Most Memorable Films Of 2010
Posted December 30th 2010, at 10:49 with tags , , , , ,

Didn't catch that much celluloid this year, but some fine ones worth mentioning. Links to Rotten Tomatoes.

I find it hard to pick between Sherlock Holmes and Inception as the "blockbuster" of 2010, enjoyed them both tremendously.

Inception was neat. Soothingly clever in a perfect pace - until the surprisingly tacky James Bondish lets-storm-the-castle 80ies finale with snow-scooter-wire tricks. Puh-lease.

Sherlock Holmes had awesome music and adventurous tone, and balanced the buddy-movie sword on a fine edge. (See what I did there?)

I think it's a draw, but these two were splendid entertainment machines.

Avatar was too cute too much too naive, though that didn't mean I was professionally entertained. Maybe too professionally. Certainly a promising demonstration of where cinematics are heading.

Instant Swamp (Insutanto Numa)

Sublime, quirky funny Japanese flick, teeming with wonderful weird characters, situations and absurd humor. Main protagonist Haname is very likable, the cast surrounding her easily and humorously bounces off her antics. I share her outlook on life, only believing what is in front of your eyes. There could be more though.

Instant Swamp is in the same vein as Bare Essence Of Life, same actress Kumiko Aso, also really liked that one.

A tad more annoying characters (in this the male guy is the screaming one and he isn't as funny as Kumiko Aso) and slower progress, but the same sort of Murakamish sense of everyday magic. Both memorable, Instant most memorablest.

The Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren)

I'm cheating. I haven't found time to see this yet, so I can't really say how memorable it is... but still I choose this as most memorable Norwegian film of 2010, simply because of the brilliant premise: Trolls are real and the Norwegian government are covering it up. Kristenbloodbath commences. Can't wait to see this, sold me instantly on the pitch and poster.

Most Memorable Music Of 2010
Posted December 29th 2010, at 10:46 with tags , , , ,

Always hard to choose particular albums or artists as "the better one". I tend to more or less like whatever I listen to, if not, I simply don't listen to it. Sometimes an album or artist stand out and make a great impression, not so in 2010.

Haven't discovered anything super peculiar this year, my list is pretty regular I suppose.

It's easier to remember or mention albums I listened to more than others for periods of time. These become important not so much because they're more awesome than others, maybe they are, but they will mostly remain connected to that period of time and remind me of it.

Links to Spotify, and a few poetic words about each album.

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

I pick this as the best pop album of 2010. Especially the delicious underlying beats. Sometimes I wish Mr West would shut up and just let the music pump, especially during the me! me! me! parts, but I should perhaps not talk too loudly of egomaniacy. Listening a lot to this album during the last few weeks at the Opera in Oslo, then here in Uganda, I know those tracks always will connect back to these times.

Favorite track is Runaway.

Hans Zimmer - Sherlock Holmes

Pick this as the best soundtrack album of the year. I enjoyed both this one and Zimmer's Inception score, but of the two I liked this one best, or rather, it had more longevity. I very much liked the movie, buttery british detective steam-punk popcorn. Both the tone of the movie and the slight off-ness of the soundtrack fits great. Part Irish, part Balkan, part John Barry, part Zimmer.

Favorite track, no particular, the star of the album is the superbly haunting Experibass instrument.

Bo'Tox - Babylon By Car

Best new never-heard-of-it-before. Discovered this one by chance, kept listening to it, love the gritty drone electro with downtempo beats. Tracks to disappear in. I enjoyed Death In Vegas a few years back, this kind of reminds me of them, but not the same.

Favorite track is Crashed Cadillac.

Honorable mentions to Caravan Palace, which I wasn't made aware of until earlier this year, played it a lot with friends this spring. Also, finally, Nasra & Gaute's percussive-electric Sound Of Swoosh, listened a lot to it during the Rikskonsertene tour this fall.

Most Memorable Books Of 2010
Posted December 28th 2010, at 18:01 with tags , , ,

Finally this year I felt like I got to catch up on books. I have read a lot of books, this makes my brain happy. Many of them were terrific.

On excellent advice I took up using LibraryThing, a system for cataloguing your read books online early this year. I love it. I wish there was something like that for music and films. Some of the books I read this year comes from their recommendation engine, which points you took books you might like, based on similarities from other user's libraries.

This is by no means books released in 2010, these are just books I read this year. Links go to Amazon. I'm not synopsing the books, just throwing out some thoughts on why I like them.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet - David Mitchell

Discovered David Mitchell through Cloud Atlas, and has since read all his books. Thousand Autumns does not have the scope of Cloud Atlas, but it has a superb tone and crystal clear setting, I experience it as a refinement of Mitchell's writing. I fall very easily into his worlds, characters and atmospheres.
Atonement - Ian McEwan

I was pretty taken with the story and the writing, and how it escalates literary-wise towards the end. Didn't realize until after I finished this book that it has been made into a feature film, and I have supposedly seen parts of it some years ago according to others. I don't think I'll watch the film yet, maybe in a few years, the book made a great impression and I'd like to keep it in my head for now. This book came to me through the LibraryThing recommendation engine, and it was spot on.
Special Topics In Calamity Physics - Marisha Pessl

Absolutely loved this one, it lingers from hilarious to clever to outright spooky creepy, spiced with tons of pop- and b-culture references all over the place. Most entertaining book of the year. 
The Hungry Tide - Amitav Ghosh

Liked this better than Ghosh's Sea Of Poppies, read both of them during spring. Always been a fan of Mr G, not so much his epic historical stuff, can sometimes turn too sweet. But when he enters the present and mashes up human destinies, history and culture the way he does in Hungry Tide, I devour it. Also I particularly like his short chapters, makes it easy to read when your time is as fragmented as mine. I rarely have time to disappear with a book for hours (although THAT is on my to-do list for 2011).
Many And Many A Year Ago - Selcuk Altun

A splendid little gem, I picked this up on a whim partly because of the cover and partly from the blurb on the back. I love Istanbul and I love Poe, I took a chance and grabbed it. Very glad I did, the writer calls it "an experimental mystery book", and I heartily agree. Part mystery, part private eye, part Istanbul, part radio music show host, part Edgar Allan Poe, part Buenos Aires. Mystery drenched in melancholy, literary yumminess. 


Finally, honorable mentions must go to Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, two superb writers of classical sci-fi which I have been ignoring in my life up until this year. I read most of their famous works during summer, very impressed. Perhaps Rendezvous With Ra being a favorite. Retro sci-fi is like snacks for my eyes. 

Most Memorable Lists Of 2010
Posted December 28th 2010, at 17:54 with tags , ,

2009 is soon history. Everybody makes lists at a years end, I am no exception. As has become tradition, I'll type out my favorite books, albums, films etc of this year. Tends not to be so much stuff released in 2010, more stuff I discovered.

Got to read lots of books this year, yay! Listing them first. Not so much films or TV series, but I'll try to remember which or what could be worth to mention. It will probably be old weird movies because the new ones I saw was mostly just OK.

