Monday, October 31, 2016

October 31 (Halloween) - Blood Swamp

Today is Halloween, and I want to celebrate it with one of the scariest tracks in my collection. It is from the fantastic collaboration between Sunn O))) and Japanese band Boris, Altar from 2006. It was actually released on Halloween in 2006, so it is exactly 10 years old today. It is not music for the faint of heart, but it is a rewarding listen. One year, when sitting out waiting for trick or treaters, this is the music that blasted out of my speakers. A smoke machine would have made a perfect companion, but the soundtrack was at least right... This track, Blood Swamp, also includes Kim Thayil of Soundgarden fame on guitar. I dare you to enjoy...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

October 30 - Fish On (Fisherman Chronicles Part II)

It's the last day of power trios, and today we are heading to the Bay Area and to a little band that proudly proclaim that they suck. That's right, one of their early calling cards going on stage was the statement, "We're Primus and we suck." I happen to disagree. Really disagree. I've already talk a little bit about how I came across them - and the album Sailing The Seas Of Cheese in particular - but I think the thing that really draws me to them (aside from the quirkiness of the lyrics and Les Claypool's voice) is how Les Claypool's bass drives everything and is not just a part of the rhythm section with Tim "Herb" Alexander on drums, but also is the main chordal instrument and fuels all the harmonies. This leaves all kinds of space for Larry LaLonde on guitar to play with, and much like Alex Lifeson in Rush, who has a very similar rhythm section behind him, he goes places not too many would think to go. I think today's song is a great example of this, so it's time to listen to the second song of the Fisherman Chronicles that started with John The Fisherman on the albums Suck On This (their debut live album) and Frizzle Fry: Here is Fish On!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

October 29 - We Are Finding Who We Are

I still remember when Jan Are told me to listen to a new album by a band called King's X. The album was Gretchen Goes to Nebraska, the year was right around 1989, and I would be very surprised if that isn't still one of the cornerstone in his musical taste. I was a little slower on the uptake, but when they released their next album, Faith, Hope, Love the year after (1990), I was hooked. And it really was the opening track that blew my mind. We Are Finding Who We Are features glorious three part harmony to open it up, and it get's better from there. That's what happens when you put three guys who aren't just great instrumentalists, but great singers and songwriters together and let them loose. Doug Pinnick is the main lead vocalist and bassist, Jerry Gaskill plays drums, and Ty Tabor plays guitars - but, like I said initially, all three of them sing lead vocals, and that really strengthens them as a band. They can trace their beginnings back to 1979, and while Gaskill has had a couple of heart attacks in the more recent years, they still toured as late as last year - and still with the same three members. That is dedication - and longevity. We Are Finding Who We Are can hopefully show you a little bit about who they are as a band - it's a great song from a great album!

Friday, October 28, 2016

October 28 - BU2B

I was lucky enough to catch Rush both on their Time Machine tour and the Clockwork Angels tour, and once again I was blown away by them. Granted, I will admit that Geddy Lee's voice is and has been deteriorating (just listen to the last few live albums - I really have a hard time listening to R40, which was from their latest and possibly last major tour), but the power of the band is undeniable. On the Time Machine tour it was just the three of them, Geddy Lee on bass, vocals, and keyboards, Alex Lifeson on guitar and keys, and Neil Peart on magnificent drums and percussion.

While the Time Machine tour had them looking backwards, it also featured a glimpse of what we could expect on the next album, Clockwork Angels, which was a massive return to form for Rush. The song BU2B - or Brought Up To Believe - was featured in the first set, and it still blows me away as the best song they have done since... probably the Grace Under Pressure album. It's hard to tell, and it doesn't really matter, but it was so unbelievably good. And that's why it's making its way here today. Rush is one of the worlds best trios under any circumstance, and BU2B shows why!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

October 27 - Hi Fi Mama

Some legends are better left unexplored... Playing around with alter egos and solo concepts, Arve and I kept on returning to an idea where I would dress up in drag and call myself Hi Fi Mama after today's song. The opportunities seemed endless for how that could become quite the show - except I didn't have quite the guts to pull it all off. Who knows, with my hair out long again, it might not be out of the question, but I am thinking my beard may be just a tad disqualifying...

The lil' ol' band from Texas, ZZ Top, released their album Degüello in 1979. It was the first album on a major label (Warner Brothers), and it eventually sold to platinum. They had been together with the same line up as they still have since 1970, with Billy Gibbons on guitar and main lead vocals, Dusty Hill on bass and sometimes lead vocals, and Frank Beard on drums (and yes, he is the only one without a significant beard).

