Best Norwegian Albums of 2016
picked by Ine Julia Rojahn SchwebsJohannes Amble

Geir Sundstøl <BR>“Langen ro”

Geir Sundstøl
“Langen ro”

Guitarist Geir Sundstøl deserves a prize for pushing Norwegian folk music through a transition and make it into something new, relevant and available.

“Langen ro” consists of eight instrumental tracks best characterized as melancholic, dreamy country with melodic and harmonic flow and references to traditional folk music and jazz. The album was recorded over only a few days at St James’s Church in Oslo and is Sundstøl’s second album released on Norwegian experimental label Hubro.

About “Langen ro” Sundstøl said he wanted to make an album of “underwater music” and takes the self-invented genre a step further. If anything should be the 2016 soundtrack of Norwegian nature, it should be Geir Sundstøl’s “Langen ro”.

♪♫ Listen: “Langen ro” + album stream

Geir Sundstøl on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Vilde Tuv <BR>“D’ meg”

Vilde Tuv
“D’ meg”

Imagine a minimalistic and fairly quiet combination of Kate Bush, post-punk and 90s trance. If this isn’t enough to make you frown, add Norwegian lyrics in west country-dialect and a very consistent retro-futuristic and lo-fi image to the equation.

“D’ meg” is Vilde Tuv’s debut album, and with her high-pitch and unpolished yet pleasant voice she sings ten songs about the everyday apocalypse accompanied by shaky guitar playing, static electronic drums and dreamy synths and sound effects.

Except for the language barrier and the difference in genre, the songs has a lot in common with now iconic Swedish rapper Yung Lean’s early work: The ability to capture something raw, dismal and trashy in a truly beautiful and persuasive way.

♪♫ Listen: “Ensom Cowgirl” + album stream (Spotify)

Vilde Tuv on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Gundelach <BR>“Gundelach”


Gundelach’s self-titled album invites the listener into an atmospheric and comfortable experience of a low-key club night.

Gundelach, who is also a DJ, has produced an impeccable example of nordic soul based on laid-back techno beats, trippy synthesizers and faded guitars. Being a part of Oslo’s club scene for many years, Kai Gundelach started to produce his own music in 2009 before releasing his debut EP this year.

On “Fjernsynet” (Norwegian for “television”), a track that got its title after an autocorrect incident, Gundelach sings “I remember falling leaves, empty streets, the pouring rain is a part of me” in his James-Blake-smooth voice and paints a vivid picture while the soundscape amplifies the melancholic atmosphere.

♪♫ Listen: “Fjernsynet” + album stream (Spotify)

Gundelach on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Bendik <BR>“Fortid”


Four-piece electronic pop/rock-group Bendik released their third full-length album “Fortid” in February.

The Oslo-based songwriter and vocalist Silje Halstensen and her band offer ten beautifully forceful songs with heartbreaking lyrics, varied soundscapes and consistently rich productions.

“Fortid”, meaning “Past”, is an album about loss, love, lust and fault. Halstensen’s vocal perfomances are bold and shrill, and fits perfectly into Bendik’s grand musical universe with bright, dense drum grooves, guitars competing with each other and intense use of electronic elements.

♪♫ Listen: “Det er din skyld” + album stream (Bandcamp)

Bendik on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Olefonken <BR>“Til Hanne” EP

“Til Hanne” EP

There is no doubt that Olefonken aka Ole Petter Hergum is a steady technician. In 2014, Hergum was carefully chosen among 6000 participants to attend the Red Bull Academy in Tokyo. This year he released “Til Hanne” (“To Hanne”) under the artist name Olefonken, an EP providing 22 minutes of wonderfully produced neo-disco anno 2016 with references to the 80s and Giorgio Moroder.

Growing up in Botswana, Hergum samples African drums for an exotic touch, not unlike the DJ and producer Todd Terje who secured the Norwegian house scene a solid reputation among international music experts after his “It’s Album Time” dropped in 2014.

Also worth mentioning is the song “Quaaludes” from the EP with the same name. In collaboration with female artist ARY, Olefonken has made a beautiful song, but accompanied it with an even more beautiful music video directed by Thea Hvistendal, produced by Andrea Ottmar and shot by Pål Ulrik Rokseth. The video puts sexuality and the modern family life in a twisted setting and is one of the most thought-provoking music videos produced in Norway this year.

♪♫ Listen: “Fløyel” + album stream (Soundcloud)

Olefonken on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.

The Megaphonic Thrift <BR>“Få meg til verden i tide”

The Megaphonic Thrift
“Få meg til verden i tide”

On their fifth album, “Få meg til verden i tide”, the Bergen-based quartet The Megaphonic Thrift is juggling both musical elements and form with a notable amount of diversity in the most consistent and well-forged way possible.

