Astro Sonic´s music evokes associations with experimental ambient, krautrock, synth impro and Bo Hansson’s instrumental music of the sixties. The atmosphere of the music moves effortlessly between the upper stratosphere and abandoned mines deep within mountain caves, from viscous planes of sound to explosive rhythmic drive. The three members of the group have been collaborating for quite some time, but it was not until 2008 that they decided to establish Astro Sonic. Erlend Slettevoll’s (Grand General, The Core) synths really get the opportunity to shine in a soundscape that is at times whipped onwards by a powerful rhythm section comprised of Rune Nergaard (Marvel Machine) on bass and Gard Nilssen (Susanne Sundfør, Lord Kelvin) on drums, both of whom have been playing in the power trio Bushman’s Revenge for over 10 years.
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Ballrogg was originally established in 2006 by saxophonist Klaus Holm (Murmur, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra) and double bassist Roger Arntzen (In the Country, Chrome Hill) as a means of exploring the music of Eric Dolphy in a format that has been stripped down to its bare essentials. The two musicians delved into tunes from heroes such as Paul Bley, Ornette Coleman and Jimmy Giuffre, and eventually began composing their own material. Their love of Morton Feldman’s introverted and subdued chamber music and contemporary European music has been apparent since their second album, “Insomnia” (Bolage), was released in 2010. Ballrogg presents a very personal type of chamber music with roots in jazz and free jazz. When recording their third album «Cabin Music» the duo became a trio. The new member of the band is guitarist Ivar Grydeland (Huntsville, Dans les Arbres), and he has brought a new sound arsenal, fresh perspectives and new moods to the group.
Bly de Blyant is a trio of improvisers that denies itself nothing. “Free improvisation is a method, not a genre,” wrote drummer Øyvind Skarbø (1982, Håkon Kornstad Tenor Battle) in the cover text for their debut album ABC. “As soon as it becomes a genre, you lose all your freedom.” In addition to Skarbø the trio comprises Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily (Marc Ribot, Will Oldham, John Zorn) and Icelandic guitarist Hilmar Jensson (Tyft, Jim Black, Trevor Dunn). Skarbø had collaborated with both Jensson and Ismaily on several previous occasions, but Bly de Blyant is the first project where all three are playing together.
The trio Building Instrument began to play together in Bergen in 2008, and their original idea was to explore electronic music. This project was quickly abandoned in favour of a more acoustic and home-grown focus. The members of the trio have now found their own self-defined niche within a genre that could be described as a no-man’s-land. Their material is largely improvised and playfully invented as an ensemble. The members of the trio Building Instrument are Mari Kvien Brunvoll (vocals, sampler, zither, percussion, kazoo), Øyvind Hegg-Lunde (drums and percussion) and Åsmund Weltzien (synthesizer, electronics, melodica). Drummer Øyvind Hegg-Lunde plays in two bands that have recently released records, the Big Almost and Crab is Crap, with Ståle Storløkken, and is currently on a world tour with José Gonzalez of Sweden and his band, Junip. Åsmund Weltzien plays with Thea Næss.
Vocalist Mari Kvien Brunvoll from Molde is singing in Norwegian for the first time on this album, and is even using her local Molde dialect. She has been described as “an exceptional talent” by pianist Bugge Wesseltoft, who released her first solo album on his Jazzland label. The album was nominated for a Spellemannspris (Norwegian Grammy) in the open category. Her second album, also nominated in the same category, presented her duo collaboration with Stein Urheim, who also has a new release out on the HUBRO label.
The trio Cakewalk´s members hail from the groups Sacred Harp, Highasakite, The Sweetest Thrill and the Hedvig Mollestad Trio.
Keyboard player Øystein Skar ) comes from Vinstra, and began playing classical music early on before adding improvisational music, pop and jazz to his repertoire. He is also an active composer, and several of his works for solo piano and larger ensembles have been performed publicly in the past few years. In addition to his collaboration with Cakewalk, Skar is a member of the duo Glow and the groups Sacred Harp and Highasakite. Guitarist Stephan Meidell was born and raised in Kristiansand, but is now based in Bergen after having lived in Amsterdam for several years. With his background in jazz and improvisational music he plays in the rock, pop, noise and sound art genres with the bands Cakewalk, Krachmacher, The Sweetest Thrill and Vanilla Riot. Ivar Loe Bjørnstad (drums) was born in Surnadal, and comes originally from a rock background. He lives in Oslo, and has since the turn of the Millennium collaborated with countless bands and constellations in a variety of genres. He currently plays mainly with Hedvig Mollestad Trio and Cakewalk.