Degüello is just one in the line of seven albums that eventually would lead up to the massive success they enjoyed in the 80s with the release of Eliminator and Afterburner and massive MTV success with songs like Legs, Sharp Dressed Man, and Sleeping Bag (to name but a few). To me, their build up to the success is much more interesting - you can hear the evolution from a straight forward blues band on ZZ Top's first album to a much more technically experimenting band on both Degüello and El Loco (just listen to Manic Mechanic on Degüello and Groovy Little Hippy Pad on El Loco to hear how they are moving away from the straight up blues and boogie rock).

Today's song is a straight ahead rocker, with a horn section starring Gibbons on baritone sax, Hill on tenor sax, and Beard on alto sax - Hi Fi Mama remains one of my favorites - and also one of my favorite "what if..." moments. Also, please enjoy the plethora of double entendres...

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

October 26 - Bridge Of Sighs

I knew nothing about Robin Trower when I purchased Opeth's brilliant 2008 album Watershed. However, on the accompanying DVD with some additional tracks, there were a couple of cover versions that really resonated with me. The first was Bridge of Sighs by Robin Trower, and the second was Den Ständiga Resan by Marie Fredriksson, better known as half of the power pop duo Roxette. I knew Den Ständiga Resan very well ever since I was turned on to the album of the same name by some Swedish friends (I believe Mats Gunnarson was the one who tipped me off) - and it is a great song from a great album.

But Bridge of Sighs... I don't know what to say about it. Opeth does a good version, but I needed more. So I ordered the Robin Trower cd by the same name from 1974, and man, can he play. Then I discovered that this indeed was a power trio of the good old kind. Robin Trower plays guitar in front of James Dewar, who sings and plays bass and Reg Isidore on drums. I love the guitar tone he has - and the way he expresses it throughout the song - but the way James Dewar fills the airy space left by the guitar really elevates the song. Reg Isidore's drums keep it all together - this song still sends shivers down my spine...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 25 - Third Stone From The Sun

I think this week is the week of power trios. I have some that might surprise you - and some I simply cannot escape. The Jimi Hendrix Experience featured Jimi Hendrix of Seattle, Washington on guitar, vocals, and creative genious, Mitch Mitchell on drums, and Noel Redding on bass guitar, and it's impossible to talk about power trios without talking about them. The song I picked today was one I came to in a different fashion, as I discovered it in a bass solo by Jaco Pastorius when I was investigating his work with both Weather Report and Joni Mitchell. However, the original is a spectacular psychedelic excursion. Please enjoy Third Stone From The Sun from The Jimi Hendrix Experience's debut album, Are You Experienced? from 1967.

And here is the genious Jaco Pastorius... His bass solo here is one of my favorite pieces for bass guitar ever. Watch the brilliant documentary Jaco for more about this tortured genious.

Monday, October 24, 2016

October 24 - Strange Brew

Ginger Baker. Jack Bruce. Eric Clapton. Three names that became legend when they in 1966 got together as Cream. The three were well established on the British blues scene, and it was truly a collaborative, with all three contributing lyrics and vocals (although bassist Jack Bruce early on was the main singer). 1967's album Disraeli Gears opens up with what structurally is a traditional 12 bar blues, but the melody line, sung by Eric Clapton, is anything but traditional. It's a song that's been on my mind a lot lately, and it's a great song to kick off this week. Please enjoy this Strange Brew.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

October 23 - Eat That Question

So we're at the end of a week of instrumental, and today's song is another of my many favorites. Frank Zappa has a multitude of releases to his name, and today, nearly 23 years after his death, more releases keep coming. However, back in the fall of 1991, when my cd collection was in its infancy (I had purchased my first CD player in January that year), I visited Bakklandet Bokkafe, a record store in Bakklandet, which is a quaint and historic part of Trondheim. I remember the visit because I left with no less than two Frank Zappa CDs: Jazz From Hell and Make A Jazz Noise Here. The former was played once, then shelved (it is a difficult CD to listen to, but I am finally getting there after about 25 years), but I loved Make A Jazz Noise Here. It was a live album from the 1988 tour, the final tour Frank Zappa ever did - and what a tour it must have been if you judge it by the live documents released so far. And in the midst of this double album there was a snippet of a tune - mainly the theme from Eat That Question (it is also now the title for a documentary about Frank Zappa using tv interviews from his entire career - check it out!). Eat That Question was originally on 1972's album The Grand Wazoo and features keyboard maestro George Duke in a very prominent role.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

October 22 - Bourée

I'll stay in the sixties for yet another day. This time, the song is a direct inspiration from my dad, who is the one who kept talking of Jethro Tull. He had one of their albums, Benefit, which had an interesting cover, but musically didn't connect with me, at least not when I was younger. But there was one track he kept on talking about, and it almost reached mythical proportions with me. The chances of a let down were massive, but the track actually surpassed my expectations.

