting the country's music to the world) and Music Information Center (responsible, for many things, including acting as an archive/information source) – to write a piece about the Norwegian music scene from an outsider's perspective, it seemed, at first, to be a truly daunting challenge…and no small honour. The music scene in Norway is so rich, so diverse, so huge that trying to answer some of the obvious questions and capture what the essence of this music is, seemed an almost impossible task in the space of but a few thousand words. But after spending the last eight years traveling the country, from Kristiansand to Svalbard, from Molde to Oslo, from Bergen to Kongsberg and from Trondheim to Stavanger, I've been fortunate enough (with the kind support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Music Norway and more people than I can list here) to have been afforded a rare opportunity to gain exposure to a scene few (if any) from my neck of the woods have.

    Why and how has the Norwegian scene managed to build such a reputation, not just on its own turf but around the world? There are a number of answers to that question, but first and foremost is a commitment to the arts that began more than 40 years ago and which has, unlike so many other countries, remained a priority ever since. When Sverre Lunde, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke at the 2013 Punkt Festival in Kristiansand – announcing that, after nine years, the Ministry would be providing some well-deserved (and much needed) financial support to the festival, and that Punkt was now considered amongst the country’s elite events – what was, perhaps, an even more compelling statement was that the country’s goal has been to devote a full one percent of its budget to culture. That means that last year, in 2012, ten billion Norwegian Kroners – nearly 1.7 billion US dollars – was devoted to the arts. As a Canadian in a bilingual country, there’s a French word to describe this: incroyable!

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  2. #2
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    I went to see(Norwegian) Supersilent + Stian Westerhus 2 days ago.
    Previous Norwegian band I saw live was Farmers Market.
    I dont think there is much like them both, anywhere.

    Lets make a Norwegian list of bands

  3. #3
    Geriatric Anomaly progeezer's Avatar
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    Norwegian bands that resonate for me:

    Magic Pie
    White Willow
    Opium Cartel
    Retroheads
    Airbag
    Wobbler
    (some) Gazpacho

    Can't think of any more right now, but there probably are.
    "My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician, and to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference"

    President Harry S. Truman

  4. #4
    Member emperorken's Avatar
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    Lotsa bands from Norway. Some good ones I can think of:

    Arabs In Aspic
    Airbag
    Gazpacho
    Bjorn Lynne
    Magic Pie
    Nordagust
    White Willow
    The Windmill
    Wobbler

  5. #5
    Geriatric Anomaly progeezer's Avatar
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    Forgot about Arabs! (Sorry Eric!)
    "My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician, and to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference"

    President Harry S. Truman

  6. #6
    Member markinottawa's Avatar
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    Nice article. Can't really disagree with anything re the funding..

    Did a 3 part Norwegian show, yikes a year ago and a fill-in jazz show this past summer ( jazz shows still available for streaming ) and there was a bounty to choose from:

    Prog 3-parter


    Okavango
    Panzerpappa
    Elephant 9
    Motorpsycho
    Jaga Jazzist
    Terje Rypdal
    Metrognom
    Tangle Edge
    Ulver
    Mathias Eick
    Susanne Sundfor
    Supersilent
    Annbjorg Lien
    Vanessa
    Alf Emil Eik
    Eivind Aarset
    Shining
    Farmer's Market
    Pixel
    Huntsville
    White Willow
    Thule
    Akasha
    Deja Vu
    Folque
    Mari Boine
    Panzerpappa
    Jan Gabarek

    Jazz 3-parter

    Olga Konkova
    Arild Andersen Quintet
    Lord Kelvin
    Ipa
    Karl Seglem
    Cortex Resection
    Flaten / Kornstad / Christensen
    Hayden Powell
    Trondheim Jazz Orchestra
    Mathias Eick
    Marius Neset & Ole Amund Gjersvik Duo
    Petter Wettre / Audun Kleive
    Zanussi 5
    Motland / Lonberg-Holm / Solberg / Gjerstad
    Sphinx
    Sekstett
    Splashgirl
    Pocket Corner
    Kitchen Orchestra
    Jaga Jazzist
    Huntsville
    Terje Rypdal
    Jan Garbarek Group
    Scorch Trio
    Eivind Aarset

  7. #7
    That is a damed fantastic article, John. Just finished my first read; it'll have to be a 2nd pass later to really take in some of the details.

    It is unlikely that (in my lifetime anyway) a similar degree of support for the arts will happen in my country. Not going to start bemoaning politics; things are what they are. But I am fascinated and impressed with the degree to which Norway has invested in their arts & culture.
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  8. #8
    Boo! walt's Avatar
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    Reading this thread reminds me that it has been a while since I played some of Norwegian jazz pianist Svein Finnerud's (1945-2000) music from the 3cd/1dvd box Svein Finnerud Trio-The Complete Released Works 1968-1999.Not sure if Finnerud was mentioned in John's article,i did a quick reading of it but I may well have missed a mention of him, who made an impact in Norwegian jazz circles in the late 60's-70s.

