I’ve decided to keep my list numberless this year, as each of these records touched me in very different ways, and in addition only three Norwegian album would be mentioned. In fact there are very much other good Norwegian music from 2020.
Weserbergerland – Am Ende Der Welt
Due to uncounted contributions to diverse bands, respectively music projects, Ketil Vestrum Einarsen can be seen as a real key figure when it comes to the prog rock scene in Norway. Three years ago he teamed up with three amazing musician Gaute Storsve, Jacob Holm-Lupo and Mattias Olsson and founded the project Weserbergland. They release the album Sehr Komisch, Ganz Progisc. In my opinion an incredible good album.
It`s with great pleasure I now could listen to Weserbergland sophomore release Am Ende Der Welt. New musician in the Weserberg band is Jan Terje Augestad, Maria Grigoryeva, and Jørgen Mathiesen. Jakob Holm-Lupo is still involved, but this time with mixing, mastering and binaural mixing. Ketil Vestrum Einarson contribute with flute, clarinet, keyboards, guitars and programming on the new album! A real and very clever multi-instrumentalist!
The second album from Weserbergland represents a dramatic shift in style. The first album was an homage to the German Krautrock scene. This time they have gone back to the avant garde roots of Krautrock. Gone are the melodies and positive vibrations, Instead sound itself is the focus. The album´s title is Am Ende Der Welt – At The End Of The World.
«We have tried to explore the awe we feel when confronted with vast empty spaces. Both those we find and nature and those of a more existential kind» – Ketil Vestrum Einarsen.
This has resulted in a dark and demanding album, balancing somewhere between modern electronic music and contemporary classical music The album´s sole track lasts 42:39 minutes and features Gaute Storsve on a modified and prepared guitar, Maria Grigoryeva on strings, Jørgen Mathiesen from Krokofant on sax and Molesome on turntables. The album also marks the debut of Jan Terje Augestad, who plays prepared piano. All sound sources on the albums are acoustic or electro-acoustic, and band leader Ketil Vestrum Einarsen created a whole work by editing and manipulating these sources with various digital techniques.
The cover was designed by Henning Lindahl using a photograph of Mehamn in Northern Norway. The photograph was taken by Per Einar Einarsen (Ketil´s father) whilst living there in the seventies.
Green Carnation – Leaves Of Yesteryear
Green Carnation was formed in 1990 by Christian “X” Botteri, Cristoffer Michael “CM” Botteri, Tchort (Terje Vik Schei) and Anders Kobro. The band released a Death Metal demo in 1991/1992, Hallucinations Of Despair, which sold in 400 copies. The band was eventually a vehicle for playing Progressive Gothic/Doom Metal. Over the years musicians have come and gone, and now the band is an avant garde/prog/ metal outfit.
After founding member Tchort joined legends-to-be Emperor and continued in Satyricon and Einherjer, the band was laid to rest until its debut album, A Journey To The End Of The Night, came out in 2000. Following a period with lineup changes, 2001 marked the release of the band’s epic Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness. In 2007 they disbanded again and was reformed in 2014. During their active periods they released five albums with the latest being The Acoustic Verses from 2006, which was a surprising release with its stripped down approach.
On May 8th the band are back with their sixth release, Leaves Of Yesterday. The current line-up is Tchort and Bjørn Harstad on guitars, Stein Roger Sordal on bass, Kenneth Silden on keys, Jonathan Alejandro Perez on drums, and Kjetil Nordhus on vocals. Nordhus who also is a singer, composer and music producer in other bands like Tristania, Subterranean Masquerade and Nightshadows Lament. Permafrost.Today was so lucky that this very sympathetic musician took the time to answer some of our questions. The title track Leaves Of Yesterday,
He states about the new album, «We think of this record as a tribute to the band’s past, present and future. That is, we dive into our own history, and let ourselves be inspired by what we have done earlier in our careers, but it is done 14 years after the last release. In no way does it sound like anything we have done before. The songs are probably more progressive and heavy than the albums we released before we left in 2006».
The group has always had the ability to surprise with their new records. This time it has been more important to define what they do best, and explore it further. The focus of the band is to make a very good record, which sounds like the 2020 version of Green Carnation. This is something I like and applaud, and I definitely also applauds the very nice cover art by created by Niklas Sundin.
