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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.


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.


A few quotes from my review on AAJ. The album has just been released officially in Germany! A bit later than in Norway.

“His approach has increased the liquidity and permeability of sounds, as well as the (in)determinacy and (in)definiteness of musical form. Bang is one of those rare electronic musicians who does not use a laptop onstage, but—without staring at a screen—creates live brilliant new music just with the button-box of an Akai sampler and a simple dictaphone.”
“Bang is a master of assembling and synthesizing harmonic musical wholes from music fragments, plops, bleeps, crackling, creaks, rustle and sough. He sculpts creations of high melodic content that radiate through several layers. The sounds on Narrative seem to well up from the realms of the subconscious, carried by this twilight zone. It’s a world of sound that resembles the experience of (fever) dreams and in certain forms of cinema, in which laws of time and space seem to be shifting or are lifted. It’s a remote world of sound coming pretty close with its flurries of mild horror, equally brilliant sunrises and glowing utopian flashes.”
“There is an undeniable Wahlverwandtschaft, an affinity between the ambient nature of this ancient song and Bang’s music, and one reason that Tormis and Sega Choir Noorus, also from Estonia, were guests at the 2010 Punkt Festival. Bang used „Singer’s Childhood“ recently, with surprising results, in the encore of his duo concert with Jason Moran at the 2013 Molde Jazz Festival.”
“The essence is that these traces in their sound arise from the fog of the past, from the subconscious and fade as remote voices, voices from a distant past (there is a certain resemblance to the approach of Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov). No imitation, no quote, no mix but a matter of deeper connecting.”
“To avoid turning into ghost-music, the way of transporting, and the quality of the ether, are essential. Both are of impressive character and exceptional quality.” 
 And here is the link to the first review of Erik Honoré’s brandnew album HELIOGRAPHS, released september 5 with a release concert during the Punkt Festival 2014.

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. 



2013 9 Nov


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Wie kann man Streicher, gleich vier an der Zahl, dazu VER-FÜHREN à l’improviste etwas zu spielen, was noch keiner so gehört hat? Wie ist es möglich, das eine volle Stunde lang an einem Stück mit eindrucksvoller Spielökonomie hinzukriegen? Mit einem wunderbaren flow, den erstaunlichsten Übergängen und kontrastreicher Dynamik! Der Kästchen – zauberer Jan Bang hat gesternabend zusammen mit dem Streichquartett Zapp 4 im niederländischen s’Hertogenbosch bei November Music vorgeführt, wie das geht und gehen kann. Kann ich meinen Ohren jetzt noch trauen? Streichquartettmusik mit solchen wunderbaren Themen, solchem Klangreichtum, solchen Texturen und solchen raffinierten Strukturen in vollständig offener Improvisation hervorgebracht? Erlebnis und Hochgenuss, die zu Denken geben.



Producing The Jazz Facts in the Deutschlandfunk was pure fun. A lot of nice coincidencies: two days ago, I realized that not only Ralph Towner’s TRAVEL GUIDE, but Carla Bley’s TRIOS, too, were recorded in that „radio theatre“  in Lugano. And after talking with Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel about his first recording with producer Manfred Eicher, I decided to need another voice sheding some light on the special room and the producer’s input. So, I got Bley’s long-time sax player Andy Sheppard on the phone, and what he told me, was the icing on the cake, a great finish for the show. 

Now this was only part of the fun. Some guys do great work, working as musician and tone engineers behind the controls to make radio sound magic. In this case bass player Markus Brown (his trio  is just featured  in a big Scandinavian jazz magazine) was the great man working the details: listen to  the show, and you will see that it was done, let me say it this way, with love and care. In between jazz matador Karsten Mützelfeld entered the studio and offered me 20 Euros, because he couldn’t help but strictly ignore the deadline of 7 minutes and 30 seconds. This guy has great humour 
The good vibes continued when we arrived at the headquarter of jazz affairs and small-taked with Harald Rehmann. It was a perfect radio day, and you really shouldn’t miss the show! There will be features on the Punkt Festival and a showcase in Trondheim.  Last, not least, there are great new records by Carla Bley, Ralph Towner, Jan Bang, Nils Petter Molvaer and Arve Henriksen. Arve will perform in Dortmund’s Domicil on October 12th! I’ll be there. And Harald will record Arve at the Unterfahrt in München. 






This year’s PUNKT FESTIVAL has been a beautiful affair. After being curated by Eno and Sylvian in the last two years, it was a kind of going back to the roots of PUNKT. The best thing is the Punkt aesthetic which is, beyond the art of live-sampling, a lesson in stripping down nearly every „big thing“ to chamber music size and a sensual „being-lost-in-the-laboratory“-agenda. David Sylvian’s trio, The Kilowatt Hour,  shows the silent triumph of an artist rigorously following his own visions and thereby sacrificing old fans‘ nostalgic expectations. In case you’re looking for the best visual choreographies of modern music history, you can start, maybe, with early Pink Floyd, and you’ll end up at The Kilowatt Hour. The duo of Jan Bang with jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan (and special guest Eivind Aarset) was one of the most shining hours of the Punkt history, telling that jazz’s future might be well-grounded in playing with fractured dejavues and nearly lost echoes. By the way, Tigran’s musical life changed when he (once upon a time) listened to „Dis“ from Jan Garbarek and Ralph Towner. The sound of the wind harp ist still alive, folks! Another breathtaking event was the duo of a singer and a guitarist: Eteniesh Wassie’s  and Mathieu Sourisseau’s performance was bleak, really bleak, another stripped-down intensity in its purest form. In parts rooted in the East of Africa, their music covered the range from trance patterns to joyous noise. No wonder that especially these three performances in  Foenix Cinema and  Kick Scene were followed by live-remixes (with Erik Honore, Ivar Grydeland, Jan Bang, Audun Kleive, Arve Henriksen, Sidsel Endresen a.o.) that transferred the original sounds to a totally different landscape without losing the emotional impact. In spite of the election in Norway that went utterly wrong (bad news) we will have PUNKT No. 10 next year (good news).

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