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flag Norway - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 27 - 01/02/99

Rockus Norvegicus -
Norwegian wood and brass 1998

Time sure flies! 365 days known as 1998 has passed by, and it's time to sum-up some of what happened. We've presented a number of bands and artists under the full moons of last year, but surely there are a lot of releases not mentioned at our site. I've already saluted Dipsomaniacs for making the album of the year. Here's a brief name-dropping of some of the others not mentioned by us.

I guess the best album not reviewed here at the Kafé could be Green Club Riviera, with their fine guitar-pop album The Boring Days Are Over Now (Goldfish Music/dBut Records), produced by Eystein Hopland (of Sister Rain). Imagine the Swedes Popsicle or the pop-version of Motorpsycho and you're somewhere near the musical "pool", or goldfish bowl where to find this Oslo four-some. Another contender to the album award of 1998 could be The White Birch's People Now Human Beings (dBut). A 10 song album (also released as a double 10") by this Oslo quartet, of experimental and slightly introvert alternative rock. Quite tasty in portions, including dramatic and intense moments, well made, well played, and definitely worth checking out. The album was recorded and produced by former Motorpsycho-associate Helge 'Deathprod' Sten, the audio virus noise-maestro. And, speaking of Deathprod: another interesting constellation of the year was Biosphere (Geir Jenssen) and Deathprod and their Nordheim Transformed (Rune Grammofon), where the audio-experimenting two-some had a go at some pieces by contemporary composer Arne Nordheim. The project was presented live at Oslo Domkirke (the cathedral), with a smiling and applauding Mr. Nordheim present as their biggest fan.

Not many Norwegians "break" internationally, even if a lot is keen on doing so. It's been some years since teen-girl wet dreams a-ha sold millions of records - so many years (and dollars...) since that the (old-)boys are planning a comeback. Since the teen-girls also have grown, I guess they must fight to attract a new audience. London, England (where a-ha went to find the stairway to pop-stardom) is a city that attracts a lot of Norwegian wannabes. Libido went over from Bergen, and the result came as the fuzzy-woozy and Brit-poppy Killing Some Dead Time (Fire/Virgin), but without reaching fancy-car pop-nobility. Other bands wandering the streets of London are Peachfuzz and Tiny Too (a part-Norwegian girl-group, with singles out on Fierce Panda). Other break-attempts: guitar-pop quartet Babel Fish was signed by Warner, and recorded their debut, Babel Fish (Atlantic/Warner) in the U.S., and they're now awaiting something to happen. And; the candy-pop girl-group The Tuesdays hit the Billboard-list (at 50-something?) with their (old) single It's Up To You (Polygram).

Speaking of girls: there are quite some serious female artists around Norway, with talent and integrity. Newcomer Bertine Zetlitz was showcased during the Bylarm music seminar last spring and released her debut Morbid Latenight Show (EMI), an album of modern, attractive pop. The fairy-voiced Kari Rueslåtten released her second solo album, Mesmerized (Sony), this time out from the Norwegian woods with English lyrics. A surprising debut album was made in Stavanger: the all-girl quintet Lillemor with their Lokkemann (MTG/Sony). 15-15-16-16-17. No, this is not the grades given by the jury of a ski-jumping competition - it's the age of the five girls! Sounding young and fresh, claiming PJ Harvey, Morphine, Björk, and Portishead to be among their influences. Guess we'll hear more from them later. Another debut came from the Tromsø artist Frost (Aggi Peterson). Her Bedsit Theories (Drum Island/Sony) was made assisted by the boys behind Drum Island/Those Norwegians plus others. A polar-Björk?

The album a lot of critics has claimed is the Norwegian album of the year is Amsterdam Stranded (S2), the (difficult?) third album by Midnight Choir. Wide-screened and dramatic melancholy by this trio, and yet another time Chris Eckman (The Walkabouts) has been in charge of the production. Just in time for the Football (Soccer) World Cup Tournament in France came the single of the year, Bønda fra nord (Oh No/Sony) by Racer (which has exactly the same line-up as punk-rock veterans DumDum Boys). Perfectly timed for the celebration when Norway beat Brazil by 2-1!! - the party of the century for sure, and "Northern square heads" was just the right anthem that night. As we're in rock territory, lets go on to rocky horror. The shock-rockers of Turboneger released their 3rd (?) album (for then to dissolve just before X-mas), Apocalypse Dudes (Virgin), with more of their bad-ass, dirty rock'n'roll, and making Oasis to look like choir-boys. This is nothing but loud, cartoonish cock-rock, Dictators style, but certainly a bit entertaining. Another bunch of rockers call themselves Gluecifer. These boogie-heads even made a fuss over the Swedish border, with their Soaring with Eagles at Night to Rise with Pigs in the Morning (White Jazz).

To round up with samples and breaks and hip styles: there's quite a number of dance, techno, house, hip-hop, and rap projects getting attention outside Norway. To mention some names in the center of activity: Bjørn Torske (a.k.a. Imsitisk) released a record called Nedi Myra (Ferox), Päronsoda, formerly known as Phileas Fog, sampled and recorded A Nightclub in Tunisia (C+C), while Ari Thunda (featuring Hal Berg - a Norwegian folk music fanatic politician!) released their folk-techno Licensed To Dance. Of the more hybrid-ish kind of jazz, hip-hop, drum&bass we find Jaga Jazzist (from Tønsberg), who released an EP called Magazine (another record involving the skills of Deathprod), and Palace of Pleasure, who also came on with an EP, In the Sky (dBut). Other names around are Mind Over Midi and Aedema Cycle, to name a couple. Worth mentioning is also a couple of techno compilations: Deep Sea Drilling - Songs from the Norwegian Underground (by the Time Out/Village Voice freebie paper called Natt&Dag), including Per Martinsen a.k.a. Mental Overdrive, Sternklang, Bjørn Torske, Erot, Those Norwegians, plus others, and FBU: Recollections in Rare Altitude (+47), presenting many of the same artists. The former is only a limited promo yet, but will be out one of these days. The angry and "dictionary-ous" rap-heads of Warlocks presented their Mic Knights (Tee-Prod.), trying to convince us that Oslo is Brooklyn, or another rough neighbourhood.

So, what will happen next year? Maybe the slow-core instrumentals of Monopot (from Bergen), the Girls Vs. Boys look-a-likes(?) in Heroes For Sale (from Oslo), the frantic multi-instrumented orchestra known as Bogus Blimp (from Sandefjord, one of the Zoom - some alternative talent spotting, to help new bands up and out - candidates last year), or the slow and slack lo-fi folk-pop of Morgan Kilronan (Manstad, who's released Traveling Through Hell With Love on Krank Records this year) are names to remember? But, what happened to Bronson Comet Lighter? Anyone? Seeya!

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