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Yesterday: One night, years and years ago, some of us journalists joined Jon Hassell, and in that Norwegian pub that had nothing exotic or fourth world-like in its ambience, I introduced Jon to the great-great daughter of Gustav Mahler who was a cellist in a Symphony Orchestra. And that was special. Punkt has always been about the closing of circles.  (m.e.) 


Tomorrow: Renowned Norwegian artists celebrate the music of the influential trumpet player and composer Jon Hassell. The influential American trumpeter and composer Jon Hassell passed away on June 26, 2021. This year Hassell would have turned 85, and we wish to honor him with a memorial concert at Victoria on his birthday on March 22. This evening you will hear an all-star team of Norwegian musicians who have all either collaborated with Jon Hassell or have a relationship to his music.

On stage are three generations of inspired trumpeters, in addition to former members of Hassell’s band, who played with him both live and in studio. Several of them collaborated with him on Jon Balke’s „Siwan“ project and played with him at the Punkt Festival in Kristiansand. The music this eveningwill be composed by, or inspired by, Jon Hassell. The memorial concert is produced in collaboration with Punkt, which Hassell visited several times, and is organized in consultation with Hassell’s family. We hope you will join us on Tuesday. See you there!

LINE UP: Nils Petter Molvær – trumpet, Arve Henriksen – trumpet, Kristina Fransson – trumpet, Harpreet Bansal – violin, Eivind Aarset – guitar, Jon Balke – keys, Helge Norbakken – percussion, Jan Bang – live sampling, Erik Honoré – live sampling, keys, Arnaud Mercier – sound

The concert has been streamed live on youtube.
You missed it? Here we go


Ladies and gentleman, this is 2011, and this is the „Alpha-Room“: Nils Petter Molvaer came with a helicopter. He had a concert the night before at the Munch Museum. No long time for preparations. But Guy Sigsworth is well prepared. It starts with some classical motives, like a grown up’s memory of listenng to some Goldberg Variations on a strange children´s birthday party. It takes a while till Nils Petter seems to find a key for the music. We hear a sample of a Justin Bieber song. Is anyone in the mood for Saturday Night Fever? Punkt turning disco? After a while (and some rippy rappy pop moments), Guy´s creating breathing space for the trumpet. Melancolia and exuberance.


It is still 2011, you better believe it. For the first time at Punkt, there is a special room, with the flair of an old French cinema. You‘re  watching live-remixes on screen that are taking place simultaneously. It has a documentary feeling, old nouvelle vague like (the school of Jacques Rivette). Here I see,the final live-remix of the 7th Punktfestival. Marilyn Mazur working with a small drum kit, Nils Petter Molvaer playing Nils Petter Molvaer and, suggesting some distant breath of „Bitches Brew“. Jan Bang, Erik Honore, Eivind Aarset, the usual suspects. They will be the usual suspects ten years from now on. An old vanishing word came to my mind that only makes sense in a Thomas Pynchon  novel like  „Inherent Vice“ – or in very relaxed Punkt moment – the word is „groovy“. Blame this on the Beta Room, too, it has a 1968 vibe.

 The title could be from a movie, or a poem, or a thriller. But it comes from sounds. Ambiguity is a point on the second album of Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang. Always a delight if a certain sound is not linked to a clearly defined emotion. It all moves in between, in moderate tempi, and different modes of slow, slow motion. Daring and adventurous, the duo‘s musics doesn’t serve at all some listeners‘ needs for recognizable grooves or old school ambience. There‘s a free spirit wailing, and chances are good all these strangely constructed, floating pieces of pure imagination put a soft spell on you. Call „Snow Catches on her Eyelashes“ modern mood music if you want – and if you don‘t mind goose skin, a recurring sense of wonder, and moments of pure excitement. 



Michael: This second duo album has a different feel compared to
Dream Logic. How would you describe its overall mood, or subtlely changing atmospheres? The title of the album suggests a cinematic flair, though it‘s certainly not related to a certain movie.


