Mercurial would be the word to describe Norway’s most gleaming new musical export: 120 Days’ crystalline-cold electro rock is interwoven with twists of temperament and a volatile heart. The sweeping, inorganic planes of their music x-ray the listener like a rain of aural atoms, but the dark beats and the desperate, all-to-human voice grab their hold, and the music induces a kind of planetary trance.
We had a talk with front man Ådne Meisfjord in advance of their much anticipated return to by:Larm.
“In retrospect last year’s concert has been singled out as the decisive event for us”, says Ådne, “but the truth is that one show never makes that kind of difference, at least that’s our experience. That being said the concert last year was quite out of the ordinary, because it was not part of the official program –as far as I remember it was more like an unofficial festival after party- and that meant that everyone had lowered their guard; the journalists and industry people weren’t there to judge us and come up with something smart to say, but just to party and lose themselves to the music. With that kind of atmosphere the show became a great party and lots of important people saw us for the first time in a perfect setting. The talk that ensued, and the general media exposure at by.Larm, was of course very important.
This year the event has moved south to Trondheim, a lot closer to 120 Days’ hometown of Kristiansund which sits about 200 kilometres further down the coast.
“We are really looking forward to this year’s by:Larm because we have such great experiences from playing in Trondheim. We’ve played at Blæst several times –a perfect venue- and other places too, I just can’t remember which. There’s been so much going on lately that I really can’t keep everything apart, but Trondheim really stands out as a great place to play; good venues and really vibrant people.”
120 Days will be touring Norway until the end of February. After that they go back to America, where they played around twenty shows in November. The American tour, organized by their label Vice Records, will take them zigzagging across North America for a whole month. And then all of April is consumed by a fairly extensive European excursion.
“The next few months are completely packed” says Ådne, “until May we have no time off at all. We’re getting used to that now, and it’s how it’s supposed to be, but it means that we have no time to work on new material.
Back in October, when we spoke to the band during the Iceland Airwaves festival, the message was that work on a new record was well underway and that they knew pretty much what the new album would sound like: less dense, with more air and room.
“Well, that was then!” exclaims the singer and keyboard/guitar player, “conceptions change you know. And it’s very important to realize that working on a new album is just as much a mental process as it is one of actually playing and experimenting. This means that everything is in constant development even if we’re not working “physically” with the music. The next album is still very much undecided, also sound-wise. But we are listening to a lot of Disco and House these days; music with a lot of air in it, so I guess we might assume that the next record will be more transparent. But really, who knows? We haven’t decided anything, not on the music, not where, when or with whom.”
Awards and Jaguars
120 Days’ eponymous debut album has been met with landslide acclaim, not just in Norway, where it was voted international album of the year 2006, but also in America, home to their label Vice Records. Leading media, from the New York Times to Pitchfork, have embraced the band and they are repeatedly presented as one of the most cutting-edge and zeitgeisty acts around. Back home they recently picked up two Norwegian Grammy (equivalent) awards.
Beforehand Ådne related that: “We are really pretty exited about the nominations, and honoured, because even if we’ve had an overwhelming response, our first ever reward was the one we got just a couple of weeks ago. Needless to say awards aren’t something we consciously aim for; it is, however, something you appreciate when you’ve been working in our own mode, feet on the ground, expressing something personally important.
But the most telling sign of 120 Days’ zeitgeistiness is carmaker Jaguar’s use of their song “Come out, come down, fade out, be gone” in the launch of the brand’s new and revolutionary C-XF model. “The future is now”, reads the slogan, and that’s exactly what 120 Days’ music relates.
“It’s so funny”, says Ådne, “it used to be the big sell-out to let some product or brand use your music, but now the response is the opposite: people think it’s really cool and proof that what we’re doing is cutting-edge stuff. But of course, it’s not exactly Pampers Baby Dry that we’re promoting…”
-First drew attention in 2004, under the name Beautiful People
-Two EPs, performances at by:Larm in 2004 and 2005
-After a short stint as Sex Beat they changed name to 120 days
-Legendary show at by:Larm 2006
-Released eponymous debut album last fall to unprecedented critical acclaim
-Signed to Vice Records of NYC
Thursday 02.08, 23.30
Dora: U-02 K19