Erik Honoré is a Norwegian musician, producer, and author. Honoré is known as a long time collaborator with artists like Jan Bang, David Sylvian, Arve Henriksen, Sidsel Endresen and Nils Petter Molvær. Erik Honoré has recorded, produced and remixed luminaries like Arve Henriksen, Brian Eno/Peter Schwalm, Eivind Aarset, Sidsel Endresen, and others. Together with Sylvian, Bang, Henriksen and Endresen, Honoré released the album “Uncommon Deities” in 2012, based on the poetry of Nils Christian Moe-Repstad and Paal-Helge Haugen. Honoré has also contributed to David Sylvian’s “Died In The Wool”, “The Blemish Remixes” and his latest single, “Do you know me now”. Live, Honoré has performed with, among others, Christian Fennesz, Jon Hassell, Arve Henriksen, David Sylvian, Jan Bang, and Nils Petter Molvær. Sidsel Endresen, Erik Honoré and Jan Bang have also toured Europe as a trio, performing the Punkt trademark Live Remixes of other artists. In 2012, Honoré released the critically acclaimed album “Year of the Bullet”, a duo project with singer Greta Aagre.
As an author, Honoré has published three novels published by Gyldendal, Norway’s largest publishing house. “Orakelveggen” (“The Oracle Wall”) was nominated to the Sørlandet Literary Prize. Together with Arve Henriksen and Jan Bang, Erik Honoré has been nominated twice for Best Film Music at the Kosmorama International Film Festival in Trondheim, and received the award in 2010 for the music to “Jakten på Hukommelsen”. Erik Honoré is co-Artistic Director of the critically acclaimed Punkt Festival in Kristiansand, where Brian Eno was guest curator in 2012. The festival also travels abroad and has visited, among other cities, London, Paris, Düsseldorf, Mannheim, Tallinn, and Wroclaw. In 2011 and 2012 the festival was awarded the prestigeous EU (EACEA) Festival Grant, being deemed an important, innovative European festival.
Drummer Erland Dahlen has played on over 130 records since the mid-1990s, and has toured with an impressive list of top-ranking artists in a variety of genres: Kiruna, Mike Patton/Kaada, Ingrid Olava, Eivind Aarset Sonic Codex Orchestra, Mathias Eick, Serena Maneesh, Arve Henriksen, Hanne Hukkelberg and Marit Larsen, to name just a few. He is probably best known as the drummer in the successful band Madrugada for the last years of the band’s life, and as the drummer in Nils Petter Molvær’s different groups during the last years.
The members of Finland are guitarist Ivar Grydeland (Huntsville), drummer Pål Hausken (In the Country, Ida Jenshus), keyboard wizard Morten Qvenild (In the Country, sPaceMonkey, Susanna & the Magical Orchestra), and the superb bass player Jo Berger Myhre (Splashgirl, Nils Petter Molvær, Mariam the Believer). In Finland they are investigating a more rock-oriented, spontaneous and extrovert type of music than in many of the other bands they play in. Their music encompasses an encyclopaedic number of genres and sources of inspiration. Elements of instrumental film music, post-, prog-, noise and freedom rock, and airy Americana are all included in the appealing and well-composed musical melting pot that constitutes Elements of instrumental film music, post-, prog-, noise and freedom rock, and airy Americana are all included in the appealing and well-composed musical melting pot that constitutes their debut album “Rainy Omen”.
The Norwegian guitarist and self-taught multi-instrumentalist Geir Sundstøl, from Halden, has been making music for a living since 1988. He has left his unique musical mark on 260 records featuring everyone from a-ha to Nils Petter Molvær. “Furulund” is the first record he is releasing under his own name, and is a long-awaited debut from an extremely popular musician. Sundstøl has toured all over the world, and has been the most frequently played performer on Norwegian radio for several years. A concert he held with country artist Jimmie Dale Gilmore in the USA in the 1990s gave film directors and brothers Joel and Ethan Coen the inspiration for Gaear Grimsrud, Peter Stormare’s character in the film “Fargo”. His music draws inspiration from jazz, blues, roots and country, but can be characterised most of all as original, eccentric and lovely.
