Punkt Festival 2009: Day 4, Kristiansand, Norway, September 5, 2009
Another of Punkt's friends is poet Nils Chr. Moe-Repstad, a Kristiansand local who as part of another of Punkt 2007's better remixes, where he and Erik Honoré provided their own look at Trio Mediæval's performance. For the closing concert of Punkt 2009, Moe-Repstad's subject matter was not as bleak as his 2007 poem surrounding World War II atrocities. Still, it was filled with dark images and meditations on the meaning of existence.
Punkt Kunst: "Exits," Nils Chr. Moe-Repstad (spoken word)
Deep subject matter, indeed, for a closing multimedia concert that consisted of new music by Bang and Honoré, commissioned visuals by Russell Mills, set designs by Tord Knutsen, and the participation of many of this year's participants, including Bugge Wesseltoft, Arve Henriksen, Anna Maria Friman, Eivind Aarset, Adam Rudolph, Guy Sigsworth, Tim Motzer and BJ Cole. With a collection of such powerful musical voices, what was most impressive about the performance was its reliant on silence, its avoidance of ego that would demand a feature spot for everyone involved, and an overall concept that was more about shaping a modern composition and finding the best way to support Moe-Repstad's understated but commanding delivery. Punt Kunst has always been about bringing disciplines together to create something greater than the sum of its parts, and while every component of "Exits" was compelling individually, not a single one would have carried as much weight as it did here.
With Bang and Honoré creating a broader context, "Exits" also possessed plenty of spontaneity, even though there was clear direction driving it. Friman received, perhaps, the single greatest feature, though that may have been largely due to a voice that soared above everything else around it. Henriksen and Bang, too, got a brief passage, with Bang sampling a Henriksen-sung melody with great intervals between the notes, and feeding it back to create a subtle choir that was absolutely the result of their work together in the trumpeter's group. From the midst of a soft percussion pulse from Rudolph, BJ Cole's pedal steel emerged briefly, referencing his work with Harold Budd, while Wesseloft had brief solo piano spot early on.
But ultimately it was Moe-Repstad's words and delivery that were the focal point of "Exits." With an English translation of his Norwegian poetry projected on the backdrop as he spoke them, the most powerful moments were those where he dropped to barely more than a whisper, repeating the same phrase. Power needn't be measured in terms of volume or drama; sometimes the most potent statement is the one that demands its audience lean forward intently. When Moe-Repstad repeated the final phrase, "And a God still makes the waves," it was one of many deeply profound moments:
the sacrifice of a believer: "Throw me into the sea,
this storm is all my fault."
And a God stills the waves.
With the music fading to nothing, it was Moe-Repstad's final stanza that lingered:
nothing that is less.
What remains is a promise of silence,
to the happy, and those with no direction.
As Punkt 2009 drew to a close, friends who came together from places far and wide said their goodbyes for another year. Punkt's fifth anniversary was another year of achievement for a growing family of artists and fans, all committed to pushing the envelope of modern music. While the flagship festival in Kristiansand will remain the place where future ideas are created and moulded, the fact that it's becoming an increasingly in-demand concept that other festivals are looking to recruit is proof of just how singular it is.
As Punkt travels, in the next couple of years, to Germany, Spain, the United States and, most likely, Canada, it's emerging as one of Norway's most creative exports. The beauty of Punkt is that, while any version abroad will by definition include some percentage of Norwegian artists, it will also include local performers, a sure way to expand the Punkt family even further, and to ensure that this distinctly Norwegian creation becomes something more globaland an important unifier at a time when disparity is creating far too much divisiveness in the world.