Jan Bang: The album was recorded in the Punkt Studio in Kristiansand over a long period of time. Some of the first sketches (i.e. Asphalt Lake) started already in 2012. Others came during the main recording period between 2017 -2019. With the „Dream Logic“ album (ECM), the working process was shorter in span, but that was where we gained a good work flow together in the studio. A lot of the same techniques were repeated on „Snow Collected On Her Eyelashes“, but with different outcome. I like to think of the album and its title as a travelogue. The title refers if you will to a modern traveler in a Northern hemisphere, but can have different meaning to others.


It seems to me that most of the music grew out of improvisations, and post-production has been big deal here. How would you describe the process of these pieces finally finding its shape within a well-chosen sequence?


Not entirely true. Some of the pieces (i.e. Monochrome), and the two „Sphere“ pieces started with both of us in the same room. Serenade, Purplebright and Asphalt lake started with programming which was later carefully shaped with Eivind onboard. The pianist Hilde Norbakken and myself had done a few live performances of Before the wedding, before we decided it would be a possible candidate for the album with a guitar overdub by Eivind. A couple of compositions were more or less his, like „Nightspell“ and „Two days in June“, the latter being, at least in my book, the centerpiece of the album.


Can you describe the process of working on one track of your choice, to make clear how sometimes things fall into place organically, or, on the other side, need some treatments in the details to fulfil the expectations of the two of you?


The above mentioned Two days in June is based on a live performance Eivind did with dancer Christine Brunel who sadly passed away during the making of the album. I added cello and small treated sounds to give it more focus. In the coda I added some programming that I had originally done for the German theremin player Barbara Buchholtz, who sadly passed away far too young. The piece is a celebration in memory of them both. The two „Sphere“ pieces and Monochrome were done pretty fast.


Of course, you shy away from labeling such an album, because every branding narrows the perspective. But can you name some of the inspirations while working on an album that looks through a territory of sounds beyond standard experimentalism.


I guess the material comes together with inspirations from different angles: the baselines you can so often find in music from the past, from the 50´s when bass parts often played single notes without the virtuosity that with exceptions came came later. The other sound ideal comes from modern composition and the way both of us have incorporated a more European contemporary sound world that is an amalgam of the acoustic and electronic world of sounds. Working with the Ensemble Modern, different free improvisers like Sidsel Endresen, Hamid Drake and recently now in London with a recording session with David Toop and Confront label owner Mark Wastell – has given me inspiration to step into the unknown with curiosity. 


2020 1 Mrz

„The Two Note Phenomenon“

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Jan Bang wrote me something that sounded interesting, in regards to small bass lines in old music from the 50‘s, as part of an e-mail interview, concerning his forthcoming album with Eivind Aarset, „Snow Catches On Her Eyelashes“ (Jazzland). I really didn‘t know exactly what he meant (just had some ideas) and asked for examples – among them, then, a song by Marlene Dietrich, „Lazy Afternoon“Listen to the track, and you’ll understand. By the way, it‘s such a wonderful song, its mood, its slowness. The interview with Jan will be posted here on the day of the album‘s release, on March 13th. After playing one track from it, in my last radio night, „The Witness“, the responses were quiet enthusiastic, from Harald Rehmann, Martina Weber, and other friends and strangers. Stunning, for an album that owns all features of experimental music in its truest sense, a strange hybrid of musique concrète, free improv, ambient – one of these records for the infamous imaginary movies in our heads, which, I have to admit, I never have seen when listening to even the most „in-between“-music.


Michael: Now I listened to that two note thing of the bass in Marlene‘s song you mentioned. Such a sound from the bottom, minimal impulse, discreet company, but what an impact, IF you focus on it. I think I wouldn’t normally realize these tiny fragments when listening to the song. Mhm. One could possibly write a little book on it, a universal pattern, a link between decades, cultures, styles, nearly archetypal. All these things at the  margins.

Jan: It surely is effective, and worth an article if not a book on the subject matter.

Michael: A small book it would be, Jan, on that two tone thing, sure, not as big as the ones on twelve tone music.

Jan: Haha.