Huntsville, an improvisational trio with a distinctive sound, has already released two unique, critically acclaimed albums on the Norwegian label Rune Grammofon. The group has toured in Europe and the USA several times, has collaborated with Sidsel Endresen, Wilco’s Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche, and recently held a concert in Spain with Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Like so much other good music, Huntsville’s music is difficult to categorise. Music journalists have tried calling it “yoga country” and “abstract drone Americana”, and this time around it is not improbable that there will be comparisons with both “krautrock” and bands such as Black Dice. But this is primarily Huntsville music. Nobody sounds like them.
Ivar Grydeland plays electric and acoustic guitars, banjo, pedal steel guitar and various electronics in bands like Huntsville (Hubro and Rune Grammofon), Dans les arbres (ECM), Hanne Hukkelberg and country-rock outfit Last Heat. Grydeland’s solo debut “Bathymetric Modes” (Hubro) was released in 2012, after 25 or so releases with various bands and projects over the last 13 years. Long-time collaborators are in particular Ingar Zach, Tonny Kluften, Xavier Charles, Christian Wallumrød and Hanne Hukkelberg. Grydeland is currently a research fellow at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, under the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme.
Hilde Marie hails from Vassenden in Jølster but resides in Oslo. Her solo debut “Ask” was quickly sold out and got rave reviews. The music can be described as quite contemplative and drenched in melancholia, but there is also room for noise, great dynamics and plenty of drama.
In 2010 the Dutch singer-songwriter Jessica Sligter released her critically acclaimed debut album, “Balls and Kittens, Draught and Strangling Rain”, on Hubro label under the name of JÆ. Journalists compared her to Will Oldham, Linda Perhacs, Josephine Foster, Scott Walker and Morrisey (!), to mention only a few. In 2011 she released the film-inspired rock album “Window’s a Fall” with a side project, Sacred Harp. Sligter has a unique ability to form intriguing band constellations and to bring out the distinctive qualities of each musician she is working with.
Swedish guitarist Stackenäs and Norwegian percussionist Zach are well known names in the European improvisation scene. Stackenäs and Zach previously worked together in the now defunct three-piece TRI DIM, together with saxophonist Håkon Kornstad. Stackenäs and Zach decided to work on as a duo, but now with a radically different musical agenda. Ingar Zach, now based in Spain, has been a key figure in Norwegian improvised music the last ten years. Together with guitar player Ivar Grydeland he founded the improvised music label Sofa in 2000. Zach has played with Derek Bailey, Jon Balke´s Magnetic North Orchestra. David Stackenäs is one of the most prolific Swedish improvisers and has recorded with among others Mats Gustafsson and Fred Loneberg-Holm and is a member of the groups Boots Brown, Fire! Orchestra and Seval. Italian improviser Giuseppe Ielasi is since the debut album album «Collab» the groups third member.
Mats Eilertsen is one of the most powerful and distinctive bass players on the Nordic jazz scene. SkyDive is his third release on the HUBRO label, after Radio Yonder in 2009 and the trio album Elegy in 2010. He is a very active and productive musician, and has over the years appeared on albums by ECM-associated bands Tord Gustavsen quartet, the Source, Wolfert Brederode Quartet, Tord Gustavsen Ensemble and Parish, as well as Håkon Kornstad Trio,
Food with UK saxophonist Iain Ballamy, Jacob Young Band, Solveig Slettahjell’s Slow Motion Orchestra and Håvard Wiik Trio.
His project´s on HUBRO both include´s his trio with dutch pianist Harmen Fraanje and norwegian drummer Tomas Strønen, and the Skydive project with sax-player Tore Brunborg, Thomas Dahl on guitars and with finnish pianis Alexei Tuomarila and drummer Olavi Louhivuori.
For the past 15 years pianist and keyboardist Morten Qvenild has been one of the most creative musicians in the Norwegian music scene. Qvenild has both an unusual flair for pop and a passion for experimentation and improvisation. Qvenild is probably most well known as a member of the unusual piano trio In the Country, half of the duo sPaceMonkey with drummer Gard Nilssen, Susanna Wallumrød’s partner in Susanna & the Magical Orchestra and as a member in quartet Finland. He has also played in a number of other bands. Altogether Qvenild has appeared on at least 50 albums with artists such as the National Bank, Solveig Slettahjell Slomo Quintet, Susanne Sundfør, Arve Henriksen, Thomas Dybdahl, Marit Larsen, Nils Petter Molvær, Shining, Jaga Jazzist, Frida Ånnevik and Trinity as well as many others.