Bourée was based on a composition by Johann Sebastian Bach, but it soon takes a very Jazz inspired turn into severe prog territory. Ian Anderson's flute is all over, as is Glenn Cornick on bass guitar. Martin Barre plays the guitar and Clive Bunker on drums rounds out the iteration of Jethro Tull that recorded Stand Up in 1969. Bourée is a remarkable instrumental, well worth listening to again and again.

Friday, October 21, 2016

October 21 - Soul Sacrifice

1969. 3 days of peace and music. 400,000 people on Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, New York. A lasting legacy. The Woodstock Festival.

I remember hearing about it without really understanding the impact it had - but NRK, the Norwegian  National Broadcaster, showed Michael Wadleigh's Oscar winning documentary (edited by one Martin Scorsese) as nattkino (midnight movie) sometime in the 80s. we were going to be gone that day, so I set the timer for the VCR. What I didn't expect was that I ended up watching at least part of it with my mom and aunt Anicken. My dad and my uncle Arne might also have been in the room, and it's very likely that my cousin Stein was there as well, but I remember talking about it and both the musical and cultural impact with my mom and Anicken.

I was waiting to see Hendrix play the Star Spangled Banner when Carlos Santana showed up with his band and blew me away with Soul Sacrifice. The music of Woodstock blew me away then - and keeps blowing me away still.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

October 20 - Ørnen (The Eagle)

One of the leading Norwegian disciples of Hank Marvin from The Shadows was Terje Rypdal, who played Marvin's role in the band The Vanguards from 1961-68. However, when he left The Vanguards, he also took a turn towards jazz - a pretty severe one, working with people like Jan Garbarek and Lester Bowie. He is a stalwart of Norwegian jazz, and one of my personal favorite periods of his is from the mid-80s, when he joined forces with Bjørn Kjellemyr on bass and Audun Kleive on drums and formed the fusion trio Chasers. Their debut album from 1985, Chaser, had one of the most spectacular openings of a b-side I have ever heard. It is a quiet and contemplative instrumental, and while the studio version is available on YouTube as well, I think it is well worth seeing it played live. Please enjoy Ørnen (The Eagle) by Terje Rypdal and The Chasers

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

October 19 - Apache

I think this is where my love for instrumentals started. The band was The Shadows, let by Hank Marvin, and they spawned a whole generation of guitar bands in Norway, all considered to be Shadow bands. All before my time, but very much becoming an influence, especially because my dad really liked them. The tunes were many... F.B.I., Atlantis, and Kon-Tiki, to name but a few, but none of them were as memorable as Apache from 1960. Hank Marvin's guitar tone is front and senter, Bruce Welch played acoustic guitar, Jet Harris played bass, and Tony Meehan was on drums. What I didn't know (provided that Wikipedia actually can be trusted), was that the one drum that is designed to sound Native American at the beginning and end (TAM-tam-tam-tam-TAM-tam-tam-tam) was played by none other than Cliff Richard. The Shadows emerged as Cliff Richard's backing band, but they quickly established themselves as a leading instrumental rock band. Not quite in the American surf tradition, although there are clear elements of it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October 18 - YYZ

I think we're in a week of instrumentals, at least for the time being. I have been drawn to them for a long time, and while this wasn't the first one, this was definitely one of the most important ones in my formative years musically speaking. I have had the pleasure of seeing Rush twice, and both times they played this classic from 1980's Moving Pictures, one of my all time favorite albums. It is a complex song, starting with a riff built around a tritone (C-F#), which also is known as the devil's interval (or diabolus in musica), as it is 6 semitones wide. It is hard to work in harmonically, as it sounds dissonant - but as an opening riff, it really works well. The rest of the instrumental is hard rocking and filled with short fills by drums, bass, and guitar - and the live version on Exit... Stage Left has a great early drum solo by Neil Peart. While his solos have gotten more and more melodic and expressive, I still have a soft spot for the solo from YYZ. However, today is a day for the original studio version of this fabulous instrumental - quite possibly my favorite instrumental ever. Here is YYZ, named after the airport code for Toronto International Airport.

