(By our Norwegian correspondent Jan Ronald Stange) The crowd funding project ‘Norske albumklassikere på CD’ (‘Norwegian Album Classics on CD’) is a series of CDs whose purpose is reissuing music that either never has been released on CD or is hardly available on CD anymore. The project is enjoying a success beyond all expectations these days. The concept is this: always having 20 albums in the crowd funding pool, and when an album goal is reached it can be purchased at the main website norskealbumklassikere.no. The public Facebook group for the project, which recently passed 11.000 members, have a constant flow of suggestions and discussions among the members.
There’s also a similar project for LPs in the works, and 20 albums are at the present being decided and published daily until the launch May 9th.
We got more background info from one of the main two founders, Christer Falck, who early on in last year’s mid-March corona lock-down quickly became restless and started the concert streams series ‘Koronerulling‘ the very next week. 83 artists/bands was able to stream their concerts the following year, ended up getting 4.5 mill NOK in well-deserved and much needed donations.
Side-Line: How and when did the idea for ‘Norwegian Album Classics’ surface?
Christer Falck: I was doing some promotional phone calls to the local press when I was releasing the 20 CD-box set by Jahn Teigen, and one of the most enthusiastic journalists in Norway, Erik Munsterhjelm at Tønsberg Blad, asked me if I could release a box set by one of his childhood heroes, The Kids, as well. Since they had only released two albums, I thought the idea of a box set was a bit too ambitious, but then the idea came to me. Releasing all the good records that had only been available on LP and MC – on CD. Not just one record, but a lot of them. I called my 5-6 most nerdy friends, and asked them to make a list of the 50 albums they miss in their CD-collections. My partner John Richard loved the idea, and the funny thing is that the lists that I received were almost identical. I thought “when 6 people, so different from each other manages to make almost equal lists, it has to be a market out there”.
This, combined with my fetish for crowdfunding, made me do a website with my crowdfunding-partners bidra.no, where 20 records should be on display. Each record should get 30 days to be financed, if 150 people pre-order it, I will produce the record. If we don’t reach goal, they will all get their money back.
One month after the idea came, we started. Now we have made 90 albums in 100 days.
S-L: How successful do you consider this to have been so far?
CF: It depends how you measure success. As a cultural experiment, I’d say it’s a huge success. A lot of records that aren’t available on streaming services are now available, remastered and with much better sound quality than ever. A lot of CD-enthusiasts can join our little group on Facebook and suggest their favourite records, and I think we have managed to create a cool platform, where everyone respects each other’s musical taste. If they don’t, we throw them out, so they don’t have a choice ?
Financially, I think I could have found a lot of different jobs that would pay much better off, but at least I have something to do, these Covid-19-times. The alternative was to not arrange festivals, that’s my real job.
S-L: What has surprised you the most so far? Any weird album suggestions, the involvement of members, the process itself, other things?
CF: I know some much more about Norwegian music now than three months ago. I have a short list with 1700 titles on Norwegian albums. From easy listening to hardcore and punk records I’d never heard of before. And everything in the middle. But what I like with the concept, is that since we just need to find 150 buyers, nothing is too weird and strange. A Christian choir-album from the South of Norway or a heavy metal album from Finnmark – 150 people will probably find their way. The job is to expand the target group, so that the next album in the same will have the same opportunity to be financed. And the good part with our group, some of the members are doing the job for us. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I’ve had a lot questions in our forum, and then some of the members have explained and solved all the problems for us. It would be impossible to do all the things that we do now AND do a great customers service too. So far we haven’t got any too weird suggestions, but a guy started a homophobic thread where he “Loved our series, but hated the “pride”-logo on our CD’s”. This was the most read and commented post so far, and 100% of our members made this person probably never post something like that again. I love the self-justice that the group is creating. Usually, when 11-12.000 people are gathered together, at least 1-2 % is fucking up for many of the others. But here, fucking up is very uncool. That’s probably what I’m most happy with.
S-L: As I write this there’s just weeks or days until the 100th album is financed. How do you see the future of this project – is there an end, or does it have the potential to continue indefinitely?
