Reading the Air

Norwegian review in "Salt Peanuts"

Komponisten, vokalisten, musikeren og festivalarrangøren, Jan Bang er kjent for album og liveopptredener i samarbeid med for eksempel Jon Hassell, Sidsel Endresen, Tigran Hamasyan, Nils Petter Molvær, David Sylvian, Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset og Erik Honoré. Etter en rekke instrumentalutgivelser og to vokalbaserte album med samarbeidsprosjektet Dark Star Safari, er Reading the Air hans første vokalbaserte soloalbum siden 1998. Albumets lyriske, dvelende komposisjoner, bygget rundt Bangs stemme, keyboard og elektronikk, forsterkes av et ytterst dyktig og velspillende team: Vokalistene Anneli Drecker, Simin Tander og det unge talentet Benedikte Kløw Askedalen, trompeteren Arve Henriksen, duduk-spilleren Canberk Ulaş, perkusjonisten Adam Rudolph, gitaristen Eivind Aarset, bassisten Audun Erlien og trommeslageren Anders Engen. «Reading the Air» er co-produsert og mikset av Jan Bangs mangeårige musikalske partner og Punkt Festival-medgründer Erik Honoré, som også bidro med synthesizere og skrev tekstene. Bang har komponert de fleste komposisjonene, noe er gjort sammen med Honoré, en er gjort sammen med Honoré og Aarset, og femtesporet, «Delia» er platas eneste «standard», som er skrevet av Brooks og Judson, og kjent fra Harry Belafonte og hans utgivelse Mark Twain and Other Folk Favorites fra 1954.

Ifølge presseteksten tar Bang tak i tvetydige meditasjoner om forgjengelighet og tap. Albumet åpner med «Nameless», en hjemsøkende, dempet klagesang opprinnelig skrevet for Bugge Wesseltofts veldedighetsprosjekt for Moria flyktningleir i Hellas. Anneli Drecker synger denne låten sammen med Jan Bang over nydelig spill av Aarset, Engen, Erliens bass, Ula sin duduk og Honoré.  Og selv om det ikke nevnes i presseskrivet, er jeg temmelig sikker på at Henriksen også har blandet seg inn med vakkert og særdeles gjenkjennelig trompetspill.

Og herfra og ut, er dette en annerledes, men vakker, kreativ og velspilt utgivelse, hvor Bang får vist fram sine tidligere fascinasjoner for popmusikk. For dette er musikk som mer enn gjerne kan regnes inn i pop-avdellngen. Men dette er popmusikk som strekker seg mange mil fra all popmusikken vi blir pådyttet fra alle kanaler nå om dagen. Det er tydelig at Bang har et nært forhold til David Sylvian, Brian Eno og, kanskje også, salige Jon Hassell. For dette er lyrisk og vakkert fra start til mål. Og Bang viser seg som en utmerket vokalist, i den melankolske avdelingen av vokalkunsten. Og med Drecker, Tander og Kløw Askedalen, har han tre samarbeidspartnere som passer perfekt sammen med hans stemme.

Og sammen med Bangs gode venner av musikere, som er noen av de fremste på planeten, får vi et musikalsk fundament Bang og de andre vokalistene bare må elske. Aarsets usigelig vakre gitarinnspill, Erliens stødige bass-spill, Engens distinkte og ytterst passende trommespill, Ulas duduk og, ikke minst, Henriksens usigelig vakre trompetspill.

Et helstøpt album som bør sende vokalisten Jan Bang og hans musikalske venner ut på verdensturné, også på de store scenene og festivalene. Kanskje Bangs mest «publikumsvennlige» og «lett tilgjengelige» utgivelse til nå. Men «gå-ta-banen» så vakkert!

Jan Granlie



 

Critical acclaim for “Reading the Air”:

 

“Jan Bang is one of the people responsible for the great wave of creative music from Norway over the past three decades. As a producer and player, he’s collaborated with Dhafer Youssef, Nils Petter Molvaer, Arve Henriksen, David Sylvian, Bugge Wesseltoft and many others.”

