September, 3-5, 2016 Punkt Festival
in Kristiansand, Southern Norway, is a small, informal festival of internationally high artistic reputation and esteem. It takes place during the first week of September. Founded in 2005 its 12th edition as usual presented a wide range of musical performances and seminars plus a special sound installation in co-operation with the Kristiansand Kunsthal. It's one of the few festivals, that cuts through genres for purely artistic (and no commercial) reasons. This year's co-operation with Kristiansand Kunsthall was an exhibition by the profiled light and video artist HC Gilje.
At the festivals core is the immediate live remix of an initial musical performance as a whole, made by a crew of highly respected artists loosely gathered around the inner circle of Punkt musicians. The last two editions boasted a broadened fanning set-up with headliners like Laurie Anderson and three parallel live-remixes. This year the set-up had a more contracted, concentrated format with mainly Norwegian musicians, Armenian-North-American pianist Tigran Hamasyan
, and British prog rock band Three Trapped Tigers (for both second appearance at the festival). In general Punkt Festival never repeats a set-up. Certain key elements are permanent though, and certain artists reoccur every once in a while. This report contains some further considerations on the occasion of this year's edition. The festival as an artistic focus point for development and dissemination
The Kristiansand event is not just a festival event in the common sense. It is an important focal meeting point in both retro-and prospective perspective. The Punkt concept of improvisation and live-remix has been disseminated to venues and festivals in other countries. Musicians and groups involved in those satellite-events in return have been invited to participate in the performances of the Kristiansand mother ship festival. Punkt has done live remix events in a vast number of places around the world, namely London
, San Sebastian, Amsterdam
, Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, Oslo
, Moers, Tallinn, Frankfurt
, Cologne, Düsseldorf
, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Mumbai, Prague
, Brno, Garana, Wroclaw, Rzeszow, Lodz, Gdansk, and Warsaw. Punkt Festival is a manifestation of a network of musicians, artists and scholars from various disciplines, writers and media professionals.
Reactions from the field are varied. You have those artistic directors/programmers who step into it full force offering their performance space and are open for genre defying combinations and meetings. Then there are those who like the way the musicians of the Punkt-crew act on stage making music. They invite Punkt-musicians for concerts whether or not joined by musicians from their own country's scene without recognizing or taking care of potentials of the live-remix part. Punkt- musicians then apply remixing techniques WITHIN one and the same performance. The term 'live remix' can indeed easily be misunderstood. Googling it, you will find things about directly intervening in an ongoing performance (mostly of a dj) changing sound characteristics or direction. In improvised music this is indicated as live electronics (more about the 'mix' term in the last chapter). And then there are of course those who just ignore the whole thing or try to evade it.
Punkt has worked with all kinds of musicians from all kinds of styles and genres from Early Music ace Jordi Savall to hardcore techno representatives. It seems that especially musicians from the classical field love the remixing experience and are fond of it. They enjoy it to hear the music they make casted back in this form as an effort of careful listening of a respected musician. It means a lot in a field where so many things are canonized and sealed. Mostly not the musicians but defensive gatekeeping programmers are preventing fresh air circulation (see also below). Cast back of blind listening
The concept is not brand-new, but still in full development and apparently a challenge. Certain musicians and venue-/festival directors/programmers may even experience it as threatening, especially those who prefer to stay in safe waters. The practice of live remixing has direct and long-term consequences that challenge and change usual routines, rituals and repertoires. More reluctant people might wonder how these Punkt guys dare to just step into the special performance routines of the classical world or special improvising schools andwithout further adorebuild the music in more or less thorough way a l'improviste!? The Punkt practice of live remixes is immediate as well as genre blind. Punkt musicians cast back their sensitive and imaginative listening directly through their musical means of manipulation and expression, thereby mirroring, super elevating, embedding, expanding, deepening, countering, transfiguring, drowning or just let parts go. They manage to spontaneously rearrange, re-orchestrate, and above all, re-contextualize music/musical works. The live remix is a result of the focus of listening, the choice of elements/parts to work with, and of things coming up or demanded in the very process of interplay with other musicians, of the crew or as in case of remixing solo is demanded by the material. Actually my first ever live-remix was a solo by composer/ musician Maja S.K. Ratkje