The songs feature cold and somehow sterile electronic drums, warm and wobbly synthesizers, distant layers of guitars, snappy rock percussion, complex layers of vocals and classic psychedelic sound effects, possibly with a nod towards bands like Tame Impala. Form-wise they are alternating bold, yet smoothly between long build-up instrumental tracks and songs with more traditional structure.

The result undoubtedly provides the illusion of otherworldliness, justifying the album title with clever duality – it can in fact be translated from Norwegian to both “get me back to the world in time” and “get me into the world in time”.

♪♫ Listen: “Hendende” + album stream (Bandcamp)

The Megaphonic Thrift on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Kristoffer Lo <BR>“The Black Meat”

Kristoffer Lo
“The Black Meat”

Recorded nighttime at Ryvingen Lighthouse on the Norwegian southern coast during a roaring December storm, “The Black Meat” is indeed 45 minutes of auditory pitch-blackness. However, a significant amount of brightness is penetrating the blackness throughout the album and makes the entirety extremely beautiful and somehow vulnerable.

“The Black Meat” is Kristoffer Lo’s second solo album, but the tuba-player and multi-musician also plays with Norwegian band Highasakite, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and the jazz trio PELbO. “Front Row Gallows View” is a stunning musical piece based on simple chord progressions where Lo plays flugabone adding various effects, before a tuba casts rumbling vibrations to the soundscape.

♪♫ Listen: “Front Row Gallows View” + album stream (Spotify)

Kristoffer Lo on Soundcloud, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Smerz <BR>“Okey”


Back in March, Smerz told Pigeons and Planes that their song “Because” is about “being in the twenties – feeling a bit confused”. It is not only the feelings of a 20-something-year old the duo portrays with striking punctuality. Building on traditional electronic music, Smerz still manages to appear extremely time current.

With their debut album “Okey”, Henriette Motzfeld and Catharina Stoltenberg have embraced two music genres rarely touched upon among Norwegian musicians: dark house and R&B. Adding floating vocals that melts into each track, you can barely differ the two voices from each other while every track floats into the next one in smooth transitions.

Smerz is a rare, undiscovered gem within the expanding universe of electro-pop. And all hands up for women producers!

♪♫ Listen: “Blessed” + album stream (Spotify)

Smerz on Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram.

Karpe Diem <BR>“Heisann Montebello”

Karpe Diem
“Heisann Montebello”

As one of Norway’s most influential and prominent hip-hop groups, Karpe Diem’s latest album features seven well produced and catchy songs with a strong political message – each accompanied by a music video.

Karpe Diem, consisting of the two rappers Magdi and Chirag as well as the DJ Marius, have made music since the beginning of the 2000s, but somehow still manages to stay remarkably relevant. With “Heisann Montebello” (“heisann” means “hello” and Montebello is an upper-class suburban area in Oslo), Karpe Diem attacks the right-wing government – the first Norwegian right-wing government in 8 years when they won in 2013 – and its politicians for being unjust and contributing to inequality.

“Hvite menn som pusher 50” is a bomb of a song with an analogue sounding and filtered synth where Chirag and Magdi with help from Emilie Nicolas tells the story of growing up among white and wealthy families in Norway while coming from an immigrant background.

While similar stories have been told endlessly through hip hop history, Karpe Diem is one of few Norwegian hip hop groups that uses music to address topics like social differences, immigration, racism, wealth and poverty, religion, prejudice, freedom of speech and the idea of role models through satirical and powerful lyrics.

♪♫ Listen: “Hvite menn som pusher 50” + album stream (YouTube)

Karpe Diem on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Jenny Hval <BR>“Blood Bitch”

Jenny Hval
“Blood Bitch”

Jenny Hval is no longer an unknown name in international music settings, and with her 2016 album “Blood Bitch” she has gained a solid and well-deserved reputation with critics praising her ability to challenge the listener, both artistically and intellectually.

Hval’s album is not only significant because of her intriguing compositions and talent for putting pieces together and turning it into a complex soundscape, but also because it provides a conceptual framework and an opposing voice to patriarchy and capitalism through the focus on women’s periods.

In an artist statement, Jenny Hval described it as “an investigation of… blood that is shed naturally… the purest and most powerful, yet most trivial, and most terrifying blood”.

Like any professional artist, with “Blood Bitch” Jenny Hval has not only made a beautiful product that is meant to please the listener in the simplest meaning of the word, but she also provides a critical voice to the existing structures we live within and dare people to rethink.

♪♫ Listen: “The Great Undressing” + album stream (Bandcamp)

Jenny Hval on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.