4/25/11

Every leaf in springtime

We spent this easter in Aarhus, the 2nd largest city of Denmark, located on the eastern shore of the Jutland peninsula. My girlfriend was one of the godparents for a little girl that was baptized yesterday (sunday) so we made a trip out of it and stayed there for two nights.

I used to live in Aarhus when I was half the age I am now. For three years me, my mother and my sister lived in the central part of the city and we went to school in what might be called south central Aarhus (the neighbourhood is nowhere near as gangsta as that sounds).

While walking around this past weekend we visited the building were our apartment used to be and walked the path I used to take every day on my bike to school. We walked around as much as we could and came by a lot of places I remembered. Record shops, the comics shop, parks, cafés, streets, alleys, squares and so on.

The memories came flooding back and at times I was overwhelmed.

The thing is my mother died in that city. Plain and simple. She spent about six months in hospital and passed away on January 1st 1997. Ten minutes past midnight.

My sister and me spent three of our formative years in Aarhus. We made friends, grew as people, had a life there, and suddenly it was all over. Come 1997 we moved to the Faroe Islands. To bury our mother and to live with our father in a small village.

Coming back to Århus and seeing all these places again reminded me of a life that could have been. There's no escaping the sadness of it. Death, the exit from life, forced us to move from this place, let go of the world we had there, and build a new one in the place we moved to.

The great thing about being back in town for this trip was the fact that this time we were celebrating an entry into life. The little girl, my girlfriend's cousins daughter, was babtized and a lot of family was gathered to celebrate her.

The Lutheran church baptizes kids when they're infants. I was raised in a family with close ties to another protestant church in the Faroes called the "Brøðrasamkoman" (the brethren congregation). It's basically a baptist denomination that advocates baptism only of young or adult believers by total immersion in water.

Baptism is seen as a sort of statement or consolidation of faith, but it happens only after faith has been actively initiated or pursued in the person who decides to be baptized. In the Lutheran church infants are baptized before they're conscious and the decision making comes later. Things are done in another sequence.

I'm trying to see both sides. I'm not entirely convinced that baptizing infants makes sense theologically, but anthropologically speaking I must say it is a brilliant ritual. A rite of passage that marks the entry into life. The name of the infant is made official and all sorts of individual and communal traditions are applied, in addition to the overarching religious ideas. It's a beautiful thing in many ways.

I had to leave Aarhus because of death so it was uplifting to be back for a celebration of life. The fact that our trip and the partaking in the baptism took place during easter had a profound and poetic meaning to me.

Life and death and resurrection. People die but they're also born. These things kept coming back to me while we walked the sun-showered springtime streets of Aarhus, had great food and drink, hung out and had a good time. A moving experience and a great way to spend and celebrate Easter.

Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” -Martin Luther


The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

4/21/11

NEU!, electricity, droning

My girlfriend and I were waiting for the bus the other night when this truck/bus came racing by:
photo by Solveig H. Olsen
I want to believe that Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger of NEU! are onboard and they're forever racing the autobahns of the world...they've got a studio in there with a drumkit and guitars and stuff. Rocking out while the bus races on.

There's a medicine factory across the street from where we live. One of the machines emits a humming drone that you can hear quite distinctly. Seeing the photo above again this morning made me want to listen to Neu!, so I put debut album Neu! on the turntable and while lead track "Hallogallo" faded in I was thrilled to realize that the music from the factory across the street was in the same key as the music on the LP. A rather amazing moment, hearing the machine and the musicians droning in unison...
View from our window. Medicine factory across the street. Photo by Knút H. Eysturstein

Neu! in beautiful rotation. Photo by Knút H. Eysturstein

I like living in the city, for now. All these sounds and noises. When they come together.

Adding to the urban/krautrock/koschmische feel of the situation is the fact that we can also see four towering chimneys of a "kraftwerk" (power plant) from our window. Some times smoke rises from the chimneys and at night there are red lights that shine. A constant reminder of this power source that sustains many of us living here.
Behind the branches, the four chimneys of the kraftwerk. Photo by Knút H. Eysturstein

Those German musicians in the 70's made some amazing things. There is a certain beauty and poetry in kraftwerks, cars, autobahns, electricity, urbanity and noise. Those guys saw it and conveyed it. Not that the countryside is forgotten, it's also there as a possibility. Right now, there's a bird singing outside our window. Go figure :)

4/14/11

The Perfect Kiss

Substance collects all of New Order's 12" mixes up until and including 1987 and since the only thing better than awesome 80's synth pop singles is 12" extended mixes of awesome 80's synth pop singles you know you're in for a treat with this one.

This is a really strong collection. It starts with "Ceremony", a track from the Joy Division days that was re-recorded sans Ian Curtis and works as a kind of goodbye to him, and soon moves into the electronic beat driven territory New Order is known for. Take a minute to enjoy this vinyl geek clip of "Ceremony":

There should be a special medal awarded to people posting videos of vinyl spinning.

The most famous track on the album is obviously "Blue Monday" but you've heard that so I'll direct your attention to yet another cool track on Substance, namely "The Perfect Kiss". The video was directed by Jonathan Demme and is quite special in that it's a live recording of the band performing the track live in studio. This version is even longer than the 12" mix. The band just jams.

Wikipedia: "According to Factory Records owner Tony Wilson, Demme was looking forward to filming dynamic shots of Stephen Morris behind the drum kit and was dismayed to find that the drums in the song were all programmed."

Well, haha, too bad for him. I love the fact that the basic drum track is programmed while the band members play along to it. It's great how the track slowly mutates and moves through different passages. It's really hypnotic and cool. There's a disco sense to it. Robert Christgau said in his review of Substance that (2nd only to Chic) New Order was the best disco band of the 80's. I kind of agree.

Check out the video. So many things 80's, so many things awesome:

4/12/11

ORKA "Tað vakrasta"

ORKA, my favourite active Faroese band that I haven't played with, released its 2nd album today. Óró is the title. I'm working on a longer piece about the band and the new album, but it's still in my head. Here's the brand new video for "Tað vakrasta":

Directed by Torfinnur Jákupsson.
Produced by Yasra Jaleel.
Choreographed by Florencia Guerberof and Arata Mori.
Director of photography: Sean R. Phillips.
Edited by Nick Clark-Lowes.