at Punkt Festival 2010, who worked on works by famous Estonian composer Veljo Tormis performed by a large mixed choira heavy initial experience! Another unforgettable solo live remix was by composer of contemporary music Rolf Wallin, in 2013. He remixed an initial solo performance of keyboardist Bugge Wesseltoft
, solely operating his iPhone. This year brought the improbable remix-crew of archilutenist Rolf Lislevand with trumpeter/vocalist Arve Henriksen, and heavy electric guitarist/vocalist Stian Westerhus
A larger part of the live remixes are done by electronic musicians but there are always acoustic instruments or voices involved as well as electro-acoustic hybrids (acoustic instruments plus electronic processing/manipulation). This year's edition presented Rolf Lislevand who played the archilute, saxophonist André Kassen and dancer/ performance artist Morten Liene (from Kristiansand). Early music ace Rolf Lislevand was a remarkable choice for the live remix, especially his paring with electric guitarist Stian Westerhus. He played the archilute, a special 17th century lute in between the Renaissance lute and the theorbo. The bracketing element in the live remix was trumpeter-vocalist Arve Henriksen
who has clear affinities to and performance experience in Early Music (with Trio Mediæval). Electric bass guitarist Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen
, electric guitarist Stian Westerhus, trumpeter/vocalist Arve Henriksen and drummer Audun Kleive
are typical examples of hybrids. The electronic musicians acting in live remixes were Jan Bang
and Erik Honore
, Paul "Strangefruit" Nyhus and Knut Saevik of pioneering Mungolian Jet Set and the young electronic scene of Kristiansand with Jon S. Lunde, Simon Løvgren, Jens Kola, Johannes Vaage and Stian Balducci of Punkt Klubb. Punkt Klubb "is a monthly club concept based in Kristiansand involving performers in a variety of instruments and aims towards a different approach to the performance of electronic club music whilst keeping an on-going conversation with extended jazz and improvised music." Five out of the fifteen live remixing musicians came from a developing scene of the younger generation. Course of this year's initial and live remixing performances
Eight initial concerts and eight live remixes were presented during the three festival days, among these the world premiere of Atmosphères
(ECM), an album recorded by the foursome of pianist Tigran Hamasyan, trumpeter/vocalist Arve Henriksen, guitarist Eivind Aarset and electronic musician Jan Bang. Other recent work was presented by guitarist Stian Westerhus, young violinist Erlend Apneseth and by Bugge Wesseltoft's newest installation of his New Conceptions of Jazz, founded in the second half of the nineties. The music reached into modern classical music, folk music, jazz- rock and noise whereas evidently none of them could be boxed into one of these genres.
That music evolves along recognizable style or genre entities is a fact of social construction. It also holds true that it serves as a benchmark. However the tension of maintenance and transformation of those entities can be worked out and given shape in various ways, from narrow reproduction to further/far reaching transformation and permeation. Punkt places several hidden parts of that very process of evolvement under the looking glass, under a 'movable' lens. In that respect Punkt could be considered a meta-genre or even uber-genre, seen as that each new appropriation of music as well as each new performance entails a reworking of that very piece of music in varying degrees. The Punkt approach offers a higher immediacy and makes it a more confronting experience for both musician and audience. It should be clear that every live remix carry certain viewpoints and embossing. That's what makes it confronting and potentially fruitful. Punkt Festival offers a constant flow of manifold variation and contrast on the basis of strong interconnecting and each other reinforcing threads. Not new but (continuously) renewing: Streifenjunko
Duo Streifenjunko, (Eivind Lønning
, saxophonist Espen Reinertsen
), is not new but a pair that produces ever evolving music from unusual sources and forces, improbable places and spaces along simple unique ways and routes. "Music is (e)veryw/there! Where is (e)verywhere? How to get there?," one could exclaim. Streifenjunko's art comes very strongly from materiality, the (hidden) musical potentials and the orchestration thereof. The duo has been around for a while and has already left its unmistakable marks. It is one of the most consistent configurations around.