 

«What does it sound like? I was put in mind of late Blue Nile filtered through Jon Hassell’s Fourth World recordings: fragile-sounding melodies, introspective lyrics, voices singing from some private sphere, gauzy textures shaped and layered with great care, on the edge of decay. Through the 10 tracks, there’s a consistency of mood, elegant and reflective.»  - Richard Williams (UK)

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“With “Reading the Air”, Jan Bang has released an oppressively beautiful album. It is a vocal-oriented solo album, his first since 1998.”…” this album promises to provide an enchanting listening experience” - Anton Dupont, Maxazine (Holland)

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“A beatific, affecting collection of songs, Reading The Air is one of the most moving, attention-grabbing albums I’ve heard in a good while. Warm and enveloping, these songs have a profound, haunting quality that stays with you long after the final song has finished. Understated yet powerful, and frequently breathtaking.” - Mat Smith, Further (UK)

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"This sophisticated, multi-layered pop conjures up atmospheres and moods and presents Jan Bang as a darkly mystical singer who aims directly at the soul" - Ulrich Steinmetzger, Badische Zeitung

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"The cozy winter sound setting goes perfectly with the snow-covered landscape outside: you're happy to be sitting in a warm room and listening to this wonderful record (while others freeze in traffic jams on the A7 or on drafty train platforms)." – Westzite, Germany

 

Reading the Air - reviewed by Richard Williams

Thebluemoment.com

What does it sound like? I was put in mind of late Blue Nile filtered through Jon Hassell’s Fourth World recordings: fragile-sounding melodies, introspective lyrics, voices singing from some private sphere, gauzy textures shaped and layered with great care, on the edge of decay. Through the 10 tracks, there’s a consistency of mood, elegant and reflective.

- Richard Williams

Beguiling songs from the north

Reading the Air review in Baadische Zeitung

Jan Bang has a professorship in electronic music and is best known for his contribution to modern Scandinavian jazz. Now he impresses as a singer with cross-border, sophisticated ambient pop.

 It may well be that this young pop music year has already received one of its most beautiful songs. The drums begin mildly and as light as a feather, with a dark, thumping, then subtle bell sound before gentle guitar swaths, into which a sonorous voice floats, singing of a loss, gentle, dreamy and full of sentiment. Soon a parallel female voice supports the melancholic mood, for which the bass creates a basis.

 “Delia” is the name of the piece, which is reminiscent of the song gems of David Sylvian or sounds like what you would have liked the last Peter Gabriel album to sound like. But it can be found at the center of the CD "Reading the Air" by the Norwegian Jan Bang, which moves at this astonishing height throughout.

 Until now, the man in his mid-fifties was known more as a gray eminence of current Scandinavian jazz, with the best of the generation after Jan Gabarek, he was often on stage as a DJ and contributed electronic elements live. When he turns buttons and slides controls, he gives the respective events a not at all superficial twist in the direction of contemporary electronics with sound-painterly trace elements of house and ambient. In 2005, Bang founded the now renowned Punkt festival for live remixes with the poet, sound engineer and record producer Erik Honoré in their hometown, Kristiansand in southern Norway, which now also runs its own label Punkt Editions.

The album "Reading the Air" contains ten beguiling songs from the north, for which Erik Honoré wrote the lyrics. This sophisticated, multi-layered pop conjures up atmospheres and moods and presents Jan Bang as a darkly mystical singer who aims directly at the soul in front of illustrious musicians from the front row of current Scandinavian jazz such as the guitarist Eivind Aarset, the trumpeter Arve Henriksen and the drummer Anders Engen.

Occasionally, the clarinet-like Armenian national instrument duduk, repetitive piano runs and whirring electronics increase the emotionality, and Simin Tander, Benedikte Kløw Askedalen and Anneli Drecker refine the songs from the background like elves.

They are about transience and loss, but also about the hope for reconciliation and, taken together, are wonderful evidence of how in the far north, pigeonholing and fear of contact between genres don't play a role, and how unexpectedly different things grow from such border crossings. Jan Bang's music is exquisitely beautiful and, despite all its references, very modern. Henriksen's distinctive trumpet oscillates between a whisper and a breathy flattery, Aarset's guitar contributes atmospheric clouds of sound.

 It all started three years ago when the Swiss drummer Samuel Rohrer formed the quartet Dark Star Safari with Aarset, Honoré and Jan Bang, with whom he reconciled digital and analogue worlds. He had been planning two-dimensional soundscapes with the Norwegian sound magicians when the astonishing thing happened in the studio and Jan Bang added the sound of singing. This is how you imagine a moment when something big happens.

 Bang's dark, rhapsodic voice then carried two records that are among the most important pieces of adult, avant-garde rock of recent times - full of magic, suggestive power and memorable melodies. Now there is a continuation with a broader line-up behind this distinctive voice.

- Ulrich Steinmetzger, Baaddische Zeitung

Albums of the year