The Best Nordic Wave Releases Of 2017-Part 4.

Motorpsycho-The Tower.

Label: Rune Grammofon.

When Motorpsycho released The Tower in 2017, it marked the debut of Tomas Järmyr, who became Motorpsycho’s fourth drummer in the band’s twenty-eight year history. He played his part in the creative birth of creative rebirth of Motorpsycho, and ensured that their vintage period that began in 2008 continued on The Tower. It’s an album that veers between Motorpsycho’s traditional hard rocking sound to a much more mellow, laid-back sound. This is quite different to previous albums, but resulted in The Tower Motorpsycho latest critically album giving the group their sixteenth top ten album in their native Norway.

Nils Økland Band-Lysning.

Label: Hubro Music.

Three years after releasing their debut album debut album Kjølvatn in 2014, the  Nils Økland Band returned with their eagerly awaited sophomore album Lysning. It’s a genre-melting opus which veers between a liturgical sound to dark, dramatic and dreamy, to beautiful, and cinematic. Lysning is also enchanting, ethereal, emotive, evocative and full of imagery. Other times, the music on Lysning is rueful, wistful, poignant and guaranteed to tug at the listener’s heartstrings. Lysning is also an album that Nils Økland has spent a lifetime working towards, and is a career-defining innovative Magnus Opus that that showcases the Nils Økland Band’s unique and imitable genre-melting sound. 

Nordic Circles-Under The Clouds.

Label: AMP Music and Records.

Over the last few years, the Scandinavian jazz scene has been enjoying another golden period. Proof of that is Nordic Circles which is a relatively new Norwegian jazz project whose raison d’être is to create unique jazz recordings where well-known and young up-and-coming musicians from the Nordic jazz genre collaborate. The first in this series was Winter Rainbow, with Under The Clouds the much-anticipated followup. It features a multitalented band who create music that veers between groove-oriented workouts to, loose, thoughtful and meditative tracks to beautiful, atmospheric ballads that feature Siril Malmedal Hauge’s vocals. She plays an important part in the sound and success of Under The Clouds, which showcases  the truly talented Nordic Circles which features stars of today and tomorrow.

Ólafur Arnalds-Eulogy For Evolution.

Label: Erased Tapes Records.

By 2017, composer, multi-instrumentalist and BAFTA award-winning producer Ólafur Arnalds was a successful soundtrack composer, who had already released three critically acclaimed solo albums. This included his ambitious and cerebral debut album Eulogy For Evolution, which documents the journey of life from birth to death. It was written while Ólafur Arnalds was still a teenager, and released to plaudits and praise in 2007 as Ólafur Arnalds approached his twenty-first birthday. Critics were astounded than someone so young could record such a profound album. Ten years later, and that is still the case when Eulogy For Evolution was reissued.

Olli Ahvenlahti-Thinking, Whistling.

Label: We Jazz.

Previously, Olli Ahvenlahti has been a mainstay of the Finnish jazz scene and has also written scores to several comedy films and  been the conductor of the Finnish Eurovision orchestra. That would have  been more than enough for most musicians. Still though, Olli Ahvenlahti found time to launch a new trio with trumpeter Markku Johansson and bassist Pekka Pohjola. Their debut album is Thinking, Whistling, which flits between musical genres as the music veers between engaging, funky, ruminative and thoughtful. Sometimes, there’s a degree of humour on Thinking, Whistling, which features the welcome debut of Olli Ahvenlahti’s new trio.

Phonophani-Animal Imagination. 

Label: Hubro Music.

Animal Imagination is the first solo album from Espen Sommer Eide’s occasional musical moniker since Kreken in 2010, and has been worth the seven-year wait. It’s an album of ambitious, imaginative and innovative music where Phonophani uses sonic trickery and sleight of hand as he deploys a variety of traditional and bespoke instruments. They became part of his musical arsenal on Animal Imagination, which is a truly innovative and ambitious genre-melting album. This what what’s expected from one of the leading lights and pioneers of the Norwegian music scene, Phonophani, on his comeback album Animal Imagination. 

Raoul Bjorkenheim-Doors Of Perception.

Label: Cuneiform.

Doors Of Perception was the third album by guitarist and composer Raoul Bjorkenheim and his band Ecstasy, which features some of the talented and innovative Finnish musicians. This  all-star band have accompanied Raoul Bjorkenheim for the past seven-years and as a result, are at the peak of their powers on Doors Of Perception. Drawing inspiration from  John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Henry Kaiser, John McLaughlin, Hedvig Mollestad Trio and Terje Rypdal they fuse elements of fusion and improv on Doors Of Perception which is a career-defining epic.


Reflections In Cosmo-Reflections In Cosmo.

Label: RareNoise Records.

 When the latest Nordic supergroup Reflections In Cosmo  released their eponymous debut album in early 2017, there was one thing missing…a bassist. This should’ve left a gaping hole. However, here was an album that featured exciting, ambitious and imaginative genre-defying music.Reflections In Cosmo’s playing was uncompromising and spontaneous, as they flit between and combine fusion, improv and rock on what’s one of the best debut albums of 2017.