Monday, October 17, 2016

October 17 - Mládek

Not many of you will know today's song by its name, but you might have heard it as part of the promo for NBC sports. The trio Russian Circles has released six albums; their latest album, Guidance, was released earlier this year. They are able to play their compositions live through intricate use of looping pedals by guitarist Mike Sullivan, while Brian Cook on bass and Dave Turncrantz on drums comprise the rhythm section. Today's song, Mládek, is from their fourth album, Empros, from 2011.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

October 16 - Nebulous Dawn

Today, I give you music for meditation and relaxation in my last krautrock stop for now. Tangerine Dream was led by Edgar Froese, and on their 1972 release Zeit (Time), he was joined by Christopher Frankie and Peter Baumann. The music is predominantly electronic, but guitar and cello can both be heard on this piece. Zeit is a double album with four movements, and today's song is the second movement: Nebulous Dawn.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

October 15 - Schizophrenia

I really liked Sonic Youth. I still do, although their indefinite hiatus really looks like a breakup. In 1987, they released Sister, one of their early masterpieces. One of the centerpieces on that album owes at least quite a bit to krautrock and the motorik drumming, which Steve Shelley perfected. I will just let you listen without any further comment - Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore cowrote the song Schizophrenia.

Friday, October 14, 2016

October 14 - Hallogallo

I mentioned Porcupine Tree's version of Hallogallo yesterday, and it really showcases one of the key elements of the krautrock of the 70s, the drumming style/pattern known as motorik. The key was to keep a very basic drum pattern go with machine like precision, and this style of drumming was later adopted by seminal noise rock band Sonic Youth. Listen to the drums on the opening track of Neu!'s first album, simply called Neu! and the core elements of motorik drumming should be very, very apparent.

In 1971, Kraftwerk broke into two halves, with Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider maintaining Kraftwerk while drummer Klaus Dinger and guitarist Michael Rother started Neu! as a duo. The experimentation continued, but this time with a more traditional rock instrumentation, using drums, guitar, and bass. Hallogallo is a hypnotic track, very minimalistic, but well worth listening to in its entirety. You will be rewarded by the swirling guitars and layers of controlled feedback all on top of the very steady motorik drumming.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

October 13 (Nobel Prize in Literature Edition) - Dignity

So it did happen this year. Robert Allen Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan (a surname he took after the poet Dylan Thomas) earned the Nobel Prize in Literature. I am very thrilled about that, not just because I like Bob Dylan's lyrics, but because it is an official recognition of lyrics in general and rock lyrics in particular as a literary genre. I have waited for this for about 25 years.

When I was a senior in high school, we all had to write a term paper in Norwegian (language arts) related to some sort of literature. I remember being very excited about what I wanted to write about, and when my teacher gave me the go ahead, I attacked the project with fervor. My term paper was called Rocketekster - Mer enn meningsløse fraser?, which translates into Rock Lyrics - More Than Meaningless Phrases?. I remember sweating over it, tracing the evolution of rock lyrics from the beginning to where they were in 1991. I used English lyrics, showing how Norwegian lyricists had followed the English tradition. My analyses were not sophisticated, but I am immensely proud of what I did then - and I am very happy for the recognition of this literary genre today. And while I don't think I used much of Bob Dylan's work in my term paper, but he was so clearly there even if it was in spirit. I remember writing about The Beatles, whose change in lyrics was greatly inspired by Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen, whose storytelling also can be traced back to Dylan, but I don't remember if I included Dylan himself (although it would be dereliction of duty to the genre if he wasn't included).

But let's celebrate Dylan's prize. I believe it is well deserved, and I think that the song I picked will demonstrate that. I included the lyrics below the video, just so you can read them for yourself, because they do read as poetry. Here is to Bob Dylan and his Dignity.


Written by: Bob Dylan
Fat man lookin’ in a blade of steel
Thin man lookin’ at his last meal
Hollow man lookin’ in a cottonfield
For dignity

Wise man lookin’ in a blade of grass
Young man lookin’ in the shadows that pass
Poor man lookin’ through painted glass
For dignity

Somebody got murdered on New Year’s Eve
Somebody said dignity was the first to leave
I went into the city, went into the town
Went into the land of the midnight sun

Searchin’ high, searchin’ low
Searchin’ everywhere I know
Askin’ the cops wherever I go
Have you seen dignity?

