Bjørn Nes: Unusual focus on arrangement details, and progressive melodic hooks…..

Bjørn Nes - Abacus

Nes says on Instagram: I often wonder if the notion of ‘our’ faulting attention span is not necessarily a product of the ever growing access to stimuli. Moreover, there appears to be a shift in the day-to-day-priorities of the consumer, and I increasingly think the product is more at fault than its availability. There seems to be a consensus among industry professionals that the average listener is getting lazy, our attention-span shorter, and the only way to combat this is to further compartmentalize an art form that is alreadyso ridden with do’s and don’ts that it has becomes painstakingly obvious that it’s not really art anymore: Commerce first, art somewhere down the line. Listen here.

The main problem does not lie with rules or formula alone. Who am I to critique someone’s personal vision of their art and craft? To create a short and sweet popsong requires practice and skill many cannot attain in a lifetime, and that’s not and has never been the issue. The problem lies in its codependency on its format’s requirements: this weird symbiosis between formula and format that is increasingly giving way to a meaningless race for instant gratification by artists, labels, and curators, and will continue to limit and restrict how music is being consumed.

The digital age should have been the antidote. Television’s a prime example (pun not intended) of a format that has increasingly demanded more from its audience as it has become more readily available through streaming. The ambition is higher than ever. Why shouldn’t music be allowed to do the same? The single as medium was originally just a product of the technical limitations of early phonograph records, not a prerequisite for how it must be today. It’s almost perplexing how those whocondition the ears of the average listener also condition the voice of the artist.

Let songs be the songs they intended to be. Abacaus is out September 6, 2021

I have always invested myself in compositional ideas above all else. They are intentions for a musical design of absolute candor, and for me that defines creativity at its infancy. Certainly the process that will later unfold is never truly alike any one that came before, and though its result may be satisfactory or even great if one is truly lucky, it might equally render the entire idea obsolete. But ideas are comforting because they too aspire to be something more, something better.

It has been quite number of years since I last dared to even think about the endless methods for realising any of these musical thoughts. Up to a certain point they seemed best left inside this brain I was given some twenty-eight odd years ago. If grocery shopping felt like slippery slope to certain death, I sure as hell was not going to release anything that might warrant me unwanted attention for some sappy-ass love song.

But the thing is that after a while these ideas really eat you up alive if left unattended. You define yourself a songwriter but you’re not really providing the material necessary to convince yourself you’re truly who you think you are. At the same time you’re holding onto something that was originally created to take on a life of its own. Something that aspired to be, and even deserved to be, something more than a crude outline inside your own head. It was more about necessity than desire, and the result wasn’t even the important part. Interpretation and improvisation allow no final form.

So it clearly wasn’t only the idea that needed to grow, it was also the man behind it. Go get em! Abacaus is out September 6. 2021

Most of the material that comprise Abacus was never intended to be recorded. It certainly wasn’t intended to be released. It wasn’t supposed to have a life on its own and it wasn’t supposed to take on a final form. I think most artists praise their latest work as their best. Someone standing on theoutside might not have seen the journey that lead up to that moment of creation, but the artist made both conscious and unconscious decisions that lead her or him to that moment in time where the art best represented him orher at that exact moment. Abacus, however, is a different story altogether.

To me Abacus has come to represent a platform for growth. Amidst masks and socialdistancing I decided to rid myself of all fears, expectations, and the presumptions that I wasn’t good enough. So Abacus became a project of songs I didn’t truly love, but songs which nevertheless deserved to be useful, to blossom, and to be sung. It was project that allowed me to experiment with everythingfrom instrumentation to lyrical arrangement.

The result is something I struggle to categorize, but something I know that I’m proud of. The album is about 55-minutes of music. It’s quirky, melodic, bluesy, arranged with total abandon, and guitar-driven for the most part: a musical cocktail of 70s power pop, blues rock, and baroque colored contemporary classical music. It’s a record that doesn’t strive to be defined but rather strives to reflect creative diversity, improvisation, and experimentation.

I’ve got so many people to thank but I’ll get to that later. Sayonara, mothers! Abacus is out September 6. 2021.


About Ulf Backstrøm (7437 Articles)
Mitt hovedfokus er musikk som er basert på progressiv tenking. Jeg er på ingen måte ensporet innen musikksmak, i likhet med intensjonen bak prog. Sjangerbegrepet er egentlig temmelig uinteressant annet enn til å gi en pekepinn om hva slags musikk det er snakk om i en anmeldelse. Jeg søker god musikk for å utfordre meg som lytter. God musikk til å trigge mine musikalske smaksløker, og til å sette i gang mine refleksjoner. Da er sjansen stor for at jeg utvikler meg og lærer, noe som bør være drivstoff for et hvert menneske. Fordi det å lære og utvikle seg er noe som tilfører livet en nødvendig porsjon "krydder". Slikt krydderet finner man blant annet i musikk. Ikke overraskende mener jeg at progressiv musikk har den fineste "smaken". På den annen side kan musikk med eller uten progressive elementer være godt nok til hverdags. Til fest derimot holder bare rendyrket prog! Må jo også få med at jeg rimelig kritisk, og jeg mener at det lages mye prog som er i beste fall uinteressant, og faktisk mye som er pinlig dårlig. Heldigvis oppveies dette av ekstremt dyktige aktører som for eksempel: Flower Kings, Mostly Autumn og White Willow, for å nevne noen tilfeldig valgte.
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