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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 250 - 01/12/17

Egil Monn-Iversen Orkester
Himmel og Helvete OST
Moving Music

Here in Norway Øyvind Vennerød's anti-drug movie from 1969, Himmel og helvete (in English: Heaven and Hell) has a very special place in our hearts, as the perfect example on how entertaining a film can be when the people behind it have absolutely no clue towards the chosen theme, but a high degree of filmmaking skill and moral high ground. We follow a couple of middle-class kids on their rapid descent into drug hell, with great help from the evil drug dealer Zatek. One of these kids is played by then unknown Lillebjørn Nilsen, later one of Norway's most beloved singer-songwriters. The other main character is played by Sigrid Huun - it took her ten years before she dared venture into fiction films again, but she has since become a frequently used actress in films and TV here in Norway. The rest of the cast is a horde of seasoned actors with decades of experience in film and theatre, trying their hardest to make sense of the film's exaggerations, stilted dialogue and cardboard characters.

All this has overshadowed the fact that the soundtrack is something truly special, composed by the grand old maestro of Norwegian film music, Egil Monn-Iversen - responsible for more than 100 soundtracks. Some of which are among the best and most innovative ever done in Norwegian fiction films. Especially Tonny (Dir.: Nils R. Müller, 1962) and Line (Passionate Demons) (Dir.: Nils Reinhardt Christensen, 1961) are personal favorites. Gathering some fine young talent from the Norwegian Jazz scene in the studio; like Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal and Svein Christiansen, and a few names lost to history. Obviously enjoying themselves in the studio, mixing tight compositions with some freak-out jams. Especially the opening theme is infectiously groovy, where vocals are smoothly handled by Inger Lise Andersen (later married to Terje Rypdal and adopting his last name). The rest is also stunningly good, fluctuating between free form jazz, almost bluesy numbers and sleazy grooves. Not a million miles from the likes of Henry Mancini, John Barry and Lalo Schifrin at their 60ies peak.

For some reason, this soundtrack has never been released before now, by the new label Moving Music. They have promised several other obscure Norwegian soundtracks in the future if this one should be a success. And there is no reason why not this should happen - only a 1,000 copies on vinyl are pressed, and for what I can see it's flying off the shelves. Rare recordings of famous stars like Garbarek and Rypdal will of course appeal to all kinds of collectors, but also soundtracks by themselves seems to be highly attractive at the moment - with new labels releasing and re-releasing film scores popping up all the time. Please give us the music for Kanarifuglen (Dir.: Pål Bang-Hansen, 1973) next. This score, also composed by Egil Monn-Iversen, and played by the legendary progband Popol Vuh (later changing their name for obvious legal reasons to Popol Ace), is as good as anything they released back in the day and is still unreleased.

Thanks to the National Library of Norway, the original mastertapes was unearthed and the glorious stereo-mixes saw light for the very first time, as the film obviously was in optical mono, and the only time the film was later available was on a VHS in the early nineties which also used the mono mix. This LP is carefully packaged with liner notes by Thomas Felberg both in English and Norwegian, lots of stills and even a dictionary of dope expression - this is a real gem and promise of good things to come from newcomers Moving Music.

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