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coverpic flag Norway - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 15 - 01/12/98

Norway 1997
Last Year At Home  

Another year has passed by. Another heap of discs have piled up. Some of them already hidden forever in the big closet where small pieces of history get stucked away as yesteryear fades out. Many of them easy to forget, but some still have the right to spin on. I guess the Norwegian music industry is just about happy with 1997, as they managed to increase the numbers of sales slightly. Thanks to all the more or less crappy Absolutely - Best - of - the - Greatest - of - all - Time - Hit - collections they're selling before x-mas, I guess. Well, if blowing holes through both your feet by trigging your own shotgun make you feel happy, you're welcome...

We've been reviewing some Norwegian recordings here at the Kafé through the year, and will now mention a handful of the others. As usual we tend to pick records that don't compete with Elton John and friends on top of the hit-lists. Finally; Aqua is not Norwegian - let's blame Denmark! (Well, eh, I must admit that I've been jump-dancing around the floor like a maniac myself with that Barbie-girl. But only once!!) (Not a surprising act from someone who prefers to listen to Madonna when doing the dishes, and who constantly keeps asking his friends if they've seen the latest Alicia Silverstone movie. I think I see a pattern here ... - other editor's note)

The one-man-project Biosphere is Geir Jenssen doing arctic-polar-ambience. Jenssen (once member of Bel Canto) made his 3rd album, Substrata, from his home-town Tromsø, way up north. I guess Biosphere is one of the most known Norwegian artists outside Norway, without making Mr. Jenssen a big star. Launched to millions of people world-wide a couple of years back, when his Novelty Waves appeared in a Levi Strauss commercial. His cautious, exotic, rhythmless compositions are getting critical acclamation all over, f.i. in the Brit music-press. Actually he made two albums last year, as he did the soundtrack for the Norwegian thriller Insomnia as well (the directorial debut by Erik Skjoldbjærg, also from Tromsø).

To stick to modern music; Palace of Pleasure with their album Emperor Norton (dBut) and Sternklang's Freestylespacefunk (Beatservice) were two of the "technological" albums of 1997. Palace Of Pleasure presenting a conglomeration of rhythms and sounds, while the one-man-outfit Sternklang (a.k.a. Rune Brøndbo), did a mixture of hip-hop, dub, and drum'n'bass. Timbre!

My Sensational Panda is a bunch of young popsters from Oslo, with a fixation on fluffy and cuddly animals. They released a self-titled EP (on the Ironic label), and showed great skills. Power-pop, with songs like Brand New Holiday and Teddy's Life. Catchy panda-pop. I believe they also released a split-single (with whom?) just before x-mas.

Kåre & The Cavemen got promoted when being the "in-house band" through a series of TV-programmes on the Norwegian state channel NRK2 during the autumn of '96. Then they released their debut album, Jet Age (Virgin), last year, which was applauded by the press. And the music? Instrumental surf! Lead by guitar-king Knut Schreiner, they played (or, dare I say surfed) The Roskilde Festival (Denmark), and became minor pop-stars back home. Novelty stars. At least for a while.

From Stavanger on the Norwegian south-west coast, the Chairs released their debut LP Gary's Philosophy (on their own Majones Records). Fresh and energy-filled indie-rock, recorded to an 8-track recorder. Raw and catchy. Have a chair and listen for yourself.

The goth-romantic Seigmen made their 4th full album, Radiowaves, this time with English lyrics. It's back to the unlusty 80's. After their break-through with Metropolis, they tried to "break" (well, a few promo-gigs) in London. Without success. I'm not a fan, but they deserve credit for doing their stuff 100%. They also keep the whole latex and make-up business extremely busy...

Kari Rueslåtten, once the voice of Trondheim metal-folklore-band The 3rd And The Mortal, made her first solo-attempt, Spindelsinn, and did it quite well. Picking inspiration in the woods and from nature, and flirting with Norwegian folk-music, she distils magic with her great voice.

From Bergen, Poor Rich Ones make feinschmecker pop-music, put in a genre called "New seriousness", and could in November present their 2nd album, From The Makers Of Ozium (Rec90). Last year they prepared to take one step further, by presenting their music on a music industry festival in Germany. Maybe to bring them out across the borders of little Norway.

Finally, thanks to The Tables; for being back, for still being The Tables, kings of naive pop with a big heart. And for doing Kjære alle sammen (Dear Everybody - from the album reviewed earlier, but also released as a single - both on 7" and CD), their only song in Norwegian. A sarcastic comment on some Norwegian artists. Great fun. Thank you!

So, will 1998 bring us the debut album from Bronson Comet Lighter then? I hope so. The best of luck to all the small indie-labels out there.

Copyright © 1997Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

Original photo "Kjell Magne med sigaren" © Janne Møller-Hansen/VG 1997

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