Ghost-writer: Nils of Ella Guru on (good) Norwegian music

Here we are gathered today to dispel any myths or stereotypes about Norwegian music (weird? yes; all heavy metal? no). A great write-up from a music fan that knows the deal.

hmm…where to start? ah…right, the beginning.

DePress

was along with The Aller Værste, whom will be discussed further down, just about the only norwegian post-punk band who was found worthy to be mentioned on norwegian televisions “the history of norwegian rock” series a few years back. Many great bands weren’t. Well well let’s not hold that against them, all they did to make what is widely acclaimed to be one of the best, if not the best norwegian album ever. It took a Polish immigrant to do it though. Depress founder and fourfingered singer/bassplayer Andrej Njebb came to Norway sometime in the seventies, and was fascinated by norwegian poetry and art, and not to mention the norwegian gastronomic speciality of fish-pudding. “Bo jo cie kochom”, that’s polish, most of DePress’s material was, come from their debut album “block to block” (1981), and I think it’s based on a Polish shepardssong. Both this and their next album, wich is might even better, was produced by the British John Leckie who had previously worked with Plastic ono band and pink floyd, and would eventually produce great acts as the fall and public image as well as Radiohead and Stone Roses. Andrej Njebb would also go on to do great things after DePress disintegrated, we’ll get back to him later…

01 Bo jo cie kochom

Alle Tiders Duster

I love this band, best norwegian band ever, best norwegian album ever, and practically unknown of course… I could have written about every track on their brilliant “rødt lys” album (1982), I guess I chose “Jeg vet du vet” because it sounds somewhat like a hit…me and a friend of mine used to play this track all the time when we were dj-ing at a local club, desperately trying to attract peoples attention towards this gem of a band…noone cared though, constantly nagging us for the latest Britney-single, wich we didn’t have, and the bartender yelled at us and accused us of scaring away her customers when we played “Frankie Teardrop” by Suicide, that song is pure meanness…anyway, we don’t DJ there enymore, but I often play Alle Tiders Duster loud, with my streetside window open, so that all the world can hear… “is it you who play that fucking music so fucking loud!” my landlord said, “eh…well…does it bother you?” I replied, “just turn it down dammit!”…I’m thinking of moving out soon…

Lyrics: I know you know (as in “I know that you know”)
I know you know
I know you know
I know you know I can see you under the spotlights
I know you know I can see you under the spotlights
will you da da da da da da da da dance with me?
do you wanna wanna wanna wanna wanna go home with me?

I know you know what’s the question
I know you know, you can read my thoughts
I know you know I can see you under the spotlights
will you da da da da da da da da dance with me?
do you wanna wanna wanna wanna wanna go home with me?

I know you know etc.

Compared to the rest of the stuff on the album, this is quite joyful actually.

02 Jeg vet du vet

Munch

Norways biggest Industrial band, that is, they weren’t big, there’s just never been anyone bigger… their music was heavily inspired by the haunting pictures by the slightly more famous Norwegian painter Edvard Munch (at least us norwegians like to think he’s famous…he is, isn’t he?)… This song is of one of their latest albums, from 1993.

03 Goldengun

Morten Munk

is a pseudonym of Lister, who also played in Det elekriske kjøkken. “Jetzt….den ganzten tag” is from his only release under this name, the “ta et vink” single from 1981.
The lyrics goes something like this:
Take some advice
kill a butterfly
use the hard to destroy the beautiful
smile to everyone
smile to everyone
kill yourself
make a hole
read a sign
shoot the target

04 Jetzt… den ganzten tag

Sjølmord

(that translates Suicide), was a classic punkband from Trondheim…released only one single, “Holocaust/supertankerne kommer”, the b-side was in danish, this one is in German, I don’t know what they’re singing about, can someone please tell me?

