Helge Olav: Album
Helge Olav, også kjent som elektronikaartisten HOH, debuterer her med sitt første album som vokalist. Han har vært aktiv som elektro-artist, arrangør, plateselskap-mann og kunstner i miljøet rundt numusic, tou scene og ellers over alt i Stavanger i lang tid. Han har turnert både i Norge, med det kririkerroste albumet HOH: Bestemor og i Storbrittania, med EP'en HOH: we can work it out. Låtene hans har i de senere årene også fått mer og mer spilletid på radio.
Foruten egne prosjekter har han også vært fast band medlem i Modan Garu og Athana, og gjort en gjesteopptreden hos Morten Abel. Han har også jobbet med remixing for de nevnte artistene i tillegg til mange artister innen eksperimentell musikk og kunst/seriøs musikk (bl. a. Nils Henrik Asheim, Frode Gjerstad, Bjerga Iversen og ikke minst hans venn og kollega i selskapet zang: Pål Asle Pettersen).
Albumet under artistnavnet Helge Olav er en oppsummering og god blanding av det meste han har vært med på av musikalske uttrykk gjennom hele hans karriere. Elektronikaen står som fundament, men her er også inspirasjon fra hans helter innenfor 60-talls rock, reggae, hip hop og mer eksperimentell musikk. Mindre kjent er hans rolle som gitarist, noe han boltrer seg med i stor grad på det foreliggende materialet, i tillegg til vokalen som han skyver godt frem i lydbildet. Han har skrevet og arrangert sangene, spilt alle instrumenter, gjort all programmering, miksing og produksjon selv. Resultatet er et album fullt av inspirert og mangfoldig musikk med en tydelig signatur.
HOHM 001 | hohmusic 2010
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HOH: We can work it out
reviewed by Steffan de Turck
Norwegian HOH presents us an eclectic mix of 2 original tracks and 3 remixes that would do good on an after-Barbeque partyfacts
[ Zang: Records ]
[ We can work it out ] [ CD ]
Ha! The last time I reviewed the HOH track “We can work it out” on the NuMusic sampler (NUCD#02), I wasn’t that keen on it and now he sends me the whole EP! I guess I’m in need of some closer listening.
HOH is Helge Olav Øksendal, composer, arranger and artist, living in Stavanger, Norway. Labelboss of Zang:Records and not to be mistaken with the illustre Hafler Trio, Current 93 and Psychick TV collaborator, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, who goes about by the same initials. On the “We can work it out” EP he presents us two original tracks and three remixes by befriended electro-boys. Although having a background in the more experimental electronic music, this mini album certainly (and without a doubt) places itself firmly in the dance section of electronic music.
The original track of “We can work it out” is present here in two versions: the normal 12,5 minute version and a 4 minute radio version (HOH takes his goals seriously and very well so). It was the radio version I got acquainted with on the NuMusic sampler and after hearing the full version, I can safely say that it’s too short and, by doing so, stick to my original verdict. I do have to correct my opinion on the presence of the vocals. They seem to be more well placed in the long version, get more time to flower and have a purpose. Something that the short version lacks, but that’s probably a sacrifice you have to make to get some airplay on the radio. As said before, it has a clear Orbital feel to it and I like that a lot: to me it brings back good memories of the nineties. The remix of “We can work it out” is done by .P (Pål Asle Pettersen) and is a tad bit darker in vibe than the original. Things sound muddy and industrial in this one, as if the sun has gone down after the original. Nice track nevertheless.
The other original here is “Lovebreak” and is backed with two remixes. Starting off more minimal then the title track and displaying an overall late seventies sound (think Cabaret Voltaire and Fad Gadget). This is mainly due to the old school synth lines, drum patterns and the sinister British male vocals. Along the way it travels the time machine towards early UK electro. Maybe this track ends a bit too quick, but it certainly is a nice one. The DJ:WOO (Eivind Søreide Solsvik) remix really takes it into contemporary dance music and gives it a maniacally breakcore twist. 2nd remix is taken care of by QRT (Kurt Bolianatz), which on his turn places the track into an uptempo kind of lounge style; the synth lines become warmer and dustier, spiced up with a rolling French progressive house rhythm.
Quite an eclectic mix this EP; would do good on an after-Barbeque party
CD Feature/ HOH: "Bestemor"
Melody and harmony are not the enemy: A bubbling and wondersome mix of cultures and traditions.
If a certain group of artists is bunched together for reasons of journalistic convenience, it mostly has to do with similarities. The “Stavanger Scene”, to which Helge Olav Oksendal of HOH belongs, however, is mainly marked by stylistic differences: From Dark Ambient via Drones to almost Pop-like structures the entire range of experimental music finds itself represented in this Norwegian town of not even 120.000 inhabitants.
For those interested in catching a glimpse of the sounds of the city, “Bestemor”, an album as diverse as its influences, offers a welcome introduction.
On the one hand, this could be expected. Certainly, HOH has always been geared towards listening with your brain and your body, instead just one of them. Similarly, Oksendal might have been an underground player, but his music was never without commercial appeal. If this man hasn’t broken through yet on a larger scale, it has more to do with his unpredictable live sets and his romantic vision that art should be a full and uncompromising expression of your inmost feelings. Or to put it differently: While there is nothing ironic about “Bestemor”, it also refuses to cater to the demands of those who believe in an experiment for experimentation’s sake: Melody and harmony are not the enemy here. Which is why this wild, bubbling and wondersome mix of cultures and traditions, which includes a cover by 70s band The Doors, tender folktronica, quirky electro, a metal pastiche, broken beats in coherent compositions and hiphop samples as the basis to noise tracks, will please the pluralistically interested and scare off a public afraid of everything “in between”. On the other hand, this colourful approach might seem surprising considering that the death of Oksendal’s beloved grandmother was the sad inspiration to the record. If you dig in deep, you might discover faint hints to the events surrounding the music’s genesis in titles such as “you’re too close, come closer” or the bittersweet melancholia of the epic opener “To the lighthouse”, which goes from ethereal chants to a mesmerising and intoxicating whirlwind of sounds and beats. But on the whole, the album never allows itself all too obvious references, remaining composed and concentrated throughout.
“Bestemor” (the Norwegian term for grandmother), therefore, is not a requiem, but a tribute to a special person and maybe it is a good thing that not the sadness of loss has remained the strongest force on display here but rather the happiness and energy resulting from wonderful memories. Its power has certainly turned this into an album which transcends the polarity between underground and mainstream and manages to stay absolutely upright at it: The differences are part of the game, after all.
By Tobias Fischer
(EP, 5 tracks)
zang: records 2005
(EP, 4 tracks)
edge records 2000
POP '08 LYDEN AV STAVANGER (CCAP067)
ATHANA REMIXED 05-08 (WAM418148)
Broken Line Remixes (z:017)
HOH: i wanna be a rhythm
(Album, 18 tracks)
fuck subtle 2002
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