Between the late sixties and the early eighties, a musical revolution took place in Germany. Groups like Amon Düül II, Ash Ra, Can, Cluster, Harmonia, Kraftwerk, Neu! and Popl Vuh released truly groundbreaking music. Sadly, much of that music was way ahead of its time, and passed the German record buying public by. It was a familiar story elsewhere.
Apart from a few dedicated fans in places like Britain and France, Krautrock and the music of the Berlin School were two of music’s best kept secrets. However, this all changed as the internet age dawned.
Suddenly, people around the world discovered Krautrock and the Berlin School. For record buyers worldwide, the internet allowed them to embark upon a voyage of discovery.
Over the next few years, music lovers tastes became much more exotic than ever. They searched the world from the comfort of their home looking for new music. Suddenly, people were listening to music from Africa, the Caribbean, Cuba and Latin America. They were heralded as the next big thing. However, often, it was a false dawn, and a search went on for where the next musical revolution would take place. It happened in what many people regarded as the unlikeliest of places,..Norway.
Those that were surprised at the rise and rise of Norwegian music, hadn’t documented what was a vibrant and thriving musical community. This didn’t happen overnight though. Instead, it took years for Norway to become home to some of the most inventive, innovative and influential musicians in Europe. This includes the twelve members of Skadedyr, a Norwegian supergroup, who are regarded as one of Norway’s most exciting live bands. They’re about to release their sophomore album Culturen, on Hubro Music on the 13th May 2016. Culturen marks a welcome return from one of Norways most groundbreaking bands. They released their debut album Kongekrabbe in 2013. However, Skadedyr’s roots can be traced back to 2011.
That was when Your Headlights Are On released their eponymous debut album. It was well received upon its release, and critics forecast a great future for Your Headlights Are On. Sadly, that wasn’t to be; and the band that Heida Karine Johannesdottir Mobeck and Anja Lauvdal had formed was no more.
From the ashes of Your Headlights Are On, came Skadedyr, which Heida and Anja were determined to make a success of. They’ve been the driving force behind, and brought together a Norwegian supergroup.
Having founded Skadedyr, Heida and Anja went looking for some of Norway’s most talented and innovative musicians. They were spoilt for choice, and brought onboard members of Broen Osk, Karokh, Moskus, Skrap and Hullyboo. The result was a Norwegian supergroup. However, this was no ordinary supergroup.
Instead, Skadedyr describe themselves as an anarchist/democratic band. This makes Skadedyr stand out from the crowd. So does the fact that there’s twelve members of Skadedyr.
These twelve musicians play an eclectic selection of instruments. This includes a brass, string and rhythm section. Even their rhythm section is unlike most other bands. Skadedyr’s rhythm section features two drummers. Then there’s guitars, keyboards and even an accordion. As you can see, Skadedyr aren’t more like other bands. Instead, they were more like pioneering collective of avant-garde musicians. Their recording career began in 2013.
That was when Skadedyr released Kongekrabbe. on Hubro Music. It was released in January 2013, to critical acclaim. Kongekrabbe was heralded as an unyielding, innovative, energetic and enthralling album. Here was a melting pot of musical influences that were guaranteed to captivate. And so it proved to be. Elements of psychedelia, rock, Krautrock, progressive rock and jazz were combined by Skadedyr on Kongekrabbe, which launched the career of the Norwegian supergroup.
Since then, the twelve members of Skadedyr had been busy with various other projects. Still, though, they find time to play live as Skadedyr, and record Culturen, Skadedyr’s long-awaited sophomore album.
For Culturen. the members of Skadedyr penned six new tracks. Hans Hulbækmo wrote Datavirus and Bie; while Lars Ove Fossheim contributed Muggen Loop and Nussi Sinusdatter. Anja Lauvdal and Heiða Karine Jóhannesdóttir Mobeck cowrote Trålertrall and Culturen, which features the poetry of Ivar Aasen. These six tracks became Culturen, which was recorded by Morgan Nicolaysen at Propeller Music Division.
When recording of Culturen began, there was no sign of Andreas Mjøs who had produced Skadedyr’s debut album Kongekrabbe. Not this time around. Instead, Morgan Nicolaysen and Skadedyr took charge of production on Culturen. This could quite easily have been a case of too many cooks spoil the broth. After all, there’s twelve members of Skadedyr, and Morgan Nicolaysen made thirteen. However, the members of Skadedyr were all experienced musicians, and the band was a democracy. They had always taken great care to stress this over the years, and nothing has changed. The democratic process has never failed Skadedyr, and certainly wouldn’t fail them when the recording of Culturen got underway.