Pianist Anja Lauvdal, bass player Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson and drummer Hans Hulbækmo are all in their early twenties, and have been part of the creative milieu in the Jazz Department of the Trondheim Conservatory of Music. Anja and Hans have already made a name for themselves as part of the critically acclaimed rock bands Your Headlights are On and The Avalanche/Snøskred. In 2011 Moskus was the first jazz band to win Grappa Record Company’s annual “Debut Artist Award”.
Moskus combines a personal and mature mode of expression, normally found among much older musicians, with youthful energy and unprejudiced openness. The band has a dynamic presence, alternating effortlessly between uninhibited playfulness and introspective solemnity, between free improvisation and composed material. The three members of the group function as equals, and they all contribute as composers. Their debut album «Salmesykkel» was nominated to two Norwegian Grammy´s (Spellemann).
Saxophonist Kjetil Møster has been one of our very favourite musicians for a long time. In the band Møster he is fronting a dream team of Norwegian musicians: Ståle Storløkken (Supersilent), Nikolai Eilertsen (Elephant 9, Big Bang) and Kenneth Kapstad (Motorpsycho). Kjetil Møster’s tenor sax playing in bands such as Ultralyd, Zaussi Five and The Core, and in collaboration with Chick Corea and the Trondheim Jazzorkester, has placed him firmly on the map. He was voted “International Young Jazz Talent” in 2006 by the organisations IJFO and IAJE. The band “Møster” was formed when he was invited to the Kongsberg Jazzfestival in 2010, and marked Kjetil’s return to jazz after extensive tours of several years’ duration with the electro-rock band Datarock. The group’s musical idiom is energetic, rock-inspired and dark, and according to Kjetil his goal with the band is to place the artistic style and intensity of his hero John Coltrane in a modern context.
Scent of Soil’s music ranges from energetic rock to tender ballads in which the group’s jazz roots emerge more distinctly. Huke and Brunborg have put together an exciting band with musicians who have all worked extensively with boundary-defying music, and their references to the alternative rock scene are very much in evidence. Kirsti Huke has worked in both rock and jazz genres, and has released two highly praised albums under her own name.
Tore Brunborg is undoubtedly one of the most important Norwegian saxophonists in the generation that followed Jan Garbarek. He had his breakthrough in the 1980s with the group Masqualero, which also featured Nils Petter Molvær, Arild Andersen and Jon Christensen. During the past few years he has worked with Mathias Eick, Manu Katché, the Tord Gustavsen Ensemble and Ketil Bjørnstad. He also plays a key role on two of Mats Eilertsen’s records on the HUBRO label: Radio Yonder and Sky Dive. Guitarist Petter Vågan plays together with Huke in the rock band –phy, and is also known as a member of Marvel Machine, Eyewaterlilies, Vertex and Petter O Hanna. Bassist Rune Nergaard and drummer Gard Nilssen have performed together in several different bands, but are perhaps best known from the free rock band Bushman’s Revenge. Nilssen also plays with Susanne Sundfør, Puma and Mathias Eick.
Skadedyr was founded by Heiða Karine Jóhannesdóttir Mobeck and Anja Lauvdal, who also played in the now disbanded group Your Headlights Are On. These two musicians are also the driving force behind the inventive material on Skadedyr’s debut album. The members of the band rehearse and arrange all the music jointly – without notes, but with wide-open ears and eyes. Young, promising musicians from bands such as Moskus, Broen Ósk, Karokh, Snøskred, Skrap and Hullyboo are also part of the ensemble.
Member´s include: Hans Hulbækmo, Torstein Lavik Larsen, Joakim Heibø, Ida Løvli Hidle, Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø, Heiða Karine Jóhannesdóttir Mobeck, Adrian Løseth Waade, Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson, Anja Lauvdal, Ina Sagstuen, Lars Ove Fossheim and Marius Klovning.
Splashgirl is three good friends, the three creative, young norwegian musicians Andreas Stensland Løwe (piano/electronics), Jo Berger Myhre (doublebass/tone generator) and Andreas Lønmo Knudsrød (drums/percussion/sounds), playing their own music inspired by any number of musical genres.
Since 2007, the band released four highly acclaimed records – Doors. Keys. (AIM 2007), Arbor (Hubro 2009), Pressure (Hubro 2011) and Field Day Rituals (Hubro 2013) – played a great number of concerts in Europe, USA and Japan, and collaborated with musicians like Sidsel Endresen, Jan Bang, Eyvind Kang, Mari Kvien Brunvoll, Randall Dunn, Timothy Mason. Their newest album – Field Day Rituals – produced by Randall Dunn in legendary Avast! Recording Studios in Seattle, was released worldwide to massive acclaim by HUBRO February 1st 2013.
