Selected recordings

Dai Fujikura & Jan Bang

The bow maker

THE BOW MAKER – DAI FUJIKURA AND JAN BANG

From the opening grand diptych of “Night Poles River” through its eight tracks, Dai Fujikura and Jan Bang’s The Bow Maker is an album of multidimensional musical movements – not in the conventional compositional sense, but in the sense of actual movement: the music is constantly active, enveloping the listener, surrounding them with evanescent sonic spaces.

Featuring Dai Fujikura on synthesisers throughout (apart from one piece, “Implanted Memories”, to which he contributes orchestral samples), alongside Jan Bang’s unique use of samples, sound processing, and programming, the album features an ever-changing cast of contributors. Eivind Aarset’s guitar moves between textural elements, broad warm glissandos, and brief interjections of unidentifiable sounds. Arve Henriksen provides his fluid trumpet playing and breathy falsetto vocals. Nils Petter Molvær’s trumpet provides different moods from that of Henriksen’s, despite sharing stylistic musical DNA. Kati Raitinen’s resonant cello on the title track creates an evocative textural contrast with the shifting sonic world around it. Tamami Tono’s Sho (a mouth organ, a Japanese traditional instrument) conjures a unique acoustic terrain that undulates and rolls through angular peaks and valleys. 

The mood and atmosphere of each piece is distinct, sometimes wide in scope and spacious, sometimes enclosed and focussed, sometimes warm and hazy, sometimes cool and crystalline. The fleeting elements – whether brief incursions of drums, prepared piano or orchestra, half-glimpsed field recordings, or manipulated echoes of the other instruments – populate these spaces with a kind of ongoing life through which a leading instrument, often trumpet or voice or both, can swoop and weave. It is like shifting illumination and silhouettes behind shoji.

The combination of the organic spirit of the music (despite its electronic nature) with the versatility of the musicians involved means that while sounds are clearly differentiated within the soundscape, their true source is often unclear.

Seemingly freeform, the pieces contain subtle structures over which the music flows like windblown silk, vacillating between obscuring this supporting architecture, creating clinging outlines if it, or briefly revealing it. The closing piece, “Satellite Sister”, perhaps follows mostly closely the structure of a conventional song, albeit through implied repetition and counterpoint.

The album could arguably be regarded as a perfect example of the “Punkt Sound”. This is not music that reclines into the background to be unnoticed, not a new age meditation soundtrack, not sonic furniture. It is music that engages directly with the listener, actively permeating their consciousness, capturing their attention.

That this album should be identifiable as possessing the “Punkt Sound” is perhaps appropriate, as this is the first release from Punkt Editions, a new imprint under Jazzland Recordings, curated by Jan Bang and Erik Honoré.

Bang / Toop / Wastell

Compound Full of Bones, Translucent Thousands (CD/DL 2021 Confront)

From the moment I heard that this trio had spent a day in a London studio I have been anticipating the results. Three distinctive musical minds and voices: each familiar, never before together. 

Jan Bang’s sound environments are deeply affecting, created with an Akai sampler and interwoven with the work of collaborators in both studio and live remix situations. There’s a sensitivity and respect in David Toop’s sound-making borne from his insatiable curiosity about the evolution of music in cultures across the world. Mark Wastell’s use of acoustic percussion and his explorations into the potential of simple instruments result in nothing short of a spiritual communion with sound. 

No parameters were set for the sessions. Three improvisations of around thirty minutes duration were recorded. Afterwards, every sound played in those performances was brought together to create a unified whole. 

There are moments where each player’s voice is distinct: the resonance of Wastell’s tam-tam caresses, the bursts and trills of Toop’s woodwind, the pitch-altered looping of Bang’s manipulated samples. But the triumph of this collaboration is the sound world of their combined creation. 

There’s an openness in the mix that allows each expression to breathe. It’s like being encircled by some elaborate gossamer sculpture, flashes of colour and light glinting through as it catches the breeze. 

The trio’s music creates a strong sense of place, yet you can’t quite put your finger on the exact location. There are crescendos that remind me of the vibrant frenzy once experienced in the Amazonian rainforest. Jan Bang injects into the mix both snippets of his co-creators’ performances and samples collected over time for deployment in just the right context. We hear faint orchestral swells and then voices, both spoken and sung, the recordings degraded so far as to be barely recognisable. These add a strange authenticity to this imagined territory, the acoustic purity of Toop and Wastell’s instruments providing a counterpoint that expands the stage. 

Deep listening reveals some beautiful passages where all else subsides but for the elegance of a simple motif. None is more perfect than the gentle melody that emerges to bring resolution in the final moments. 

