Producer Series #2: Norwegian Noise vs. Scandinavian Design

Here's a producer who, in a way, would be Norway's equivalent to Nigel Godrich (producer of Beck, Air and «sixth member of Radiohead»). His style is typified by glitches and bursts, but also by spacey electronic sounds whose sources you can't quite identify, but that seem to have come from the future—or sometimes your childhood: There's a lot of comedy, with kitschy, '70s home organ sounds and rhythms, not to mention sudden blips, scratches, etc. reminiscent of cartoons. One of his trademarks is slapstick noise music, played with the the same kind of absurdist mischief of Nurse With Wound or Add N To (X). It's arty, but never pretentious, and a lot of the time there seems to be no discrepancy between «moving» and «funny». And why should there be?

Norwegian music possesses two general trends: that few artists have anything interesting to say (or sufficient talent to say them), and that the Protestant work ethic and Germanic meticulousness result in an obsession with detail that makes most of the music sound sleek, either in a perfected (but soulless) mimicry of some internationally hip style or just in terms of the production values. Consequently, the most noteworthy Norwegian music tends to be music that, a) doesn't try to say anything and, b) doesn't copy a style but pays careful attention to sound. In other words, experimental instrumental music. And it's perhaps these qualities that make Norwegian noise music among the most accomplished in the noise field.

This producer is an accomplished noise artist who often uses his near scientific audio chops to help produce inane, Norwegian pop artists (Sondre Lerche, the National Bank, Sissy Wish, Morten Abel, Magnet), a couple of alternative bands whose ambitions dwarf their talent (Datarock, Kaizers Orchestra, Emmerhoff & the Melancholy Babies, Ralph Myerz & the Jack Herren Band), the odd well-schooled and well-oiled jazz pop act (Helén Eriksen), a couple of metal bands (Trinacria, Deride) and experimental (Spunk) and noise (Jazzkammer) outfits. Thankfully, apart from the artists mentioned above, some of whom are middling or even terrible, he has also produced artists who negotiate the precarious balance between prog and jazz, art wank and noise, to yield albums like so many giddily enthusiastic ADD children. You'll find it all here on this compilation.

The more commercial records this guy has produced are too straightforward and safe to do justice to his ideas, and the noise stuff, although a breath of fresh ear in the blandness that is Norwegian culture, is too chaotic to really showcase his studio skills. So here's a collection of songs that find themselves somewhere in the middle. Some melodic stuff not entirely impervious to noise, and some noise stuff not impervious to melody. Many of the pieces on this compilation are what happens when easy listening meets something it would be easier not to listen to, but that's the way Toilet Guppies likes it. This guy somehow manages to combine the sterility of Scandinavian production values with the violence of noise in a best-of-both-worlds kind of way. The best albums he has produced are journeys of discovery, every second and every listen bringing a new revelation. God is in the detail, people. Enjoy.

(For more exotic music from the far-away land that is not the capital of Sweden, check out these Toilet Guppies compilations:

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