The Bergen-based guitarist Stein Urheim´s (1979) name has appeared in an increasing number of contexts in recent years. In 2009 he released his debut album Three Sets of Music and the following year he received the Voss Jazzfestival-Award. He has toured and released 2 critically acclaimed duo albums with singer Mari Kvien Brunvoll, Daydream Communtiy and Daydream Twin, on the Jazzland label. He was a member of Gabriel Fliflet´s Åresong band, and participated on The Last Hurrah´s debut album (Rune Grammofon). He also wrote for, arranged and played on 3 albums by the Bergen-based rock band Steady Steele, as well as numerous other music projects.
Stephan Meidell (b. 1982) is a guitarist and improviser and and a member of the bands Cakewalk, The Sweetest Thrill, Vanilla Riot and Krachmacher. He´s hails from Kristiansand but resides in Bergen. Meidell studied jazz at Conservatorium van Amsterdam (2004-2008). He is utilizing the guitar and bass together with preparations, electronics and amplifiers in both sound sculpting, progressive kraut, noise rock and electro acoustic music. He is also a music critic and curator for new and experimental music.
1982 is the trio of Nils Økland, Sigbjørn Apeland and Øyvind Skarbø. 1982 must be designated as a supergroup within the genre of modern, improvised chamber music. The group”s instrumentation is unusual. As far as we know there is no other ensemble playing improvised music using the combination of harmonium, drums and Hardanger fiddle. Fiddler Nils Økland has a background as a folk musician, and is renowned internationally for his innovative playing style. His solo albums on the ECM and Rune Grammofon labels have received glowing reviews. Sigbjørn Apeland plays church organ and harmonium, and holds Norway”s only doctorate in ethnomusicology.In 2010 he released his first solo album with solo harmonium improvisations, Glossolalia.Drummer Øyvind Skarbø has studied with Terje Isungset and has undertaken study tours to Nigeria and Cuba. He plays with Bly de Blyant – who has released two critically acclaimed albums on Hubro, BMX, Kresten Osgood and Per Jørgensen in addition to working with a solo project under the name of DIE, Allroundhandwerker! Skarbø has operated the concert club Øyvind Jazzforum in Bergen since 2006.
Sigbjørn Apeland (born 1966) is a Norwegian record producer, musician (organ, harmonium) and the only Norwegian to have obtained a doctorate in ethnomusicology. He is known for his distinctive mix of folk music, church music and improvised music. He works as an organist, and specialized in free jazz with the legendary British drummer John Stevens; he has contributed to numerous recordings with Nils Økland and Sigrid Moldestad, folk singers Åsne Valland Nordli, Berit Opheim Versto and Agnes Buen Garnås, jazz musicians Øyvind Skarbø, Per Jørgensen and Bjørn Kjellemyr, electronica innovators Alog and noise duo Golden Serenades, in addition to many others. He is a member of the trio 1982, but also records as a solo artist.
Håkon Stene (b. 1977) is a Norwegian percussionist specializing in contemporary music performance. In addition to performing in a variety of contexts throughout Europe, he is currently involved in artistic research and teaching at the Norwegian Academy of Music.
It is not necessary to take more than a quick glance at Norwegian percussionist Håkon Stene’s CV to realise that here is a musician with a broad horizon and a fearless attitude towards new instruments and genres. Stene has played folk music with Nils Økland and Benedicte Maurseth, electronica with Pantha de Prince and the Bell Laboratory, baroque music with Rolf Lislevand and contemporary music with asamisimasa, winner of a Spellemannspris (Norwegian Grammy).
sPacemoNkey is the duo project of pianist Morten Qvenild and drummer Gard Nilssen. They enjoyed collaborating in Mathias Eick’s band, and quickly decided to try playing together as a duo.
During the past 10-15 years, Morten Qvenild has been one of the most creative, ground-breaking and innovative musicians in Norway. He has participated in bands including In the Country, Shining, Jaga Jazzist, Trinity, and Susanna and the Magical Orchestra. Gard Nilssen, on his part, is one of the most active and highly sought-after drummers in the business, having played with Bushman’s Revenge, Astro Sonic, Puma, the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and Susanne Sundfør’s band.