Desember 18, 2010

This Year's Christmas Song

christmas postmas.jpg

Hanging from my Ikea CD towers is the latest Christmas CD from the Micronomicon label, Christmas Postmas, which features a certain Xmas recording I had a hand in: Dr Sno and the Santamangas - 'Tomorrow Never Knew What Yesterday Will Be' (aka 'From Christmas With Love'). We present the mp3 here on as an Xmas gift to YOU, in case you intend to waste the holiday season on the sofa watching James Bond flicks.


Posted by barry at 10:55 EM

Mai 26, 2010

Talking with the Center of the Universe about Poetry

cou 14 may 2010.jpg

Here's the story. Back in May 2008, I publicized a DJ set that a friend an I were doing with the text below. The event took place on 16 May, the night before Norway's national holiday, and the text was presented as 16 reasons why you should spend the night at our event:

Continue reading "Talking with the Center of the Universe about Poetry"

Posted by barry at 9:09 EM

Februar 23, 2009

All Places, Infinite Time


Hi - I have a personal message for North readers at the end of this blog entry. But first read about my latest exploits:

This year at the non-corporate Oslo music festival By;Alarm (which occurs at exactly the same time as the more commercial music festival By:Larm), Dacianos played at Mir, but the band was reduced to... well, just me.

'The rest of the band are in jail,' I announced at the start of the show. I had seen some guy on stage say this years ago, can't remember who, but it's a good way to start.

Continue reading "All Places, Infinite Time"

Posted by barry at 12:08 FM

November 25, 2008

We Celebrated No Music Day

No music day PLAKAT Flat.jpg

Yes, No Music Day came around on 21 November (this past weekend) and we put on an event to honour it. The brainchild of KLF/K-Foundation musician/artist Bill Drummond, ours was one of a number of No Music events worldwide, as listed on and, the main event being in Brazil this year.

What's No Music Day?

Continue reading "We Celebrated No Music Day"

Posted by barry at 12:29 FM

November 1, 2008

Stayin' Alive with Masselys in Berlin


Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin'!

I was in Berlin for a whirlwind overdrive week in late October with the Norwegian band Masselys. This is the band Bjarne, Jomba and Kjell-Olav formed earlier this year when Salvatore split up. The band also consists of Jonas (from 120 Days) and a singer called P.A. with no previous records. I was with them to play on the album they were recording with German producer Boris Wilsdorf, who famously records and mixes Einstürzende Neubauten. andereBaustelle Tonstudio was a studio with a difference, as you can see from the metal hanging behind the drumkit. During the week I also got to see much more of Berlin, so I've revised my opinion of the city from last time. Come join me on this musical travelogue...

Continue reading "Stayin' Alive with Masselys in Berlin"

Posted by barry at 8:21 EM

Oktober 8, 2008

Dacianos in Skien

(click for closeup)

On 4 October I took my third trip this year to Skien with the Sound of Mu collective... This time it was the "finisage" of the summer-long Tempo Skien art festival. We converted an extremely commercial-looking venue into a more appealing "cabaret" with fake trees. Two of our bands played: Jae and Dacianos.

Continue reading "Dacianos in Skien"

Posted by barry at 1:18 EM

September 25, 2008

Blather North Podcast #2: Nødhavn


The scenario: Blather North's roving and raving reporter, Barry Kavanagh, attends a party at Mir in Oslo for the radio show SuperSoniskSommer on the station RadiOrakel (see poster) and gets backstage to interview Tollef Berger of the legendary musical duo Tøyen, who are playing at the event. This is a reunion concert for the once-famous band. The interview, in which Barry wields his trusty 'list of topics to talk about', is followed with some Tøyen music, courtesy of their former record company.

Mp3 21 min 59 secs.

Recorded by Barry Kavanagh and edited by John Birger Wormdahl.
(Next week: artist Trond Arne Vangen and the Norwegian drinking culture!)

Update August 2009: owing to the unfortunate proliferation of spiders in the Blather Dream Dome, this podcast is no longer available.

Update July 2011: owing to there never having been any spiders in the Blather Dream Dome, this podcast is available once more.

Posted by barry at 1:45 FM

September 21, 2008

Is there a 'Norwegian sound'?


One of the things this blog has been is an introduction to Norwegian music for the unwary. But is there anything identifiable as Norwegian music? Is there a 'Norwegian sound'?