Music is all around all the time, but almost impossible to remember what I've heard or not, and what is more worth than others.

Video games, no time to play.

Websites, gadgets, mobile apps, etc, that's easier, coming up.

Copy Protection Stops Planet U Track
Posted December 28th 2010, at 10:56 with tags , , , , ,

No new Planet U track this week. Because of PACE's iLok copy protection. Sigh.

Either the key itself is broken, or the USB ports, I don't know, it lights up, but it is dead. For some days it behaved flaky (plugins complaining about no license found, had to unplug and re-insert) and then finally during christmas weekend no plugins or programs found neither key nor license, neither does the iLok website plugin. WELL I CAN SEE IT IT IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.

I have a backup key, backup USB hubs, and even backup laptops, but not right here, I'm in Africa, pretty far from home.

Stuff breaks down that's a fact of life, I'm a rough explorer, I'm used to and expect tech glitches. So far, Africa has demanded my iPhone backlight, a nice crack in my camera lens, and the SD card reader is now growing unstable... Not to mention all the tropical diseases and evil micro-organisms I've got cooking up some malevolence inside of me.

All these things I don't worry so much about. But the iLOK breaking down, that's just intensely STUPID, an unnecessary problem. Something that ANTI-PREVENTS my software from running, broke down, and now it actively PREVENTS me from working.

Sigh, this is just so stupid. I probably could have brought the backup key, but the point of having it stand-by at home is in case my stuff gets lifted or lost, I should be back up and running once I get home. I can't be dragging a container of backup stuff with me all the time.

So with that incredibly sad and tearful story out of the way, I'm sorry there won't be a new Planet U track this week. I can't access vital plugins in any of the releasable projects. Hopefully, next week when I'm back home and can access my backups, I'll get stuff out. Kind of depends on what is broken and how the copy protection gods at Pace does to help me up to speed.

Though, I have not wasted the time, between locating the source of the Nile and hacking through deepest rain forests, I've been working on sketches for new tracks, new projects, and also did the annual most memorable lists of music, books and software, coming up shortly in time for the new year.

Planet U: Episode One: Spice Pirate Queen
Posted December 20th 2010, at 14:27 with tags , , , , , , ,

Ugress - Spice Pirate Queen by GMM

Fourth track in the first episode of Planet U.

The spice trade is haunted by pirates ruled by a mysterious queen. The dubby melancholia is a trick.

What I'm most happy with regarding this track, is the how and where I'm releasing it. I'm currently in Kampala, Uganda. Yup. I'm staying the Christmas holidays with Igor, my goodest friend and previous Ugress drummer on leave on absence in Africa. It's awesome here. I've got a neat room in his castle, my laptop and a pair of headphones in a corner, I'm all set. I spent the final days of last week wrapping up this track, attending an incredible Ugandan wedding, typing out the Opera ballet reports and riding motorcycle taxis in crazy traffic.

Contrast at 11, but I'm online (on 3G) and that means I'm there wherever here is and that's all I need.

I wrote the core of this track during the few weeks this summer when I had time to pour out ideas and sketches for Planet U. I never managed to finish it, for the longest time the bass line was doubled by the main melody, and I wasn't happy with that. I was OK with the bass line, but didn't like it as a lead element. Neither could I find a proper alternative. I think the bass-line is somehow the core of this track, I can't remove it, it's what moves everything forward. A baby I'd rather not kill, it being the boss baby.

Finally this weekend here in Kampala, while working on multiple potential tracks for release today, I found a solution. I just let the bass BE the melodic core on it's own down there, reducing the musical arrangement on top to a simple pulsing pattern, and a melodic line that moves around the sub lines and also nicely doubles on top of the pattern.

The track subtly uses the super-poly guitar I mentioned earlier, built from hundreds of singular guitar note samples, picking a sample on random for every note. It also uses simultaneously, rather fittingly taken my current surroundings, single shot samples of woodwind instruments from Borodin's Prince Igor. Unintended, but the symbolics are nice.

This isn't a pop-single, more like a filler track, it slides perfectly into the background of something, I enjoy tracks like that, everyday scores. I'm sure this track can still be improved. The first thing that comes to mind right now is length - I think it could potentially be longer, stretching out the ideas over time. It might feel a bit too short, but one could just.. play it again. Oh and the first fill is a bit too dramatic for the whole arrangement. I'm lazy.

Spice Pirate Queen is either the next-to-last or next-next-to-last track of Episode One. Depending on which track I manage to finish this week, Episode One should be complete as an EP. I'm a bit disappointed in myself that Episode One does not contain the tracks or content I really planned for it, but so be it. I am extremely happy with the fact that I'm releasing material right now, that is so much more important.

For the rest of the week I'm going to explore the pearl of Africa with Igor, start pre-prod on a film score I might do if they like my ideas, and finalize the next track for Episode One, scheduled for next Monday.

You can download Spice Pirate Queen for free.

Making Of: Ballettlaboratoriet - Fly
Posted December 20th 2010, at 11:28 with tags , , , , ,

Last Monday, together with Bodil Lunde Rortveit and 20 dancers from the National Ballett, we performed "Fly", at Ballettlaboratoriet, a choreography by Henriette Slorer. Our lead dancers were Lisa Nielsen and Marco Pagetti.

Everything for the performance - choreography, music, sound, vocals, was developed during two intense weeks at the Opera, in collaboration with the dancers. We only briefly worked on concepts and ideas a few weeks before going over. When arriving in Oslo, I sort of knew what I wanted to do and some ideas on how to do it, but no idea how anything would turn out.

I wrote a final separate report on our stay at the Opera, which was just magical. This post is a report on the performance itself and how I did the beats and musical arrangement.


I wanted all the sounds of the music to come from the dancers, and the rhythm to come from their movement. The first week, I recorded as much as possible from the dancers, their body parts, their breathing, close-up of their movement, room sounds of their movement. From this I built a medium sized orchestra, about 40-50 instruments in total.

This is probably best explained in a sound example:

FLY - DNO Ballettlaboratorie, making of by GMM

First, the sound of Marco jumping and crossing his legs quickly, which results in his thighs hitting each other twice for each jump. This is a simple example of how a movement gives me both two sounds (the drum-ish dunk of the feet, the hi-hat of thighs) and a rhythm to build from. No tone in this sound, just a strictly percussive instrument.

Second, the sound of Lisa landing on her toe, taken from some distance to include the room. Lots of takes. I then remove most of the atonal elements of the sound (using the new Deconstruct in Izotope RX 2 which lets you balance the tonal and atonal parts of a sound) then I take the tonal elements into Melodyne DNA, where I pitch-correct the fundamental frequencies to their average common. Then I hi-pass filter the original source, and mix them together, so the base of the sound has a defined tone, and it still sounds like the original.

Third example, I love this one, it became the essence of the musical arrangement: The original is the sound of the friction between their feet and the floor. Imagine standing still, feet planted, then turn your feet while applying pressure to the floor, or dragging it along. In the ballet studio, this creates that long squeaky sound. There is so much tone in that, it is just wild! So I dump it into Melodyne, max the polyphonic tone recognition, delete everything that is NOT near the fundamental, pitch-correct the rest, and voila, I have a beautiful sound, that sounds like electric thunder when pitched down an octave or two. I think this sound perfectly represents what it is: The potent energy in a dancer's feet sliding along the floor, preparing to burst into the air.     