CF: Well, I have 1700 records on my list. And there are still a lot of records being added every day. I’m not going to stop, but this concept will die by itself. It’s impossible to keep up the speed that we’ve have had so far. Both for us, but also for the buyers. Just too expensive. So hopefully, we will end up producing 2.3 records a week. Then my wife and kids will be happy too, ‘cause this takes all of my time. But it’s all a huge labour of love, so I hope it will last many more months.
SL: How is the interest outside of Norway for this project – are there many foreigners among the customers?
CF: We see that some of the genres are more popular outside Norway than others. Jazz, prog and Norwegian west coast music, has a huge standing abroad. One of the most selling records so far is Moose Loose – a jazz/fusion/prog band who hardly sold records at their peak. My goal is to sell more of their records in 2021 than they did in the 70’s.
Another major contributor on this project is Arvid Skancke-Knutsen; music journalist, author, musician and quiz master, who have contributed with lot’s of input and suggestions, but also liner notes on the CD releases. I thought it would be interesting to get an historical view on projects like these, and who better than to get from than a Historical Consultant at Rockheim, Norway’s National Museum of Popular Music?
S-L: In all your years in the music industry and press, have you ever seen a project accomplishing so much in such a short time?
Arvid Skancke-Knutsen: No, this is pretty amazing, and I am very proud to be a part of it. We have now realized 90 albums in just 100 days – with very few signs of the project slowing down. What we have achieved is certainly a Norwegian and Scandinavian record. There might have been other projects similar to this, somewhere in the world, but I cannot think of any offhand. A commercial music series like Absolute Music ended up with a total of 64 record releases, but that took them 23 years. We have done this in mere three months – at a point in history where CD sales are plummeting.
The success of our series is basically down to just a few factors, I think. Firstly, the genuine enthusiasm of Christer Falck and John Richard Stenberg, the two founders of the project. Their enthusiasm spilled over to Norwegian record companies and artists. And especially to our 11, 000 members on Facebook, who have been very supportive all the way. The rest is about hard work, and making sure that the quality is as good as it gets.
S-L: How will this and similar projects “born” in the year(s) of corona influence music industry in the future?
ASK: Good question! I think that online concerts might have a future, even beyond the pandemic. It’s all about good logistics and excellent production values. If those elements are present, fans of bands and music genres will be willing to pay for it.
The corona situation has been a terrible worldwide event, but we still might be able to take away some creative solutions from it. I wrote a book, dealing with the pandemic in Norway, and its impact on the Norwegian music scene. And what struck me more than anything else was the amount of creativity going on.
S-L: What your best moments/highlight of this project?
ASK: The sheer amount of records that we have brought into existence in a very short time, while maintaining high production values. And the fact that the series is not just limited to one musical style, or merely the most popular artists. It’s really a history ride through Norwegian music, covering all sort of styles, fashions and creativity over a span of sixty years. Another personal highlight is the fact that I pick a cult classic every month or so, showcasing some of the strangest music ever recorded in Scandinavia.
Check out Arvid’s book ‘Da musikken stilnet’ – loads of pictures from corona restricted concerts (by Per Ole Hagen), and essays from musicians and others in the music business influenced by the lock-downs.
We also reached out to one of the projects most eager members and an oracle of Norwegian synth/electronic music/post punk ++: Per Aksel Lundgreen (Apoptygma Berzerk, Cronos Titan, Angst Pop, Chinese Detectives, Technomancer, Rossetti’s Compass and Shatoo) for tips about what foreigners should look for in this crowd funding project.
S-L: As one of the most active members of the Facebook group for this project, you have both suggested a lot of candidates for the crowd funding, and also shared and posted about your favorites in various groups all over. Which albums do you think Side-Line readers should consider getting their hands on?
Per Aksel Lundgreen: Yes, I’m a CD-man myself, having collected CD’s since I got my first CD-player from my aunt at my birthday in 1986, so when Christer Falck mentioned starting this project, I immediately contacted him and said that I would do my best to help out with promotion and pushing this project. Since this project also was started in the middle of the corona pandemic, it meant that I, and everybody else, had a lot of extra time on their hands, and so the ‘Norske Albumklassikere På CD’ has become a very welcome “distraction” and something that’s brought a lot of joy in a time that has been difficult for a lot of people, especially in the music business.