An example is its appearance at last year's Punkt Festival in compound with the strings of the Sheriffs Of Nothingness, closely connected to the acoustic in-depth music of Christian Wallumrod
and artists as Keith Rowe (of legendary British AAM collective) and Kjell Bjørgeengen. Both musicians collaborated, a.o. with Motorsycho, Mungolian Jet Set, Mette Henriette
, and are involved in renowned Trondheim Jazzorkest. Lønning moreover is the trumpet voice in groundbreaking White Desert Orchestra of French pianist Eve Risser
Playfully and with remarkable clarity Lønning and Reinertsen connected sound particles and sound bands to a naturally flowing, miraculous unity. In the course of this the trumpet-saxophone duo imaginatively switched between manifold acoustic and electronic sound sources and orchestrated those with stunning results. Examples are the clicking/plopping sound of the pad cups of the saxophone keys, the sound of blowing against the mouthpiece from a distance, playing the trumpet without mouthpiece or playing only the mouthpiece combined with special tiny woodblocks and other assorted 'small' percussion and electronic sounds. The duo considerably extended its instrumentation without looking as complex as it is and also without becoming disturbed while being listened to it. The stage set-up of Streifenjunko is quite small and not buried under a plethora of cables, pedals and laptops. It looks like a nice, special toyshop, almost an art object. It's a shop you won't get lost in, rather one that gets you into focus as well as a strolling mode of concentration. Streifenjunko owns a very special kind of economy and elegance. What they do is in a way precisely the opposite of approaches that work with manipulative distortion of sound.
In his immediate live remix Erik Honoré enlarged, recombined, layered parts of it and caused collisions tooall with the well-known bass undercurrent, his trademark. Finally he came up with a truly surprising wind-down and in the fade-out a reciting of Emily Dickinson's "I heard a fly buzz when I died" originating from an obscure tape with instructions on how to recite poetry. Afterwards he commented: "I had it ready to use if it felt right and fit the remix, since I thought it echoed Laurie Anderson in a way, and knew that most of us would watch her new movie "Heart of a Dog" after the concerts." Novelties
Most of the concerts were novelties from different directions in the Norwegian music scene including the live world premiere of Atmosphères
. The folk music transpositions of Ingrid Breie Nyhus and Erlend Apneseth
Both Nyhus' and Apneseth's music is strongly connected to the Norwegian traditional instrument, the hardanger fiddle. Where Nyhus transposes the music of the instrument to the piano, Erlend Apneseth, a merited fiddle player in the field of traditional folk music, connected to the scene of improvised music recently to explore elements of folk music in that new context. Ingfrid Breie Nyhus
Ingfrid Breie Nyhus' piano playing was as alluring as ambiguous. Starting with a colorful folk theme she went into dense and intricately variations. What at the first moment sounded like repetitious minimalism turned out as highly sophisticated alternations of asymmetries, collisions, nesting, overlays all flowing on a firm rhythmical basis with surprising turns into quiet and lyrical modes. No attempt of pianistic folk romanticizing was made to get the music on a soft mat. It was something unknown and slightly confusing instead as well as fascinating and irresistible, therefore extraordinary in many ways!
The immediate live remix by Jon S. Lunde and actor/dancer Morten Liene was an exercise in evanishing, relocating sound sources, boisterous searching and re-apparition in intricately decomposed forms finally unraveling in a dub-like way where motifs from the initial performance of Nyhus became recognizable. It was a theatrical remix, moving the sound boxes through the room, with jumps, inhibited dance steps, and handstand. Both acts together draw a wide arc and substantially challenged the audience.
