Mojo magazine (4 star review)

New album from Eivind Aarset & Jan Bang

"Guitarist Eivind Aarset and remixer Jan Bang have been exploring the ambient borderlands between raw sound and music since the early 1990´s. These 8 tracks further refine the brew: electronica fizzes and crackles over stuttering beats; shimmering slab of sound drift over dub bass.."

"..Nona Hendryx (she of Labelle) is imperious on Legion". 

- John Bungey, Mojo


Last Two Inches of Sky

«Last Two Inches of Sky», released by the Punkt Editions label on 23 September, is an ambitious and engaging mixture of sonic painting and art-pop; a new high point in Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang’s collective output.

Aarset and Bang have collaborated since the early 1990s in constellations with, among others, Nils Petter Molvær, Bugge Wesseltoft, Sly & Robbie and Jon Hassell. «Snow Catches on her Eyelashes» (2020) was their first recording as a duo, an album that was widely praised, inspiring John Eyles of All About Jazz to write: «Aarset, Bang and company go from strength to strength, as does the Norwegian scene. Onward and upward.»

«Last Two Inches of Sky» further expands this sonic universe – onward and upward. Like its predecessor, the new recording is an amalgam of styles, linked together by Jan Bang’s hallmark sampling technique and Eivind Aarset's continuous exploration of the guitar. Now, the rhythm section of Audun Erlien (bass) and Anders Engen (drums) are prominent on most tracks, and the arrangements are enhanced by guests like Gianluca Petrella (trombone), Adam Rudolph (percussion), Emanuel Birkeland-Bang (drum programming) and Erik Honoré (samples, lyrics on «Legion»). 
Both conceptually and sonically, «Last Two Inches of Sky» is a multi-dimensional experience of dreams within dreams, layers upon layers of colours, light and shade. While the seamlessness and warmth of the duo’s earlier work is still present, the new album is thoroughly grounded in a bass/beat foundation owing much to the Jamaican sound systems of the 1970s, but placed within a decidedly 2020s context.

At times the music crosses from abstract soundpainting into melodic art-pop territory, primarily on the two vocal pieces, still with a distinctive dub feeling at its core: «Legion» with vocals by Nona Hendryx (founder member of Labelle) and the title track sung by Tim Elsenburg of British quartet Sweet Billy Pilgrim.

On this track, with its Icarus-inspired imagery of ambition, risk and hope, Tim Elsenburg yearns for the hollow bones of birds; light enough for the protagonist to break free, to soar:

Everything I know is like a rope around the ankles

Hollow out my bones and take me higher

To the last two inches of sky

Listening with your eyes closed, this is exactly the escape that Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang’s powerful new album offers you. Close to the sun, perhaps, but grounded by the beat.


«Last Two Inches of Sky» will be released by Punkt Editions on 30 September. In addition to a release concert at Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene on 30 September, where Aarset/Bang are joined by Audun Erlien (bass) and Hamid Drake (drums), the duo will go on tour in November with Audun Erlien (bass) and Samuel Rohrer (drums).

Hamid Drake and new Polish collaborations lifts PUNKT to new heights

PUNKT 2023

The renowned live remix festival embraced diversity and adventurous new sounds for its 19th edition in Kristiansand, Norway

Translating as ‘point’ in Norwegian, PUNKT, celebrating it 19th edition this year, offered a sumptuous audio-visual programme that thrived on in-the-moment creativity, holding up a sonic mirror to our unsettling and frequently troubled times. While PUNKT remains a gem among Norway’s many excellent jazz festivals, this fully post-pandemic edition saw the core cast of Scandi-jazztronica stars collaborate with musicians from Poland (a new two year initiative), France, America and even a Syrian-Norwegian oud player, Khaled Habeeb. Longtime PUNKT performer/curator David Toop had also assembled a heavyweight seminar programme alongside the music – with the likes of installation and video artists such as British multi-media artist Haroon Mirza and Lebanese sound artist Nour Sokhon offering yet more mind-expanding sounds and visions to reflect on. Sokhon stepped up to the live remix challenge too and performed one of the most compelling sets of the weekend.  

Once more back in its original home of the Teatret venue, (returning there for the first time in 2022) the cosy red velvet seating of the auditorium contrasted with the standing-only basement, matching the often beatific sounds of the main programme, with the fractiously funky live remixes below. 

In the past PUNKT has been happy to rock out and headbang its way into a state of sonic nirvana, with raucous sets from the likes of Stian Westerhus, Elephant9 and Three Trapped Tigers – it’s also featured high-profile guest artists such as Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Jon Hassell and David Sylvian. Yet this year a far more meditative spell was cast over many of the collaborations, several of them drummer-less, emphasising a heady dream-like atmosphere.

