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coverpic flag Norway - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 17 - 03/13/98

Various Artists
Bylarm
promotion only - not for sale

This one needs some explanation, because it's a compilation not for sale. Therefore I can't review Bylarm as a regular album. I just wanted to mention some of the up-and-coming names presented on this disc, which was distributed prior to the music-business-happening in Trondheim on February 25th - 28th 1998.

Unfortunately I couldn't make it to Trondheim to experience this event called Bylarm (means: city-noise), which took place for the first time this year, meant to become a regular, yearly thing to happen in different Norwegian cities. (Based on an idea of a music-media gathering from England.) Bylarm 98 was made up of two parts: a seminar and a concert-programme. The Bylarm seminary was the first attempt to gather "everyone" from the Norwegian music-biz. Including people from all areas of pop&rock: bands and artists, record companies, record shops, radio channels (TV - pop/rock are almost being totally ignored by Norwegian TV stations), newspapers, promotors, critics, concert and/or festival arrangers, ...you name 'em. Even some politicians were to come. And all those people should debate on themes like how to discover new talents? How are bands/ artists managed, their records published, promoted, and sold, and how/where can they get an audience by playing live? What about the Governmental funds? Hit-list manipulation? Dirty record chains? etc. Well, I wasn't there, so I really can't tell what was said and done, but I read there were some people throwing verbal shite at each other. While others tried to figure out how to "break" Norwegian artists abroad. I guess this has got something to do with talent. Or not. Enough said.

Over to the musical part: this Bylarm compilation presents 19 bands and artists, mainly from the Trondheim-area, or Mid-Norway region, representing a wide spectre of styles. From country-rock, via guitar-pop, punky hard-core, to hip rhythms of drum'n'bass and techno-beat. The only thing they've got in common, is that all of them played live at clubs and venues all over town during the Bylarm weekend. And; most of them are available, ready to be signed to labels and companies that could be interested. Some of them have released records during the last couple of years, as f.i. Bönkers, who got some thumbs up last year for their mini-album Rusty Tubes. When Life Comes Crashing shows a steady band playing country of the alternative type called "no depression", as heard by Americans such as Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt and Wilco. The quartet shows certain skills on their track, and did also well live I've been told. The 3rd And The Mortal is quite something different, wandering the more doomy and mystic paths of rock. On Elephantine Walls they have moved a bit away from earlier recordings (6 CDs so far), doing some hazy, fuzzy, spooky, trip-hopish (as Sneaker Pimps?) music. Quite cool. Skrømt (means: spook, ghost), the album-openers, tells another funny story with Vente Spent (Anxiously Awaiting). But the lyrics sort of over-wins the melody this time. They're great entertainment live. The mid-section of this compilation presents a number of constellations doing modern-rhythms, techno-style. The drum'n'bass/house DJ Sketchy - said to be "the incarnation of bad hair days" (!?) - with Attack, and the duo Hardyboyz with Back In Town, are presenting rough chemical dance-beats and massive drum-grooves. I guess music like this works better when shell-shocking the dancefloor in sweaty clubs, than listening at home.

Back to the more conventional pop and rock; the youngsters in Attack do a catchy, guitar-driven song called Autumn Tune. U.S.-inspired, guitar-pop-rock, Buffalo Tom- style. Quite OK. Johndoe plays charmingly fresh and youthful power-pop-punk with Solen (The Sun). They make me remember the catchyness and the joyful energy and spirit Snuff showed some years back in time. Fun. Blew, and their track So Do I, is one of my favourites on this compilation. A really nice and "laid-back" indie-pop-song, slightly fuzzed, light-footed, and indeed charming. I heard they did a good concert as well. Makes me really excited, wanting to hear some more of their stuff. Oddpopp plays Stupid, one of their catchier songs. I had the pleasure of seeing them play live in Tromsø in January. A mixture of pop-energy and pop-tenderness, fronted by the human rubber-ball; Odd (a funny name to the English speaking, I guess.) The Dipsomaniacs (reviewed earlier by us), is represented with Two-way Mirror Panorama (off their latest EP). I've been told they did a most excellent gig during the Bylarm weekend. Finally getting out of the lo-fi cellar? Fru Pedersen (the group Mrs. P. has released 2 albums so far, on their own label) rounds-up this album, with a hilarious cover-version of Landsväg, (an old Swedish folk-song called Jag har bott vid en landsväg, written by Alvar Kraft/Charles Henry, first recorded by one Edvard Persson a long, long time ago.) A rather crazy and manic version, imagine a fuzzy Uriah Heep on a magic mushroom cloud. Wild thing! And, just to namedrop the rest of the bands on this disc: Scarecrows (2 albums so far, straight, melodic country-rock), Yuter Spect (angry and funky, and politically engaged, like R.A.T.M.), PhY (atmospheric and gothic girl-group), Tad Pole (a hard-corish trio, grim, loud and tight), The Spiral (Hardyboyz plus a female singer, jazzy and moody, in the trip-hop landscapes), Mushroomers (a monster-dub quintet, with samples and sound-effects, given some airplay by BBC1, album out now) Erot (DJ doing house-music, also working as a producer/remixer), and Dubel Darr (folky-pop, with violins and a female vocalist, planning a new - 3rd - record this year).

All in all; a nice sampler of what's going on under the surface of pop/rock in Norway. As already mentioned; this album is not for sale. But soon the music of some of these bands will be, so watch out!

Copyright © 1998 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

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