Rare or Unreleased 28: Helge Sten

Deathprod.: «Komet» (live) [mp3]

In 1998 (possibly '97), an acquaintance slipped me a tape of Deathprod. opening for Motorpsycho at Oslo venue Rockefeller, as recorded by the NRK (the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) and aired during their radio show Roxrevyen. Apparently, my acquaintance had recorded the broadcast on DAT, before transferring it to good old microcassette for me. I copied this onto minidisc, which was later transferred onto the computer.

Believe me, I've tried to obtain a higher quality recording of this performance, both through the NRK directly and through my acquaintance (who has since forgotten all about the piece, and about ever hearing it, let alone taping it and giving it to me). Unfortunately, this piece of Deathprod.'s remains unreleased to this day, and no other recorded version of «Komet» is currently in circulation. Perversely, as the state-owned, non-profit, TV licence-sponsored NRK owns the rights to the actual recording, it has proved too expensive for the artist himself to buy the licence to have it released. And so the recording rots in the archives somewhere, where even the self-appointed caretakers of Norwegian cultural heritage over at the Kafkaesque NRK can't seem to find it—this rare pearl among the mediocre excrement shat out of the pampered botty of Norwegian culture virtually non-existent, and no good to anyone.

So this deteriorated version of the recording will have to do. This (to my knowledge) one-off performance of «Komet» came after Deathprod. a.k.a. Helge Sten's initial experiments with noise, but prior to his further, somewhat insular studio refinements of sound—dense minimalism that is characterised by an almost underwater sensibility. This mid-period Deathprod.—typically recorded in the relatively uncontrolled environment of a live setting, and veering towards composition (rather than audiophile ambient music reduced to texture)—is Helge Sten at his very best, the music not yet restricted in any way by the studio perfectionism that would come later.

From about 1996 to '98, Sten composed what in many ways are more ambitious pieces, trying his hand at added instrumentation of various kinds, and to great effect. Where Imaginary Songs from Tristan da Cunha's «The Contraceptive Briefcase II» incorporated a choir, and the Jörg Mager Ensemble project a string orchestra, «Komet» is the only piece of Deathprod.'s to feature percussion. More accomplished than his early recordings, and more visceral than his later ones, «Komet» truly is a lost masterpiece.

As for the personnel listing, I'm assuming that—the percussionist(s) notwithstanding—the name «Deathprod.» here refers to the period's usual core trio of Helge Sten (theremin, various electronics, «audiovirus»), Ole Henrik Moe (violin) and Hans Magnus Ryan (electric violin).


  1. thank you for this, I've always really liked deathprods work and really interested to hear it with percussion

  2. First of all; Thanks! Been looking for this for a long time. Back in the days when it was aired on NRKP3 I recorded it on a minidisc recorder, and this was one of the best Deathprod recordings I had. And as you see, HAD, because around 2000 someone broke in to our apartment one friday night and stole a lot of things, including my 50 or so minidiscs. And it never came back... Some jewelry did return though, but that recording did not.

    As I remember it, I think that a similar piece was played as an opening for Motorpsycho in Trondheim on Veita Scene in 97. That was of course recorded directly to minidisc as well, and long gone.

    I have some recordings that probably noone except NRK has, I'll be putting these out during the winter.