Propeller Music Division was chosen for the recording of Culturen. That became the home for the twelve members of Skadedyr during the recording of their sophomore album. The lineup featured a rhythm section of drummers Hans Hulbækmo and Øystein Aarnes Vik; bassist Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson; and guitarists Lars Ove Fossheim and Marius Hirth Klovning. Heiða Karine Jóhannesdóttir Mobeck has a foot in the rhythm and horn section, given he can play bass and tuba. He’s joined in the horn section by trombonist Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø and trumpeter Torstein Lavik Larsen. They’re joined by violinist Adrian Løseth Waade, pianist Anja Lauvdal and accordionist Ida Løvli Hidle. This was the lineup of Skadedyr that featured on Culturen, which marks a change in sound from Skadedyr’s debut album Kongekrabbe.
Not many groups would change a winning sound. However, Skadedyr are unlike most bands. They’re innovators and mavericks, who will constantly seek to reinvent their music. This is what they’ve done on Culturen. The music on Culturen is closer to Skadedyr’s live sound, in that it showcases a much more acoustic sound. The members of Skadedyr believed this resulted “in much more of a team effort.” This soon becomes apparent.
Opening Culturen is Datavirus, a nine minute epic. Straight away, Skadedyr grab the listener’s attention. Drums combine with a piano, percussion and a slow, braying horn. It adds a jazzy influence while the drums and stabs of piano add a mesmeric backdrop. Meanwhile, percussion is sprinkled and gallops atop the arrangement. Soon, it’s all change, when the rest of the horn section adds a free jazz influence. Horns wail and growl, but sometimes, it sounds as if their origins are in New Orleans, not Norway. Joining the horns is a piano which adds an element of darkness and drama. Then at 3.33 the crystalline guitar that’s reminiscent of Johnny Marr enters. Along with a subtle accordion and wistful horn, they combine to create an understated but melodic backdrop. Skadedyr then continue to change tempo and style, as each member of the band gets the opportunity to shine. A hauntingly beautiful gypsy violin solo, comes close to stealing the show. It’s joined by an accordion, bass and tuba, as gradually, the arrangement builds. Joyous scatted vocals are added as the arrangement takes on a lovely loose sound that’s a tantalising taste of Skadedyr’s live sound.
A whirring sound opens Muggen Loop. This is another curveball. It’s quickly replaced by an arrangement that’s veers between melancholy to mournful. Horns are to the fore, creating a slow, jazzy arrangement. Meanwhile, a tack piano and double bass play supporting roles in what’s a hauntingly beautiful track. Sadly, after two minutes, it reaches a sudden ending, leaving just a pleasant a memory.
Bie is very different to the two previous track. There’s a much more experimental, avant-garde sound. The arrangement is understated, droning and meandering along. Skadedyr toy with the instruments, using them to tease out an array of alternative sounds. Gradually, a guitar chirps and a horns rasps. Other times, a droning buzzing sounds escape from the arrangement. So does a wheezing accordion. It’s as if Skadedyr are awakening from their slumber. As they do, elements of free jazz and avant-garde combine. The guitar is played with a degree of urgency. This is the case with the piano. It’s pounded, while the accordion wheezes and shrill strings signal that change is in the air. Soon, the tempo increases and a much more melodic sound makes its presence felt. At the heart of the arrangement, is a pounding piano, strings and rasping horns. They’re responsible for a rousing, joyous sound. Before long, the earlier experimental sound returns. An understated free jazz sound becomes urgent, and heads in the direction of avant-garde and musique concrète. There’s just one more surprise in store, and that’s when the melodic, joyous sound returns as the track reaches a crescendo.
Melancholy, eerie and cinematic describes Nussu Sinusdatter. There’s a sinister, haunting sound as the arrangement wails and drones. Sometimes, it’s as if Skadedyr are warning of some imminent danger. Other times, there’s an otherworldly sound to this fusion of avant-garde, experimental and post rock. However, the best way to describe Nussu Sinusdatter is cinematic. It’s a track that would be the perfect soundtrack to a Norwegian thriller or horror movie.
