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Punkt Festival 2017

Henning Bolte By

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Finally there was the Punkt Ensemble comprising four young musicians from Kristiansand: Johannes Vaage, Idar Eliassen (electronics) Pedersen (trumpet), Jens Kola (drums) and Stian Balducci (electronics). They have worked together within the confines of Punkt Klubb, live-remix activities at Punkt Festival and similar outings since 2014 and meanwhile have built an identity of their own as individual musicians and as an ensemble. The group played a highly sophisticated set that of course sounded very Punkt, but with its own accent, color and rationale. It appeared to be an ensemble to take into account for both, initial performances as well as live-remixes.

It should be clear that Punkt is not only seriously and enduring engaging in up-and-coming Norwegian forces. Punkt also built a strong regional bond of three angular points: the international reach of the festival, education at the University of Agder and the emergence and fostering of strong young musicians from the area. It is an obvious concept but the strength of its impact is still quite unique in Europe. It seems that only in France there are efforts and effects in that same direction.

Many jazz festivals, especially the larger ones, program big pop/rock acts primarily to attract audience. Also, when there is some affinity with the programmed pop/rock acts, there seems to be not much overflow between those two parts, which is a pity because both need each other as the past clearly shows. It would help if groups like Broen and Rohey— there are a lot more fitting in that genre-transcending category -would get a weightier part in the programming of jazz festivals to strengthen the bridging component. The program structure and schedule should also emphasize that through direct temporal and spatial proximity of relevant acts from both fields. Even at open multi-genre festivals, like November Music in s'Hertogenbosch (NL), two-way traffic and overflow happens less than possible and desirable. It is, by the way, not the intention to wipe out genres and genre boundaries. It is meant as a remedy for rigidity and fossilization. Punkt Festival demonstrates—now since 13 years—how to do that in an organic, meaningful and significant way.

New works/albums

Punkt Festival is also the place where the inner circle of the Punkt crew premieres new work. This edition offered listeners four new works and albums: Arve Henriksen's Towards Language, released by Rune Grammofon and performed at the festival, Erik Honoré's album Unrest that has just been released by Hubro, Greta Aagre and Erik Honoré's album Tuesday Gods, released on Jazzland, and finally a new album by Audun Kleive and Jan Bang The Periphery of A Building, just released on Gråtone, a new label run by Stian Balducci. Erik Honoré gave some valuable insights into the making of both Tuesday Gods and Unrest in a seminar and the new album of Jan Bang and Audun Kleive waits to be listened to.

Henriksen's Toward Language has been produced by Jan Bang and was performed by Henriksen together with Jan Bang, Erik Honoré and Eivind Aarset. Jez riley French and David Toop worked on it in the subsequent live remix on the second day of the festival. The newest album of Daniel Lanois is conspicuously entitled Goodbye Language. Upon listening you will learn that the music of both albums share a lot and have a lot of common ambient ground, which becomes evident when listening to the album's opening tracks "Patient Zero" and "Low Sudden." Lanois' album is the darker and heavier variant, Henriksen's album the lighter, more airy variant. In the music of the album of Henriksen you can sense the traits of Norwegian folk music. In the music of the album of Lanois you can clearly sense the Americana traits. Lanois went away from the sung form of that source whereas Henriksen operates close to the qualities of the human voice. The performance of the work of Henriksen took place in an admirable cast. Through its delicate balance and rich debauchery it cut deep, moving the soul and enlightening the inner eyes of a lot of people in the audience, evoking deeply touching moments.

With their specific sonic material and manipulations Punkt musicians work very much like classical composers. The dynamics of their multidimensional collaging, layering and texturing resembles very much complex orchestral works. It gives a specific depth to the music, where the conscious and unconscious, dream and realness states can meet in the listeners' experience. The nature of the approach leads to open works with endless variation and transmutation. This was further elucidated when Erik Honoré in a seminar reflected on the modes of operation, considerations, driving forces and taking decisions in the making of two new works Tuesday Gods and Unrest.

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