Then a percussive arrangement example, there are some slight tonal elements in there, those are built from quicker turns and squeaks from feet friction to the floor. Also a few other subtle thumping bass sounds taken from feet landing. This is from a part of the performance where I follow the dancers, not the other way around.

Finally, a musical example (without vocals, which were performed live by Bodil) from the main arrangement. You can hear the foot-friction thunder pads and the other base sounds. This part of the arrangement ran on count, the musical structure being locked.

Orchestra Instruments

During live performance, all instruments are live (Kontakt samplers), playing notes as instructed (MIDI). I think there were maybe 40 individual instruments or so, each of them representing a sound and/or rhythm of the dancers. Screen shot of final arrangement:

I discovered (not surprisingly) the sound of dance and dancers are mostly percussive in nature. It is not hard to find tonal elements if you really look for it, but that would not really represent what dance sounds like. I choose to focus only on those sounds where there already was a very prominent, natural tone.

For every instrument I created in the orchestra, I made sure to built them as organic and human as possible. Every sound was recorded and prepared between 7-15 variations. When my arrangement tells any instrument (sampler) to play "a foot tap in this key" it picks on random one of many potential core sounds. I had all instruments running as Kontakt samplers, with lots of subtle random manipulation, random sample selection, meaning any play-through would be dynamic, no repetitive machine gun MIDI stuff.

My initial plan was to get the fundamental orchestra up and running as quickly as possible, so I could start develop and adjust the music in realtime in the studio with Bodil, while Henriette and the dancers developed the dance. I created tons of phrases for the instrument and set this up in Ableton Live, so I could fire off clips continuously and quickly test out what worked and what didn't, and start working towards a final structure. After a few days I started having enough material to flesh something out, and from there we just continuously built and refined the arrangement.

Live Performance

Dear me I have never been more nervous, ever. We gave a brief introduction to our work before the performance, and I was so nervous I messed up most of my explanation, shaking like a leaf in a tsunami. But when starting to play, I go into the zone and everything flows.

I had set up an additional large instrument containing the most important sounds, which I was then playing live, one sound for each pad (pic above). For the first part of the performance, featuring our two lead dancers, I follow them closely, both supplying their movements with sounds in realtime, and advancing the arrangement as necessary as they progress through their moves.

I choose to use Akai hardware pads for triggering sounds, and the iPad for remote control - I can not seem to get low enough latency on the pad with TouchOsc / Osculator on some stages, also it lacks velocity (naturally).

For the second part of the performance, when all dancers are on stage, the music is the leading element, only at one point I advance the arrangement based on the running length of a move, which we never know how long the dancers perform. At this point I'm mostly playing lead sounds and controlling effects, then finally wrapping it up.

We also did some slight processing on Bodil's voice through my setup, but this was just automating reverbs for the various parts. She did all her looping and effects on her own.

We had created a clever out-tro, but apparently people liked our stuff so much they started cheering and applauding before it really finished, nobody caught the end point. Alas.

Motion sensors disregarded

I did a lot of research into motion and movement sensors during the concept face, had lots of ideas, but eventually decided to scrap that, we wouldn't have enough time to do it properly, too much uncertainty. I did however get lots of data, and I'll probably start working on motion sensors as soon as I can, especially with the current Kinect buzz.


I am (for once) really proud of what we made. We had an idea, and what we ended up with lines up well with the original concept, at least for my part.

There is lots of things that could be improved, but the point of the laboratory is to experiment and develop all new material. I am certain we did this as well as possible in the short amount of time we had. The ideas and concepts we had in theory, turned out to work very well, this is rather rare. I very much hope we will be able to continue develop this material.

It is a little bit sad the music and performance was for this one moment only, but that also increases the value of the experience for all involved, and makes it more interesting to develop the material further. I conclude, success.

Notes From Life At The Opera
Posted December 20th 2010, at 11:05 with tags , , , ,

A report from my stay at the Opera, December 2010.

I find it hard to wrap up and conclude. Probably because I had the time of my life, and I'm afraid capturing the experience in words would lessen it's value. Luckily - we did manage to create some music, actually. And I think the music we made is a better representation of what happened than any text. Sound examples in the making of report.

Nevertheless, I observed a lot. Here are some of my final notes, and photos. 

What I am by far most grateful for with this project, was to be able to intensely focus on one thing and one thing only, 24 hours a day. I'm used to working on my own, which means I have to do everything, or supervise people helping me (which often takes more time than just do it yourself), and simultaneously desperately fighting to make time to do the music. It is a constant struggle between creating and realizing value from that creation.

(Choreographer Henriette and me discussing.)

At the Opera, everything was taken care of, organized or provided for me to focus on what I should focus on. EVERYTHING. It was incredible. It feels like staying in a impregnable bubble zooming through the universe, mundane realities whiffing by. 

Administration, resource management, technicians, security, everybody was just YES and then they actually fixed it, they even improved on what I asked. "Get back in the studio work on the project we'll handle this don't worry". Maybe for some people this is the norm, but in my world I have to fight for everything I need and usually end up having to do it myself.

Like one time, I was waiting outside the resource coordinator, asking to book a room for sampling, she was busy in a phone and another coordinator immediately comes up to me and asks me if she can help me, I tell her what, she's like "we fix that get back in the studio, we'll let you know" and in the next break it is fixed and I have the room the next day.

(Performance space I asked to book for sampling.)

Another time, we had started doing sound tests in the performance space, I had asked for surround setup and our brilliant technician rubs his hand after the first run-through and goes: "Hmm....I'll think I'll pop out and get another sub to place below the stage for maximum boom..."

I'm glad I realized this pretty early, and took advantage of it. By this I mean not being an asshole demanding this and that but to really focus on what I should, letting go of stuff I usually worry about, trusting in others. I am very certain this resulted in a much better production.

A Regular Day

A typical day would be like this: Up at around 4 or 5 in my apartment, as cozy flat at Majorstuen.

Work there for some hours, in beautiful morning sunrise, mostly writing clips and tiny bits of the arrangement based on sounds recorded yesterday. Metro or tram to the Opera around 9 or 10. Maybe continue working in the wardrobe, or in the studio if empty. Or observing dancers in their classes, noting movement and sounds. Team meeting in the cafeteria, preparing for studio sessions with the dancers. Then working exclusively with the two dancers in our marvelous studio, concentrating on the performance.

(Studio space.)

Lunch, a neat salad, then back in the studio working with dancers through the afternoon. When they leave, another team meeting, evaluating today's work, agreeing what to focus on for tomorrow.

(Composer / vocalist Bodil and our setup.)

Then some more work in the studio, or some days for my part, back to the apartment. Usually I spend the evening preparing new instruments from today's recordings and notes. Then around midnight crash, a few hours sleep, reset my mind, and up again in the morning, writing new clips with last nights instruments.