Blind man breakin’ out of a trance
Puts both his hands in the pockets of chance
Hopin’ to find one circumstance
Of dignity

I went to the wedding of Mary Lou
She said, “I don’t want nobody see me talkin’ to you”
Said she could get killed if she told me what she knew
About dignity

I went down where the vultures feed
I would’ve gone deeper, but there wasn’t any need
Heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men
Wasn’t any difference to me

Chilly wind sharp as a razor blade
House on fire, debts unpaid
Gonna stand at the window, gonna ask the maid
Have you seen dignity?

Drinkin’ man listens to the voice he hears
In a crowded room full of covered-up mirrors
Lookin’ into the lost forgotten years
For dignity

Met Prince Phillip at the home of the blues
Said he’d give me information if his name wasn’t used
He wanted money up front, said he was abused
By dignity

Footprints runnin’ ’cross the silver sand
Steps goin’ down into tattoo land
I met the sons of darkness and the sons of light
In the bordertowns of despair

Got no place to fade, got no coat
I’m on the rollin’ river in a jerkin’ boat
Tryin’ to read a note somebody wrote
About dignity

Sick man lookin’ for the doctor’s cure
Lookin’ at his hands for the lines that were
And into every masterpiece of literature
For dignity

Englishman stranded in the blackheart wind
Combin’ his hair back, his future looks thin
Bites the bullet and he looks within
For dignity

Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed
Dignity never been photographed
I went into the red, went into the black
Into the valley of dry bone dreams

So many roads, so much at stake
So many dead ends, I’m at the edge of the lake
Sometimes I wonder what it’s gonna take
To find dignity
Copyright © 1991 by Special Rider Music

October 13 - Radioactivity

I finally found an opening for some serious krautrock. The title of yesterday's song, Radioactive Toy, provides the link to Kraftwerk (Powerstation) and the title track from their 1975 album Radioactivity. I still remember the very first time I heard Kraftwerk. I was listening to the radio show For Those About To Rock, hosted by Jan Olav Gjersvoll, when they opened the evening with playing Trans Europa Express. I was not a fan. At all. However, as time went on, I had to admit that I couldn't get it out of my head.

A few years later, I bought a copy of the British music magazine Q, and it included a tape called Drive. It was a wonderful compilation of songs that are great for listening while driving, and it included a song by Kraftwerk called The Model. I was getting intrigued. Then krautrock was referenced more and more by Motorpsycho, so I finally broke down and purchased The Mix, a compilation of some of their best known songs edited together, and that's where I first discovered the song Radioactivity. I have since explored both Kraftwerk and krautrock a little bit more - it did help that Porcupine Tree also did a cover version of Neu!'s Hallogallo, and I am liking what I find.

Defining krautrock, however, is a little bit more difficult. I think that the easiest way to talk about it is in the sense of it being a very experimental music scene in Germany in the 1970s. Yes, the roots can be traced back to the 60s, and yes, there are still krautrock bands today, but they were in many way the German reaction to the prog rock movement of the 70s. It was initially thought of as a derogatory term in the music press, but it was quickly embraced by the bands in what became more of a musical movement.

Like I said, they were very experimental, with massive use of new electronic instruments, especially synthesizers, but many of the bands still had a very traditional organic backdrop with drums and bass. This blend is very apparent in a lot of Kraftwerk's music, although on Radioactivity, the drums are sounding like they have been heavily treated and synthesized. The melody to me is infectious, but the mood of the song is really shining with a very radioactive glow...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

October 12 - Radioactive Toy

There are some songs that just find their way to your mind and stick. Sometimes, that's really bad - when you just can't seem to shake a song you really don't like (Motorpsycho called those songs nerve tattoos, which to me really is a good description of it). However, sometimes those songs are the "ins" to an otherwise great album that it just takes a little while to get into. For me, Porcupine Tree's On The Sunday Of Life is an example of that kind of an album. After the intro, Music For The Head, the next song is Jupiter Island, and while it is an ok song, it's naiveté and cheesy drum machine sound is a little too much for me to really get hooked. So on my first listen to this album, I had it on in the background, and it was largely ignored until I reached the 8th track, and at that point, something really clicked. The song was Radioactive Toy, and it has a soothing quality that gets broken up by a rather noisy guitar riff - and for those of you who have been reading what I have to say about music and what I look for, you will recognize this as my need for contrast that I so often come back to.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

October 11 - Deliverance

I have a goto song for when I really need to get some aggression out. Well, actually, I have several, but a lot of them are just not long enough. At 13:36, this one song by Opeth really does the trick for me, though - and it has enough quiet sections to calm me down a little before the epic final four minutes (starting at 9:38). This song is the title track on their 2002 album, and I keep getting blown away by it. Deliverance.

