THE TWENTY BEST NORDIC WAVE ALBUMS OF 2015-PART 1.

THE TWENTY BEST NORDIC WAVE ALBUMS OF 2015-PART 1.

For the last few years, Norway has one of the most vibrant music scenes. Gradually, groups from other parts of the Nordic region are beginning to make waves. So it makes sense to add a new category to this 2015’s best of series, the best Nordic albums of 2015. Each and every one of the albums on the list would be worthy additions to any self-respecting record collections. Indeed, anyone looking for new and innovative music should work their way through the following list.

ANNELI DRECKER-ROCKS AND STRAWS.

In July 2015,  Anneli Drecker released her long awaited, and much anticipated third solo album, Rocks and Straws on Rune Grammofon, It marked a welcome return from Anneli Drecker. Her recording career began twenty-eight years ago, with Bel Canto when she was just seventeen.  Since then, Anneli Drecker released six albums with Bel Canto, worked with Röyksop and released her third album, Rocks and Straws.  

For Rocks and Straws, Anneli Drecker penned eleven new songs. These songs are based on lyrics by cult poet Arvid Hanssen, and were  translated into English by artist and writer Roy-Frode Løvland. Arvid Hanssen´s poems have been strongly influenced by the mysterious and powerful nature of this arctic region, including the works of writer of Knut Hamsun. Despite the lyrics being based on Arvid Hanssen’s lyrics, the songs on Rocks and Straws are personal to Anneli Drecker. She describes them as an “ode” to the town and region she was born and brought up. Helping Anneli Drecker, who also produced Rocks and Straws, were some of the great and good of Norwegian music. 

The result was a captivating album that showcased Anneli Drecker’s ethereal vocal. It’s complimented by understated, acoustic arrangement. They frame Anneli Drecker’s vocals, as effortlessly, she breathes life, meaning and hope into lyrics. Other times, her vocal veers between tender, dramatic and powerful. Occasionally, Anneli Drecker’s vocal and tinged with sadness. Always, it’s heartfelt and impassioned. That’s because each of the eleven songs on Rocks and Straws are personal to Anneli Drecker. They’re about Anneli Drecker’s life and formative years. These years shaped Anneli Drecker, and made her what she is now. That’s one of the most talented singers in Europe.  

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AS THE TIRED TRAINS CROSS EUROPE-LUCID MOMENTS. 

One of the real finds of 2015 was As The Tired Trains Cross Europe’s debut album Lucid Moments. It was released on CD and heavyweight vinyl by Big Pink Records and showcases a truly talented singer-songwriters.  So much so, that great things are forecast from As The Tired Trains Cross Europe. No wonder.  

As The Tired Trains Cross Europe is the perfect showcase for the the multi-talented Vegard Eggum. He wrote, recorded, produced and mixed the ten tracks on Lucid Moments. It’s a musical roller coaster, where As The Tired Trains Cross Europe flits between and combines elements of country, electronica, folk, jazz, Krautrock, Nordic Wave, pop, post rock, psychedelia, reggae and rock. The result is a musical journey that all music loves should experience and embrace.

Over Lucid Moments’ ten tracks, Vegard Eggum becomes storyteller and troubadour. He embraces these roles, delivering vocals that are variously cathartic, heartfelt, hopeful, hurt-filled, impassioned, needy and soul-baring. Lyrics come to life, as Vegard Eggum lives them, on Lucid Moments, the debut album from his latest musical vehicle, As The Tired Trains Cross Europe. Essentially, Lucid Moments is a musical journey through the mind of musical adventurer and explorer Vegard Eggum.

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ASAMISIMASA PLAYS THE MUSIC OF ØYVIND TORVUND.

Øyvind Torvund was a composer that Asamisimasa had long admired and been inspired by. So, Asamisimasa decided to record an album of Øyvind Torvund’s compositions. The result is Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund will be released by Norwegian Aurora Contemporary on 11th September 2015. However, this is no ordinary album.

Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund features four lengthy soundscapes. Two of them, feature several movements. Wilibald Motor Landscape is a five piece movement, while Neon Forest Space features seven movements. Both tracks tell stories, and have a cinematic quality. Just like the two lengthy tracks, Wolf Studies and Plastic Waves, these tracks see Asamisimasa a disparate and eclectic selection of musical genres and influences.

During the four tracks on Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund, elements of ambient, avant-garde, classical, electronica, experimental, free jazz, industrial post rock, psychedelia and rock melt into one. Somehow, though, this ambitious and pioneering fusion of disparate musical genres hangs together, and make perfect musical sense.

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BLACK MOON CIRCLE-THE STUDIO JAMS VOLUME I: YELOW NEBULA IN THE SKY.