Nyhus played music of her latest album Slåttepiano
(Lablabel 2015), a title that translates as 'hitting/striking piano.' The music is taken from the traditional folk music sources and rebuilt on Nyhus' understanding from various traditional and contemporary backgrounds: "I have listened my way into the traditional music, with several fiddlers as my sources and inspiration, in order to play my way to a personal understanding of the core of traditional slått music, the core of each slått, when the piano is its voice." To put it in a line of musical heritage and development she selected the same pieces as Edvard Grieg arranged in his Opus 72, with Knut Dahle of Telemark as his source, following the tradition of great fiddlers like Myllarguten and Håvard Gibøen.
Nyhus' work is among others resulting from the Artistic Research Program of the Norwegian Academy of Music she is involved in and will finish her artistic doctorate this year. She continued the series of Norwegian Academy of Music research fellows presenting their work at Punkt Festival in recent years like Ivar Grydeland
and Morten Qvenild
. This year the Punkt Festival was preceded by a two-days symposium
at the University of Agder in Kristiansand organized by the Centre Of Excellence In Music Performance Education (CEMPE)
Here you can find also a report on among others the research work of Ingfrid Breie Nyhus
and a diversity of projects of the center as cross-genre and interdisciplinary practicing, independent music careers and teaching/learning in various forms. It means that Punkt and the Punkt Festival is embedded in a strong infrastructure with lots of fruitful interdisciplinary cross connections. Erlend Apneseth
Young fiddle player Erlend Apneseth has made his name in the field of traditional folk music. Recently he started to connect to contemporary music scenes working in a constellation with guitarist Stephan Meidell
and drummer Hegg-Lunde, two musicians with extensive experience within improvisational music. Like other fiddle players as Nils Okland
with his Lumen Drone constellation also Apneseth extends elements from the traditional hardanger fiddle music by embedding them into an exploratory electronic approach. His album Blikkspor
(Grappa Musikkforlag, 2013), was produced by Arve Henriksen. Its successor Det andre rommet
has recently be released by HUBRO, a newer label of rapidly growing importance and relevance run by young producer Andreas Meland.
The threesome of Meidell, Hegg-Lunde and Apneseth took time to open up and explore sonic spaces resulting in diverse centrifugal circles completing each other in a brilliant way.
These drawings, drawNotes, are non-edited concert notes of the author made spontaneously during the concert)
The immediate live remix came from an unusual combination of three outstanding musicians: Rolf Lislevand playing archilute, Arve Henriksen on trumpet and electronics and electric guitarist Stian Westerhus. Their remix -much looser than the initial piecedeveloped its very own, swirling and beating gyroscopic figurations from it due also to finding their way to each other by working into depth and width and providing space for the archilute's delicate voice to rise and sing. It provided an illuminative contrast with respect to musical result and process. Three A's: Amputation, Atmosphères, Arbitrary Moment
The three A -expansion vs. reduction vs. halting -were the most recent novelties all closely connected to Punkt. As Jan Bang revealed Bugge Wesseltoft was one of the instigator of Punkt, Stian Westerhus is as much his own man as a confident Punkt collaborator and Jan Bang, Arve Henriksen and Eivind Aarset as core Punkters have collaborated with Tigran Hamasyan several times in the near past. Amputation
Known for his work with Jaga Jazzist, Puma, Nils Petter Molvaer
and Sidsel Endresen
, guitarist Stian Westerhus is a Punkt regular. The music he performed, opening the Saturday night program of the festival, was based on his most recent album Amputation
, released on the British label House of Mythology.
Westerhus uses to set in high in his music and gives himself totally in the performance. He usually surrenders to go through to the extremes. That might sound as tough talk. It is and is not. In his caseas far as I could experience and observe many timesthere always is a solid purpose or effect beyond the extreme. It makes his performances highly visceral and inescapable. At times the sound storms he aroused werein my perception -totally overdone. Finally just this brought the music and its perception to a higher level and to the essential. He took high risks, shook the senses of the audience up radically with finally arriving at a veritable serene spot.