Most days first week was like this. The second week and final weekend I spent more time mixing and creating the surround setup, and building my live performance instruments. This was mostly done on location, giving me control and balance directly in the performance room. So I spent the final weekend mostly alone at the Opera setting everything up.

Barbarian With Beats In Cultural Crystal Castle

The Opera and National Ballet is - quite naturally - a bureaucratic establishment, with a lot of visible and invisible rules and zones. A very different world from my indie artist MacGyver reality. I knew this before going, and tried very hard to be careful not to break anything.

But I probably did a lot of wrong things, which nobody told me about. I also did screw-ups people subtly told me about, I won't confess here because some of the things I did....  However there is this one time I really screwed up; I sampled in a time and place where I wasn't supposed to (I had no idea), and somebody got really upset with me, or rather us. It really threw me off, we instantly apologized profusely and were genuinely sorry. Lots of people noticed it happening and we certainly became noticed after that. The administration was very nice and helped us making things right, but still I was shaken for some days. I was terrified we'd be thrown out.

I think this snafu was mostly based in me coming from a just-do-it mentality, if I need something done I just go ahead and do it, nobody else will do it for me. But I learned, I should have asked and informed the involved parts what we were up to. 

Daily Magic

Walking around the huge building complex you hear all kinds of languages everywhere, from performers, directors, producers, ensembles, staff, adminstration. You run into people in fantastic costumes from all kinds of productions, rehearsals. You have lunch surrounded by kids dressed as pirates or ladies in huge garments and suddenly there's a bunch of guys with swords and feathery hats running past you in the hall. I met a lot of wonderful people, everyone was friendly and interested and polite.

In general, absolutely everyone we met or interacted with, I'd sum them up as "graceful". Both in movement and person. In particular, our two dancers, Lisa and Marco, I was so impressed by them, two wonderful beings. Utterly professional and dedicated, and also friendly - it is very humbling to work with such talent.



There's an armory! I was thrilled to discover this door in the basement. That's probably where those guys got their swords. The door was locked.


One day I snuck in backstage for the main hall. Whoa, what an impressive amount of technology, and the size of it all. The whole stage can rise and turn and rotate and slide in and out and be replaced by another, the scope of the stage and surrounding mechanics is just massive. LED walls seem like silly toys compared.


Dancers count to eight. Not to four, like musicians.

Night work

Some nights I worked late (or very early). At those times the complex is empty. Those where maybe the most beautiful moments. Quiet snow falling outside, you are maybe the only person at the Opera right now, this enormous apparatus around you softly resting for a new day. 


There is free coffee from a machine in the cantina. It's not bad, and the machine pours really fast. However no espresso, so I found a place on my way down from the apartment to supply my veins with black. The last few days the barista recognized me, that was sweet. I felt sad the last day I wouldn't be having more coffee from them.


I had my own wardrobe! Almost like a trailer! For the first week I shared it with a super friendly ballet instructor from Poland. I learned some tricks and tips from him. He was present in the room when I screwed up (se over) and told me later it wasn't as serious as it had occurred, I shouldn't worry.

There was a pool table and a lounge just outside my wardrobe, and a ping pong table just beyond that. Not that I had time to play but still, noted.

Speaker System

There is a speaker system everywhere (except stages and studios) which are constantly reminding everyone what is going on and who should be where and when. There are also TV screens everywhere, showing what is happening on the main stage, so everyone knows where the performance is. Clever.

Ballet shoes

Gym shoes FTW. I got me proper indoor Adidas with white soles.


This has so far been the most fantastic project I have worked on, ever. I am very grateful for being invited to take part in this. I think what we created really worked. It was a one-time thing only, and this made it even more special. I absolutely loved working with dance, and scoring the performance in realtime. I have the final performance on tape, but not sure about the rights for distribution, awaiting clearance from the Opera.

Planet U: Episode One: Teachers Passing
Posted December 15th 2010, at 09:16 with tags , , ,

Ugress - Teacher's Passing by GMM

Third track from episode one of "Planet U", Teacher's Passing. When a teacher passes away, apprentice must master. 

Again, two-part feeling: I am very happy to be releasing a track right now, right here, it only cost me a few hours of polish last night. Though, I'm not overly happy it's THIS track. Teacher's Passing is neat, but lacks the energy I would like to have established at this time in the project.

Nevertheless, personally for me right now it suits my mind to release it, because of it's soothing tone and texture. Everything is chaos right now, so much happening (typing this on a plane). I was very grateful for the few hours I had back in the studio last night, polishing the track and mastering it for digital release. It helped calming my pulse, a little oasis of beats.

The track introduces some of the core sounds I have been developing for Planet U, mostly towards the end of the track. The wooden, clunky plucks in the bridge is a sound that will have more focus later. It doesn't get too much spotlight here, I'll rather come back to it later with better examples. Briefly told, I took a selection of pizzicato and spiccato (?) samples I could find in classical and contemporary orchestral music and layered them, always slightly random and off-beat, to create a plunky trunk-chestra. I liked that.

What I do not like with this track is the rather uninspired MIDI-ish staccato strings in the finale. That was a lazy shortcut, both sound-wise and musically. Somebody will be fired for allowing that.

The lead sound for most of the track is a processed electric piano. There's also a regular piano which I intended to replace with a piano built more in the vein of the trunk-chestra mentioned above. The melody is a single take, improvisation, that's a bit unusual for me.

I've tried the track a few times live, both alone and with musicians. For the Landmark show I used a crowd-sampled choir for harmonic supplement, that's probably when this track worked best. 

For the later part of this week I will finally have time to work on unfinished tracks, very much looking forward to that. The previous three tracks was mostly in a release-able state, only needing polish. Now I can focus on actually creating while releasing.

You can download Teachers Passing for free.


Fly: Exclusive performance today only
Posted December 13th 2010, at 11:11 with tags , , , ,

I've spent a couple of weeks at the Opera in Oslo, at Ballettlaboratoriet, developing a performance titled "Fly", together with choreographer Henriette Slorer, composer Bodil Lunde Rortveit and dancers from the National Ballett.

This afternoon we will present the result of our work at Prøvesal 1, 1530 CET. There will only be this one performance. Entrance is free, there will be several presentations from other projects and AFAIK ours is last. I'm not able to live stream this, but we will be taping and recording it.

This has been an incredible experience. I have developed a lot of material and ideas. I have been documenting extensively, I have a lot of sounds, music and notes. Will be typing up a report of our development and performance as soon as possible.

More info at the Facebook event (Norwegian).

Planet U: Episode One: Kraken Bossa Nova
Posted December 6th 2010, at 21:04 with tags , , ,

Ugress - Kraken Bossa Nova by GMM

Second track from episode one of "Planet U".

This release falls into my idea of subtly releasing one track each week, up until they fill an EP. This EP is then announced and distributed on a larger scale, while I write new material and adjust existing based on experience from the previously released material, rinse repeat, new EP, all being stepping stones towards a full album release in 2011.