Anyhow, here’s some suggestions from my side, all depending on what your musical preferences are, but there’s some really great post-punk/new-wave/experimental/electronic/alternative stuff that has made it through here and that is already financed. (links in the titles)
Munch – ‘Excessive Mobility’: An amazing Norwegian classic that really deserved a CD release. They’re kinda the “Norwegian Einstürzende Neubauten” if you will, and if you like stuff like Shock Therapy, Polyphonic Size and Ledernacken, this album is definitively something for you. Most albums in this series are printed in 500 copies, but Munch insisted on only doing 300 copies, so this will be a collectors item very quickly too! 🙂
Garden Of Delight – ‘Big Wheels In Emotion’: Norway’s first real goth album, self-released in 1987 on vinyl only. They also did two great 7″ singles back in 1984 that never made it to the album, but the album itself is well worth checking out. Goth with female vocals and a touch of tuba, you’ve never heard that before, but you’ll love it!
Babij Jar – ‘Stalingrad’ and ‘The Night Before’: Two of Norway’s best hidden gems in the new-wave/post-punk genre. Went completely under the radar for people outside Norway, but had they had decent promotion and distribution back then, they could’ve made it really big.
Helge Gaarder – ‘Eine Keine Angst Musik’: Something as rare as a Norwegian art-rock/experimental/electronic album. Impossible to describe, must be experienced. The original LP will set you back at least EUR 120 and you find none of the music on YouTube or digital distribution. Very happy that this finally gets a CD release and the credit it deserves. Too bad Helge Gaarder died 17 years ago, so he never got to see this album being included in this classics series.
Plann – ‘Elektra Elektra’: One of very few minimal-wave albums from Norway, and a great one too! Quirky songs, haunting vocals, amazing synth sounds. Several songs can be found on YouTube if you want to check it out. Listen to “Cadillac”, “Sug”, “Ato Signal” and “Cherokee” which also was the single from the album. The original LP will set you back some EUR 140, so unless you’re a rich vinyl freak, I suggest you get the CD to enjoy this rarity.
Boastein – ‘Urgata Hurgata’: A Norwegian new-wave/kraut-rock inspired album, with repetitive drumming, charming synth sounds and a very nice all over feel to it. Check out the songs “Helium”, “Seismisk Kollaps”, and “Khomeini’s Visjon” on YouTube.
Ole I’Dole – ‘Blond Og Billig’: This album has become kind of an underground hit outside of Norway in the minimal-wave community because of the track “Space, Action, Sex & Blod”, which is pure synth heaven. The rest of the album is a bit more pop oriented, but the tracks “Framtidsskrekk” and “S.O.S.” are also really great tracks. Recommended listening indeed!
Creation – ‘The Real Thing’: two of the guys from Drama, making very soft synthpop in the style of Shatoo and a-ha, but with a couple of really nice tracks on there, and especially the track “Don’t Do It”. If you’re into Norwegian/Scandinavian (synth)pop this will hit home with you for sure.
Blind Date – ‘Don’t Talk’: Probably the closest you get to a Norwegian version of Psychedelic Furs, and this is a beautiful new-wave album with some really strong material on it! Check out the title track, “Don’t Talk” on YouTube, and if that is to your taste, then don’t hesitate to invest in this album!
There’s more goodies here of course, but the 10 albums above are my priority suggestions right now.
Also, currently there’s some other really great stuff still being crowdfunded:
Famlende Forsøk – ‘En Overraskende Måte Hvorpå Man Kan Kaste En Person Over Ende’: Norway’s equivalent to Throbbing Gristle, and their quirky synths, great programming and musical skills, mixed with dada elements and dadaistic lyrics/vocals, makes this super interesting. The full album can be enjoyed on streaming services, but really deserves a CD release. One of Norways most original and groundbreaking bands through all times!
PVC – ‘Emile Berliner’: A superb post-punk band that released two albums in the early 80’s. Bitten Forsudd later went on to join/fund Garden Of Delight mentioned above, and Eivind Rølles went on to form one of Norways most known pop duos, The Monroes. If you’re into Joy Division and The Residents, then this is music for you!