His vocals were strong. Coming from inside the guitar sound and deep from the soul of the song it made the performance, gave it so much more. It all had something of digging a diamond from a deep quarry. In true real time interplay with Tord Knudsen's visuals it became one of the strongest marks of the festival. The magic of a small, precious thing often has to be approached via extreme routes. Reduction and expansion were responding to each other in a forceful, productive way carrying the music to a higher (and deeper) placelike in extreme mountain climbing. Atmosphères
The album Atmosphères
(ECM) was recorded by the foursome of Tigran Hamasyan, Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset
, and Jan Bang under the auspices of Manfred Eicher. It is a floating multi-layered sound mass passing through various states of aggregation setting free as well as swallowing up unfolding recurrent melodic motifs and themes. It alternates between spacy noises, rustling, rumbling and sibilant sound particles as well as pastoral quietness and solemn emptiness. Being not just noising noise, it is permeated by inchoate melody and echoes of fading themes. The album has five central pieces and 15 passages into and out of these called "Traces." And so this opus provides a lot of possibilities in a live performance.
In the beginning the performance worked consistently on flickering contrast of darkness and diffusing light gradually breaking through to full shining. This chiaroscuro quality was later channelled into an extruding force with a multitude of colorful sound streams that embedded the splendid islands of melody distributed and orchestrated by Arve Henriksen and Tigran Hamasyan in ever sensitive and delicate ways to set the inherent beauty free, to give birth to it. Approaching it in that way was crucial for the great emotional impact of the music, its great captivating quality at its première in the Kick Scene club of Kristiansand. It was told that the follow-up performance in the following week at National Jazzscene in Oslo had led to a clearly different realization of the strong genotype. It is an indication of the effect the work's openness and compelling force can bring about.
The album recorded in the summer of 2014 digs into the music of Soghomon Soghomonian aka Komitas (1869- 1935). He is one of the most important (but still underrated) composers of the early twentieth century, in the same vein as the ones of Kodály and Bartók. Atmosphères
comprises five compositions of Komitas, among others "Apricot Tree" ("Tsirani Tsar"), one of his most popular songs. Like islands in the ocean these are accessed via special passages called "Traces." Still too often the music is referred to as Armenian folk music, which is true and not true at the same time. Who would refer to the music of Mahler as Austrian-Hungarian folk music, Grieg's music as Norwegian folk music or Theodorakis' music as Greek folk music?
The group's work grew out of a performance of Jan Bang with Tigran Hamasyan joined by Eivind Aarset during Punkt Festval in 2013, a performance of deeply touching magic that fused deep layers of Armenian music with the beauty of the archetypal Estonian song "Singer's Childhood." That song had already figured a year earlier in a collaboration of Bang and Hamasyan for Bang's album Narrative From The Subtropics
(2013, Jazzland). Apparently there was a longer prospering subterranean thread coming to fruition.
When viewing Atmosphères in a broader perspective three main approaches can be discerned. Komitas reconstructed the ancient sources of Armenian sacred music (pagan and Christian) and folk music and transformed these sources in choral and instrumental works comparable to Kodály's and Bartók's reconstructive work but also Veljo Tormis' efforts in recent time. Those works are interpreted by classical musicians as well as by folk musicians. The thorough work of Komitas prompted Levon Eskenian to rediscover and re-translate pieces of Komitas in a perspective of the original folk instruments and put these into their original place. To achieve that he especially founded the Gurdjieff Folk Instrument Ensemble to develop and establish a special performance practice for the 'original' folk versions. A third way is the Punkt approach of open explorative construction and flexible rebuilding/ embedding well-chosen musical elements of Komitas.