Two issues surrounding today's track, one good and one bad.

Good: I am releasing a track while being completely consumed by another project. This is very neat, I have found a way to disable my truest evil nemesis; time.

Bad: This wasn't the track I wanted to release today, I haven't beaten my nemesis hard enough. No time to wrap up the intended first track of the project. But I'm not worried; I'm just happy to be releasing a track at all. Most important.

About the track

Kraken Bossa Nova is intended as a vocal track, I have lyrics for it. But haven't had time to either hook up with a singer or program vocals as I want them. We've been trying this out live a couple of times, with various solutions for the lead, Kristian has played it with support from me, haven't quite yet found the perfect angle.

The skweedy lead line right now is ok but not perfect. In my head it morphs between being a reference guide for vocals and being a real element of the track. The chorus at the moment also morphs between reference and real. I think I'd like the whole thing more "off" and porous.

Not too enthusiastic about the 808, but I like that the crystal digital sound contrasts the dirty noisy kraken-waltz phrase where I push up the noise-floor.

The track should really be called Kraken Cactae Bossa Nova. It is connected to a rather confused monster of the spiky abyss, the Kraken Cactae. For the track title however, I liked the phrasing better without Cactae.

You can download Kraken Bossa Nova for free.

Report: First Week At The Opera
Posted December 4th 2010, at 17:51 with tags , , ,

I'm at the Opera in Oslo, working there for some weeks developing a performance for Ballettlaboratoriet, to be shown December 13th. This is a report from the first week, or as much as I manage to type out in this hour I have off.

I'm working on a project work-titled "Fly". (In Norwegian this is a beautiful homonym, translated to English it could be flight, airplane, run, escape, zoom, glide, even mountain plateau - it depends on context, if given.)

I'm working with choreographer Henriette Slorer and composer/vocalist Bodil Lunde Rørtveit, they invited me to participate in this project, I am very grateful not only for the opportunity to work at the Opera but work together with their talent. We have done some preliminary sketching and testing back in November before going to Oslo, but the performance itself is being developed and produced now, in realtime, during daily sessions with dancers from Nasjonalballetten (The National Ballet).

What's it like working at the Opera? It is magical I don't know how to describe other than if you dreamt of working in the theater as a kid, imagining all those naive clichés to the maximum - I can confirm, yup, it's like that. I do not sleep, partly because there is so much to do in such short time but also because NO WAY I'm going to waste time on sleep when I can work in such unreal surroundings with such talented people.

Our main rehearsal space / development studio (above) is a large, beautiful corner hall with huge panoramic windows towards Oslo on one side and the fjord on the other, and then wall mirrors on the two others (thats me in the mirror).

I guess the hourly room rental price is more than what my apartment costs per year.

One can not complain about the view. The sun sweeps across the room during the day, casting an ever-changing mashup of fjords, woods, traffic machines, cruise ships and skyline slowly rotating around the room, where inside dancers fly around you with their unreal moves, our sounds and music pumped out by fantastic speakers, completely isolated from lots of other similiar rooms surround us. And all around this room again, there is a huge, super-efficient, super-resourceful machine of culture and knowledge and assistance and YES-ness, standing by to fix anything for you to make something happen.

Lots more I will report of the daily opera life, including all of my screw-ups (I'm totally the clueless laptop-barbarian stamping around the egg-salad in a hoch-cultural castle with lots of invisible lines) but I'll save the juicy fuck-up stuff for later. Spoiler: We made friends in the end.

What am I doing? What are we doing?

Huh good question! Besides having the time of our life:

For this report, I'll just briefly mention what we're practically doing, I can go into concept details later. Henriette is doing the choreography and main direction, working intensely with the dancers for the hours we have them. Bodil does the vocals, at the moment instrumental. If we are going to have text, it will be super small, if at all. Bodil has a fantastic voice, an incredible range and voice palette. She works with a Loopstation, building soundscapes and harmonies on her own. So far I'm trying not to intrude into her scope, it works so well on it's own, but rather operate next to it, provide the supporting parts, underlying arrangement and beats. The core of my plan, I want all my stuff to come directly from the dance and the dancers, this is the base of our artistic intention with the performance. I'm turning their movements into rhythmical beats and musical instruments.

I am creating an orchestra, built from scratch using only lots of tiny samples generated by the two dancers, and their movements as the performance is developed. I have sampled them in all kinds of movements, situations, interactions, both close-up and in the room, many takes for each sound. I then cut them up in small bits, and build instruments for each sound, where there are 8-12 variations, so the sound always sounds completely organic, no machine-gun midi repetition. For some of the sounds, I can locate a tonal core, and I then enhance this and remove the disrupting tonal frequencies. Like their feet, when they turn quickly, there is a squeaky quack from the friction of their bare feet on the wood, there is a tone in that, I find the most prominent frequency, remove all the noise and conflicting tonal frequencies, and I'm left with the tonal essence of that movement, which then becomes a fully usable musical instrument, it sounds like a quick turn but can also play chords and arpeggios and establish a musical idea. On the other side, I take the sequence of percussive sounds generated from a movement (like toe-tap, toe-tap, jump, heels hitting, land, run two steps, crouch, breathe), cut this up, follow the original rhythm, but enhanced or quantized, taking what that movement sounds like and make it groove and putting it back to the dancers as a pulsing, programmed beat, and they move, and then I sample that again, and it becomes a feedback system. I also concentrate to make sure it all works musically, I don't want it to be crazy in-accessible contemporary multi-rhythmical terror, I flirt with poly-rhythms but keep the club pulse discreetly hinted in the background, I want it to groove, preferably without anyone realizing it's actually grooving, I just want them to feel as if they hear the dance.   

Though, if I should put the current musical landscape somewhere in my own work I'd say it leans more towards Nebular Spool than Ugress.

My job right now is huge, but incredibly fun, to both build the linear arrangement, the rhythmical parts/beats, the musical arrangement, and also make it sound like it grows out of the movement, it should not sound electronic or artificial, I want it like at the beginning it will sound like just the dancers, and eventually grow into something immersive, both for the performers and the audience. I have been talking to technicians at the Opera and they lighted up when I asked for surround sound, it looks like I will be able to perform in quad, which should give the audience the feeling of being in the middle of the dance itself.

Ok that's all I managed to write and this was my first HOUR off for a week, I don't mind but I miss being able to report, so much I want to tell, I take notes all the time, got lots of photos and videos.

I think I'll have more time to report a few days into the coming week, we have to lock timing and script on Tuesday, when we start working with the whole ensemble (20 dancers plus the two main dancers) and we can't change the timing of things after that, moving from building to rehearsing, I expect to have more time to gossip from the Opera.

Planet U: Episode One: Hermit Routines
Posted November 29th 2010, at 02:30 with tags , , ,

Ugress - Hermit Routines by GMM

This is Hermit Routines, the first track from the first episode of the next Ugress project, titled "Planet U".

Planet U is a pretty large undertaking. I thought, why make an album, when I can make... A PLANET. It's OK, don't be alarmed, I am a professional megalomaniac. The announcement explains my plan.

