Punkt Festival 2008, Kristiansand, Day 1 & 2

by Nitya
September 10, 2008

Punkt Festival 2008, Kristiansand, Day 1 (continued)

Diversifying into art art has been a feature of Punkt over the years. This year Punkt also teamed up with the Arinn Folk Festival and saw many traditional folk artists performing. I will report on one in particular.

77 Million Paintings

I was graced with a pre-opening walk-through at Sorlandets Kunstmuseum of the 77 Million Paintings for Punkt by Brian Eno, followed by a Q&A session.

(photo by Nitya)

Brian Eno explained how the twelve panels are divided into three groups of four each group controlled by a computer with a randomizer program which actually creates an infinite number of combinations. The panels are made up of 450 hand painted (by Eno) slides. He arrived at the title "77 Million Paintings" by doing the math and concluding the work actually could create 77 million cubed permutations. The work was combined with an original composition by Eno that, like the art, was comprised of short musical fragments also playing in an infinite number of combinations (which sounded similar to Music for Airports to me).


(photo by Jan Hangeland, courtesy of All About Jazz)

Day 2

Jon Hassell and Brian Eno: Conversational Remix

The afternoon prior to the evenings concerts brought us the comedy stylings of Jon Hassell and Brian Eno complete with Eno drawing cartoons on a large overhead projector. The subjects were Jon Hassell's not quite yet completed book "The North and South of You" and Brian Eno's book "Surrender" also not yet published. The two engaged in a dialog where at one point Jon pantomimed Brian's explanation of a passage in his book.

Despite the a jovial nature of the conversation, some serious topics were covered. One that I especially liked was a dialog of how various political systems work in small groups (communism, fascism, democracy) but when applied to a nation of 300 million have fundamental problems.

(Photo by Carsten Stolzenbach)

Rafael Toral Remix: Eivind Aarset, Jan Bang, Erik HonorÚ

I choose to eat dinner instead of attending the concert by Rafael Toral, but I did attend the remix by Eivind Aarset (guitar), Jan Bang (loops and electronics) and Erik Honore (electronics). The Alpha Room where all the remixes take place is darkly lit and I only have a few photos taken here. This was a great set dominated by the anti-guitar playing of Eivind backed up by Jan and Erik. It was a short, dark and thoroughly enjoyable set. Jan is a pleasure to watch and was dubbed "The Best Button Pusher Ever" by members of The Mungolian Jet. He figures prominently into Punkt being both artist, native of Kristiansand and co-promoter of Punkt. He dances and knob-twists to his own beats while playing with his "deck" of electronic components with his main component being the AKAI REMIX16 (stereo DJ phrase sampler).


(photo by Jan Hangeland, courtesy of All About Jazz)

Gavin Bryars

This was an interesting set- due to the instrumentation- and was a good example of the diversification in musical styles that is Punkt. The players: Norwegian soprano Anna Maria Friman, who performed with her regular group Trio MediŠval at Punkt 07, tenor and Hilliard Ensemble member John Potter, violist Morgan Goff, cellist Nick Cooper and electric guitarist James Woodrow and a guest appearance by trumpet player Arve Henriksen (husband of Anna Maria). The highlight of this set for me was the beautiful voice of Anna Maria and the trumpet playing of Henriksen. It was interesting to hear the interplay between electric guitar and string section as well. Bryars stuck mainly to playing upright bass though he also played piano on one song.

(photo by Carsten Stolzenbach)

J. Peter Schwalm, Sophie Clements, Eivind Aarset, Tim Harries, Rune Arnesen

The rhythmic set was really dominated by the amazing visuals of Clements. Three screens displayed an ever changing array of visual art, both moving and static.

The music was electronically complex and was directed by Schwalm from the back of the stage but it was the rhythmic (almost Elvin Jones-ish) drumming of Arnesen that drove the music forward. Aarset once again was the stand out musician in this set, here actually sounding a bit like a Texas blues guitarist using a wah-wah at times and also using riffs from his latest release "Sonic Codex." But it was Schwalm's set and Clements visuals that dominated.

(photo by Nitya)

J. Peter Schwalm Remix: DJ Strangefruit , Jan Bang, Erik HonorÚ, Rune Arnesen, Kheir-Eddine M'Kachiche

This set rocked the Alpha Room and is the reason I travel all the way from Seattle to Norway for Punkt. Led by DJ Strangefruit (Paul Nyhus) the ensemble also took a new twist by including Rune Arnesen playing in real time with samples of himself. This group started out slow but turned into something akin to a swirling mass of instruments and electronics with the very eastern sounding violin of Kheir-Eddine M'Kachiche winding through it all.

(photo by Carsten Stolzenbach)

Nik Baertsch's Ronin

This is the third time I have heard this group live. They are the happiest group of musicians I have ever seen: all smiling and swaying with the music through out a 70 minute set. Baertsch calls his music both Zen Funk and Ritual Groove music. The group consists of reed man Sha, bassist Bj÷rn Meyer, drummer Kaspar Rast and percussionist Andy Pupato. Less Sha they have three albums on Ronin Records. Baertsch also has another group Mobile with Sha with one album on Ronin. Baertsch also has a solo album on Ronin. Presently Nik Baertsch's Ronin with aforementioned line-up is on ECM with two albums Stoa and Holon. From a press release: "Their RITUAL GROOVE MUSIC consistently follows the same aesthetic vision under various instrumental guises: creating the maximum effect by minimal means."

I have been hoping over the years Punkt would bring Baertsch as they are perfect for the festival. There music is at once ambient but with brilliant six string bass player Meyer out front with the percussion of Pupato and Meyer thundering. Sha plays both bass clarinet and contra bass clarinet as percussion instruments, adding an other worldly dimension. But Baertsch is the star of the group playing in a minimalistic style, using sticks and mallets on the strings to get un-piano sounds from his grand piano.

I later met Nik at the hotel and he was very personable and took the time to speak with me for ten minutes or so. He also offered me copies of all his CD's but I already had them all. Modul 16 from one of his Ronin records releases was the #1 played track on Sonic Universe and he was very surprised because it is his ECM releases that have made him so well known in Europe lately.


(photo by Jan Hangeland, courtesy of All About Jazz)

Ronin Remix: Nils Petter MolvŠr, Eivind Aarset, Jan Bang

This hotly anticipated remix was supposed to be performed by Molvaer's touring group but drummer Audun Kleive was ill and was replaced by Jan Bang. This was a short set no doubt caused by the late hour of 1:30 AM the set began. Due to the lack of a drummer this remix was a very quiet, relaxed, almost hypnotic performance. Samples of Ronin's percussion were most evident in the remix but it was Molvaer's plaintive trumpet playing that was the highlight of this set for me. Molvaer has been working alone onstage with just a MacBook and in the picture he is looping.


(photo by Carsten Stolzenbach)

More soon....

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