A Compound Full of Bones, Translucent Thousands has an eloquence that transcends both the circumstances of its creation in a small London studio and the finely-honed technique of each individual artist. Expressive, alluring: music with which to share your time and imagination.  

credits

released December 11, 2021 

Jan Bang - live sampling, samples 
David Toop - lapsteel guitar, flutes, whistles, small percussion, harmonica, elastic, paper 
Mark Wastell - Paiste 32” tam tam, gongs, beaters, brushes, sticks, bow, autoharp 

Recorded by Shaun Crook, London, 22 November 2019 
Compositional structure by Mark Wastell 
Mixed and mastered by Rupert Clervaux 
Cover image by Crimson Wastell 
Liner notes by David Nibloe 
Design by Matthew Brandi 

Produced by Mark Wastell

Tigran Hamasyan / Arve Henriksen Eivind Aarset / Jan Bang

Atmosphéres (CD/DL 2016 ECM)

https://www.ecmrecords.com/home

This far-reaching double album, recorded and mixed in three days in Lugano, introduces a new group with Tigran Hamasyan, Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang. The Norwegians had played in diverse configurations on ECM - Jan Bang on Eivind Aarset’s Dream Logic, for instance, and Bang and Aarset on Arve Henriksen’s Cartography - but with Hamasyan at the centre of the sound, bringing with him ancient folk melodies transfigured in the compositions of Komitas, other inspirations come into play. All four players are at a creative peak here, whether freely reflecting upon Armenian themes or spontaneously shaping atmospheric soundscapes together.

 

Arve Henriksen / Eivind Aarset / Jan Bang / Jez Riley French

The Height of the reeds (LP/DL/CD 2018 Rune Grammofon)

http://www.runegrammofon.com

"The Height Of The Reeds" started as a commissioned work to the city of Hull, Great Britain´s cultural capital 2017. Composed by Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset, Jan Bang and Jez riley French, the work celebrates the longstanding seafaring relationship between Hull and Scandinavia. It was originally the musical companion to a sound walk that took place in April, May and June 2017. Those who took part could listen to the music on headphones while crossing the Humber Bridge. Initially intended for April only, the arrangement proved so popular it ended up with selling out three months, a total of 15.000 tickets. This beautifully evocative music can now be experienced through this release, where only minor adjustments have been done to justify the transition from sound walk to album.

Jan Bang

...And Poppies From Kandahar (CD 2010 Samadhisound)

http://www.samadhisound.com/janbang/

Acclaimed producer and Punkt Festival co-founder releases expansive, lush production featuring Jon Hassell, Nils Petter Molvær, Arve Henriksen, and Sidsel Endresen

… And Poppies From Kandahar, Jan Bang’s first album under his own name, evokes a powerful sense of place – but it’s not a place you would recognize, or ever expect to find.  A descendent of Jon Hassell’s “fourth world” concept, it sketches scenes of struggle and malice, in locales both primitive and urbane.   As a producer, Bang stitches it together like a patchwork atlas and then makes the seams disappear: live recordings and studio constructions, old samples and new solos come together to form an exquisite whole.

Bang recruits a cast of collaborators from Norway and beyond, who will be familiar to anyone who’s followed his recent productions: trumpeter and vocalist Arve Henriksen, whose albums Cartography and Chiaroscuro were co-produced by Bang; the stunning vocalist Sidsel Endresen, whose captivating turn on “The Midwife’s Dilemma” grows out of a moan and a half-croak; and samadhisound founder David Sylvian, who wrote the titles for each piece and the album as a whole, setting these abstract scenes in a disruptive context.  

This is music of the world, but it’s rooted in Kristiansand, Norway, Bang’s home and workplace.  His musical career began in the late ‘80s, when he cut his first albums in a synth-and-vocals duo with Erik  Honoré.  By the ‘90s he was a producer of Norwegian pop acts, when pianist Bugge Wesseltoft invited him on stage with an improvising ensemble.  “I had the idea of using musicians as ‘input’ to my sampler instead of vinyl,” recalls Bang.  “We called it ‘live sampling.’ I found it appealing to work in a live situation with improvised music where things change at the blink of an eye …  .  I was able to work in past, present and future, according to what the other musicians were doing and how they reacted to what I was throwing back into the mix.”

Bang started writing the material for … And Poppies From Kandahar in January 2009.   “As I often do, I started working on instrumentals which I then presented to the musician that I thought might benefit the track – not unlike the process of making the Cartography album with Arve. … I knew I wanted to write music that had references to my influences, but where I could use my own dialect.  I wanted to work with both composition and improvisation on an equal level – using contrasting forms, different dimensions, randomness, parallel directions which weren’t necessarily meant to express anything specific other than to work within the frame of the piece itself.”

The sounds on  … And Poppies From Kandahar come from the studio and the stage, close-mic’d instruments and field recordings, the clank of a bottle and the grandeur of an orchestra.   Says Bang, “As a ‘samplist’ I collect sounds that may become useful in other situations. It´s much like collecting sand shells without knowing how to use them – just keeping them because of their pure beauty.”  