I have built a story for all of it, mostly for myself to have a framework to develop all the material, to have a world where I can place things, and a somewhat sense of linear progress. However I'm not sure how much (if any) of the story should end up in the final album, maybe it's just my own internal recipe. Song titles could give an indication of what is going on, and perhaps I'll give small anecdotes, if it works out. We'll see.

Now about Hermit Routines, a tiny piece of this planet. Reclusive hermits have mundane routines too. I know this very well. Going about their daily chores, in their solitude. But the solitude of a hermit is deliberate, isn't it? 

I didn't originally mean to have this one as the first track today. There is another track coming up very soon, which is intended as sort of "intro titles" of the project. That one needs a few days of polish. Hermit Routines was in a state of release-ness, we've been trying it out a the last few live-shows so I thought to give it a go, and it suits this first episode.

When we play it live it has a much longer intro, and a percussive middle where Nasra has room for more busy percussion. Kristian (guitar) doubles with me on the cutesy lead melodies. I'll be in studio with them early 2011 and record their material for this track, which will probably shift the sound towards a bit more organic and chaotic.

The work title of the track was Chaos actually. Then it was The Hermit, and finally (currently) Hermit Routines.

You can download Hermit Routines for free.

Ugress 10 Years: Announcing Planet U
Posted November 29th 2010, at 02:08 with tags , ,

Today, November 29th, it is exactly 10 years since the first Ugress album (E-Pipe vinyl EP) was released.

Lots of stuff happened. Blah blah, history, boring.

Today I start releasing the fifth Ugress album, "Planet U". First track, Hermit Routines. Future, planets, exciting!

As the sharp reader quickly might observe, dearest me, is that track a full album? Is he mad? No. Yes.

I release this album in very, very slow motion. I'll go deeper into why and how I'm doing this over the next days and weeks as I release more and more material, but the biggest and simplest reason is: Me.

I've noticed, whenever I release an album, the moment I release it, I don't care about it anymore. I'm done, couldn't care less, good luck, nice knowing you, NEXT! This is unfortunate. I should be enthusiastic, happy, promote it, nurture it. But I don't, because I'm finished, I'm tired of it, I focus on something else. My interest is the journey, not the destination.

Therefore, I simply flip the album release process around.

Instead of releasing an album when I don't care about it, I release it in realtime while I am in the midst of it, when I care deeply about it, love to talk about it, show what I'm doing. The fun part.

I have a lot of material developed, there's even a back story. Now I start wrapping it up track by track and put it out as it is finished, one each week. I have a bunch of musicians, vocalists, people I'll be working with over the next few months, I have lots of stuff I want to try out, experiment.

I will probably put out both fantastic stuff, and terrible stuff (I probably always do). It's ok to fail. I can then document and talk about it as it develops. This schedule also allows me to do all other projects simultaneously, and I can let everything influence each other. (Or not, if necessary.)

This is the tiny start of a large endeavour. In the end, this will probably be a physical product, but exactly WHAT, I don't know yet. The end isn't terribly important, rather the road intrigues.

Report: Ugress Live Spectacularium, Landmark
Posted November 28th 2010, at 23:38 with tags , , ,

Report from Ugress Live at Landmark, November 2010. A musical success, some visuals stress, a spectacular mess.

Took some time writing this, because it took some time wrapping up the production, and I'm releasing new stuff in a few hours, and I'm in Oslo starting work on a new show a few hours after that. So, hectic, but I've segmented my notes as per element of the production, scattered with some photos I took during the day, and comment per photo. Photo documentary of the show itself, is available in a separate slide show at Flickr.


The music. This was a concert, I expect the music to be important.

Though, it's easy for me to forget the music when approaching the date of such a production. When performing with live musicians the music is pretty much set a few weeks before the show, and from then I'm all over all parts of the production, mostly the stage and visual aspect. Hence I tend to forget about the music until we start playing, which is weird because that is what this really is about.

Thankfully, reports from attendees inform me the musical aspect of the show was commendable.

Played a varied selection of old tracks, recent tracks, and new tracks. I wanted a dark and energetic set, to suit the atmosphere of the stage and visuals. I think the balance of tracks worked OK. The new tracks, I'm still trying out in various versions, slightly adjusting them from time to time (to the agony of my musicians I guess). Still needs some adjustments, but cool to try out new things.

I also tried something special, an idea I have always had but never had the means nor skills nor guts to try out - a song written completely in surround, including the development of multiple screen visuals, stage design and scripted choreography for how to "present" the "thing". I'm not sure what to call songs like these, "track" doesn't really cover it, it is so much more, and you can only experience it live on a proper stage. If I render it down and throw it in Spotify, it's a track all-right, but then just a tepid representation of something much bigger.

It takes a lot of time develop tracks like that, but it is great fun, like building a musical visual story almost, now I have one, and I'm continuously developing older tracks up to this scale. Very much looking forward to create more like this, and see it come to life on a stage.


The sound at Landmark is great. And the venue is perfect for surround. It's a box, with speaker in each corner, the surround coverage is very wide, I had great sound on stage. I had up-mixed a selection of the tracks for surround, and this worked very well. Except for Kosmonaut (who looked great but sounded muddy.) In general, satisfied. (Also happy with the practical fact that I now have a bunch of surround ready tracks.)


This was the third show with drummer Nasra and second with Kristian on guitar, and the first thing I have to admit is my thankfulness for their utter professional flexibility. I'm throwing a massive amount of new tracks and ideas and changes and demands on them and they are taking it instantly, quietly, perfectly like happy little ninjas - I don't even notice how it happens, it just happens. And they are all smiles and good vibes.

Though, with all of us (mostly myself, to adapt to live musicians) there is still work to do figuring out exactly how we are to do things, some bits didn't work quite as well as I hoped. (I'm sure there will always be something that does not work, because the fun part is to try new things all the time.)

I note with selfish glee, the percussive battles between Nasra and me is not only screamingly fun to perform, it also seems to be much more than just intense synchronized playing. I intend to investigate this part profoundly.
I'll be spending some time early 2011 with each of them, in studios, developing and researching from the excellent platform we have established on such short and brutal notice.  

Live sampling

The live sampling of the crowd is now mature as a technical feature and show element. I've been through a bunch of mics, setups, programming techniques, finally found a neat platform where everything works very well and now I can concentrate to integrate this bit better into the show musically.

Dr Doppeltgänger


A charming fellow, been missing for some shows now, happy to see him appear again. Even if he liked the other musicians better than me. And he has really bad jokes.

Stage and room design

A quick word on stage design, something I haven't paid too much attention to earlier. For Landmark, I planned and schemed the room and stage together with my excellent light designer Ivar Skjørestad. Ivar helps me realize the ideas in practical terms and plans. I didn't see it myself during the performance, but a quick look at the videos tells me it worked, this is something I will pay close attention to. Ivar wasn't available for the show, but his replacement Martin did an excellent job. Very happy to work with such talented guys.


The visuals themselves as an idea worked OK, I suppose. However, the technical production of delivering them at the force and scope I wanted, FAILED.