It entails recombination, instrumentation and orchestration. This becomes especially clear in the interplay of Tigran Hamasyan and Arve Henriksen. Henriksen emulates the central instrument of Armenian music, the double reed instrument duduk in a great way but alsounintentionallyintroduces a deeply engraved Norwegian tone especially in his trumpet playing. In the live rendition in Kristiansand the strong sides of all musicians came together in optima forma: Hamasyan's deep access to the music, his sensibility for the right moment, together with the amazing melodic coloring of Arve Henriksen trumpet, Eivind Aarset's sublime liquefaction and his taqsims in several pieces, and, as a centering force Jan Bang's sonic, inviting and conducting contributions. As a result new music in different variations, dynamics and projections could be experienced. The piece "Apricot Tree" ("Tsirani Tsar") would be a good candidate to re-listen the big variety of versions of this Komitas piece in the light of Hamasyan & Co.'s rebuilding of it in Atmosphères
Thus, there several attempts "to catch" this music that was delivered as a reconstructive transformation (by Komitas). It is an interesting counterexample to repertoire of a highly fixed or even fossilized performance practice. The Atmosphères variant subsequently underwent a treatment by Simen Løvgren, a young Norwegian electronic musician who draws inspiration from the techno contemporary pop. He uses sampled sounds, as he says himself "to create open spaces for music to happen." He launched a purely electronic counter attack with traces of the initial performance hidden and buried in his stream of sound. Arbitrary Moment The Beauty and An Arbitrary Moment
(Jazzland) is the recent debut album of young Norwegian group Moksha comprising guitarist Oddrun Lilja Jonsdottir (from Iceland), percussionist and vocalist Sanskriti Shrestha, and percussionist Tore Flatjord. Jonsdottir and Shrestha's together with Marthe Lea (saxophone) and Siv Øyunn Kjenstad (drums) from Trondheim have recently been recruited by Bugge Wesseltoft's for a new instalment of his New Conception of Jazz. Founded 20 years ago together with Jazzland Records it made a mark on the development of jazz during the next decade. The new young musicians were still kids then. The group took a break after 10 years of worldwide touring, 400 concerts and 5 albums, New Conception of Jazz
(2004). New Conception of Jazz is an apt platform for promising and matching musicians of the present day youngest generation to give it new shape and carry on the baton. New Conceptions of Jazz/Jazzland Records will do an extended tour in more than ten countries next month. The four new young musicians of Conceptions are involved in a couple of promising young group constellations like Avatar, Princess Lea et. al., that will get extra some attention this way.
Actually, Bugge Wesseltoft's initiative played a seminal role in something that later would become Punkt. In those days Jan Bang was working in the studio as a producer and Wesseltoft urged him to participate in that very function during live performances. Nobody knew how it would work out. Apparently it was no arbitrary moment, but excellent timing.
Besides new pieces the group also adapts old pieces from the past, which allows some comparisons, for instance in the case of a piece like "You Might Say," originally sung by Sidsel Endresen. The group started cautiously not using up their ammo, but soon increased pace and tension, gradually falling into a deeper "Shaft"-like groove rising. Conspicuously the bass function was strongly taken over by Siv Øyunn Kjenstad's bass drum and in places Wesseltoft's keyboard. Lots of passages opened which they used to excel in integrative soloing. The group finished in a looser way with some charming songs and hilarious lyrics showing a sympathetic combination of self-consciousness and lightness. it clearly aroused curiosity for these young musicians. The soloing fulfilled some useful, in first place showcasing functions, but also impeded the collective playing at times, gave the music a somewhat scholarly character and perpetuated an old overdue pattern of jazz. Leaving that behind in favour of some new solutions would be the next step for the high potential revealed.