2020 15 Feb

Eivind comes to town (someday)

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OH SHIT! JUST HEARD THAT THE CONCERT IS CANCELLED DUE TO A COVID INFECTION OF EIVIND. GET WELL SOON! (We let this text sleep quietly on this day of disappointment and will use it as a time capsule for the hopefully near future. Meanwhile we‘ll go down to the river and listen to Phantasmagoria, Dream Logic, Snow Catches On Her Eyelashes, Crime Scenes, Atmosphères, Lost River, Last Night the Moon Came Droping its Clothes in the Street, and Electronique Noir, for example.)


In diesen Tagen, auf einer auf vier Orte zusammengeschrumpften Tour durch deutsche Lande, kommt Eivind Aarset mit seinem Quartett ins Domicil nach Dortmund, meiner alten Heimat. Abends am 18. Februar. Zwei Manafonisten werden vor Ort sein, mindestens, Ingo und ich. Zudem hoffe ich, dass einige Leser dieser Zeilen (are there still old friends kicking?) sich aufschwingen, den norwegischen Gitarristen und Komponisten und Meister des Unvorhersehbaren in einer witterungsbeständigen, fantastischen Band zu erleben, die den gesamten Unsinn der Begrifflichkeiten von fusion bis post jazz und post rock pulverisiert. Ich erlebte die Gruppe ja noch vor Monaten in Kristiansand beim Punktfestival (das Foto machte Ingo dort), und etliche meiner Kollegen und Freunde waren ganz aus dem Häuschen, denn wenngleich Eivind dort seit den Anfangen dieses Festivals anno 2005 Heimspiele hat, begeisterte er uns nun mindestens so wie in früheren Zeiten. This music is an organic beast. Oder wie schrieb ich vor Monaten:


I might come back (and that‘s what I‘m doing these days, guys – and, funny enough, what has been running in my new old Toyota, thinking of Eivind‘s gig in my old town in three days from now: „Masters of Reality“ from Black Sabbath – serves me well!), to the „different travel“ of Eivind Aarset’s 4_tet, and I really try hard to not write what I’m about to write now, but sitting with my new Norwegian friends at the table, Nick (originally from Australia, finally someone knowing The Go-Betweens) and Marte and Hank and Sten (kudos!) – doing no air guitar, but some kind of miniaturized body percussion with hands and legs mirroring the double drumming – the quartet was kind of working the limits, and, yes, this old saying, shooting some stars from the sky without making a big fuzz about it. And didn‘t Fiona Talkington make some great introductions from her nature reserve in Reading bringing up front the magic of „thin places“!?




Michael: This is a fantastic record, Eivind. Free, floating and adventurous. Have there been, before the days in Udine, conversationsabout the feel of the music, and other preparations?


Eivind: Michele and I have performed as a duo on different occasions, we have also played a couple of gigs with Gianluca before the recording. Before we met in studio, we talked about keeping the project open for much collective improvisations.


And the producer‘s presence?


In the studio Manfred Eicher first listened, and then came with suggestions and inspirations. He would typically ask us to do one more in the same territory if he liked where we were heading, but maybe the version was not quit there yet. He would ask us to move on to something else if we got stuck, and also being enthusiastic when he heard something he enjoyed.


The pieces rely very much on texture, atmosphere, a drifting mood – some touchstones come to mind. Did you talk history before?


References were never a topic, but for me personally I have spent so much time listening to certain stuff – 70’s Miles Davis, Rypdal and Garbarek, Jon Hassell, Brian Eno, David Torn, they have all been highly influential on me. I think Michele has some of the same references too. I am not sure about Gianluca, but he has a stronger jazz background than me, and he is very into music from the 70´s.


A golden age, that decade. You don‘t have to be nostalgic to realize that. The rhythmic anchor of the piece „Flood“ is, in the first part, a pulsating figure of the trombone followed by this immersive watery feel of the whole track, with, well, waves of sound. The three of you make use of additional electronics and „sounds“.


This was the first improvisation we did. In the post-production we added delay and some low frequency on Gianluca’s riff, and at the very beginning and very end we also added some a „cloud“ texture from another improv, a combination of trombone, guitar, and I think, some of Michele‘s stuff. The watery feel you mention is mirrored in a lot of the titles. But that „water concept“ first came up when Michele and I listened thru the material and thought the music had a watery floating feel to it. This seemed to be OK for Gianluca and Manfred as well.