Sky Music: A Tribute To Terje Rypdal.

Label: Rune Grammofon.

To celebrate the career of Terje Rypdal and to coincide with his seventieth birthday, lifelong fan and American experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser organised the recording of Sky Music: A Tribute To Terje Rypdal. It features many musicians who have been influenced by Terje Rypdal. This includes some of the great and good of Norwegian music, plus some musicians from much further afield. They reworked and reinvented tracks from Terje Rypdal’s back-catalogue, which became the double LP Sky Music: A Tribute To Terje Rypdal, which is a fitting homage to a legendary musician.

Sky Music: A Tribute To Terje Rypdal Volume 2.

Label: Rune Grammofon.

It turned out that there was more than enough music for the double album Sky Music: A Tribute To Terje Rypdal. There were two tracks that didn’t make it onto the album, Icing and Filmore ’76, which is based on a 1978 live performance at Radiohuset Studios, in Stockholm. As Henry Kaiser and staff from Rune Grammofon listened to Icing and Filmore ’76 they realised that the tracks were too good to not to release. They became Sky Music: A Tribute To Terje Rypdal Volume 2 which is a fitting accompaniment to the Sky Music: A Tribute To Terje Rypdal.

Stein Urheim-Utopian Tales. 

Label: Hubro Music.

On Utopian Tales Stein Urheim embraced microtonality, and examined its various social and intellectual connections. With microtonality the gaps between the notes in music are much smaller than the gaps between the notes in Western music. In Western music, they’re seen as a reflection of the hierarchical structures in society at large and reflect the traditional class structure. By comparison, microtonality uses intervals that are much smaller than a semitone, and can be perceived as reflective of a freer and more fluid social order. This will be something that music fans won’t have contemplated until they’ve heard Utopian Tales which is an ambitious, cerebral and thought-provoking album.

Stephan Meidell-Metrics.

Hubro Music.

Three years after the release of his critically acclaimed, groundbreaking debut album Cascades, Stephan Meidell returned with his much-anticipated sophomore album Metrics. With the help of handpicked and multitalented band, Stephan Meidell carefully crafts the soundscapes on Metrics. They’re atmospheric, dramatic, moody, mournful and pensive, and other times, futuristic and otherworldly. Sometimes, the music is catchy, elegiac, ethereal and melodic. Always though the soundscapes on Metrics are captivating and cinematic on this groundbreaking and ambitious album that marks the coming of age of sonic sorcerer and musical pioneer Stephan Meidell.

Susanne Sundfør-Music For People In Trouble.

Label: Bella Union.

Just like Susanne Sundfør’s previous albums, Music For People In Trouble was a carefully crafted album of genre-melting music that featured cerebral and thought-provoking music. It asks a series of questions, and deals with a variety of scenarios and subjects. Some of them will ring true with those that buy the album. They’ll have suffered the same hurt and heartbreak, or feel the same way about love or romance. Elsewhere on Music For People In Trouble, Susanne Sundfør embarks upon musical experiments, as she embraces avant-garde on a very personal, poignant and powerful album which features Susanne Sundfør at the peak of her powers musically.

Sven Nyhus-Kvintett.


In late 2017, Norwegian folk musician, composer and musicologist  Sven Nyhus released his latest album Kvintett. It looked like a solo album from Sven Nyhus, but Kvintett was actually the latest album from his quartet that was founded in 1969. This makes the quartet the oldest and most experienced of the “still playing ensembles.” The quartet put all of their experience to good use on Kvintett, which features new compositions by bandleader Sven Nyhus. He ensures that his  “still playing ensembles continue to reach the same standards on Kvintett as they have on previous albums.

Trio Mediaeval and Arve Henriksen-Rimur.

Label: ECM Records.

The roots of Trio Mediaeval and Arve Henriksen’s album Rimur can be traced to Dalsfjorden on the Norwegian west coast. Over several summers, the idea for Rimur took shape. Trio Mediaeval and Arve Henriksen were captivated and inspired by Icelandic sagas, beautiful chants, folk songs, religious hymns and fiddle tunes, and decided to record an album together. The quartet recorded an album where improv, mediaeval and traditional music from Iceland, Norway and Sweden combines with the music of the present on Rimur. It’s an enchanting and timeless album whose beauty is breathtaking.

Ulver-Riverhead (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack).

Label: House Of Mythology.

As 2017 dawned, Norwegian experimental collective Ulver released the soundtrack album to Riverhead. It finds Ulver fusing electronica and ambient with elements of Celtic and Nordic folk music to create a series of hushed, airy and atmospheric cinematic soundscapes. Some of these soundscapes are minimalist, but like all the pieces on Riverhead paint pictures in the mind’s eye and take the listener on a musical journey.

1 Comment

  1. What an assortment. Amazing and many thanks for bring these to the fore as I feel in the US, the focus to the public eye is pop.

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