Chrissy – ‘Chrissy’: Her single “Mark My Words” sold over 500.000 copies in Scandinavia and Germany combined, and is one of the best selling singles in Norway in all times, way up there with a-ha and Röyksopp. The music is a fantastic new-wave/power-pop combo with snappy synth lines on there too! Find the track ‘Mark My Words’ on YouTube to get an idea. This is the album that I’m currently most excited about getting fully funded!
S-L: I guess you have a long wish list of albums not yet funded or suggested – wanna share? 😉
PAL: Yes, absolutely, and one of the first posts I made in the Facebook group, was an invitation to have everybody post their Top 5 Want List of albums they wanted on CD, and so far, I’ve gotten one of these 5 realized, and that was Munch – “Excessive Mobility”.
The rest of my Top 5 looks like this:
– Holy Toy – ‘Pakt Of Fact’ (Their best album in my opinion!)
– E-Man – ‘E-Man’ (Pre-Biosphere project from Geir Jenssen – great minimal-wave)
– Susanne Sundfør – ‘A Night At Salle Pleyel’ (Beautiful electronica!)
– Ultra Sheriff – ‘Galactic Frame’ (Norway’s first ever synthwave album, only released digitally!)
Other Norwegian albums that I feel definitively belong in this series and that I know is on the list is:
– Thorbjørn Grønning – ‘Galskapens Teater’ (Amazing minimal-wave self-released album)
– Göbbels A-Go-Go – ‘Våre Problemer Er Rent Musikalske’ (Superb electronic/new-wave)
– Ultra Sheriff – ‘Deception, Oil And Laser Beams’ (Another amazing synthwave album from them!)
– Det Elektriske Kjøkken – ‘Elefantene Er Kommet’ (Superb electronic/new-wave album)
– Bearburger – ‘The Bearburger’ (Great electronic/experimental album!)
– A Place To Pray – ‘Disciplina Arcana’ (Amazing goth/electronic album!)
– PLX 15 – ‘Kort Prosess’ and ‘PLX 15’ (Two great experimental electronic albums!)
– Axis – ‘Axis’ (Superb Norwegian new-wave mini album!)
… and finally, maybe one of the most important ones, because of the extremely high quality of the album, and this should absolutely be more known outside of Norway:
– Lily & The Gigolos – ‘Secrets’: An album that sounds like a Norwegian Siouxsie & The Banshees, with super strong song material, great production and great artwork. Check out the track “Listen To The Radio”, “Russia” or “I’m Just A Child” on YouTube, and you’ll know what I mean.
The project in itself has now released 88 albums in 99 days through crowdfunding, and is the most successful and longest spanning series in Norwegian record industry history, which in itself is a great feat! ALL countries should have a project like this! Just think about Sweden, a country which haven’t even released the albums like NASA – ‘Power Of The Century’, or most albums by Secret Service and Freestyle on CD at all! I really hope that this Norwegian project will inspire others to do the same in their countries, because there’s so much music history out there, and if we want to keep it for later generations, it has to be done NOW, or it will never be done. The younger generation consumes music digitally, so it is up to us to get these master tapes digitized and onto a physical medium like a CD, so that they also can be used as masters for digital distribution later on. That’s not the first priority, but what label wouldn’t jump at the chance of getting paid for a physical license and also get a remaster they can use for digital distribution/streaming? This also means that a lot of these artists WON’T be forgotten, and that their music will live on to be discovered by others.
Also, a lot of people in the Facebook group for ‘Norske Albumklassikere På CD’ constantly discover new “old” acts/releases, and this is half the fun of being part of this. I mean, I started working in a record shop in the summer of 1985, and I’ve worked in the music business in one way or the other since then, as a DJ, on radio stations, playing in bands, fixing record fairs, selling stuff via mail-order, working at record companies, writing for music magazines etc etc. so I try to contribute the best I can, but even I discover new and exciting things through this project.
Nobody knows everything, and that’s one of the great charms of music, that you can discover a band from the 80’s you’ve never heard of that you totally love!
Join the Facebook group for CDs: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norskealbumklassikere and/or LPs: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norskealbumklassikerelp
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