A recognizable „jazz vibe“ can be detected in the opening track „Nimbus“, in the trombone, and some of Michele‘s percussive patterns. For some seconds, I had a fleeting memory of an old Rypdal recording with guitar and trombone. And there‘s a short Rypdal-esque moment at the beginning of „Styx“. I like to speak of „ghost echoes“ here. 


I love Rypdal‘s album Odyssey with Torbjørn Sunde on the trombone! And, yes I agree, the beginning of „Styx“ for sure has some Rypdal in there … He is such a strong influence, so I try to avoid to be too close, but you know, sometimes it leaks thru …


A change of scene, the appearance of your acoustic sounding guitar on „What Floats Above“. A very ambient piece.


I wrote this one before the studio session. It was nice to explore this two very separate worlds, the very concrete acoustic guitar, and the all the other stuff playing more in parallel than with the guitar. Nils Petter Molvaer introduced me to Michael Brooks Hybrid in the 80´s, and it is one of the records which really changed me. This is also one of my favorite records from the production team of Lanois / Eno.





Still a buried treasure, that album On the title track, „Lost River“, the trombone moves through a very special „landscape“, no classifications possible. Is it a cliche to speak of a cinematic feel here and on other tracks, but, so, here we go, what a cinematic feeling!


This a another collective improvisation, and I remember that there were some talks about films, although I don’t remember if there was any specific movie mentioned. I actually read about a river which disappeared into a underground canal, and it is called „Lost River“.


There‘s a beautiful, melancholic sense of impermanence prevailing on the whole album, but here it comes, on „Night Sea Journey“, a groove!


Yes it is a kind of groove tune, and as I said; I know that Gianluca are very much into music from the 70´s so it might be some references for him there. The starting point of the tune was a combination of effects on the guitar; harmonizers and delays, which had a character which we felt would be nice to explore.  


Do you see the cover photo as a kind of signifier for the music, or just a more or less typical „ECM design“ suggesting space. And, really, what do I see on that picture: a wall, a floor, a bag? Somehow mysterious.


Well I am not sure, the decision on the cover was made by ECM, and we all liked it but I don’t know what it actually is …, so absolutely a mystery …


It‘s a running game of our enthusiasm to call out, once in a while, another contender for the album of the year, or at least, „wow, that will be among my top ten of 2018“, remember, Gregory? So, we really have already had our hours of drifting away or being totally absorbed, between sharply formed fire machines like David Torn‘s sharing company with Guitarreros from Switzerland, or Jon Hassell‘s vertical studies in sound. The best song albums of the year, for me, come from women I had never before heard singing.  But here comes a valuable addition to, well, a hot contender for another peak experience of its kind: his best album since the days of Chiaroscuro and Cartography. And very different from those ones. THE HEIGHT OF THE REEDS. By Mr. Arve Henriksen. And Eivind Aarset. And Jan Bang. And Jez Riley French. And the chorus and orchestra of opera north, conducted by Justin Doyle. Better order it at the website of Rune Grammofon now. Oh, god, it‘s so great. I will miss the Punkt festival this year. Hope they will sell it there in big numbers. It‘s a stunner. One of our albums of September. I better shut my mouth now. This is a cliffhanger.




Spannend war es: ein Seminar über luzide Träume, mit mir zusammen drei Psychologen (als Leiter), und vier von zwölf Teilnehmern erlebten ihren ersten luziden Traum. Im nächsten Sommer können wir die Räume eines hiesigen Schlaflabors nutzen. Will man die erstaunliche Erfahrung machen, im Traum zu erkennen, dass man träumt, und dann bei vollem kritischen Bewusstsein das Traumgeschehen zu lenken, ist die Kernübung die Frage: „Träum ich oder wach ich?“ Stellt man sich diese Frage ca. 10 mal am Tag und prüft die konkrete Umgebung darauf, ob man träumt oder wach ist, überträgt sich diese Fragestellung (der gute alte Freud’sche Tagesrest) auf die Traumphasen in der Nacht, und dann macht es leicht „klick“, und man erkennt voller Verblüffung, dass man mitten in einem Traum ist. Das ist eine von vielen Techniken.