    A gifted and too little known player,Svein Finnerud.
    Last edited by walt; 10-28-2013 at 03:57 PM.
    "please do not understand me too quickly"-andre gide

  9. #9
    Member bill g's Avatar
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    Yep, lots of great music come from Norway. A friend of mine came back from visiting recently and was impressed by how clean everything is-the lack of crime, the lack of graffiti-I imagine there's a connection with the high level of music created there.

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    can't wait to read what s. scissor has to say

  11. #11
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Great Nowegian bands & artist I could think of:

    Terje Rypdal
    Farmers market http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkph4H-ss1s
    Supersilent
    Elephant 9
    Jaga Jazzist
    Panzerpappa
    SOT http://sotmusic.bandcamp.com/
    Jono el Grande http://www.youtube.com/user/artrockdelanorway
    Motorpsycho
    Ulver
    Jan Gabarek
    Paolo Vinaccia http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wugP9oWxtdI
    Spring Quintet
    Nils Petter Molvær
    Bugge Wesseltoft
    Stian Westerhus
    Arve Henriksen
    Wobbler
    Mari Boine
    Aunt Mary

    Norway (Oslo) also had a small recordcompany that released Henry Cow and Hugh Hopper in the 70'ties. Compendium records.

    But I think you can make a much longer list of great Swedish bands. Their population is twice the size of Norways, and I think they have a similar official policy about supporting young peoples possibilities to learn to play an instrument.

  12. #12
    Sixties relic Relayer56's Avatar
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    There are still more great prog bands from Norway not mentioned up to here:

    Tusmørke
    Gargamel
    The Brimstone Solar Radiation Band
    Grand General
    Mikromidas
    Kvazar
    Antidepressive Delivery
    Green Carnation
    Stille Opprör

  13. #13
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    Couple of Norwegian bands coming to Orion in December: Bushman's Revenge and Cortex.

  14. #14
    Sweden does have arts support but not to the same financial degree as Norway, for the simple reason that Norway came into that oil money. I mean seriously: 10 billion kroners a year devoted to arts support? It would be unbelievable if it weren't true....

  15. #15
    I do mention quite a few artists in the article....

  16. #16
    Didn't mention Finnerud, but he's great and that box set is highly recommended!

  17. #17
    Thanks Mark, battema and everyone else for reading and, when relevant, for the kind words!

  18. #18
    Norwegian bands have become very important to me:

    Emperor
    Zyklon
    Wretched End
    Enslaved
    Darkthrone
    White Willow
    Ulver
    Arcturus
    Andy Winter
    Age of Silence
    Winds
    Ihsahn
    Aura Noir
    Mayhem (Blasphemer era)
    "Alienated-so alien I go!"

  19. #19
    I look forward to reading this entire article. For now, I'd like to thank the Norwegians for a ray of 80's pop light in what was a very dark time:


  20. #20
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    A couple bands not mentioned, Kerr's Pink and Fruitcake...

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    RÖYKSOPP

  22. #22
    Lumsk -some great albums but I don't know if they still exist:

  23. #23
    Member markinottawa's Avatar
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    Finland is another of the Nordic countries that supports the arts community quite well with publications etc. Not to the extent of Norway, but at least it's something. Canada doesn't even have cultural attaches anymore.
    Last edited by markinottawa; 10-29-2013 at 10:21 AM.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Relayer56 View Post
    There are still more great prog bands from Norway not mentioned up to here
    The way I read John's input here, it's not really about the "prog bands" but the rather widespread notion of a specifically creative scene in Norway at large for these past 10-15 years - about which I can only concur. There was an influx of fresh perspectives on rock/jazz/contemporary/borderline aesthetics as of the second part of the 90s, and boosted by the parenthood of labels such as Rune Grammofon and Smalltown Supersound, the idea spread to most corners of current musicmaking in this country. The more or less boundless artistic attitudes of disparate acts like Motorpsycho, Helge Sten, Lasse Marhaug, Supersilent, Ulver, Jan Bang and Kaada/Cloroform fuelled the whole thing, but the establishing of Rune Grammofon and especially their peculiar reissue of Arne Nordheim remixes during the early 20002 really was the denominating factor of this whole paradigma. As for "niche thinking", I perceive much of what has happened as an actual reaction towards most of that - although there are definitely "jazz" and "prog" or "metal" names contributing essentially to the fold.

    Anyway, it's been a great decade to be a "serious" music enthusiast here. Going for a jog at St. Hanshaugen and then suddenly realize that you can halt for a moment to catch an open air gig by a Cuneiform band (Pixel) - I'd never thought of such a thing. But it happened this June, so there you go.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  25. #25
    Jaga Jazzist are incredible! I was out of town a few years back when they played in San Francisco. Grr!

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