05 Holocaust

Liliedugg


Another great Trondheimband. I don’t know why I chose this track, it’s not by far their best one. Liliedugg was, along with Wannskrækk, the leading band of Trondheims punkscene. Wannskrekk changed their name into DumDumboys, after an IggyPop song, and eventually became Norways biggest rock band, they still are, and they still suck. Liliedugg though, had to much integrety. For their comeback last year, (the sole reason I bought tickets to the Storaas-festival…to drunk out of my mind to actually remember anything of the show though…), they claimed to had been 25 years ahead of their time back in 1981, and now (that is,then) , in 2007 they were still 25 years ahead of their time…well actually, already back in the eighties, they were perhaps a couple of years behind bands like Killing Joke an Birthday Party, but what the hell, you just have to love their attitude…(another fun anecdote from the storaasfestival, having an artist-access pass, I got to meet my heroes backstage…I told them they sucked, tried to steal some whiskey and was eventually thrown out…what a great night that was…)

06 Helpin’ Hand

N.S.G.A.

Norways best afrobeatband, and one of few contemporary bands on this compilation. If Fela Kuti had grown up on a tiny Island in Lofoten…

07 Northern Star Groove Alliance

Adjagás

Another contemporary band. They sing in the Sapmi language. Some british musicmagazine, can’t remember wich one, said about their last album that this is the most exciting band in scandinavia at the present. And exciting they certainly are.

08 Likhulas

Det elektriske kjøkken

This is Lister again, the guy is a genius I say, although he can’t take all the praise for this one, Det elektriske kjøkken was a band, not a solo project, started as something of a punkband, ended up like…this…
This instrumental is taken from their second and final album “elefantene kommer” (“the elephants are coming”) from 82 I think. A real gem this album is. The band disintegrated because the drummer rather wanted to be a farmer…

09 PILastral

Ella Guru

well…what can I say? This is my band… Some say were destroying rock music, others say we’re resurrecting it, a local journalist claimed we’d just might be the future of norwegian music, some other guy on the internet said we make him embarresed of being from Trondheim…all this we think is great. Am not very pleased with this recording though.

10 perketiperk

Spring Collection

The only contemporary Trondheimband I feel any…what to say…association with. Together we make a scene. Just the two of us.
I’m not saying all other band in town suck…they’re just irrelevant. This song they claim is a cover version of Bruce Springsteen “Fire”, haven’t heard the original, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t share any resemblence at all, except for the lyrics…

11 Fire

The Aller Værste

The other great norwegian postpunk classic. Released two great albums in 80-81. This song is from the first, “Materialtretthet”, also an landmark album in norwegian rock, one that is actually widely acclaimed to be so.


The guy who wrote the lyrics for this song had a special talent for playing with words, which is hard to capture in a translation, this does not do the song any justice:

Disco-cud: (you know what cud is? when cows throw up their half-digested food and eat it again…)

There’s someone who make explosions
there’s some who monitor telephones
someone believe in strong men
some collects guns and bullets
they gather up on the boulevard
they volunteer for the national-guard

They say we have the right to our own lives
but everything we do is filed in the archives
they punch us in on computers
and we end up as supervised rabbits
at the disco we grow even stupider
and we get a number with the other numbers

ref:
while you’re just sitting where you are
sitting and waiting for the weather to get better
pack yourself in in your new clothes
looking through the window with lazy eyes
chewing disco-cud

(and then the horns kick in…brilliant!)

You read your horoscopes, believe in star-mystics
you don’t worry ’bout nuclear-physics
but soon they’ll put us into a brain-clinic
and research our brains with computer-technics

12 Diskodrøv

Mt-Six

If you go to concerts at UFFA, the local punkhangout (an old squatted kindergarten, the only place you can smoke indoors, were kids can get drunk, and you can buy cheap vegetarian food made by guys with mohawks and other seedy looking people, like the percussionist in my band…), there is a pretty good chance you’re gonna hear another boring punk/hardcore/grinde/metal band, but every once in a while a real gem shows up.