Menschen, die häufig im Traum Musik hören, stellen sich tagsüber dann sinnigerweise auch beim „normalen“ Musikhören die Frage, ob sie träumen oder wach sind, und forschen ca. 1 Minute nach der Antwort, immer leicht dahin tendierend, dass irgendetwas nicht stimmt, dass doch das, was man sieht, hört oder fühlt, auf einen Traumzustand hinweist, oder doch nicht? Ich hatte zu Übungszwecken THE SHUTOV ASSEMBLY von Brian Eno dabei, und STAIRCASE von Keith Jarrett.

Mein Vortragsthema hiess: „Das Irreale im Alltag als Schlüssel für luzides Träumen“. Das wurde schon bei Castaneda thematisiert, aber auch in kalifornischen Universitäten seit den 70ern wissenschaftlich untersucht. Wenn ich also am Freitag, dem 18. September (leider kein Dreizehnter), im Deutschlandfunk zwischen 22.05 und 22.50 Uhr, live,  in der Reihe „Milestones“ Keith Jarretts Soloauftritte „BREGENZ MÜNCHEN“ vorstelle, eine wahrlich unerhörte, grossartige Arbeit, dann könnten Sie sich durchaus mal die Frage nach Ihrem aktuellen Bewusstseinszustand stellen.

Und was finde ich just in der Post: ein brandneues Album von Eivind Aarset. Träum ich oder wach ich? Produced by Eivind Aarset in co-operation with Jan Bang. Ein Hauch von Punkt. Ich bin gespannt wie ein Flitzebogen. Im Gegensatz zu dem minimalistischen Duo-Album auf ECM, „DREAM LOGIC“, setzt Eivind hier auf grosses Personal.

Das neue Werk von Arve Henriksen erscheint am 22.8.2014 bei Rune Grammofon – Streichinstrumente umgeben das Spiel des Trompeters und Multiinstrumentalisten. (Bin sehr gespannt, habe noch keinen Ton gehört.) Also kurz vor dem 10. Punktfestival in Kristiansand, und eine Woche nach meiner nächsten Radionacht “Klanghorizonte” am 16. August, wo ich die Platte vorstelle. NATURE OF CONNECTIONS. In einer Cafepause in Lugano (bei einer ganz anderen Produktion) sassen wir zusammen, und Arve sprach über die dünne Grenze zum Replikantentum. Wie leicht man, egal, wie eigen sich ein Ton anfühlt, im Trompetenraum eines anderen landen kann, sei es Davis, sei es Hassell.

Drum hat er ja auch jüngst ein Doppelalbum vorgelegt, das bewusst abseitige Pfade erforscht, und in elektronischen Sphären jenseits des Virtuos-Gehandhabten die Trompete nur ausgewählte Schattenstellen heimsucht. Ich nannte es spasseshalber sein “Sun Ra-Album”. Ulrich Kriest hat dem Opus in der Jazzthetik fünf Sterne gegeben, einen zuviel für mein Empfinden, aber dank des Antriebs der Grenzöffnung auch wiederum verdient.

Ein 5-Sterne-Album reinsten Wassers wird in unabsehbarer Zukunft (jede Wette, Frühjahr oder Herbst 2015) bei ECM erscheinen, das Debut des armenischen Pianisten Tigran Hamasyan, der bislang jazzspezifisch zu lange den Bebop-Fallen seines Lehrers erlegen war, und auch im Bereich der Multi-Kulti-Musik keine Bäume ausriss. An seiner Seite Jan Bang, Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset. Drei alte Freunde, die nie die Grenzfelder aus dem Sinn verlieren, das Duo Aarset-Bang schlägt mit “Dream Logic” (ECM) nach wie vor in Bann. NATURE OF CONNECTIONS. Und alle befinden sich im kreativen Höhenflug auf Jan Bangs fiebrig-leisen Meditationen, betitelt “Narratives from the Subtropics”, die jetzt auch offiziell den deutschen Handel erreicht haben.