An excellent video is available of the group's performance a few days later at Nasjonal Jazzscene in Oslo
. In the video artistic director of Nasjonal Jazzscene, Jan-Ole Otnæs, first gives an instructive overview over the program in the fall. The instruction is followed by the performance of two young groups of which the second one (at 56:00 minutes) is The New Conception of Jazz line-up with Oddrun Lilja Jonsdottir, Sanskriti Shrestha, Marthe Lea and Siv Øyunn Kjenstad. This video, originally from a live stream, shows how you can expose new groups of the youngest generation in a completely natural attractive way to the public, which had started before at Kongsberg Jazz Festival and at Punkt. Diversity: rock, pop
Band of Gold is the child of singer-songwriter Nina Elisabeth Mortvedt (vocals, keyboard, electric guitar) and ubiquitous killer bassist Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen. Supported by guitarist Peter Estdahl and drummer Olaf Olsen it had the clear- cut, tight contour and lush colour of pop equipped with a rougher temperament and higher urgency infiltrating from the undercurrent. With key features of glorious pop songs of the past impeccably melted in their sharp pieces, they had all qualities to elevate. It took time before Mortvedt's voice rose deeply from within and took it all to a higher place. Apparently also the setting and the wait-and-see-attitude of the majority of the audience had some impeding influence on the late sparking of the music. It clearly is a constellation with great potentials witness their immediate winning of the Nordic Music Prize for their eponymous debut album ahead of Sweden's Anna Von Hauswolff and Jaako Eino Kalevi.
The album production was of a high calibre with an impressive line-up of contributors like drummer Kenneth Kapstad (Motorpsycho, Møster!) and Dungen guitarist Reine Fiske. Morten Qvenild (In The Country) and David Wallumrød contributed on keyboards, while Lars Horntveth (Jaga Jazzist) has written arrangements for horns that he plays himself along with Ketil Vestrum Einarsen and Erik Johannesen (also Jaga Jazzist). It's a clear example not only of the permeability of musical compartments but above all an example of the ability to join forces.
Three Trapped Tigers is a different thing in terms of artistic development and connection to Punkt. Matt Calvert (g, synth.), Tom Rogerson (keyb., voc) and Adam Bells (drums, electr.) played the 2012 edition of Punkt curated by Brian Eno, with a remix by Jan Bang, Erik Honoré, Arve Henriksen and Eivind Aarset. Just having released its album Silent Earthling (Superball Music), the threesome's razor-sharp zigzagging sounds unrelentingly crashed into the small space of the venue. They kept up, even intensified their racing work in manifold cascading variations up to almost earthquake force. The threatening tension between solid repetitive, eruptive rock riffs and flashing electronics reached scalding qualities. The trio evidently went to the limits in that phase and has perfected a great variety of these musical attacks.
What was the answer of the subsequent live remix? How were the intense fireworks going to be expanded or broken down into the remix? What unexpected turn could it take? Jan Bang, drummer Audun Kleive, and electric bassist Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen (Band of Gold, Elephant 9) started expanding the sonic space, gradually speeding up and entering into richer textures with industrial whiffles. This finally turned into a strong and unexpected gnawa-like groove. It illustrated in a great, convincing way that both, process and result, can matter equally (see also the drawNotes in the SLIDESHOW (above), non- edited drawings of the author made spontaneously during the concert).
Representation of rock and pop configurations during the festival is also a question of making use of the best and most interesting elements of musical creativity and renewal around. I saw various inspiring pop and rock acts at Punkt Festival editions, such as outstanding singers Jenny Hval or Mariam The Believer. In the Norwegian context strong identities do not exclude collaboration, as is often the case elsewhere. On the contrary, strong identities seem to be nourished by the openness (to collaborate) and by a mutual understanding of what 'the other' is rooted in and developing. It is not just a question of technical skill, it is a question of attitude and spirit.