Monday, October 10, 2016

October 10 - Why Don't We Do It In The Road

In 1968, The Beatles released the sprawling epic simply named The Beatles, but better known as the white album, as that was the entirety of the double album design. It is more a collection of solo material, with the full band recording some of the songs, but the majority being recorded using various constellations of the band. One of my favorite songs is a raunchy little rocker of Paul McCartney's called Why Don't We Do It In The Road.

This weekend, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, and Sir Paul McCartney were the big draws to the music festival Desert Trip - and what a trip it appears to have been - including what appears to have been the first ever appearance of Why Don't We Do It In The Road - with Neil Young helping out with both vocals and a guitar solo...

Sunday, October 09, 2016

October 9 - Church Of Israelvis

Today's song is by legendary Trondheim underground band Israelvis. Led by singer/guitar player Viggo Mastad, they rose from the ashes of punk rock band Angor Wat, and quickly started making a name for themselves. While I heard and liked one of their first albums, Heart To Heart Politics and lived their 1993 album Albino Blue, I really got hooked on them through the title track of their 1995 mini album, Church of Israelvis. It has an infectious groove, a crushing riff, and eerie female vocals - and it is catchy as hell. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Saturday, October 08, 2016

October 8 - Bruremarsj frå Jämtland (Bridal March from Jämtland)

Today is a pretty special day - it's the day that Chris' sister Dawn will be married to her long-time partner Paula, and I am very excited for them. I met them pretty early in my relationship with Chris, during a family reunion I kinda crashed, and I have greatly enjoyed getting to know both of them. When Chris was being treated for cancer in February and March, I got to know Dawn a lot better, as she was there helping out quite a lot, and I don't know that I can put into words how much that meant to me - and how much I appreciate her as a person and family member. I have grown very fond of her, and I am thrilled that the now is able to marry Paula, and in celebration of that, I have taken a small slice of Scandinavian tradition to present as the song of the day.

The song I have picked is a very traditional Scandinavian tune - although it is in a very modern form. From what little I have been able to gather about bridal marches (or wedding marches), the musicians would play the happy couple all the way to the steps of the church (and in Norwegian tradition, that's where weddings indeed happened), but not further - partly because a lot of the old traditional music was composed for fiddles, including the Hardanger Fiddle, and they were, as "we all know," the devil's musical instrument and could not be invited into the church.

Now, I did say Scandinavian tune for a reason, as this originated in Jämtland, which used to be Norwegian territory until the Treaty of Brømsebro in 1645, when both Jämtland and neighbouring region Härjedalen were ceded to Sweden. This really is a region that highlights the interconnectedness of the Scandinavian countries, as it was ceded to Sweden by Denmark-Norway, which at that point were a union and would be until 1814, when Norway was liberated from Denmark only to enter a new union with Sweden. But Jämtland still is a region that is very close to Norway - Norwegians from the region of Trøndelag, which is where I grew up, frequently visit either to go shopping ar simply to spend vacation time at Östersund, the only city in Jämtland and home to the festival Storsjöyran.

The band Gåte falls neatly into a more recent Scandinavian tradition of modernizing traditional music that was started in Finland and Sweden by bands like Hedningarna and Hoven Droven. They are all from the Trondheim region, and their singer went to the same high school I did - only about 10 years later. They entered Norwegian music consciousness pretty quickly from their beginnings in 1999, shone very brightly, and then called it quits in 2005 (although they did reconvene in 2009-10). They released two studio albums, and Bruremarsj Frå Jämtland is from their first album, Jygri, from 2002. It is an instrumental - so there are no lyrics and the voice is simply being used as another instrument throughout, so lose yourself in the song.

But before I let you listen, I would like to remind you, once again, that this song is being played for a very special reason. I know that I sometimes start geeking out on all kinds of historical and musical information, and I get lost in it. Today, I will not do that. The bridal march is indeed played because of the wedding of Dawn and Paula. Congratulations to you both - and thank you for letting me be a part of it!

