Tigran Hamasyan / Arve Henriksen Eivind Aarset / Jan Bang
Atmosphéres (CD/DL 2016 ECM)
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)
"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.
...And Poppies From Kandahar (CD 2010 Samadhisound)
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)
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.