Trålertrall is another epic track. At nearly eleven minutes long, this allows Skadedyr the chance to experiment. They grab this opportunity with both hands. As the track begins, the arrangement is understated and spacious. Space is left in the arrangement, as a variety of disparate sounds are drizzled across the arrangement. Gradually, though space is at premium, and there’s a degree of urgency. Shakers accompany the sound of a train. Skadedyr it seems are taking the listener on a captivating journey. Sounds flit in and out, and this briefly, includes a brass band playing. Soon, the arrangement becomes minimalist and experimental, Strings are plucked and caressed. A piano is played tenderly, while an array of sounds are added. Later, this includes a melancholy guitar and ethereal vocal. They’re replaced by the horns and strings. Later, Skadedyr’s rhythm section enter, and power the arrangement along. Meanwhile, braying horns play slowly and deliberately, adding an element of melancholia and drama. They’re joined by an array of alternative percussion as musical chameleons Skadedyr continue to combine disparate musical genres, to create something new and innovative.
Culturen closes with the title-track. It features the poetry of Ivar Aasen. As it’s read, percussion scampers across the arrangement. Soon, the unmistakable sound of a tuba plays. It’s joined by a chiming guitar and handclaps. When the vocal drops out, the rest of the horn section replace it, and take centre-stage. They’re playing a starring role, while a wash of guitar, accordion and percussion combine with an array of otherworldly sounds. Together, they create a hypnotic, and irresistible sounding track. This is the perfect way to close, Culturel, with one of the album’s highlights, which marks a welcome return from Skadedyr.
Just over three years have passed since Skadedyr released their debut album Kongekrabbe. It launched the career of Skadedyr, who were already being referred to as one of the most exciting up-and-coming bands in the Norwegian music scene. That was saying something.
Over the last few year, Norway has one of the most vibrant music scenes in Europe. So when a group are described as most exciting up-and-coming bands, critics sat up and took notice. Skadedyr proved to be an exciting and innovative band, Their debut album Kongekrabbe found its way onto many critics best of 2013 lists. Since then, critics and record buyers have eagerly awaited the release of Skadedyr’s sophomore album. At last, the wait is nearly over.
On 13th May 2016, Skadedyr’s sophomore album Culturen, will be released by Hubro Music. Culturen is quite different from Kongekrabbe, and finds Skadedyr showcasing a much acoustic sound, that’s closer to their live sound. However, one thing hasn’t changed, and that still, Skadedyr are creating music that’s and ambitious and groundbreaking.
That was the case with their debut album, and its the case with their sophomore album Culturen. However, nobody should be surprised. Skadedyr are a Norwegian supergroup, that features twelve of the country’s most talented, inventive and innovative musicians. They’ve previously worked with some of the biggest names in Norwegian music, and in the three years since the release of Kongekrabbe have worked on countless different projects. However, when Skadedyr were able to find time, they were determined to record their sophomore album.
Eventually, the members of Skadedyr cleared space in their respective diaries, and the recording of Culturen went ahead. Everything went to plan, and with the pioneering democratic musical collective continued to make music their own way. This means that each member of Skadedyr had their say in the music making process. The result was Culturen, another captivating album where Skadedyr create a dazzling musical tapestry.
On Culturen, Skadedyr combine a disparate selection of musical influences. Everything from avant-garde, electronica, experimental, folk, free jazz and post rock shine through. So does brass band, jazz and industrial musique concrète. These musical genres become Skadedyr’s musical palette, which they put to good use on the six canvases that are Culturen.
These canvases veers between atmospheric, dark, dramatic and eerie, to ethereal, joyous and melodic. Other times, the music is minimalist and understated, but can quickly, become urgent, futuristic and otherworldly. Sometimes, the music becomes melancholy and wistful, but has an inherent beauty. Always, though, Skadedyr captivate with their unique brand of genre-melting music. It’s often cinematic, and allows the listener to paint pictures as they immerse themselves in the music, on Culturen which is a career-defining album from Skadedyr.
To create this career defining album, Skadedyr have moved towards their live sound on Culturen. This is a tantalising introducing to one of most exciting and dynamic bands in Norwegian music. Their sophomore album Culturen, is an album that manages to be accessible and innovative, while showcasing the considerable talents of the twelve members of Skadedyr. For newcomers to Skadedyr’s music, Culturen is the perfect introduction to one of the rising stars of the Nordic music scene.