The result transcends idiom or genre.  A sample of guitarist Eivind Aarset clicks over humble handclaps on “The Midwife’s Dilemma”; trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær solos over a melody by Robert Schumann.  “Self Injury” is a hybrid of live and studio tapes, where upright bass casts a pall over Arve Henriksen’s monastic falsetto.   And “Passport Control” excerpts  “Gammler Zen + Hohe Berge” by Germany’s Kammerflimmer Kollektief, marrying its urgent tempo to wary brass.

The conclusion, “Exile from Paradise,” is a performance of Sidsel Endresen’s “Undertow” that was taped at Punkt Festival 2008 – and that features Jon Hassell on trumpet.  “To me, Jon is one of the most important philosophers of our time.  I can hear his influence in a lot of peoples work, including my own.” Hassell’s solo, sweeping and pacifistic, blesses an unforgettable journey across borders and eras, from the fictional to the indescribable.  

Audun Kleive / Jan Bang

The Periphery of a Building (LP/DL 2017 Gråtone)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Periphery-Building-VINYL-Audun-Kleive/dp/B07559FHTY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1545485928&sr=8-2&keywords=Audun+Kleive+jan+bang

Listing somewhere between the cognitive and the corporeal comes the third release from Gratone. The Periphery of a Building', a live remix work featuring long-time collaborators Audun Kleive on percussion and Jan Bang on live sampling sees the young Norwegian label expound on the territories between extended jazz and the dance floor through a four track LP.
Veterans Audun Kleive and Jan Bang tap into something innate that moves perpendicular to the techno ethos perpetuated by the label's previous releases.
The Periphery of a Building', is a work that brings the past into the present and draws a red thread between genres. It juxtaposes disparate ideas between the dance floor and jazz, and ensnares itself in the tangled web of tradition and progress in a bold indefnable musical dialect. Upholding the ethos of Gratone by negating expectation Periphery of a Building' also calls in a new era for the young, but fertile label.
Periphery of a Building' is Kleive and Bang reconsidering live Punkt remixes* of Etenesh Wassie & Mathieu Sourisseau, AtomTM and Clarinet Factory & Floex. In their selection of source material for the Gratone LP, they eradicate, and then reconstruct tradition.

Dark Star Safari

Walk Through Lightly

Arjunamusic Records presents the second full-length offering by Dark Star Safari, a musical entity comprised of Jan Bang, Erik Honoré, Eivind Aarset, Samuel Rohrer and John Derek Bishop. Walk Through Lightly is the first to feature all five musicians together in the studio from the outset, making for a more organic refinement upon their already established methodology: gradually sculpting distinct songs out of collective improvisations, or using the raw material from initial recordings as the basis for more carefully articulated compositions. This second offering from the project is frosted over with a Scandinavian sense of spatiality and melancholy, it’s best listened to without considering any origin points, geographic or otherwise: from the opening moments of “Walk Through Lightly,” listeners will feel as if teleported directly into the middle of an enigmatic film-in-progress.

Dark Star Safari

Dark Star Safari (LP/CD/DL 2019 Arjuna)

Release date: May 10, 2019

http://arjunamusic-records.bandcamp.com/album/dark-star-safari

Dark Star Safari, a newly formed group featuring Jan Bang, Erik Honoré, Eivind Aarset and Samuel Rohrer present its eponymous recording debut, an evocative song-driven album. These songs conjure shadows of memory, clouds of dreaming and silhouettes of foreboding through the album’s layered, many-textured fabrics and Jan Bang's silken delivery of Erik Honoré's acute lyrics. 

Dark Star Safari is the work of four kindred spirits, their open modus operandi, and a remarkably interconnected creative nerve system. Key to their collaboration is an organic freedom that enables the music “to fill itself in", to be self-actualizing via the musicians as medium. The music of the 10 songs resulted from a two-stage process: an initial phase of free flowing open improvisation, and a subsequent exploratory phase where hidden potentials were discovered and nurtured. 

DARK STAR SAFARI 
Jan Bang - vocals, live sampling, samples, ac. piano, dictaphone 
Erik Honoré - synthesizer, samples, synth bass, voice, lyrics 
Eivind Aarset - guitar, electronics, bass 
Samuel Rohrer - drums, percussion, keys, electronics, synths 

Sidsel Endresen / Jan Bang

Hum (CD/DL 2018 Confront)

http://www.confrontrecordings.com

Live recording released on Mark Wastell´s Confront Recordings. Composed by Sidsel Endresen and Jan Bang. Recorded by Asle Karstad at Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene, Oslo, December 1st 2016. Mastered by Helge Sten at Audio Virus Lab. Mixed and produced by Jan Bang at Punkt Studio, Kristiansand.

Melt Trio / Jan Bang

Instants (Traumton rec)

New album with the exciting German Melt Trio taken from the 2015 live recording at Xjazz in Berlin.

 

MELT TRIO
PETER MEYER  guitar, electronics
BERNHARD MEYER bass
MORITZ BAUMGÄRTNER    drums, gongs, megaphon

JAN BANG: live sampling