Friday, October 07, 2016

October 7 - Where It's At

There is a little bit of a stretch from yesterday's song Portishead to today's Beck song, but they both have a very loose quality to them, which really is what I was looking for stretching all the way back to US3 from Tuesday. Where It's At is the highlight of Beck's fifth album, Odelay, released in 1996. Beck Hansen sang himself straight to my heart with Loser from 1994's Mellow Gold, a song with stream-of-consciousness lyrics that made little to no sense, but all in all sounded really cool. I didn't explore Odelay until later, following Beck's return to my consciousness with his 1999 album Midnight Vultures - but when I heard Where It's At, I immediately loved it. The looseness of the Fender Rhodes electric piano riff sets the tone for an exercise in being laid back. This is cool. This is COOL!

Thursday, October 06, 2016

October 6 - Glory Box

I can't talk about British music from the 90s without mentioning Portishead again, and today I will play the song that first opened my ears to them: Glory Box. It samples Ike's Rap II by Isaak Hayes, but what really stands out to me here is Beth Gibbon's vocals, hauntingly beautiful as always, and Adrian Utley's dissonant guitar, cutting through the beauty and creating a "dangerous" contrast. No more words are needed. Just enjoy.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

October 5 - Teardrop

Since we did go to England yesterday when we found US3, I thought maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to play another British band, this time one that has been linked to trip hop, which is a slightly more "out there" version of more traditional hip hop. Atmospherics are important - the use of electronica and ambience over pretty distinct rhythms really opened for a lot of experimentation. One of the main trip hop bands was Massive Attack, and while their debut album, Blue Lines from 1991 is widely recognized as their best, I came aboard with their 1998 album Mezzanine. The song Teardrop should sound familiar to most of you, as it was used as the intro music to the great tv show House MD, starring the great Hugh Laurie.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

October 4 - Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)

So the year was 1993, and while music in the United States was really driven by the grungy Seattle sound, the Brits were going in different directions. I believe US3 was one of the first acid jazz bands to gain a broad audience - although when I look at their Wikipedia page today, I see them referred to as jazz-rap. While bands like The Brand New Heavies and artists like Jamiroquai also were at the forefront of this movement, nothing quite caught my attention like US3 and their album Hand On The Torch - but even more so, the song Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia). US3 took a Herbie Hancock riff (from Cantaloupe Island) and built a new song around it - and what a song it is. This one gets me in a good mood every time...

Monday, October 03, 2016

October 3 - October

It's time to change the pace a little today. It's October, which also happened to be the title of U2s second album, an album rarely mentioned among their best - although I think it is stronger than its reputation. Today's song is an exercise in melancholy, and it feels very right for today.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

October 2 - Giftland

Today is another important day - it is the birthday of my farfar (father's father), Trygve Skogseth. He was born in 1912 and lived to be 78, almost 79 years old. He is a man to truly be proud of. He never talked much about World War II, but I always suspected that he was part of the underground resistance undermining the German occupation of Norway, knowing that he after the war had been a representative on the city council of Trondheim as a member of the communist party. When I finally started talking to my farmor (father's mother) about this, she told me that he had been distributing underground newspapers, but that they had burned them when they thought the Germans were getting a little too close. It would have been quite the risk, especially with two young children at home, but it was one they were willing to take under dire circumstances.

My farfar was a gruff and bigger man who sounded meaner than he was. I think that is a curse that has been passed down through generations, as I know both my father and I have inherited the very same trait. But he had a big heart. Not only was this clear when it came to his family, but also when it came to the people he worked with. In the postwar years, farfar started working on the developments of an apartment building for the people working on the streetcars in Trondheim. The building was strategically placed next to the "streetcar stable" at one of the terminal stations for the streetcars at Elgeseter. The building became reality and provided affordable housing for the streetcar employees and their families, including my grandparents and their three boys. It is one of many reasons to be proud of my grandfather - and if this is his legacy, it is indeed one that still stands.

Before I get to the song of the day, I do want to take a brief detour to mention one that wasn't featured on his birthday, but since he is celebrating it today, I think it is well worth mentioning him a couple of days late. 10 years ago, I was able to travel to Trondheim with Emma, who then was 6 years old, to be a part of my sister Elin's wedding to Will Capell. I had met him before, on an earlier visit home, but this was the first time I had a chance to really spend a little time with him, and I really started realizing that Elin had found a keeper. When I went back home again two years ago, the time spent with them was far more relaxed, as there was no stress of an impending wedding, just family time, and I was gradually getting to know him better. I am so happy he is in the family - and I wish we lived closer so we could spend some more time with one another. He turned 42 on Wednesday, and I really want to wish him a belated happy birthday as well.