(Obviously when it comes to folk music, like Nils Økland and Unni Løvlid, it's very easy to attach the label 'Norwegian music', but folk music is not what I'm writing about here).

Five years ago when asked if there was a definable Norwegian sound I would have said 'yes'. The true answer is 'yes and no'. I would say I was right about what I said 'yes' about, but probably wrong in general. I hope you follow. Let me pour a large cup of coffee and explain.

No, wait, make that a small cup. I don't want to be up all night.

Continue reading "Is there a 'Norwegian sound'?"

Posted by barry at 10:38 EM

August 10, 2008


Oslo's massive outdoor summer music festival is called Øya, but the first night of the festival takes place indoors in all the clubs in town, and is called Klubbøya. This year my band Dacianos played Klubbøya.

Continue reading "Klubbøya"

Posted by barry at 8:14 EM

Juni 20, 2008

Musikkfest Oslo and Other Adventures (with poetic licence)



One June night, a tram-track threw me from my bicycle

A guitar-playing hand reduced to impotent rage!

Determined to play the 7th, Oslo's festival

In time the hand moved - yes! - Dacianos took the stage!

Continue reading "Musikkfest Oslo and Other Adventures (with poetic licence)"

Posted by barry at 2:09 FM

April 25, 2008



Memories, music, words, ambiguity and mathematics will all feature in this blog entry. It is the third - and will surely be the last - time I write about the band Hanny. The first time I wrote about how I liked their first album. The second time I was actually in the band (a period that lasted for about six months) and I wrote about that experience. This time I'm writing about the new album, Sceneity, which I played on. I attended the album launch at the Henie Onstad Art Centre on 20 April and it was the first time I'd seen the band play since my departure...

Continue reading "Sceneity"

Posted by barry at 11:33 EM

Mars 15, 2008

Mu: Acoustic Laptops, Charles Hayward and Ergocracy

Bored, bored, bored of people making electronic music "on their laptops"? Then welcome to the iFolk, the new generation of acoustic laptops.

Continue reading "Mu: Acoustic Laptops, Charles Hayward and Ergocracy"

Posted by barry at 4:05 EM

Mars 1, 2008

Supporting American Music Club

On Friday 29 February my band Dacianos supported American Music Club at the venue called John Dee (yeah it's really called that) in Oslo. Here is a treasure of memories of the event.

Continue reading "Supporting American Music Club"

Posted by barry at 11:11 EM

Februar 24, 2008


Here you can see Origami Arktika smashing up Sound of Mu.

Continue reading "By;alarm"

Posted by barry at 11:58 EM

September 12, 2007

Playing in Someone Else's Band


Pictured: Marie and Ida (cello) at the soundcheck at Dattera til Hagen.

Recently I've been playing in someone else's band other than my own. The band is Hanny.

Continue reading "Playing in Someone Else's Band"

Posted by barry at 6:08 EM

Mai 6, 2007

Unni Løvlid


It was a rainy Sunday evening in may. A friend and I took the train deep into the Oslo suburbs (well, Slemdal) to hear folk singer Unni Løvlid sing at Emanuel Vigeland's mausoleum.

Continue reading "Unni Løvlid"

Posted by barry at 9:11 EM

April 29, 2007

I Was A Chinese Free Improviser (again)


Well, this time there was only one Chinese musician: Li Tie Qiao. The other two were Norwegians, Kai Mikalsen and Bjarne Larsen. The four of us performed together this week. The music was nothing like the noise of the last time.

Continue reading "I Was A Chinese Free Improviser (again)"

Posted by barry at 12:36 EM

Mars 30, 2007

From the Bosom of Mother Hackney

This week I introduced yet another band to the Norwegian public. Morning Bride are an American/British 5-piece based in Hackney, East London (where I used to live). They even sing a song about it, "Mother Hackney". As usual, I arranged for all band members to stay in the building, in the apartments above Sound of Mu, for that "communal experience" or whatever you'd like to call it.

Continue reading "From the Bosom of Mother Hackney"

Posted by barry at 5:46 EM

Mars 20, 2007

Nils Økland live at Sound of Mu


I always hoped this would happen! Nils Økland, hardingfiddle player, came to our little place and played a concert to an enraptured audience! Here are the picures.

