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Punkt Festival 2017

Henning Bolte By

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Punkt Festival
Kristinsand, Norway
August 31-September 2, 2017

Punkt Festival in Kristiansand, Southern Norway, is a festival of internationally high artistic reputation and esteem. Founded in 2005, its 13th edition presented a wider range of musical performances and seminars plus a special art exhibition, featuring artists Tori Wrånes, Kristin Evensen, and Sandra Mujinga in co-operation with the Kristiansand Kunsthal. It's one of the few festivals that cuts through genres for purely artistic reasons. In general Punkt Festival never repeats a set-up. Certain key elements are permanent though, and certain artists reoccur every once in a while. A constant is also engaged and competent London radio journalist Fiona Talkington, the festival ´s likeable voice and MC. There is one probable change planned for next year's edition: Punkt shall be returning to the Agder Theatre, the place where it all started in 2005. The defunct theatre is currently being renovated and will regain a cultural/artistic function.

At the festival's core is the immediate live remix of an initial musical performance as a whole, performed by varying combinations of highly respected electronic, electric and acoustic musicians loosely gathered around the inner circle of Punkt musicians. This article starts with this year's artist in residence, Daniel Lanois, continues with the philosophy and processes of the festival and deals with this year's live-remixes, young(er) generations' musicians and new works/albums of Punkt musicians.

Along with Lanois

Legendary Canadian musician/producer Daniel Lanois figured as "artist in residence" at this year's edition of Punkt, like Laurie Anderson did in 2014. With two young fellow musicians, electric bassist Jim Wilson and drummer Kyle Crane, he engaged in music and a production master-class in a band setting at the music department of the regional University of Agder, in a live-remix the same day (of The Necks' concert) and concert with work of his own on the last day of the festival. Daniel Lanois is a strong-willed, patient and dedicated person with melancholic traces, a self-taught master who learnt from the cooperation with masters and innovators cutting through all areas of pop, rock, hip hop, jazz and ambient music. He has done this in search of strong unifying element(s). In one of his interviews he describes how (t)his line emerged from sensitive perceptions and the urge to investigate and sort it out.

In his younger years he had a strong tie with Peter Gabriel (So) and Brian Eno, which lead him to U2, then to Bob Dylan. He worked with Dylan in New Orleans on Dylan's Oh Mercy album shortly after he had worked there with the Neville Brothers (a decisive school as Lanois always emphasizes). The session with Dylan has been described by Dylan himself in his autobiographical "Chronicles part 1." A lot of witnesses of this legendary session can be found on the internet. The line of collaborations (Harold Budd, Jon Hassell, Brian Blade, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, Willie Nelson) can easily be elongated. Looking at his own, recent work it turns out that Lanois is returning to the ambient thing and the rhythm component, which were of great importance in his early days.

Lanois emphasizes that the key element in his work as producer is the personal state of the artist he is working with, his/her actual emotional state and her/his actual state of mind. He emphasizes that he always has to 'read' it and his sonic decisions and operations emerge from that, are dependent on it. Producing for him is a joint socio-emotional and related sonic sculpturing process. Bob Dylan's testimony of the recording days in New Orleans is a significant indication of resistance that you go and have to get through to arrive at an artistically coherent voice and valid results.

Lanois is open to share his experiences in honest ways. In the Punkt master-class he demonstrated many aspects regarding dynamics of instruments, recordings sessions, interaction and collaboration with musicians, electronics and types of music. It was quite instructive—in and out of the music played -but could have been more interactive with 'the students.' Punkt and Lanois 'really' met first in some performance moments of the last festival day. Lanois provided a great 'input' with his dub reggae Caribbean thing and the Punkt people gave something in return of their world, their understanding and their rhythms, sounds, space and breathing.

Processes

After 12 years of practice the core of Kristiansand's Punkt Festival, the live-remix, is still a challenging, thrilling and surprising affair. What musicians will do a live-remix in which combinations and how will it work (out)? This year's edition had seven live-remixes in three nights and, like every edition, it had its novices like bassist Mats Eilertsen, reedist Rolf-Erik Nystrøm, Annemari Drecker and Daniel Lanois.

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