Will was not yet in the family and farfar had passed away when I, in 1993, on farfar's birthday, got to see Motorpsycho for the very first time. It was an experience that changed me musically forever, as I got a chance to witness how they first got the audience in the palm of their hand only to open up the hand with not just one but two excursions into controlled noise experiments on both Mountain and Demon Box. I completely ate it up - and really started to appreciate the use of noise and dissonance in music. They also played a new song that hadn't been released yet (actually two - but I prefer this song to The Golden Core) - and Giftland became one of my favorite songs from Timothy's Monster.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

October 1 - Tree Of Love/Ballad Of A Broken Heart

So today is a rather special day. On this date in 1948, my grandmother and grandfather had their fifth child. After three girls and a break with one boy, they welcomed their fourth daughter to this world and named her Guri. She would eventually move in to the "big city" - to Trondheim, which is big really only by Norwegian standards. She moved with her younger sister and best friend Bjørg (or maybe Bjørg followed suit and moved a little later - my knowledge here is a little murky) and started working as a long-distance operator at the telegraph, which was the Norwegian phone company at the time. So she was indeed gainfully employed when she met a tall and skinny guy whom she later would marry (we already covered that part).

Anyway, she got pregnant, they got married, and then they got stuck with me. And I know I can say that, because I certainly did not get stuck with them. I can honestly say that if I could choose parents myself, I couldn't have chosen any better. It is the luck of the draw indeed - and man, was I lucky.

When I was born, my dad had a job that paid sufficiently for my mom to quit working and become a full-time mom. Having her home was always a good thing. It meant being read to, having meals made, and generally feeling safe and secure. We also lived in what I believe should be labeled the best place ever to grow up. We lived in what could be considered a townhouse, and the entire development was filled with families mostly in the same stage of life, which meant that they had lots of kids my age. It was also developed with great green areas where we could play soccer and run around all summer long - and it had a great hill for skiing in the winters. We could ride our bikes around safely - motorized traffic was restricted in most of the area - and we had a local grocery store, post office, and bank within a 10 minute walk. Looking back at it, I still smile - even though the houses were closer to one another than I remember them the last time I visited and walked around. Maybe they shrunk.

And in all of this I always had my mom. I was lucky indeed. My mom is also part of the reason I started playing guitar. She had a guitar because she had learned to play a little. I am not sure if that was because her dad played or because my uncle, her only brother who was only about a year older than her, was a guitarist in a rock band (I am still in awe of his playing abilities - he quickly became a guitar hero to me). I eventually appropriated the guitar and taught myself how to play with the help of Lillebjørn Nilsen's Guitar Book (I think that also was covered before).

For more than 44 years now, my mom has been a constant support. We have fought. Rather intensely at times. I think we had periods where we gladly literally would have bitten each others' heads off, but luckily it only happened figuratively. But through it all, I never doubted that she loved me. Not once. Even though we don't say that much in Norwegian - the word elske, which means love, is traditionally limited to romantic love and doesn't always translate easily to the broader reach it has in English. I know that appears to be changing in Norway now as well - but the thing is, I never needed to hear it to know it.  She has been there for me in my darkest moments - and on the brightest days. I can't expect any more - heck, I shouldn't even expect that.

My mom has taught me what it means to truly love unconditionally. I don't know that I am as good at it as she is, but I know who I am trying to model that part of my emotions after. And so she is 68 years old today (I am sorry for giving it away, mom - but anyone with minimal math knowledge knew that from the very first paragraph). As always, I wish I could be there to celebrate, but that is more difficult. When people ask me if I miss Norway, I always answer that I don't miss the country, but I miss the people (and the chocolate, don't forget the chocolate). But most of all I miss my family. And my family starts with my mom.

So to celebrate, I found a double header. I just happen to know that this first song is one of my mom's favorite songs (and I think she really likes the second one too). The Norwegian band Difference is Norway's best kept secret from the 60s. Their melodies and arrangements - including the vocal arrangements - are among the best I have ever heard from this era. Yes, I would argue that both of the songs included here are reaching the levels only The Beatles reached at that time. These versions are both the original ones - Tree of Love is from 1967 and Ballad of a Broken Heart is from 1968.They were rerecorded in the 70s (1974?), but the original versions are what were on singles in my mom's collection - and they are so incredibly good. Happy birthday, mom!