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Jazz Festival day 6: Break of Day with Molvær

In line with the new tradition, the jazz festival provided us with a free concert early in the morning on Saturday. Tor and I headed off about half an hour before the rest of my family (we got up at half past five). If you have freakishly good memory, you will notice that that is about the same time we got up last year, when we were all alone, excepting two sleepy (sleeping?) people on the fringes, for ages and vowed we would get up at a more sensible time next time. But last year we used a car to get there (we had reasons), and this time we had bikes. And I haven't used one of these contraptions in about two years.

It turned out our planning was justified, as the slight incline up from the Catholic Church to the park almost killed me. But that is a side point.

The concert is, and always was, an excellent idea. Especially on a day like yesterday (and all the Saturdays of the Jazz Festival have been days much like it during the three years of this tradition). The weather was wonderful, the surroundings were suggestive. But.

I don't mind these morning concerts starting soft. I think we might all have died from the shock of it if Red Baraat (whose cd I fully intend to purchase) had pounced on us this early in the morning. But at least we would have been awake. Molvær's concert did not just start soft, it kept on being soft in such a way that it almost sent me headlong back into dreamland. And I was not the only one.

It improved a little once the two artists began playing with repetition of sound and building towards a cacophony, but then it all drifted off into long, soft trumpet sounds again after not very long at all. I am sure it was meant to echo the atmosphere of the concert arena, but when people are sleepy you don't echo their sleepiness -- that does not a good concert make.

I'll freely admit that my aversion to recorded sound at concerts may not have helped my enjoyment much. I feel quite strongly that if you are going to play us the sounds of a waterfall, you had damned well better play the sounds of a waterfall, not the recording of an actual waterfall. I never claimed my demands were small things -- they are big and hairy and occasionally trample small cities underfoot. Recordings feel inauthentic.

Of course, all this does not contradict the fact that the man knows how to play the trumpet. From what I can tell he is very good at it. And the sound-wall they created at times was anything but unpleasant. Hence the people nodding off. And in all fairness I should note that as I woke up the sounds became gradually more complex (I still do not know whether that was due to me or the musicians). But I doubt I am the only one who feels less than subtle that early in the morning.

For a while I speculated that their goal was a surrealist (I think I'm thinking of the surrealists) way of being in which the state of being awake melds into an undifferentiated dream-state. This line of thought was in part due to the distorted reflection of my face in the bottom of a half empty cup of coffee. And at one point the sound filled my whole head, which is quite impressive outdoors. Once that stopped I did feel like I had woken from something.

A related tradition is the proud and democratic Calcuttagutta one of gathering quotes and thoughts from those nearby. I started with Ingvild, who admitted that

Jeg driftet nok av gårde et par ganger. (I nodded off a couple of times.)

And Are, who instantly jumped to her defence (or possibly his own):

Sol i øynene og soft musikk i ørene. Da må det være lov å drifte et par ganger. (Sun in the eyes and soft music in the ears. [In such conditions] you must be allowed to nod off a couple of times.)

My mother, who adamantly claimed not to have fallen asleep, said that the music was

Så spesielt at det må oppleves her og nå med sola som kommer opp og trærne og fjella og sånt. (So special [read: weird] that it must be experienced here and now with the sun rising and the trees and mountains and suchlike.)

And her Ulf:

Jeg hører med øra, jeg. Kaffen var god. Nå begynner bena å virke igjen. (I listen with my ears. The coffee was good. Now my legs have started working again.)

I think Ulf may also have had the surrealism problem.

Tor, as usual, liked it:

Det var meget fascinerende. Jeg er spesielt nysgjerrig på hva som var på minnepinnen han miksegubben med mac'en kom tilbake med halvveis gjennom konserten. (It was very fascinating. I am particularly curious about what was on the memory stick the mixing guy came back with half-way through the concert.)

As are we all. I cannot remember it making much of a difference to the content.

Ulf (of Calcuttagutta fame) had other problems. When asked to give his views on the concert, he declared he would rather offer his comments on the audience and threatened to show up next year with a bunch of talkative/crying/laughing kids, baying dogs and ex-drunken sellers who talk loudly about how drunk they had been the night before and make sure he takes up all the seats so that people who want to hear the music won't get any. Calcuttagutta would like to officially register their concern that Ulf's plan will probably not help in any way, and air the possibility that Ulf may be beyond some sort of mental breaking point.

Ingvild, who by now had woken up a little since Molvær had stopped with his lulling music, also pointed out that

Jeg er ikke helt på teknologimusikk. Jeg synes særlig det er juks når jeg åpner øynene og er sikker på at han har sittet og spilt og så ser jeg at han bare sitter der med trompeten i hendene. (I am not a great fan of technological music. I particularly feel it is cheating when I open my eyes [the implication being that they have been closed for a while. -Camilla] and am sure he has been playing, and then he just sits there with his trumpet in his hands.)

Bjørghild, when asked, said

Nei. Jeg klarer ikke å tenke ut noe some helst. Jeg gjorde en kjempeinnsats for å få Ulf opp hit. Og så kollapset jeg. (No. I can't think up anything. I did a massive job getting Ulf up here. And then I collapsed).

Calcuttagutta's intrepid thinks Molvær may be to blame.

Tor's mother was happy with the concert:

Jeg så Molvær og hørte ham. Jeg kosa meg. (I saw Molvær and heard him. I had a good time.)

Whereas Matteus' analysis (it should be noted this was given at a café after three? cups of coffee and about an hour of waking up-time) was scathing:

Jeg syntes det var kjedelig. Sola og været var fint. Turen ned fra Nordbyen var fantastisk. Men konserten…. Det minnet meg om slik lydmontasje på museum. Eller små barn: når de finner ut at de kan lage en lyd driver de og prøver seg frem og lager lyden om og om og om igjen. Det er morsomt hvis man er barnet (eller kanskje foreldrene til barnet), men det er ikke så underholdende for alle andre. Men jeg må innrømme at jeg kanskje var litt trøtt. Og det at jeg kom litt sent --- skjønt det at jeg kom et stykke uti og det fortsatt var så rolig…. (I thought it was dull. The sun and the weather was nice. The walk down from Norbyen was fantastic. But the concert …. It reminded me of the type of sound montage you find in museums. Or small children: when they discover they can make a sound, they try it out in various way and make the sound over and over and over again. It is fun if you're the child (or perhaps the parents of the child), but it is not terribly entertaining for everybody else. But I must admit I was tired. And I arrived a little late --- although the fact that I came late and it was still that slow….)

Faced with this description even Tor admitted that it could have been more funky.

The world agrees.


Tor,  25.07.10 21:57

It could have been more funky. I liked it a lot, but I would have liked it even more if it had had a bit more action in the middle. That's part of the reason why I was so curious about the memory stick. About halfway through the concert, the mixing guy got up and disappeared backstage for about five or ten minutes. When he returned, he was carrying a memory stick which he plugged into his Mac. I don't know what it contained, but as Camilla said, it didn't make a big difference.

Also, they should either chop of the top 50 cm of the trees to the east, or they should start the concert half an hour later. That way, the sun would come up earlier in the concert, which is good, especially when the weather is nice, but not very warm, as was the case yesterday.