Shoshana Rosenberg is visiting Oslo for All Ears festival this month. She will be documenting her time there in the form of a Journal, excerpts of which will be uploaded here.
Listen to her live performance on BBC Late Junction here.
After nearly 48 hours in transit, around half of which were spent trying out every uncomfortable, nowhere-to-lie-down bench as well as “who let me in here?” lounge luxury, I finally arrived in Oslo. Christian Meass Svendsen (identified by his signature green beanie) greeted me at the train station, and gently led me through the first couple of hours of culture shock/general touristy gawking (i.e. “oh my god it’s snow!”, ”fuck, Satyricon and Emperor are playing on the same bill!”). I settled in with some Cheerios, Goldfisk and salted potato chips (I’m on a health kick), slept like the dead, and eventually hauled my carcass two floors up from Christian’s apartment to Andreas Røysum’s flat.
After a deep Rahsaan Roland Kirk listening experience I was left to prepare for my recording session for the BBC’s Late Junction program. This included some playing, but mainly the mental task of remaining (relatively) lucid as I made my way across mortifyingly deceptive iced pavement to Guro Moe’s house, and then onwards with her and our third trio member Danishta Rivero to the BBC broadcast session. Luckily Danishta was similarly lagging in the jet department, which resulted in us being asked to be our “best, most quiet selves” before going on air.
We managed to be on our best behaviour and played some nice noise for our invisible, potentially quite conservative audience. Maybe it’s easier when you can’t see people frowning, or maybe I just managed to visualise some inspirational audience frowns in my mind. Either way, I left feeling accomplished, despite missing the opportunity to photograph a sign that said “Bro” which stood tantalisingly out of reach as we ran out of the building to catch our respective busses and trams back home. I’ll get it next time I see a bridge, no doubt.
I spent the first hours of this day still awake from the previous night, being regaled with stories about NecroButcher from Mayhem’s aunt and Darkthrone’s Fenriz’s passion for local soccer and handball teams. Other than watching tiny dogs bravely tread through the snow that my fur-less feet need boots for, I couldn’t think of a better way to solidify in my mind the fact I really, really am in Norway. Aside from these stories, most of my night’s end consisted of listening to the Norwegian language slowly chatter past me, while Ustad Bismillah Khan played in the midground. Being a non-understanding listener here feels like becoming washed over by a really beautiful aural texture, and the lack of obligation of attention is very liberating. I recognise the privilege of being able to tune out of comprehensible linguistics, whilst feeling safe in the knowledge that at any moment I could be brought back into the conversation by my colleagues’ crisp and careful use of the English language. I’ve been really thinking about the creepily-globalisational but also crucial role of the English language in these situations, and how it is slowly (quickly?) becoming what Esperanto could never be.
After catching some haphazard Zs, I met up with Christian and went for a record store tour; the fancy shop (Big Dipper), the tiny shop (Tiger), and the scary shop (Neseblöd). I feel like I’ve got all bases covered now, having purchased a microtonal tuba record as well as a collaboration between allEars founder Lasse Marhaug and noise legend John Wiese. All that’s missing is going back to Neseblöd and buying that Sarcofago LP (and posing in front of the cheesy black metal nativity scene in the basement, of course). Only then will my nerdy music tourism be truly complete.
The night ended with an exchange of unpleasant Norwegian customs tales between myself and the newly-arrived Yong Yandsen and Siew-wai Kok. I got off easy with a deeply uncomfortable conversation, while the other two spent some more time getting to know Norway’s finest government officials. Seems like Norway wants to make sure we’re here for a good time, not a long time.
I’m writing this entry at 4:30am. The festival starts in a few short hours, and I’ve still got some sleeping to do and some donuts to make.