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Exclusive Download: My Thoughts On Norway




Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Øya Festival: Homepage

Some loose ends, some bloggheria, but surely you want to know what Oslo thinks of in-bar smoking bans, rappers, and homosexuals, so read on. (And after that, check out Tom Breihan’s Status Ain’t Hood debut here.)

Datarock & Norwegian Homoeroticism, English Edition

Download: “I Used to Dance With My Daddy”

[RIYL: Happy Mondays, Talking Heads, The Cure, and RIYL lists]

Their record kills me like all good ‘playing with genre stereotypes’ records do–funny but not Weird Al about it, whimsical but not trivial, all the result of band leaders Fredrik having killer vox and Ketil laying down unquestionably funky low-end. Norwegians know English well enough to get the wordplay of song and songtitle “Nightflight to Uranus” (with lyrics equally unabashed), which made the sight of 4000 Norwegians strong singing the chorus along more confusing, endearing, promising, or weird. I just don’t know.

Regardless Datarock played as if they were getting away with something, as if they didn’t belong at Øya, and they were, but they did: On the mainstage of Oslo’s biggest festival, they brought eight of their friends up on stage in matching jumpsuits (no shirts on underneath), “members of the band” if only so they could attend the festival for free. They also pulled off a death-punk remix of a song about Maybelline beauty products, and a time-killing garage rock improvisation they called, simply, “New Song.” With that they pretty much obliterated the need for Andrew W.K..

Apparently a good bit of Norway hates on Datarock, or just doesn’t get them–which confuses me, because those celebrated schmucks in almighty Turbonegro do the same exact thing really, though with a frightening distrust of humor. The difference, say, between the guy from Emperor setting a church on fire, and the guy from Emperor setting a church on fire, then turning around to give us an Uncle Milty shrug.

Homeland Security

At the security check-in to fly back to Newark:

Security: Did you pack your own luggage?


Security: Are you carrying any hazardous material or items that could be confused for weapons?


Security: Are you carrying any Scandivanian metal, free jazz, or experimental electronic music with you?

Shining, i.e. “Are jazz and heavy metal the same thing?”

Shining Homepage
Rune Grammofon
Song Streams
Interview With Shining

Chuck Eddy brought this up a week ago with a list of bands and downloads as evidence; Shining make a good case for the affirmative. The band’s also at a weird nexis within the country, seems. The free jazz scene in Norway has its supporters in- and outside the borders, but with the exception of a few key names everyone knows (Enslaved, Satyricon, etc.), metal’s the silent hometown hero, at least in terms of sales (excluding all the traditional deedle-type shit the old people buy). So this is a marriage of dueling technical proficiencies, where destruction of musical space via improvisation ends up =’ing destruction of musical space via complete organization, where free is fast is rigid is slow. And given the crowd Shining attracted, they could become something of a bridgemaker between the two crowds, in a probably physical way.

Smoking Bans

Ketil from Datarock and Annie from Annie had the best argument against smoking bans I’ve ever heard: Sure, clubs no longer smell like cigarettes anymore, but now they smell like sweat–“and farts,” says Annie.

Rap In Norway–Scoopfaced

Cast, who seems to have gone out of his way to look like Kanye West (down to clothes and facial hair) attracted a huge crowd, surprising to me because everyone I talked to derided rap as young kids music.

A few things:

-Norwegian rap is thankfully not as bad as Italian rap.

-It really is young people music, very similar to live grime’s unspoken rule that no one be over 20. Their phenom is 16-year-old Philip, who rode a low-rider style bike onto the stage, then kicked up the kick stand and started rapping.

-On the production side, these kids love Timbo, and pretty much anything with a bright, bouncey clubbanger-type beat.

-Forget translation, I wonder how much of the Norsk rap is victim to syntax. Which is to say, we can get away with pretty much anything in English, and not having to throw that verb at the end gives our rappers more latitude for punchlines. Granted Norwegian looks like a pretty agreeable order-driven language, but for now Cast got stuck in the monotonous eighth-note swang-streamed delivery.

-It might just be a ‘get the language in your mouth’ sorta thing though, because when they switched to English (yes that’s right, Cast started ripping shit in his second language), he totally had me. Apologies that I can’t remember anything.

-UK guest Roots Manuva, despite saying “We love you guys!” every other second, was merely OK.

I Have Found the Greatest Noise Band

Kill Homepage

They’re called Kill. They don’t make records. A DVD’s on the way, I think.

Now we talk about Band X tearing off the tooth enamel of Band Y, Band F’s crazy stage games and Band G’s masks, but I don’t think music qua music has ever really terrified me, until this set. A marquee side project with members in key Norwegian acts (Jaga Jazzist, Single Unit, JR Ewing, No Place To Hide), Kill got rooked on metal’s promise of the extreme, and their songs have last-ditch Count of Monte Cristo energy to them–rigorously arranged, precisely played, but all the more paranoid. Wrong or right, Kill come off as a rock band–traditional instrumentation, though the drummer plays an electronic kit with processed sounds–so for the sake of contemporary comparisons, they fall somewhere between Devildriver or Krisiun and Wolf Eyes (with Hair Police)– but the emphasis is on the stark, the monochrome, trying to compress all sounds to white noise, but falling just short.

Oslo’s Factory Records/Hacienda Club/Tony Wilson

1. Smalltown Supersound
2. Blå
3. Joakim Haugland

But Blå’s more than that, the independent club going to great lengths to unite the country’s free jazz/experimental community with dance culture–sort of like what MUTEK tries to do, but people seem a little bit more receptive to the idea here. The night I went Lindstrom & Prins Thomas did a live-slash-DJ set, lots of beatovers and live vinyl manipulations of the duo’s favorite Salsoul killers. Robbie Headman/Manhead picked up and, after nodding to his openers with Lindstrom’s fantastic “I Feel Space,” he went into just dark electro shit, working up to the Tiga remix of LCD’s “Tribulations” (which is OK) to one of the gazillion electro club remixes of “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” All that’s fine, but what threw me hardest was when I realized a good bit of the crowd had come from the Kill set–in other words, either this city’s got big ears (way bigger than ours), or people are just happy to have something to do. I think it’s the former.

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