Flashback: in Lugano war die Abmischung in den letzten Zügen. Das interessante Doppelmikrofon, vor dem Arve seine Trompete zum Einsatz brachte, ist auf dem Foto unten abgebildet. Manfred Eicher war hochkonzentriert, er wusste, dass da etwas letztlich Unplanbares Gestalt annahm, ein “Instant Classic”. Einmal eröffnete Arve eine Komposition mit einem Solo. Er selbst war schon auf dem Weg zum Flughafen, da meldete sich Jan Bang zu Wort, und befand, dass das Intro etwas zu lang sei, und einen Hauch zuviel von Jon Hassell verströme. Daraufhin liessen Manfred und der seelenruhig agierende Toningenieur das Solo einfach mal untertauchen in den ominösen Soundnebeln, die Eivind Aarset heraufbeschwor.

Die Trompete verlor so ganz und gar ihre Dominanz, glänzte lediglich durch Abwesenheit, bis sie sich langsam aus dem Nichts ans fahle Licht herantastete.

Die Wirkung war immens. Arve wird nicht böse sein, wenn er das hört. That’s what friends are for! NATURE OF CONNECTIONS. Noch eins: ich wünsche mir für Tigrans Cd oder Doppel-Cd ein vielfarbiges Cover, etwas, das auf Anhieb einen visuellen Sog entfaltet, wie einst die vier Luftballons auf Keith Jarretts Meilenstein “Belonging”. Bitte kein Dunkelblau mit einsamem Lichtrahl in der Nacht!



6903 Lugano Besso. Du kannst Magie nicht zwingen. Du kennst eine Unzahl von Tricks, du weisst, wie man Sackgassen entkommt, du weisst, wie man aus losen Enden geschlossene Gestalten formt, aber der magische Mehrwert bleibt unberechenbar. Widerspenstig. Es begann mit alten Banden zwischen Arve Henriksen (Trompete etc.), Jan Bang (Live-Sampling etc.) und Eivind Aarset (Gitarren etc.), es begann mit dem Punktfestival von Kristiansand anno 2005. Es begann mit Lieblingsplatten aus den frühen Jahren von ECM, die den armenischen Pianisten Tigran Hamasyan durch seine Teenagerjahre begleiteten. Es begann mit den weit zurückreichenden Erfahrungen des Produzenten Manfred Eicher mit armenischer Musik. Und es begann auch damit, dass Jan Bang mir für eine Ausgabe der JazzFacts (Deutschlandfunk) eine kleine Passage aus seinem Duo mit Tigran (Punkt 2013) schicken sollte: ein Kinderspiel für offene Ohren, hier, in furios inszenierten Dejavues und elektronischen Spiegelungen, den Basisstoff für eine zukünftige Unternehmung zu wittern! Ich tat das Nötige, damit Manfred diese paar Minuten zu hören bekam – und er hörte genug, um die Dinge in Gang zu bringen.

Und so entstand und entsteht in diesen Tagen in Lugano, im „Studio Grosso“ des RSI, eine Produktion mit vier Musikern, einem Produzenten und einem Toningenieur, von der man vieles erhoffen durfte und darf, aber nicht unbedingt solch eine konzentrierte, entfesselte Energie, solch einen Ideenfluss (voller Finessen und Widerständigkeiten)! Wer in naher Zukunft die beteiligten Personen auf diese Tage im Tessin anspricht, wird auf Blicke treffen, die Bände sprechen, auf Sätze, die mal holprig, mal elegant, das So-Nicht-Vorhersehbare ins Spiel bringen, einen Glücksfall. Als Zeuge (Ohren und Augen) atmete ich die Musik ein, hellwach verfolgte ich das Abhören, das Abmischen, die minimalen Korrekturen, die im grossen Saal (ohne Trennwände, ohne Kopfhörer) eingespielten drei, vier Takes einer alten Komitas-Komposition, die eine oder andere tänzelnde Bewegung des Produzenten, die kurzen Dialoge, das Spiel der Gesten und Mienen (für stille Freude gibt es eine ganze Palette) – und einmal, in einer Kaffeepause, blieb ich einfach sitzen vor der menschenleeren Bühne. 



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