Safe as Milk, as well as being the first album by genius Captain
Beefheart, is an independent experimental Norwegian label (Noxagt,
Vibracathedral Orchestra, Tore H Bøe, Lasse Marhaug among others)
Their annual festival in picturesque Haugesund have in past years
been cited as a noise fans dream. Furthernoise could not let this
years event go unreported, and I was quickly dispatched to the
acoustic guitar improviser from the John Fahey School, was a nice
and laid back start to this year's festival. The bearded, mystical
East German started by slowly winding up his strings into a drone
and picking out harmonics that shimmered off the stage, a warm wash
of sound that filled the room and brought an eager audience to total
silence. “It is the sound of twilight!” he enigmatically announced
and proceeded through pieces dedicated to sunlight, water and fire.
A smoky blend of American Blues and North Indian Raga, his
performance reeked of the 60's, but somehow Steffen Basho-Junghans
managed to avoid a retro performance, skilfully incorporating more
contemporary noises from drone rock, improv, and even weaved in some
rhythms that could be some kind of acoustic techno!
who had just finished recording an album in Steve Albinis studio,
the 60's theme continued, whipping up a whirl of wah wah noise
reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine and (IMHO) the superior
Rollerskate Skinny. With ponchos, headbands, and serious looking
violin, they looked the part and the sound they produced whirled
round the lofted beams, a white knuckle noise, or blinding blur of
The noise continued into the dark brutal uncompromising hip hop of
to Mike Pattons
and cited as being somewhere between Public Enemy and Slayer, the
laptop and rapper duo pulled hip hop back from the mainstream
teenage wetdream to the truth of the horror of the grit sick ghetto.
Frankly, rap music usually bores me to death, but in Dälek I have
found an exception to the gruel. Above the distorted scornful
rhythms and deafening pulses of full on sound the rap voice of Dälek
cut through the noise and held it all together.
main act of the evening were the eagerly awaited
the audio virus of Helge Sten aka Deathprod. I have witnessed the
greatness of this band many times before and tonight I'm afraid they
were just a tad disappointing. However, it's their own fault for
being so monumentally fantastic on previous viewings, tonight, there
was just something missing. That something may have been drummer,
Jarle Vespestad, unavailable for this show. His place was bravely
filled by Arve Henriksen, Supersilent's trumpet player, who did
quite an admirable juggling job, swapping between spiky trumpet,
rattling drums and almost devotional singng . It was as if he knew
that he needed to bring more to the show, his usually retrained
vocal segments in abundance tonight, showing off his phenomenal
range of styles from soaring symphonic histrionics to sub-vocal,
guttural chattering, that thankfully never quite fell into the
comedic ramblings of Ron Geesin, but certainly in a similar vein.
Combined with the fact that their quieter moments had to compete
with the drunken chat of an expensively lubricated crowd, their
improvised creations never quite caught fire and too often fell into
previously trod passages of spiky ring-modulated randomness. Still
pretty brilliant though.
Late was the hour when they came off stage, and I veered the
convenient ten meters back to the festival hotel, accompanied by the
lonesome strains of the Serena Meneesh violinist, who had taken up
position outside the venue, busking for a few extra kroners.
I woke suddenly, unable to move, confused as to where was I was. I
rolled over and discovered the mini-bar chocolate, opened quickly
and foolishly the previous night, was under me, gluing me to the
sheets. A shower, an embarrassing encounter with the housekeeper as
she discovered the awful truth about drunken men, that we like
nothing better than to wallow in our own chocolate. I escaped to the
town for breakfast and fresh air.
Haugesund is situated on the west coast of Norway, right in the
heart of a breathtaking archipelago of rivers, islands, inlets and
fjords that Slartibartfast should be proud of. Grown up as a fishing
port, exporting herring in years gone by. It now sports a typical
ordinary main street, a row of pleasant cafes and drinking
establishments on the wharf, and a perfectly un-shabby record shop
Not a bad little place.
Paris based musician Cecile Schott. Her debut album from 2002
“Everyone wants answers” (The leaf label) was hailed by critics and
won her fans all over the world. Her new album “The Golden Morning
Breaks” has just been released on the same label. A pleasant enough
opening for the Saturday night, she builds up loops using cello,
guitar and clarinet in a sweetly simple form that has a special
feeling that is both sad and warm. Speaking as a musician who has
been working with live looping techniques for more than 20 years, I
found her use of the tools rather too naive and amateurish, but
that's probably just the old muso in me because she was very warmly
received by an appreciative audience.
started and I spilled my pint…Despite looking like he is not old
enough to be let in, Anders Hana (Ultralyd,
Jaga Jazzist) is gaining cult status as an improv guitar god here in
Norway. I have seen him play solo a number of times now, and never
really got what all the fuss was about, until now. Crikey...
tonight, combined with drummer Morten J. Olsen (also from Ultralyd),
it all made sense. So, there I was, nursing my beer in an empty-ish
room (smoking is banned from venues in Norway which means that
between acts the crowd repairs to the street) and BANG!... the
engine roar began. Hana's guitar was hit and punched, bowed and
scraped violently, the sound burned and scorched beyond Big muff
Moogerfooging pitchshift recognition! Twisting and turning, having
being sucked from the street, the crowd was beaten about head and
neck by furious, combustible drumming from Olsen, using the most
together and successful laptop processing of drums I have ever
witnessed. The snare was a launchpad for crazed twangs, right hook
blows and painful screeches, as he beat and scraped it to shreds.
The sound was raw, loud and in my face. Hana and Olsen never for one
moment relaxed into anything remotely resembling simplicity or
anything vaguely rehearsed or tired. If I was in my home town now I
would leave, go home and put all my guitar equipment on E-bay, us
old fucks have got to know when we're licked.
Samuel Jackson 5
did a good job of their brand of Tortoise jazzy Mogwai rock. They
suffered for me simply by taking the stage after Moha, and really
couldn't match the intensity, but who could? They did, however,
slowly turn the crowd around from serious noisy intellectuals to
party poppers, just in time for the inevitable final slot from
One of Norways most prolific artists – not only is he an
internationally renowned visual artist and designer (Rune Grammofon,
Motorpsycho, Dave Grubbs) – he is also well known as an author,
filmmaker and musician. Neither his childish and simple graphics nor
his playful pling-plong electronica really does anything for me,
however you have to close a successful festival on a happy and light
note, and that's what Hiorthøy is, and does well.
Taking off from the small Haugesund Airport on a rainy Sunday
morning I contemplate scoring the festival. Friday night was for me
a full and well rounded evening, but Saturday had the excitement and
raw power of Moha. Just for a moment I wondered if in fact Messrs.
Hana and Olsen were infact strapped to the underside of the
…they weren't, but I'm sure they could have been.