«The cover contains elements from the lyrics on the album, affected by the music and expressed through the cover artist Niklas Sundin’s pencil», singer Kjetil Nordhus says. «Sundin put a lot of effort going deep into our album, and came up with a few different sketches. We immediately fell for this one. It is rich in detail, is eye catching and, of course, has Niklas Sundin’s signature, which we are very fond of».
«Bassist Stein Roger Sordal came up with the ideas behind the new songs, but they have gone through a whole series of minor and major changes as a result of feedback from the others in the band. We had 13-14 versions of one song before it was finished, and almost ten of the versions were the result of me and Stein Roger sitting and flipping at details, switching to themes and everything. But we are happy with how things have been».
«My Dark Reflections Of Life And Death (15:36) Hounds (10:10) are reasonably long tunes. Both songs were originally written about 20 years ago, and they represent the way we made songs in the early years. While Hounds is a song that consists of two parts (which are interconnected), and represent a slightly newer way of composing for the band. At least they are both progressive.»
«All the musicians in the band are dedicated to music, but it would be a lie to say that the wonderful reception we received after the 2016 comeback has not been motivating, and important. Obviously things get a lot easier when there is a positive vibe around what we are doing, and the record we will be releasing in May were supposed to be just be an EP. We noticed when we were doing what was planned, we had it in us to make an entire album.»
«It is Stein Roger Sordal who wrote lyrics to three of the songs on the new album. One of the texts is by guitarist Terje Vik Schei, and then we have a cover song of Black Sabbath, so we cannot quite take credit for that. The cover is based on the main theme of the album. Niklas Sundin listened to the tracks a lot and dwelved into the lyrics, and we are incredibly happy with what he got out of it. I think it’s nice to use the cover to explain what the album is about.»
The music lovers will soon be able to experience Green Carnation on tour, and Nordhus has other great news – «We have already confirmed a number of concerts and festivals in 2020, and are already working on what we will do in 2021. We have signed a five-album agreement with Season Of Mist, with the Leaves of Yesteryear being the first of these. There will be a relaunch of Acoustic Verses for its 15th anniversary in 2021, and then there will be news of the next three albums when we are ready for it. It sure won’t take close to fourteen years for that to happen». The track Sentintels,
«We had great fun in the studio during the recording of the new album. Those who have worked with Endre Kirkesola (producer, and keyboardist in the comeback year 2016) know that his humor is incredibly special! We spent enough money to pay the studio and mastering before we booked studio time. Then we got a few thousand kroner from Kristiansand municipality in support, and finally Season Of Mist came into the picture, and have clearly shown that they want to bet on the band going forward. We have tested crowd funding in the past, but thought we would save it for the future».
The epic song on the new album is the remarkable good My Dark Reflections Of Life And Death.
Last Day Of Darkness concert film, excerpt 1,
Wobbler – Dwellers Of The Deep
If there is one band who has captured the sound of the golden age of Progressive Rock (1969 – 1975) without sounding regressive or copycat, it is the Norwegian band Wobbler. The band has always had an energetic and youthful approach to the classic prog era, and has managed to blow new life into the genre.
Wobbler´s fifth offering is an exciting blend of carefully planned and jammed material that encompasses everything the band has done up to now. Dwellers Of The Deep consists of four distinctive pieces and is a broad looking glass into Wobbler´s creative whims and playful exuberance. The album showcases the band´s mastery of dynamics and flow, with passages and themes veering from the scenic and serene to the downright rocking.
By The Banks
On the final track, Wobbler is in full blast, with a 19 minutes suite taking the listener through aspects of the darker sides of Wobbler´s sound!
The lyrical themes on the album deals with human emotion, and the ongoing struggle between juxtaposed forces within the psyche. An introspective voyage among the realms of memories, feelings and instincts, where the light is brighter, and the dark is darker.
The concepts of wonder, longing and desperation permeates the histories told, and the currents from the deep are ever present.
The production is open, detailed, warm and punchy, making the soundscape put together by the now seasoned sound alchemist Lars Fredrik Frøislie to an aural feast. New musical directions further the quintet’s burgeoning aural idiosyncrasies and solidify the band stature as one of the most exciting and interesting bands on the global music scene, independent of genre.
Hinterland”(The Laser’s Edge, 2005)
Afterglow (Termo Records, 2009)
Rites At Dawn (Termo Records, 2011)
From Silence To Somewhere (Karisma Records, 2017)
The new album is recorded at LFF Studios and Vilthagen Studios, and the music is for fans of Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Van Der Graaf Generator.