In the last weeks, three brandnew indie-tracks from Norwegian bands saw the daylight. I am intentionally avoiding the word “fresh” here, as they all seem to draw extensively from past influences in indiepop. Both Scandinavian and Japanese bands alike, seem to excel in meticulously nailing a particular style or genre (or pastiche thereof), often with a typical penchant for the alternative music niches from 80’s or 90’s UK scene. Upon listening to Oslo Oscillator, Måke and The Megaphonic Thrift, these references seem to be unabashedly conspicuous, but since the modern Indie scene in general seems to thrive on hybrid constructions and pastiches of recycled quotes and formulas of the past, we’d rather have them do it properly, don’t we? Well, leave that to the Norwegians… (If only I could have added acts like Kaja Gunnufsen, ØY or Pokal, but they haven’t released anything lately 🙁 )
Oslo Oscillator - Nothing To Lose
The Oslo Oscillator makes old-school indie pop. In this project, frontman/singer/ songwriter Kåre Eriksen is joined by people from The Loch Ness Mouse, Maribel and Mirror Lakes on the team. The single “Nothing To Lose” is the first to be revealed from Oslo Oscillators upcoming album. The surprisingly short single instantly revvs up to a steady Stereolab tempo that reminds me strongly of “Super-electric”, kraut keys swerve unexpectedly, chords are cordial, but it’s that moment where the shuddering shoegaze tremolo kicks in that things fall into place, and then it’s all over…. : a way to keeps us interested? Works for me…
Kåre filled me in on his toughts about indie in Oslo then and now:
“The indie scene in Oslo today is smaller, and a bit more elusive, compared to the “heydays” of the early 2000s, when everyone bought guitar pedals and old Fender amps, and you could actually sell CDs. Since then, “indie” has become a different concept, taken over by melodramatic singer-songwriters with decent soundcards – in Oslo like everywhere else. Not too many care about the sonic universe of bands like Stereolab or Pale Saints, which are huge sources of inspiration for Oslo Oscillator. On a positive note, the scene today is not as dogmatic as it used to be. The horizons have been expanded massively and a greater variety of tastes and inspirations are allowed. Strong “indie” sub-cultures continue to exist, centered around clubs (like Revolver ) and labels (like Fysisk Format), and for some reason psych rock has been a thing for a while. But I am speaking about the interests of the pushing-40-year-olds. I have no idea what 20-year old indie kids in Oslo are up to these days. I’m not sure I want to know. Thankfully, we have a lot of 40-year-olds in Oslo.”
Måke - Deep Sea Diver
The new Måke single “Deep Sea Diver” has that naive vibe that some of the 80’s Sophistipop bands had at their start when they were still unsophisticated: carelessly strumming jazz chords on their semi‘s, exuding languid vocals and blasé, intellectual musings. Early Aztec Camera and Orange Juice definitely spring to mind. Only in Måke’s case it sounds less structured and more updated with the addition of the drum programming and reveberated dreampop guitar. I can hear this going somewhere, but maybe that is not the point at all here……
I talked briefly to Tim Sørdal, aka Måke.
Who /what is Måke?
Måke means seagull in Norwegian, and I call myself that cause of this summerhouse we had down by the sea when i was a kid. I would always wake up to the sound of seagulls. good times. Måke is my personal project, so I write and record all the music in my room, but I usually get a friend to help out with this and that.
What are your musical influences?
I’m not trying to get across any sort of vibe. I know it’s really mellow and all but I just make music to get stuff out of my system. it’s my way of meditating if you could call it that. I get alot of influence from my friends and the people i live with and see everyday. Big things happening in Oslo these days. Selmer, Mindtrix, Marius, Jakob Ogawa, SASSY 009, Pikekyss etc. I could go on forever. KEEP YOUR EARS OPEN
The Megaphonic Thrift - Winning A Battle, Losing The War
To celebrate the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Norwegian music organisation Brak’s, 10 artists were asked to interpret a classic “Bergen hit” from the last twenty years, perform it live, and then record it for a compilation to be released on vinyl in the fall of 2017. The noise/fuzz/shoegaze act The Megaphonic Thrift make a Norwegian West Coast classic sound like one of their own, as they’re releasing Kings of Convenience’ hit , “Winning A Battle, Losing The War” ( 2000) on September the 22nd.
The Megaphonic Thrift, draws heavily on the 90′ s music genre of shoegaze. A niche forgotten and ridiculed within the timespan of only two years, but that made a grandiose comeback and is now a “standard” in alternative music. “Winning A Battle, Losing The War” is classic Shoegaze Bliss with its empyrean spires of sound, whammy bar warps and the balmy, tempered vocals remind me strongly of one my favourite bands in the genre: Pia Fraus (good sign). Strong drumbeats underpin the whole and make it sound contemporary and up-to-date. The end is an otherwordly whirl of fragility and noise that takes us off into outer space. Beautiful!
The whole Brak album will be released on September 29.