This way of employing pop/rock acts is quite different from bigger festivals that use pop and rock acts first and foremost to attract a broader and, above all larger audience. You have to bear in mind that the Punkt approach is something applicable only for smaller sized and less commercial events, events that focus on artistic development and audiences interested in just that, whereas the second one is applicable to large(r) commercial festivals. The smaller one in its function for artistic development understandably is in need of financial support while the second one has the advantage of exploiting developed potentials. Both have their own struggle. The smaller one is in danger of losing its artistic function, the big(ger) ones have to find ways to incorporate the developmental artistic aspect. The memory of a face: David Sylvian and Kristiansand
Punkt musicians and the Punkt Festval have a longstanding particular relationship with David Sylvian. On Saturday morning Erik Honoré took over a last minute vacancy in the seminar program and treated festival visitors with a biographical and Kristiansand based reappraisal of the growths of this relationship. With his calm measured voice he read out a nightly prepared English version of his recent Norwegian reflection on David Sylvian's in 2015 published book Hypergraphia: The Writings of David Sylvian
, a comprehensive collection of his lyrics and poetry (many published for the first time), covering the thirty-five years of his career to date. It is framed by three interviews and accompanied by a collection of artwork curated or made by Sylvian.
Honoré's reading induced a deeply focused attention to his narrative about teenage discoveries and especially the transmutations from reading about music to imagining it. Het connected the growth of his own personality with the emerging of Punkt and the obviousness of their growing cooperation. In a nutshell he sketched the peregrination of a free, dedicated and stylizing artist and the tangencies with the growth of Punkt. Sylvian is a spirit of 'blind' inquiry, of intuitively groping, who afterwards recognizes what he was searching for. He once called this (deprogrammed) approach 'fishing in the dark.' It is a way that consistently leads into deeper, maybe sparser or else into shining realms. Honoré's narrative was a precious illumination of artistically nourishing layers of threads. You can find the original article "Minnet om et ansikt" in Norwegian, worthwhile because of the illustrations, here ...
. Memory in (fr)actions, fermentation, mycelia
Live remixes are also about memory, musical memory. The mixes require a special activation of retrospect musical memory and prospectively serve as a special kind of musical memory. A live remix functions both as an accelerator and magnifier. Active listening processes are immediately transmuted into and manifested in rebuilt/'new' music, music that can be watched and listened to synchronous with its creation. During the live remix the history and approaches of both performing parties connect and mingle and the music is contextualized in a new way. A field or a skein of interconnections opens up and partly becomes accessible and intelligible. These performances can be read out from each other's perspectives and the perspective of the listeners in the audience.
Passing on and reworking musical approaches and forms in the live remix setting clearly differs from the way of the 19th century composers who took from their predecessors and traditions. The setting also differs from that of 20th century composers/performing musicians, who could listen to recordings. Finally it differs from the setting of 21st century musicians too, who have easy access to and can (easily) recombine all kinds of music ever recorded in the studio. Part of the erstwhile (individual and collective) efforts of memory work have been 'put into the machine,' freeing the mind for other, new things to act upon. Memory is now spread out and distributed over different bearers in a dynamic process of interaction. The notions of 'finished work' and 'work in progress' are redefined by the practice of live remix.
Live remixes can take and undergo different directions, shapes, shadings and other metamorphoses. In the descriptions above and in other reports you can find modes as enlarging, layering, loosening accelerating, slowing down, darkening, lightning up, stripping, reducing, juxtaposing, rearranging, deepening, destroying etc.. It can be of different quality and impact against the background of the initial performance. In a live remix the musician is outside as well as inside the confines of the piece reworked. Both have to be related to continually within the unfolding dynamics of the remix and instant orchestration of participating parties. It is a deeper and further reaching process, taking place, going on during a live remix. This process has some striking similarities with biological processes as decomposition and fermentation.
Principally it seems to be a question of connecting the threads of the I-performance with those of the remix and managing an adequate flow along them. At the heart of it is an alert and rapid way of decision-making. It entails digestion and constructive processing of the I-performance.
Stian Westerhus recently called the development of his own musical pieces fermentation through a series of performances. In his Punkt Seminar "The world of the visible/audibleNew types of composition based on observation" sound artist Yann Coppier hinted to fermentation as a key notion in sound design, especially with reference to the Nordic Cuisine work of chef/master mind René Redzepi
of Copenhagen's Noma.