Continue reading "Nils Økland live at Sound of Mu"

Posted by barry at 9:10 EM

Mars 14, 2007

Good Norwegian Music! (part 4)


Continue reading "Good Norwegian Music! (part 4)"

Posted by barry at 4:25 EM

Mars 7, 2007

Good Norwegian Music! (part 3)

More recommended Norwegian music from the 2000s! As I stated in part 1, Norway may have its fair share of unoriginal pop/rock blandness, but there is much to be said for the new and original music being made here. At the time, I mentioned "Anglo-American cultural imperialism" and I'd like to qualify what I mean by that. I do not criticize Norwegians for singing in English, or for having English-language titles to their instrumental music. This is the only way to gain an international audience, and anyway I believe strongly in cross-pollination of cultures. And I like it. There's nothing more tedious than narrow nationalism. I suppose what annoys me is when smaller nations feel they have to copy the most shallow clichés of the English-speaking world, out of some kind of twisted inferiority complex. The musicians I applaud in this blog elevate the forms of music in which they operate, and are in a great sense international.

Here's a very good example of how much fun multi-cultural juxtapositions can be. The Norwegian band called Now We've Got Members.


Continue reading "Good Norwegian Music! (part 3)"

Posted by barry at 4:25 EM

Februar 25, 2007

Good Norwegian Music! (part 2)

Two more selections from Norway's recent past, emphasising original and special music.

Continue reading "Good Norwegian Music! (part 2)"

Posted by barry at 10:10 EM

Februar 18, 2007

Good Norwegian Music! (part 1)


For those of you who still think of Norway as a cultural and musical backwater with nothing to offer, I'm going to devote some blogspace to good Norwegian music, what it is and why it's good. To some extent Norway does conform to the eurotrash stereotype (cliché-ridden rock, or inane pop) but there's no need to give in to Anglo-American cultural imperialism: the most interesting original music in the world today is being made here in Norway. We're 7 years into its best ever musical decade, and I'm going to write about some of the highlights, in all sorts of genres (indie/alternative, folk, jazz etc.).

Continue reading "Good Norwegian Music! (part 1)"

Posted by barry at 7:03 EM

Februar 11, 2007

Årets Norgesvenn

byalarm3.jpgSorry I have not been writing recently. I've had too much work-stress, illness and even a tinge of Nesodden syndrome with which to deal. Why all the stress? Surely the result of becoming allegedly more important and significant in the land known as Norway! So important in fact that I have just won an award for my vague efforts: Årets Norgesvenn, "the year's norgesvenn" for 2006. This, according to the suave radio presenter who handed me the award at Indigo last night, is for my services to Oslo's underground music scene with my work at Sound of Mu and with my musical project Dacianos.

Continue reading "Årets Norgesvenn"

Posted by barry at 5:05 EM

Desember 10, 2006


In what I hope is one of the last anecdotes from the bar at Sound of Mu...

One of the strangest phenomena in Norway of the twenty-first century is the perpetuation of pop cultural myths from the distant past among creatures who I find it hard to believe are actually for real. Two of these came my way the other night. Both dressed in black, one of these young men had a pudding bowl haircut and sported a (to be quite honest questionably genuine) black moustache, and was singing the Who's "My Generation" over and over to himself. That song came out in 1965: surely it was his grandparents' generation that was being sung about?

Continue reading "1965"

Posted by barry at 3:57 FM

Desember 3, 2006

The Map of NoLand

Recently I brought the Irish band NoLand Folk over to Oslo to perform two shows. Their influences are supposedly, "Last night's session, green tea, a hallucination from 1911, jazz, folk," and "a dog's snoring." How could I not book them?

Continue reading "The Map of NoLand"

Posted by barry at 5:39 EM

November 9, 2006

I Was A Chinese Free Improviser

Back on 7 June 2006, Yan Jun visited Sound of Mu here in Oslo and I had the experience of playing improv with him and others at a concert. Who's he? Well, his self-description goes like this: "Yan Jun, sound artist and improviser. Well known as music critic, poet and organizer in Chinas indie music and sub-culture scene for years. Born in Lanzhou in 1973. BA in Chinese Language & Literature. Now lives and works in Beijing. Founder of Sub Jam and KwanYin labels. Founder of Tie Guan Yin (free-form electro-acoustic improvised project). Runs the Waterland Kwanyin weekly event for experimental/improvised music and sound art." You can download an mp3 recording of the show here at (128kbps, 25MB). It's a cross between free jazz and noise - not something I would normally play but it was a special occasion. Details:

Continue reading "I Was A Chinese Free Improviser"

Posted by barry at 9:37 FM

September 18, 2006

Our Band from Dublin

kevin%20and%20bryan.jpgSorry if I'm a day late with this blog! Yesterday I was still deeply occupied in organizing Oslo concerts for the very original Irish alternative pop/rock act Si Schroeder. Although Si is one man, he plays with a band, and here you can see his companions in sound, Kevin the keyboard player and Bryan the flame-haired drummer, having breakfast in my yard like the merry men they are.

Continue reading "Our Band from Dublin"

Posted by barry at 7:03 EM

September 10, 2006

Our Band from Beirut

christine%20jassem.jpgFollowing the successful live performance I did last week, the days just seemed so empty and purposeless, so I signed up for more Mu duty. Luckily, this week at Mu we put on a very special little concert, and had some very interesting guests staying in our building: we were visited by the Middle East's ONLY improvised/experimental band, the Moukhtabar Ensemble, from Beirut. This was booked before the war broke out, and we had no idea whether it would take place or whether the band would get blown up or what would happen.

To say that they're "from Beirut" is a little inexact, as at least three of the seven musicians live in Paris. Be that as it may, at least one of those chose to spend the duration of the recent war living in Beirut, so this seems to be a close-knit group, very happy to be united.

The ensemble are: Mazen Kerbaj (trumpet, biscuit tin), Béchir Saadé (clarinets, flutes), Christine Sehnaoui (alto sax) (pictured), Sharif Sehnaoui (guitar), Charbel Haber (guitar), Jassem Hindi (electronics) (pictured) and Raed Yassin (double-bass). They were joined for their two Oslo shows by Sweden's David Stackenäs (guitars).

Continue reading "Our Band from Beirut"

Posted by barry at 1:31 EM

September 3, 2006


Dacianos%20setup7.jpgHere's a picture of a drumkit. It's downstairs in the bar and is part of the Dacianos setup for tonight. I'm upstairs in my apartment, "backstage" if you like. In just over an hour I will be doing the first Dacianos live show in 9 months, the first show as a 3-piece with Marius Kolbenstvedt and Håkon Larsen, and the first time playing in my own bar - a "living room concert", in a way.

Continue reading "Backstage"

Posted by barry at 6:56 EM

August 20, 2006

When West Goes North (Part 2)

_MG_2274_viking_110.jpgThis week's entry is also written by's editor Dave, as a followup to last week's. Where is Barry?

I'm jolted awake by a roaring in my head. I desperately try to take in my surroundings. I appear to be on a passenger aircraft. None of the other passengers look alarmed. I try to act inconspicuous, then realise I'm wearing headphones, and follow the cable into the seat pocket in front of me. I find my Ipod inside. The noise in my head is the intro to Understraum, from the album Straum by Norwegian fiddle player Nils Økland. I must be on the return flight from Norway. I had my Ipod on shuffle, so it's just coincidence - or synchronicity - that I'm woken up by a Norwegian musician.

Continue reading "When West Goes North (Part 2)"

Posted by daev at 11:40 EM

August 14, 2006

When West Goes North

_MG_2241_vigeland.jpgThis week's entry is written by's editor Dave

I’m sitting in the waiting area of Dublin airport's Pier C, waiting to board a flight to Oslo. It's a busy Friday afternoon - across the water, in Heathrow and other UK airports, chaos reigns, thanks to the arrests of suspect bombers.

I'm people watching. Today's game is figuring out who at Gate C44 is Irish, who is Norwegian, and who is neither. Some travellers are obvious Scandinavians - tanned, blonde hair, tall. I mark a few Irish people off my list, smug in my pigeonholing. As I join the queue for the flight, I realise I've got it wrong - overhearing some people talking I realise that some of my borderline Nordics are actually Irish, and vice versa. The vikings, after all, did make themselves comfortable in Ireland.

Continue reading "When West Goes North"

Posted by barry at 2:49 EM

April 23, 2006

Wizhiwig (at least to my ears)

setupIt all began on Thursday night when I received text messages from the band to say that despite having been on the same flight, they were coming from Oslo airport on different trains, and that one of them had been kicked out of first class. When they arrived in the city and reconvened, they promptly stole a shopping trolley.

