Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Amme meg pol

I’m not big in Japan, but I’m fucking huge in Norway. Ok, so that’s a blatant lie, but I thought it would be a witty way to introduce a blog all about the country that has been producing some of my favorite music in the last few years. Norway is one of those countries that kinda hides in the nook of that weird ‘whale tail’ looking thing, and gets lumped in with all the death metal of Sweden. Don’t get me wrong; Norway fucking LOVES their metal, but there is also a handful of amazing rock and roll to be had.

The truly unfortunate part of being a part of the western world is that we are disturbingly ethnocentric when it comes to music. For the most part, all we ever hear is artists who come from Canada, US, UK and Australia (around every 10 years). The times we do manage to pick up a ‘foreign’ sound is usually when a major label scoops up a band and transplants them (both in the geographical, and artistic senses) into western music. Far too often we skip over amazing bands, who enjoy outrageous success in their homelands, yet never break beyond their own borders.

I’m not going to attempt to be holier than thou and make you listen to these trippy sounds of water dripping into tuned buckets with ancient Norse chanting in the background. In fact, the bands I want to introduce to you today are incredibly westernized; they simply have yet to break through into the western market. Bigbang is in fact one of the most popular bands in Norway. Their 2003 release Radio Radio TV Sleep, is currently holding as the best selling live album in the country’s history. Go figure; you’ve probably never even heard of them unless I’ve tried peddling my crack to you before. They’ve been playing since 1992 when Oystein Greni (at the time a professional skater) met Erik Tresselt in a hospital after injuring his leg. The two bonded over music, and while recovering, Greni began to immerse himself in songwriting.

The result would be a bloody hurricane of sound. Though the lineup has changed a fair bit over the last 16 years, Greni’s unmistakable guitar riffs and catchy songwriting has turned Bigbang into one of the most important Norwegian bands in history. Check out their myspace and listen to the song Hurricane Boy, off their latest release Too much Yang. Alternatively, watch this video, and stare in awe as Greni dives into a crowd, still soloing as he rides along a sea of hands.

Our next band, I unfortunately must introduce to you posthumously. Span’s time together sadly did not span into 2008 (HAHAHA, I suck). The “Turbo Rock ‘n Roll Commandos” were formed in 2000 and managed to release 2 LPs and a handful of EPs before their ultimate demise in 2005. Their 2004 release Mass Distraction was a powerhouse record with non-stop hits. They combined punk drumming, with grinding guitars and Jarle Bernhofts’ funky vocals. The one break they did have into the western market, was on a Mazda commercial, however this was after the boys had already chosen to split “due to musical differences”. If you'd like to find some of their older, and rarer tracks, you can also check this myspace fan page.

Now, after the band split, obviously such successful and talented musicians weren’t going to just stop. The bulk of the band started an uninspired piece of shit called Dog Almighty; proving where the creativity in songwriting was coming from. Bernhoft on the other hand pulled a complete 180 and has been recording jazz, funk, swing, and soul music under the name Ceramik. While I was initially sad to see Span go, Ceramik has become a more than worthy consolation prize.

Bernhoft is currently in New Jersey recording a full album for a Ceramik release. Whether this album will be aimed at US release or stay to his humble Norweigen roots, can only be told by time.