13 Big band six elvis is dead

The Cut

Oslo is really no good, one example is that their two best post punk/new wave bands in the eighties both were fronted by foreigners, this time it was a german, Volker Zibell. Great track this, “atmospheres”, from the “shadows talk” album of 1981, also produced by John Leckie. The bassplayer, Torgrim Eggen, is now a quite popular and acclaimed novelist and former journalist. He was a guest at a talkshow/comedyshow a little while ago, where they showed a videoclip from his days as a “rock star”…he found that a bit emberrasing, people who remember the eighties tend to be embarresed by them it seems, anyway, he has nothing to be ashamed of, great bassplayer, great band, don’t know anything about his writing though…

14 Atmospheres

Lister

I’ve already talked about Lister, haven’t I? Well, this is him going solo this time. From the late eighties I think. Beautiful song, beautiful album, makes the world seem a bit more beautiful…though sad…

15 Valium Baby

Det glade vanvidd

Legendary Trondheimband from the eighties, despised by most, loved by a few. Lunatics they were, hitting on flagpoles, shouting nonsense, putting it all on tape…the singer is now a full time politician for the green party, member of the city council and head of Trondheims Cultural commity. After an Ella Guru gig I asked him when we would have the chance to play with them on a DGV reunion gig. Probably never, he said. It’s a shame. Perhaps he fears it would damage his political career…

16 lovsong

Holy Toy


And we’re right back where we started, or that is, where the beginning ended.
Andrej Njebb is a man of many talents, and has also made a name for himself through various forms of art,his most famous performances was to hang himself upside down from a crane outside the norwegian parliamen-tbuilding. When he weren’t doing those sort of things, he would make music. And if it wasn’t with DePress, he’d be putting music to the poetry of norwegian poets Tor Jonson and Olav H. Hauge…or he’d be doing Holy Toy. Munch might have been the most influentual industrial/avantgarde group in norway, but who the hell cares. If you ask me, Holy Toy is probably only second to Alle Tiders Duster when it comes to greatest norwegian bands of all times. Although, on the sort of polls made by newspapers and magazines, none of them are even mentioned, as with many of the other bands on this compilation…ah…fuck that…

17 Fresh News-Larve

-Nils-

☂ You can download the zip file of the compilation here

a compilation by Nils
a compilation by Nils
photo credits

More Norwegian music resources:

Nö MUSIC

urørt and urørt – a user’s guide

Discover Norwegian music (blog)

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7 thoughts on “Ghost-writer: Nils of Ella Guru on (good) Norwegian music

  1. hmm…yeah, I did, didn’t I? well, they’re certainly not worth dying for!

    I don’t mean to be arrogant though, really… or maybeI do, it’s a lot of fun you know…

  2. Yeah, I know ;D But I really enjoyed the Adjágas, although I can’t understand anything they say, their language is so weird. ;p I thought you would say something on Ida Maria too.

  3. ah…I booked Adjagàs to this festival in the middle of the woods in this little valley I come from, it was magical in the dusk…they all came by buss from this other festival up north and were really tired after driving all night so my mum took all of them home so they could shower and rest. and the female singer, I don’t remember her name, joiked (sapmi singing) to my dog in Sapmi, and she, being a golden retrierver, of course understood everything…

    Ida Maria is cool. Though even if she has a great attitude, you can’t hide the fact that her music is pretty basic rocknroll…it’s still good songs though…and she really gets in your face…I used to listen a lot to daytime radio when I worked as a janitor, got sort of brainwashed by ‘Oh my god’ and ‘Stella’.

  4. That is very cool :O And being sort of brainwashed by ‘Oh My God’ and ‘Stella’ sort of describes me, except I am being brainwashed by the whole album now.

    You really know how to raise envy on other people, you know?

  5. You might digg our blog then, KillerWhalePRM here on wordpress! AND, right now, Adjágas is up for a gargantuan grant! Stop by and sign up to vote for them, if you are so inclined! Cheers!

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