And what a stupid, silly little error threw it ALL off: The huge wall behind us was to be displaying one complete image 12x7 meters, built by three projectors. Now, some older projectors from before the first world war has three lamps of different color, and to my utter chagrin, for one of the projectors the red lamp died just before show start. Which had the terrible consequence that the enormous wall image suddenly looked completely split up and daft. We tried reducing the red color in the two other projectors, to balance things out. Didn't look great, but ok. This meant that all three projectors now output and only 2/3 of their strength. Which then had a devastating effect on the next element:

The Pixelrays

Gargh. It is a brilliant idea, but it didn't quite work as intended at Landmark. Two reasons: One - I couldn't fill the room with as much smoke as I wanted, because the wall projectors was running on lower output, the smoke would kill more of the wall than it should. Second - I had tested and developed the material on a small scale and it didn't quite translate to such a huge room and stage. I think, not sure, that this is probably simplest fixed by using much more powerful projectors, but THAT is deathly expensive.

The idea of my pixelray is simply, instead of projecting the END image onto something, the rays themselves are the visual point, not the end image. It's like a laser where you can animate all aspects of the ray, often simply by just moving pixels around, which then become complex patterns in the fog. I've been toying with various techniques and found quite a lot of material that looks pretty neat. Text for example, you can't read it but it somehow looks like text, gives a very eerie and spooky image, intriguing when animated. Spectacularly intriguing when coming from three independent sources distributed to 12 projectors. But the end experience depends on a lot of factors that are tricky to control. At Landmark I did not have the time nor the experience to control these elements.

There was a scheduled fog test 30 minute before doors open and I was very nervous, and that's when we realized the red bulb was screwed and the pixelrays couldn't get as much smoke as they needed. I was furious slash devastated.

So thirty minutes before showtime I did some sad but necessary changes to the set and choreography, I reduced the rays to only two tracks and then at a smaller scale than intended. Mostly just to test it anyway, see how it played out and get the rays on tape. I died a little inside when taking that decision, two weeks of intense work and a smoke-filled kitchen every night, all thrown off because of a stupid dead red lamp.

They ran OK for what they could during the time they had. Enough to convince myself this just needs more development.

Anyway it's not a terrible loss - the material for the rays are developed, I just need more time to control the technical aspect and let the idea mature. Upcoming shows at Kafe Edvard is a perfect place to experiment, the place is much smaller, and easier to control with smoke and lights. Looking forward to work with this.


We had an insane schedule. We started rigging the stage early in the morning, we had a very tight plan, and kept at it all day. It is a miracle everything actually happened, lots of snafus was fixed quickly and flawlessly, and few things broke down.  


It was a great crowd, and to my (and others) puzzlement, a very varied crowd. Usually at concerts the crowd is of a certain type, but lots of friends and people has told me afterwards, this was something very different, impossible to nail it. If you came in without knowing what was about to happen, you couldn't tell what kind of music it would be. I like that very much.

I got to meet Sysrq868, who came all the way from Finland to catch the show. He runs the Gislewiki, a user driven wiki about my stuff. We've been emailing back and forth over the years, the wiki being a wiki I try not to be involved other than as a source of information, and I've asked Sysrq a little about Finland. It was very nice to meet him, it's a little bit crazy coming all the way from Finland but it is also very very cool. It is always neat to meet people you have an online dialogue with, in real life.   
I also got to talk to lots of people after the show, while selling mercy, everything gets very fragmented and busy, but got lots of comments, questions and information.


Livestream so-so. Photos great, of course, Eivind. Video, haven't had time to look over it. The little I have seen, is at least excellent for my use to analyze and evaluate. Music, no, I screwed up, forgot to hook it up to the main board. It was on my list, but I didn't have time to look on my list. Should probably hire a documentarist for next show.


A little note on the complete production. I have finally smarted up and hired a producer, Inga Moen Danielsen of M-A-P, to help me pull of the larger shows. I'm pretty stretched at shows like this because so much are dependent on me, and in ADDITION I'm also supposed to be an artist and perform. Now with a band, I also should be present with them as a fellow musician. And I also would like to me more present on the live-stream and website before and after the show. And finally, I absolutely need help with budgeting, promotion and marketing. (I'm the opposite of all other artists - I loose money on live shows, and earn the money back on Spotify...)  

I was very happy to have a producer - I still worry about everything and do not sleep for a week but now I have somebody to keep in check with, who thinks of things I never think of, and eventually I hope to learn to balance more of my load over to other people.

I also got invaluable assistance from several instances: Landmark, in particular Jonas who was technical director for the evening. My management Made, in particular Per, helping out with practical logistics during the show. Brak, allowing me to perform at their evening and taking part at the talk before the show. BEK, who helped me with technical logistics, video cameras and assistants, and my tech guys Avab-Cac who delivered the stage and lighting in a very friendly and flexible deal. I realize a lot of people went out of their way to pull this off.


The show was pretty neat. I didn't see it myself. I expect it was spectacular enough to warrant the adjective. I'm happy for that.

Lots of stuff I wanted to present, didn't quite work. I'm sad for that. Or rather, irritated. Could have been more spectacular.

However, I learned so much, and even better, I met a lot of incredible people who did incredible things. Especially in the days after the show, while wrapping up the production, talking to everyone involved, I made lots of valuable experiences and connections, and I leave this production with a feeling everyone involved certainly would like to do this again - bigger, better, badder.

Photos from Ugress playing live at Landmark
Posted November 28th 2010, at 23:30 with tags , , , ,


Pictures from Ugress Live at Landmark, by my excellent regular photo documentarist Eivind Senneset.

Flickr set, Facebook set.

Live: Ugress Landmark Now
Posted November 25th 2010, at 12:49 with tags , , , , , , , , ,

(This was a post with live video/audio from the show.)

Update Nov 25th 1300 CET: Live stream from the venue is up! Show is at 2230 CET tonight.
Update Nov 25th 2200 CET: On in 30.
Update Nov 27th: Removed the embedded video.
Update Nov 29th: You can read the report, or see the photos.

Ugress iTunes Ping Profile
Posted November 16th 2010, at 22:32 with tags , , , , , ,

I've set up a profile for Ugress in the new iTunes Ping.

If you're using iTunes and Ping you can hook up and follow.

This is an artist profile, not a listener profile, it is separated from my personal account. At the moment there isn't much different than following my Twitter or FB or directly here at There is no way to automate items, I therefore expect Ping postings to be only the larger news updates when I have time to post.

I'm not sure what to think of Ping. I like that I can control the presentation of my artist in iTunes. It looks neat. It is a direct network inside the worlds largest digital music store. But... this is yet another thing that eats minutes of my day. And so far only Ugress is up, haven't put out Nebular or Shadow or Ninja. But then again - when Apple launches a cloud based music service, this could be the killer app of streaming, the new iPod, and swallow Spotify in surprisingly short time when (if) it goes global.

Hopefully they'll soon open up for some aggregation or automation, so I can hook it into feeds from

We'll see how this plays out.