An opening night duo from adventurous Polish pianist Joanna Duda and revered Hardanger fiddle player Erlend Apneseth was among those to feature the new partnership between PUNKT and forward looking Polish musicians. Duda fits this bill perfectly with her poised blend of classically trained touch at the piano and electronic flashes from both MacBook and OP-1 synth. Apneseth switched between keening bowed drones to an Oud/banjo-like approach, playing the fiddle in his lap, with rolling pull-offs, slides and tricky pizzicato runs. The remix of this set was an early highlight too, with students from Kristiansand University – who’ve been tutored by electronica maestros and PUNKT founders Jan Bang and Eric Honoré – getting a chance to heavily deconstruct the aforementioned duo set, stretching fiddle drones to breaking point and adding bristling backbeats in a stormy rumbling response.

A further Norwegian/Polish collaboration found saxophonist Maciej Obara, pianist/electronics Anja Lauvdal, bassist Ole Morten Vågan and drummer Veslemøy Narvesen – another PUNKT premiere – melting subtle, sometimes dominant electronics, and sweetly grooving piano work from Lauvdal, who guided the group between contemporary jazz and freer, fractured passages. Obara impressed with his gossamer sax lines, that added some sour, outside harmonies to the mix, while Vågan plucked and pulled some rubbery sounds from his compliant upright bass.

With such a strong line-up things unexpectedly peaked early on Friday evening with a breath-taking set from the Iceland trio of celebrated bassist Skúli Sverrisson, his partner and astonishing singer Ólöf Arnalds and pianist Davíð Þór Jónsson (a renowned film composer). With Sverrisson’s gently thrumming six-string bass guitar drenched in a vast Valhalla-sized reverb, Arnalds’ piercingly poignant operatic-folk-like vocals and melancholic piano explorations from Þór Jónsson, this drummerless group created an immersive ice-cave ambience – with the utterly mesmerising light show created by the festivals resident lighting genius Tord Knudsen. It left many in the audience speechless at such profoundly beautiful sights and sounds. The essence of which was carefully remixed by Eivind AarsetMorten Qvenild and John Derek Bishop.

Unenviable as this may have been to follow, the first time collaboration between leading Polish string ensemble, the  Lutosławski Quartet, with core PUNKT performers – trumpet titan Arve Henriksen and electronics gurus Jan Bang and Erik Honoré – provided another triumph. The strings began with some watery, intricate lines, often passing a note between them, plucking and bowing to create ripples of melody, these in turn sampled by the electronicists, who wove together a tapestry of processed strings, while Henriksen set up his own call and response between keening trumpet, cornet, flute and his astonishing voice – that can switch between angelic cries, Mongolian-throat rumbles to pure, primal screams. 

Veteran US drum don Hamid Drake was to make his presence felt – even more so after nearly an entire evening sans percussion – as he stepped up to remix the aforementioned set with prodigiously talented undergraduate electronica artist Even Sigurdsen Røstad, surely Bang’s protégé. Drake too was something of a newbie to the live remix format, but deployed all his finely-tuned musical instincts to respond with astounding shimmering cymbal slashes, lightning speed rolls and thundering floor toms to whip up a perfect electro-acoustic storm. Røstad matched Drake’s speed and intuition for a remarkable intergenerational meeting of minds, the more the samples piled in, the more inspired Drake became. So heady were the heights this duo scaled, one recalled the blood, sweat and tears of the much missed US drummer Steve Reid and his percussive face-offs with the mutated keys of Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet). One can only hope they see sense and release this as an album too. Drake’s impassioned post-gig speech direct to the audience about how important festival’s such as PUNKT are for the creative lifeblood, hinted at just how inspired he was feeling too.

Topping this looked impossible and so it proved, with a strong line-up on the final night not quite hitting these kinds of highs – although Drake did return for the richly textured live launch of Aarset and Bang’s new album, Last Two Inches of Sky, featuring bassist Audun Erlien, US singer/harpist Sophye Soliveau and Henriksen (once more magnificent) on a set that dipped into a Nordic take on dub, with Soliveau’s soulful blues-inflected vocals providing a suitable climax. It certainly had its moments, but the evening’s earlier set by Berlin’s TAU 5 didn’t quite achieve lift off, and its remix didn’t get out of second gear with a clubby 4/4 beat dominating – and the last remix by acclaimed noise musician Lasse Marhaug, suffered from technical problems that ultimately proved a bit of buzz killer.

However, this is the essence and importance of PUNKT: to provide a safe space for musicians to take risks and strive for uncharted points on the creative map. When it works it’s magic, if not, it’s the getting there that counts.

