A week on Friday (20th January), The Cube in Bristol will host a screening of Northern Disco Lights, Ben Davis and Pete Jenkinson’s documentary charting the “rise and rise of Norwegian dance music”. Afterwards, just down the road at The Crofters Rights, one of the founders of the Norwegian scene, Mental Overdrive, will play his first DJ set in our fair city. The latter is for best before:, the party I established way back in 2003.
Both events will be special for yours truly. I first met Per ‘Mental Overdrive’ Martinsen a decade ago in Oslo. I was over to interview members of Norway’s dance music community – and in particular young talents Hans-Peter Lindstrom, Prins Thomas and Todd Terje – about the country’s fast emerging cosmic disco sound (a style I persisted in describing as “Scandolearic” in IDJ magazine).
I was introduced to Per and his other half, Aggie, by a mutual friend. He was good enough to show me the sights and sounds of Oslo, and fill in some of the gaping holes in my knowledge of the Norwegian scene – its’ roots in the northern outpost of Tromso, the importance of his old pal Bjorn Torske (referred to in the resultant IDJ cover feature as “The Codfather”) to the “Bergen wave”, and the role that Paul “Strangefruit” Nyhus played in championing Norwegian dance music in his weekly show on NRK Radio, Norway’s equivalent to BBC Radio.
Fast forward to early 2016, and I’m sat in a borrowed flat in Clerkenwell, recounting tales of my trip to Norway to Ben Davis, Pete Jenkinson and their cinematographer, Terje Rafaelson. Excerpts from that interview can be seen in the finished version of Northern Disco Lights. And, yes, I got to talk about ‘Scandolearic’.
If you’ve not seen Northern Disco Lights, it does an excellent job in capturing the essence and eccentricity of Norway’s dance music scene. Across the course of 76 minutes, it moves from the pioneering 1980s exploits of a group of friends in Tromso, to the modern-day success of artists such as Todd Terje, Lindstrom and Prins Thomas. Along the way, you’ll discover how the original pioneers traveled to other parts of the country – Bergen and Oslo, in particular – and were hugely influential in inspiring successive generations to develop their own take on the developing Norwegian sound (which Nyhus amusingly calls ‘one-legged disco’ in the film).
The Bristol screening of ‘Northern Disco Lights’, which is being put on by the team behind the superb Simple Things festival, is now all but sold out. Happily, the film is due to be released digitally later in the spring.
In the meantime, if you need a fix of Norwegian music, or you’re simply curious, I’ve recorded a mix entitled ‘Dans Som Om Du Mener Det’ (that’s ‘dance like you mean it’ in Norwegian, with the translation provided by Mr Martinsen himself) which was inspired in part by Northern Disco Lights, but also my own long-held love of the producers, DJs and music of Norway. It was recorded to promote the best before: party next week, which is a kind of unofficial after-party for the film screening.
It was a lot of fun to do, though it did require a lot of digging through the collection to find a blend that would best represent the Norwegian sound. The densely layered percussion, space echo and dub basslines are all there, alongside the distinctive disco influences, the nods to dreamy old Italian deep house, the looseness of krautrock, the freshly baked weirdness of left-of-centre rock, amd the arpeggio-heavy throb of European – and particularly Italian – disco-pop of the 1980s. I also threw in some decidedly eccentric cuts, because if there’s one word I’d use to describe Norwegian dance music, it’s “quirky”.
For the record, everything on the mix has been written, produced, remixed or re-edited by a Norwegian artist. The oldest track dates from the early 1990s, with the most recent appearing just last year. You’ll find a full track list below the embedded Soundcloud player.
You can find more info about the best before event on Facebook.
Best before: presents DANS SOM OM DU MENER DET
A NORWEGIAN DANCE MUSIC TRIBUTE MIX BY MATT ANNISS
- Those Norwegians – Slafsedupesslurskoilta
- DJ Fett Burger – Burger Trip
- Meanderthals – Andromeda [Idjut Boys Remix]
- Bjorn Torke – Flugelkongen [Rhythm Track Version]
- Tangoterje – Diamonds Dub
- Prins Thomas – Bobletekno [DJ Sotofett’s 411-Disco-Dub]
- Prins Thomas – Goettsching [Blackbelt Andersen Remix]
- Magnus International – No Release
- Pizzy Yelliot – Could You Be Loved? [Mungolian Jet Set’s 303 Acid Mix – Matt Anniss Mungs Gone West Edit]
- Lindstrom – Vos-Sako-RV [Magnus International Remix]
- Tough Alliance – A New Chance [Mungolian Jet Set Remix]
- Skatebard – Skatebard Loves You
- Telephones – Blaff Rhythm Tool
- Dj Sotofett – Tribute To Sore Fingers
- Biosphere – Baby Satellite
- Mental Overdrive – Ritual [JD Twitch Remix]
- Hunee – Cross Roads [Fett Burger Remix]
- Jackmaster Dahle – Maks Krall
- Those Norwegians – Krakao
- Annie – The Greatest Dub [Matt Anniss Re-Dub]
- Bjorn Torske – Langkt Fra Arfrika [Todd Terje Remix]
- The Gene Dudley Group – Inspector Norse [Bedmo Disco Re-Edit]