Norwegian psychedelic space rock band Black Moon Circle are one of the rising stars of the Norwegian music scene. Their previous album Andromeda was released to critical acclaim in October 2014. A great future was forecast for the Trondheim based trio. No wonder. Black Moon Circle are one of the most talented bands in the Nordic music scene. They’re also one of the most ambitious, as they  plan to release a trilogy of studio jams. The first instalment is The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula in the Sky. It was be released on limited edition vinyl, in August 2015, on Crispin Glover Records, and is the perfect introduction to Black Moon Circle.

They’re, essentially, a power trio, who create their unique brand of psychedelic space rock. The basis for this, is the classic rock of the sixties and seventies, psychedelia and space rock. To this, Black Moon Circle add elements of electronica, experimental music and free jazz. Seamlessly, these disparate musical genres and influences merge into something new and innovative. It’s cinematic, dramatic, futuristic, moody, rocky and as Øyvin Engan says, “intense.” 

This intensity is deliberate. It comes courtesy of the three members of Black Moon Circle. They deploy layers of fuzzy guitars, spacey, lysergic synths and a mesmeric rhythm section. When all this is combined, the result is the next instalment in the Black Moon Circle story, The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky. It’s without doubt the best album of Black Moon Circle’s three album career. That’s why, for anyone yet to discover Black Moon Circle, The Studio Jams Volume I: Yellow Nebula In The Sky is the perfect introduction to the Norwegian psychedelic space rock pioneers at their hard rocking best.

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CHRISTIAN WALLUMROD-PIANOKAMMER.

Christian Wallumrød’s recording career began nearly twenty years ago, in 1996, when the Christian Wallumrød Trio released their debut album Birch. Released to widespread critical acclaim, Birch launched the career of Christian Wallumrød. Since then, Christian Wallumrød star has been in the ascendancy. 

To the onlooker, it seems Christian Wallumrød has done everything in music. He’s worked with the great and good of Norwegian music on a variety of groundbreaking projects, and formed the Christian Wallumrød Trio, who have released five albums. Their last album, Outstairs, released in 2013, won a Spellemannspris, Norwegian Grammy. However, there’s one thing Christian Wallumrød rectified last year, when he realised his debut solo album Pianokammer on Hubro Music.

Pianokammer is a spellbinding album, of innovative, groundbreaking and genre defying music. Christian combines ambient, avant-garde, blues, experimental, free jazz and jazz. The result is a captivating collection of six songs, that are variously ambitious, bold, dark, dramatic, ethereal, haunting, hopeful, irresistible, joyous, ominous and uplifting. That’s why, Pianokammer is, without doubt, such an ambitious and captivating album from musical innovator and adventurer, Christian Wallumrød. 

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DALINDEO-KALLIO. 

It was back in 2003, that Dalindèo, the Finnish jazz-sextet were founded by composer and guitarist Valtteri Laurell Pöyhönen. Since then, Dalindèo have released a trio of albums.  Their debut was Open Scenes in 2007. Three years later, Dalindèo returned with Soundtrack For The Sound Eye. By then, Dalindèo’s star was in the ascendancy. Then in March 2015, Dalindèo released their third album Kallio on BBE Music.

Kalindèo are just the latest in a long line of hugely talented Scandinavian artists who are making groundbreaking music. Previously, many of these artists have come from Norway, which currently, has some of the most inventive and innovative musicians in Europe. This Nordic Wave has resulted in Norway becoming one of Europe’s musical cultural capitals. That looks like continuing for the some time. No wonder. Some of the best, and most groundbreaking music of the last few years has come out of Norway. This includes everything from ambient and avant-garde, to jazz, fusion and rock. Norway it seems, is at the vanguard of musical revolution. Will this musical revolution sweep across Scandinavia?

Let’s hope that’s the case. Hopefully, in the coming months and years, a new generation of Finnish artists and groups will produce equally innovative and ambitious music. Maybe, Kalindèo, will be the first of many Finnish artists and groups to enjoy commercial success and critical acclaim? That’s could to be the case. Especially, if they can produce music as groundbreaking and atmospheric as that on Kallio, Dalindèo’s third album.

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ELEPHANT9 WITH REINE FISKE-SILVER MOUNTAIN.

For their fourth album, Silver Mountain, Elephant9 have once again joined forces with Swedish virtuoso guitarist Reine Fiske. This tantalising pan-Scandinavian collaboration has resulted in a genre-melting album of rock ’n’ jazz, prog rock and psychedelia, Silver Mountain. It was released on Rune Grammofon, and is the finest album of Elephant9’s four album career.