This weekend I was responsible for bringing the Irish band Rollers/Sparkers to Oslo, for two shows: one at Mir with Salvatore and the other at Sound of Mu with the Center of the Universe. I like the idea of independent music scenes from different countries cross-pollinating. Because of my former far-too-many-years on the Dublin music scene, I was able to select/pluck an act from Dublin to come to Oslo and play with local heroes.

Continue reading "Wizhiwig (at least to my ears)"

Posted by barry at 8:17 EM

April 9, 2006


Grieg by VigelandI was walking along Karl Johan the other day at noon, and heard church bells playing "In the Hall of the Mountain King" (I Dovregubbens Hall) by Edvard Grieg (1843-1907). It is not unusual to hear his melodies given such "official" status, as he is to date still Norway's most well-known composer, and he was the prime example of nationalism in music in the late 19th century. Countless other composers followed him in using their national folk melodies as source material in composition.

Continue reading "Grieg"

Posted by barry at 12:00 EM

April 2, 2006

Nils Økland

Bris album cover

Nils Økland is perhaps the most significant folk musician playing in Norway today. His instrument is the traditional Hardanger fiddle but he approaches it in a completely new way. For instance, he uses tunings for the instrument that have never been part of traditional music. He also sometimes mixes folk with jazz, classical and improvised music, and has worked with many musicians outside the folk world. He plays on Christian Wallumrød Ensemble's A Year From Easter, for example, and he will be heard on Salvatore's soon-to-be-released next album.

His sophistication does not interfere with the pure simplicity of the sound, however. All the music is played acoustically, with beautiful natural reverb, always recorded in churches.

Continue reading "Nils Økland"

Posted by barry at 12:33 EM

Oktober 16, 2005



There is no major exposition in this week's entry. I've been in seclusion, practising for the upcoming live music performances I'll be doing in Oslo and Trondheim. I hired out some practise space in the (surely world-famous?) Brugata collective.

Continue reading "Practising"

Posted by barry at 2:37 EM

September 25, 2005


SalvatoreThe story goes that one evening in 1998 some Norwegian musicians were listening to the 1970s German group Neu! and immediately decided to form a new band. This became Salvatore, and they explored Neu!'s greatest invention, the "motorik" or "endlose gerade" drum beat, a 4/4 beat with no fills continuing in a trance-like fashion for an incredibly long time. But this was only the beginning. While their search for euphoric music may have begun with Neu!, they went on to use other kinds of grooves that also have a great sense of affirmation.

Continue reading "Salvatore"

Posted by barry at 9:26 EM

August 21, 2005


Supersilent? More about the Norwegian music scene.

A Norwegian journalist once told me that "the extremes of music thrive in Norway." Now, I don't know whether this is because of the psychology of the culture - a small population, with a kind of introverted nature, living in a uniquely dramatic landscape - but hunched over their instruments as they are, Supersilent is a band that plays at the extremes.

"The ear cries out for melody and rhythm the way the eye cries out for the figurative in painting," a friend said to me at the end of a long Supersilent concert in Oslo's basement-like John Dee venue this week. He meant that Supersilent try to leave the "figurative" behind.

Continue reading "Supersilent"

Posted by barry at 1:13 EM

August 14, 2005

Susanna & the Magical Orchestra

Another thing this blog will cover is contemporary Norwegian music. An esoteric subject, you might think, but it's something I'm very enthusiastic about and I'm very glad that it surrounds me here in Oslo. I'll write about the music I think is uniquely Norwegian, but I intend to describe only about four or five key acts.

I start with Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, who have released one album, List of Lights and Buoys (2004). I've seen them live three times: at a gallery on Hoxton Square in October 2003, at the London Jazz Festival in November 2004, and this week at Parkteatret in Oslo.

Continue reading "Susanna & the Magical Orchestra"

Posted by barry at 2:59 EM

Juli 31, 2005


music room I'm in this week's photo, which was taken by Ian Brunswick.

I had two musical jobs this week. I DJed at a place called Indigo with Leon, a friend from London (newly moved to Oslo). I also gave a half hour performance of my songs at Blindern to International Summer School (ISS) students.

Continue reading "Playing"

Posted by barry at 10:27 EM