PUNKT 2023 review in German Jazz Magazine

By Christoph Giese (photo Alf Solbakken)

Könnte das eine neue Supergroup werden? Vielleicht. Das Debütkonzert dieses polnisch-norwegischen Vierers, einen Bandnamen gibt es (noch) nicht, klang am Auftaktabend des diesjährigen PUNKT-Festivals jedenfalls schon mal ziemlich aufregend. Der polnische Saxofonist Maciej Obara und der norwegische Bassist Ole Morten Vågan machen zwar schon einige Jahre immer wieder gemeinsam Musik, aber im Quartett mit den beiden Norwegerinnen Anja Lauvdal (Tasteninstrumente) und der jungen Veslemøy Narvesen (Schlagzeug) war es eine absolute Premiere. Und wie vier Kreativgeister auf der Bühne des Teateret sich auf Klangsuchen begeben, wie sie aus bruchstückhaften Elementen immer wieder einen musikalischen Fluss zaubern, frisch und einfallsreich klingend - es machte viel Spaß da zuzuhören.

Zuvor gab es schon eine polnisch-norwegische Premiere in Kristiansand zu erleben. Und auch das Duo der Pianistin Joanna Duda und des Hardangerfiedel-Spielers Erlend Apneseth hat durchaus das Potenzial für eine Fortsetzung, fanden beide wunderbare Wege der Kommunikation zwischen ihren Instrumenten. Dass beide Konzerte anschließend noch von Studenten eines polnisch-norwegischen Live Remix-Workshops bearbeitet wurden, rundete dieses Zwei-Länder-Projekt am ersten Abend ab. Hinter dieser Zusammenarbeit steckt übrigens HILO, eine norwegisch-polnische Plattform für „New Music Development“ und Kollaborationen zwischen norwegischen und polnischen Musikern, Kuratoren oder Organisatoren. Magisch war übrigens auch die dritte norwegisch-polnische Kombination, ebenfalls eine Premiere. Die vier Streicher vom Lutoslawski Quartet trafen auf die beiden Masterminds von PUNKT, Jan Bang und Erik Honoré, sowie den Trompeter Arve Henriksen. Stilistisch offen und sehr freigeistig unterwegs schichten die Polen Klänge wunderbar aufeinander. Und wie die drei Norweger diese verarbeiten, kommentieren oder ergänzen, spontan und kreativ, aber auch mit Seele und Feingefühl, das verzückte einfach als Gesamtkunstwerk.

Und es gab noch so viele weitere memorable Momente beim diesjährigen PUNKT. Etwa der sehr berührende musikalische Tribut eines exquisiten Quintetts mit den beiden Festivalmachern Jan Bang und Erik Honoré an den im letzten Jahr verstorbenen, norwegischen Poeten Nils Christian Moe-Repstad, der jahrelang eine Verbindung zum Festival hatte. Das Konzert der norwegischen Hardangerfiedel-Spielerin Benedicte Maurseth mit ihrem Quartett. Der Auftritt von Skúli Sverrisson mit zwei Landsleuten und neuen, beseelten Kompositionen des isländischen Bassgitarristen, die atmosphärisch ausgeleuchtet im Theatersaal für eine verzaubernde Stimmung sorgten. Und natürlich der Album Release von „Last Two Inches of Sky“ am letzten Festivalabend, die nagelneue, zweite CD des Duos von Sample-Künstler Jan Bang und Gitarrist Eivind Aarset auf dem eigenen Punkt Editions Label. Live präsentiert mit Arve Henriksen, Bassist Audun Erlien, Drummer Hamid Drake und am Ende auch mit Sängerin Sophye Soliveau zeigt diese Musik die ganze Bandbreite und Offenheit der Beteiligten. Hier geht es nicht um einen musikalischen Stil, sondern um Klang- und Songwelten. Und wenn das Ganze live auch mal kurzfristig mal Richtung Jamaika blinzelt, dann ist das auch wieder nur eine Facette des faszinierenden Soundkosmos der Norweger und ihrer Gäste.        

Gerade schon erwähnt: Hamid Drake, der legendäre US-Schlagzeuger. Bevor er überhaupt das erste Mal seine Drumsticks auspackte in Kristiansand, stand er im großen Theatersaal vor dem Mikrofon und zeigte sich total begeistert von dem Live Remix-Konzept dieses in der Tat einzigartigen Festivals. Und machte deutlich dass man sich als Musiker eines Remixes erst einmal zurücknehmen und in sich hineinhören muss, alles vergessen sollte, was man glaubt musikalisch zu wissen. Wie man das umsetzt, zeigte er später eindrucksvoll mit dem jungen norwegischen Soundtüftler Even Sigurdsen Røstad und dem gemeinsamen Remix des direkt zuvor stattgefundenen Konzertes des Lutoslawski Quartetts. Røstad lieferte die Soundscapes, immer wieder herrlich durchdrungen von Originalklängen des Konzertes. Und Drake kommentierte am Drumset diesen oft wilden Soundkosmos mit seinem wahnsinnig einfallsreichen Schlagzeugspiel. Der Amerikaner hat die Essenz von PUNKT auf den selbigen gebracht, mit seinen Worten und seiner fantastischen Trommelkunst.

