Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jazkamer - The Monroe Doctrine CD (review)

Label: Pica Disk
Catalog#: PICA016
Format: CD, Album
Country: Norway
Released: March 2010

The Monroe Doctrine” is the March edition of Jazkamers 2010 monthly abum series. This CD is a 30 minute track with full on noise rock free jazz improv beat hysteria. Performers are the regular four piece of Gross, Hegre, Marhaug and Drønen. Beautiful artwork by José De Diego.

To make it short, the album immediately striked me as something heavy but lovely, a full on wow-factor after just a few seconds, it knocked me way back in my seat, pushing enormous amounts of energy inside me. And it didn’t stop until the full half hour came to an end. Reviewing this CD without emotions is impossible, but I’ll try to describe some of what I heard.

It starts off with a massive wall of sound from guitar, drums, electronics, and I’m guessing, keyboards of some sort. The soundwall is heavy and loaded with bass and lower midrange frequencies, but still it is possible to hear the drums and guitar, although they are not in front of the sound image, but well blended in. Nothing is piercing, and you have to really listen carefully to separate out details. I can hear Coltrane, Hendrix, trains, traffic, cricket singing, jet fighters, blistering feedback sounds, although sometimes it is well hidden, almost subtle inside the mass. Jazkamer produces a fantastic amount of energy all the way through, they never slow down, especially the drums are pounding at an enourmous energy, speed and power.

The title made me wonder if it is meant as a political full on statement, as the original doctrine was made to stop colonising any countries of the western hemisphere. Or is it just a full on statement?

The CD is very well produced and mixed by Jørgen Træen, no noise overtakes the drums or guitars and opposite. The sound in my ears is fantastic, and very rarely noise/rock releases give me just as good experience as a live show, but “The Monroe Doctrine” really does. In fact I might have a new favourite hangover repair album. I am sad when it stops on 30 minutes sharp, and I had to go repeat…

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Compact cassette rising

As CD sales are declining and prophecies about the format vanishing completely, other formats as vinyl is of course coming back to peoples minds and shelves. What is more surprising is that the compact cassette has not vanished, but in fact sales of blank tapes are rising, and some labels release more and more cassettes. Some new labels are solely specializing in releasing cassettes, and here in Norway Tape Rape Records, a sublabel to Ambolthue, and Kassettkultur has been delivering high quality releases of the magnetic tape in recent years. To celebrate one of the most released artist in Norway the last years, certainly on cassette also by the way, Tape Rape just released Lasse Marhaug "Camellia Sinensis", a four tape box including a 64 page illustrated book. Only limited to 100 copies, this beauty is bound to go fast. Marhaug himself owned the TWR tapes label and has been dedicated to still release his works on the said format.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Jazkamer - Musica Non Grata CD (review)

Label: Pica Disk
Catalog#: PICA015
Format: CD, Album
Country: Norway
Released: Feb 2010

From the website comes this information: "The February edition of Jazkamer's 2010 monthly CD-series. "Musica Non Grata" is a feedback-fest. Armed with guitars and analogue synths and an arsenal of amps, Hegre, Gross and Marhaug locked themselves into Duper Studios in Bergen, exploring how feedback-timbre sounds like when recorded on an analogue 24 track 2" tape-machine. The three long tracks that makes "Musica Non Grata" are slow-moving long-form meditations on feedback that will be bliss for a select few and hell for most listeners. February is not an easy month . CD in digipak cover. Photos by Martín Escalante."

Musica Non Grata is the second release in Jazkamers 2010 monthly series, and the CD has three long tracks. To make it clear and save you wasting time reading further: this is a study in feedback! Those who are still reading might like to know that this full length CD from the trio again being Marhaug, Hegre & Gross, is very much different from last months Solitary Nail. When the latter was one 30 minute track of cut and paste, Musica Non Grata is slowly moving, changing over long periods of time, making the change barely noticable.

The first track “Honda Sound Works” is more than 30 minutes of high pitch guitar, synth and electronic feedback. By insanly slowly altering the sounds, they make the track go on for the full 30+ minutes, and making it sound right. It is not very wide ranging, and the sound stays for most of the trak up in the high frequency range, making it challenging to follow all the way.

Next up is the title track, starting off where the first finished, but here the track is coloured by lower frequency sounds making it very much “easier listening”. Sometimes a mid ranging squeal is mixed in the background. It is however very industrial sounding, and sounds of circular saw and various powertools appear, although I think none of them were ever used.

Last track “Feedback Fans” is a more evident guitar based track, although I suspect other sound sources are used. By pounding, hitting or touching the guitar in some way, a slow rhythm appears from time to time, making the track vary more. The second half of the track is also less full on, and the study of feedback becoms even more evident.

So, was February an easy month? It certainly wasn't bright, but Musica Non Grata has made more turns than normal and made my life brighter and easier in comparison. Musica Non Grata is also worth a try if you think the world of feedback needs further explorations.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Independent record store day

Good, independent, alternative and experimental quality music need similar good, independent, alternative and experimental distribution channels. Henie Onstad Art Center, highlight this, to celebrate the three most influential independent record stores in Norway. Sunday the 7th of February there will be concerts with Montée, Pow Pow, Alfabulator, and the best opportunities to buy some quality music on vinyl and cd.

Big Dipper, Tiger and Looop are three Norwegian stores as uncompromisingly has promoted alternative, experimental quality music for years. The three stores are and have been a vital channel of distribution and source of income for young artists and record companies in Norway, that does not usually get shelf space and radio play. These three independent record stores are a focal point and meeting place for music enthusiasts, and make an unprecedented effort to spread quality music, serve up a musical diversity and a very interesting music scene.

In order to highlight the work of independent record stores are doing, have Henie Onstad Art Center asked Big Dipper, Tiger and Looop choose themselves their own band to play concerts on Høvikodden on the 7th of February. The audience will recieve a full day of concerts, vinyl and CD sales. Big Dipper selected band Montée who in 2009released their debut album, "Isle of Now" to critical acclaim.

Tiger have chosen the instrumental band Pow Pow as with their debut album, "Leaving Las Palmas" in 2007 made many headlines and was a welcome new addition to the Norwegian post-rock. The band plays a kind of instrumental rock that is reminiscent of Tangerine Dream and Jean Michael Jarre who meets CAN in Tago Mago mode.

Looop has put together the band Alfabulator especially to this event, consisting of Per Gisle Galåen, Kai Mikalsen, Martin Powell and Petter Flaten Eilertsen.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Supporting Haiti

All over the country artists wants to support the victims of the disaster in Haiti, by participating in concerts. So also here in Bodø. The support concert is arranged by Parkenfestivalen, and it will be on this Thursday, the 4th of February @ Sinus. Tickets are NOK 200,- , and all ticket sales will go directly to Prosjekt Haiti. So anyone close enough to be there, be there! Line-up is: Bobleplast, FipPellektormonic, Kråkesølv, Lady Midday, HumdinGer and Æ. More info (in Norwegian) here.