Not only is Silver Mountain the finest album of Elephant9’s career. It features music that’s ambitious, bold, exciting and innovative. Continually, Elephant9 push musical boundaries. To do this, they combine musical genres. Everything from ambient, the classic rock of the late-sixties and seventies, electronica, experimental, free jazz, Krautrock, prog rock, psychedelia and space rock can be heard on Sliver Mountain. It’s a captivating journey through musical genres and influences. Listen carefully, and you’ll hear everyone from Can, Hawkwind, Jimi Hendrix, Klaus Doldinger, Kraftwerk, Led Zeppelin, Neu!, Pink Floyd, Ry Cooder, The Doors and Tubeway Army. Some of these influences can be heard only briefly, while others are more noticeable. Closer to home, another of Norway’s leading bands Motorpscycho also seem to have influenced Elephant9, as they take listeners on journey through twists and turns. 

Continually, Elephant9 take twists and turns throughout Silver Mountain. They lead you down blind alleys, only to find an escape route. Out of a blistering slice of rock comes an ethereal ambient soundscape. That’s what you quickly come to expect from Elephant9 on Silver Mountain, musical pioneers extraordinaire.

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ERLAND DAHLEN-BLOSSOM BELLS.

Back in 2012, drummer and percussionist Erland Dahlen released his long-awaited, and much-anticipated debut album Rolling Bomber. By then, the forty-one year old was a veteran of the vibrant Nordic music scene. Erland Dahlen was a veteran of countless bands, including HET, Boschamaz, Kiruna, Morris, Piston Ltd, Batagraf, The Sonic Codex Orchestra and Stian Westerhus and Pale Horses. This however, was only part of the story, as Erland Dahlen was also one of Norway’s top session musicians.  Somehow, Erland Dahlen found time to record Blossom Bells, which was released on Hubro Music.

Blossom Bells is a near flawless fusion of ambient, avant garde, electronica, experimental, Krautrock, Nordic Wave, post rock, psychedelia and rock. Genres melt into one, on an album that’s variously moody and broody, to dark and dramatic, to  lysergic, otherworldly, spiritual, haunting, atmospheric and ethereal. The music on Blossom Bells is definitely cinematic. That’s the case throughout Blossom Bells. It sounds like the soundtrack to a film that’s yet to be made. Other times, the music on Blossom Bells becomes anthemic and up-lifting. Always, though, the music on Blossom Bells is captivating, cerebral, cinematic, inventive and innovative.

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FINLAND-RAINY OMEN.

Playing an important part in the rise and rise of the Norwegian music scene are the three members of Finland;  Ivar Grydeland, Pål Hausken, Morten Qvenild and Jo Berger Myhre. They’ve been members of various bands and worked with numerous artists on a variety of projects.  Given the schedules of the various members of Finland, they could be forgiven for sticking to their “day jobs.” There was no chance of that. The members of Finland love music, and formed what can only be described as a multitalented supergroup. Finland’s debut album Rainy Omen, released in July 2015, by Hubro Music.

Finland was like a meeting of minds. Each of the members of Finland’s musical raison d’être was to make groundbreaking music. They wanted to push musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, way beyond. That’s what they do on Rainy Omen. The music in innovative, inventive and genre-melting. Elements of avant garde, experimental, industrial, jazz, psychedelia and rock are combined to make music that’s veers between atmospheric and cinematic to dark and dramatic. Other times, the music on Rainy Omen flits between beautiful to ethereal, and between lysergic and trippy. Always, though, the music on Rainy Omen is captivating, and I eagerly await Finland’s sophomore album. 

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GEIR SUNDSTOL-FURULUND.

Prolific. That’s a word that is often used to describe musicians. Often that’s an exaggeration. Not in the case of Geir Sundstøl. Since his career began in 1988, Geir Sundstøl has featured on 260 different albums. This includes the albums he recorded as member of Rovers, and then Morris. Mostly, though, Geir Sundstøl has worked as the musical equivalent of a hired gun, playing a multitude of musical instruments on albums and live.  Geir Sundstøl has done just about everything. That was apart from release a debut album. He rectified this in September 2015, when Furulund was released on Hubro Music.  

The music on Furulund is variously atmospheric, beautiful, broody, cinematic, dramatic, dreamy, ethereal, melancholy and moody. It’s capable of taking the listener on a journey. All the listener needs to supply is their imagination. Geir Sundstøl supplies the music. Sometimes, the music sounds as if it belongs on a Spaghetti Western. Another track, Punsj, sound as if they belong on a Wim Wenders soundtrack. Other influences include the Cocteau Twins, Brian Eno, and Buddhist music. Add to this, ambient, Americana, blues, country, folk, post-rock and rock. Each and every one of these influences are part of the sound and success of the cinematic and cerebral Furulund.

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THE TWENTY BEST NORDIC WAVE ALBUMS OF 2015-PART 1.

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