Hu Vibrational

Jan Bang contributes to Adam Rudolph's Hu Vibrational

'Twas ever ~ from vast primeval time 
The honey ~ honey must combine 
The psychic seeks a mystic sign 
While midnight kitchen's jammin' fine 
Lay back! It's oceanic time! 
Like twilit dance halls ~ 
Hittin' sublime 
Humming Droning Serpentine 
Flow ever on! 
O space! No time!


Released August 12, 2023 


Album credits

Compositions, organic orchestrations, arrangements, and electronic processing by Adam Rudolph. 
Published by Migration Music BMI 
Recorded by James Dellatacoma at Orange Sound Studio, and Adam Rudolph at Clear Lake Studio, New Jersey 
Mixed and mastered by James Dellatacoma 
Art and poem by Nancy Jackson 
Design by Sylvain Leroux 
Produced by Adam Rudolph assisted by Mas Yamagata and Carlos Niño 
Special thank you to Bill Laswell 

Dedicated to our families: those here, those gone, and those still to come 

Adam Rudolph: keyboards, thumb pianos, merimbula, cajon, mbuti harp, mouth bow, vocal, slit drums, udu drums, wooden and bamboo flutes, double reeds, gongs, kudu horn, zither, caxixi, kongos, tarija, gankogui, bells, percussion 

Alexis Marcelo: fender rhodes, organ (Hittin, Proto Zoa Gogo) 

Brahim Fribgane: tarija (Oceanic) 

Damon Banks: bass (Hittin, Proto Zoa Gogo) 

Eivind Aarset: guitar and electronics (Serpentine, Timeless, Honey Honey, Proto Zoa Gogo, Psychic) 

Hamid Drake: drum set Space, Oceanic, Hittin, Jammin, Proto Zoa Gogo) 

Harris Eisenstadt: bata (Hittin, Timeless) 

Jan Bang: sampling TImeless, Honey Honey, Psychic) 

Kaoru Watanabe: nohkan flute (Proto Zoa Gogo) 

Marco Cappelli: guitar (Hittin) 

Munyungo Jackson: tambourine, shekere (Oceanic) 

Neel Murgai: sitar (Hittin) 

Sameer Gupta: tabla (Space, Timeless)




Enjoy Jazz, Mannheim

October 6

Alexandra Lehmler invites Jan Bang & Vincent Courtois


Beyond all routines! For more than a decade, Alexandra Lehmler has been regularly present at Enjoy Jazz with a wide variety of projects. At the time, i.e. in 2014, she had just been awarded the Landesjazzpreis Baden-Württemberg and subsequently distinguished herself by always looking for exciting, challenging constellations and encounters. And so she has shared the stage with Herbert Joos, Franck Tortiller, Patrice Héral or Federico Casagrande, among others. Nevertheless - or precisely because of this - 2023 is something very special. There's Norwegian Jan Bang, master of live sampling and live remix and one of the masterminds behind the "Punkt" festival in Kristiansand, southern Norway. Alexandra Lehmler met Jan Bang on the sidelines of one of her concerts and has been curious about the electronic play of the improvised for quite some time. In Vincent Courtois she appreciates not only his versatility, whose virtuoso cello playing knows how to combine the robust with the melodious. So a trio as a premiere: saxophone(s), cello, live sampling, electronics. As a trio an experiment, a sound laboratory of improvisation. It is a matter of using the favor of the constellation.

Do You Know Me Now?

David Sylvian 10CD deluxe box set

David Sylvian has released a 10 CD box set entitled "Do You Know Me Now?" One of the CDs is the Jan Bang / Erik Honoré album "Uncommon Deities" featuring David Sylvian / Sidsel Endresen / Arve Henriksen, with lyrics by Paal-Helge Haugen and Nils Christian Moe-Repstad.

In addition to the complete "Uncommon Deities" album, the box includes many other Punkt related tracks, from our early Sylvian remixes to the arrangements on the title track "Do You Know Me Now". From the press release:

"This lavish 10 CD Box Set contains all of David Sylvian’s solo albums released on his own independent label, samadhisound, between 2003 and 2014, plus the albums recorded with Nine Horses, Jan Bang & Erik Honoré and Franz Wright & Christian Fennesz.

Also contains an exclusive compilation CD, “Do You Know Me Now?” featuring non-album tracks recorded with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Nine Horses.

Housed in a 10×10 slip case and designed by long-time collaborator Chris Bigg with David Sylvian. The box contains a 100-Page Hard Cover Book with an Introduction by David Sylvian and an essay on the samadhisound aesthetic by Adrian Shaughnessy plus 3 CD Holders featuring the work of Canadian musician and painter, Lance Austin Olsen."

Albums of the year