GMM Montage At The Library
Posted November 15th 2010, at 21:21 with tags , , , , ,

My local library, the excellent Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek, is currently featuring a most intriguing exhibition in the music department.

Well maybe not exhibition, more of a cute shelf montage.

I particularly like the cutout. Almost an action figure!

Ugress 10 Years: Live Spectacularium, Album Release, Mystery Secrets
Posted November 11th 2010, at 19:03 with tags , , , , , , , , ,

Celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the very first Ugress release, a special live show and a special release.

Release: Ugress 5 - Code name "X"

Monday November 29th is exactly 10 years since the first Ugress release "E-Pipe". The day will be celebrated with a top secret new Ugress release, code name "X". The details surrounding this release is very top secret. All will be revealed on on Nov 29th. 

Live show: Spectacularium at Landmark

Thursday November 25th, cinematic celebrations: Ugress morphs and mutates Landmark into a massive immersive spectacularium of sound, music, lights, pixel rays and gigantic moving images. Thundering surround beats, epic tones, sinister grooves and dystopian chords, all presented in megalomaniac cinematic scope.

Featuring Nasra Ali Omar (drums, percussion), Kristian Svalestad Olstad (guitar, electronics). The Doctor also threatens to make an appearance.

  • Landmark, Bergen, NO
  • CC 150,-
  • Doors 2200. Starts 2230 precise.
  • Age limit 20
  • Tickets at the door, pre-sale details not available yet.
  • Facebook event page.

Live stream? I don't think so, no. It will be very dark, smoke and mirrors, tricks and treats, hard to set up a meaningful live stream of it all. Also I use everything I got for the show. So I can't guarantee anything, if I come over one I'll set up a laptop. I think, for this show, it will be neat to actually be present.


Video: Zombie Eagles (Live)
Posted November 10th 2010, at 21:50 with tags , , , , , ,

HD-cam dump of Ugress Live performing Zombie Eagles live at Rokken, Volda, October 2010.

Drums Nasra Ali Omar, guitar Kristian Svalestad Olstad. Live and post sound mix by Jens Lassen, stage and light design Kåre Ivar Skjørestad.

720p HD version available directly at Youtube.

Hello Nomad, My Life In A Laptop
Posted November 10th 2010, at 20:49 with tags , , , , , , , , , ,

Some things leave and some things arrive. I parted ways with my Lemur, and got me a new super-fitted Macbook Pro. Hello Nomad, a ninja demon of the desert.

It has been three years since my previous production and performance laptop,a 17" MBP I got on a scholarship. This has serviced me perfectly. Later I also got me a 13" MBP for office and road work. Back then I had a separate studio from my apartment, and I liked having the 17" studio machine always rigged and ready in the studio, while the 13" followed me everywhere. They both doubled as each others backup.

Now I don't have studio anymore, my life is more fragmented, I find myself working almost anyywhere anytime, I travel more, stay in new places. I wanted to combine all of my work settings into one piece of powerful hardware, have everything everywhere anytime, and upgrade the power of it. With the recent Core i7 upgrades, and the product in a mature release cycle, this perfectly balanced out to a maxxed 15"; arrived last week and christened Nomad.

Dear me this Nomad kicks some serious portable ass. There is a 512 GB SSD disk in there. This was expensive, and I spent quite some time deliberating if the investment would be worth it. But I took the chance, all the touring this fall covers the expense, and my conclusion so far; HOLY SHIT 88 MPH DELOREAN that was worth it.

Everything happens so fast, I haven't yet gotten used to NOT waiting for anything to happen. Firefox, or Safari, with lots of tabs, opens instantly. Photoshop opens in a second. Live in two. Logic in three. Plugin and instrument operations in Logic instantly. Final Cut 1920 HD video with post prod color correction and filters stream easily in realtime. All of these apps up and running simultaneously, no disk swap - or if there ARE disk swap, I will never notice, ha ha! And I never again have to worry about vibrating stage floors parking the drive heads in the middle of a show. And the machine is running silent like sinners on xmas eve hearing santa on the roof. And it fits in a plane seat. All this makes me feel like *I* am working faster, like I get more stuff done all the time, not waiting for anything. The bottleneck is wetware, ME. The practical consequence is neat, the psychological consequence is incredible.


Farewell Lemur, Thanks For All The Touch
Posted November 10th 2010, at 19:21 with tags , , , , ,

I bid farewell to my very best stage-assistant of many years; my precious Jazzmutant Lemur. A little sob for being separated, but it turns over to good hands.

My Lemur was one of the very first models, I got it even before the start of this blog back in 2006 I think. So I don't have any documentation of it's arrival, but I remember being crazy enthusiastic about the future. (Always am come to think of it...)

The Lemur arrived at a somewhat unfortunate time for itself, because in 2005 I stopped touring so much and started working more on TV, film and production work. So I mostly used it for experiments and studio work, building physics driven touch-controllers for generating notes and control data. In 2008 the Dexter upgrade came and I used that with Logic for some time - but I tend to use software somewhat differently than everyone else and eventually I got tired of the traditional setup. 

For the last few years it has mostly assisted me on stage, and taken quite a lot of beating from all the touring. It has died multiple times and been through several service routines but keeps on rocking.

When the iPad arrived earlier this year, I knew the end of our relationship had come, even with the Mu upgrade for Ableton Live. The iPad weights much less, is wireless, and easy to replace. Still it took me some time to accept the inevitable, and then find a new home for the poor creature.

I thought about selling it, but decided to donate the unit to BEK. I figure this to be the best solution. At BEK, the unit is in capable and caring hands, it is now available to the whole scene of electronic artists in Bergen for experimenting and production, and if I ever need it myself, I can borrow it from them. 

The Lemur is now on a happy farm with lots of other animals running cheerfully around all day. Godspeed, old friend.

Making Of: NRK BlimE!
Posted November 4th 2010, at 20:41 with tags , , , , ,

NRK BlimE! is a campaign promoting the value of friendship. I wrote the music, this is a brief making-of report.

This project has run for the better part of 2010, even if it is only 40 seconds of music. For me it had a curious personal launch. I had some unfortunate personal loss (suppose those are always unfortunate) at the start of this year, and found myself very much relying on  friends. In the thickest of this delicious emo-mess, an NRK producer phones me and says "hey we're doing a massive campaign on the importance of friendship, we'd like you to do the music, are you available?"

I don't think I even said "yes" we just got right to the practical details.

The music was the first part of the production, before anything else was decided. The title, the exact message, which celebs to use, who should write the lyrics, what size of the production, none of this was ready. But I talked a lot with the producers, they had clear visions of what sort of sound and mood and the core of the message they would like to convey. For certain, the essence should be a YES to something positive, not a NO to something negative.

Most of spring was just us talking about the project, then I wrote them some sketches back in June I think. The first sketch I wrote was the one to immediately click with everyone. I spent maybe 15 minutes on it. Here is the first demo, it's surprisingly close to the final production.

NRK BlimE - First Draft by GMM

I did actually spend more time THINKING about it, but it was produced in 15 minutes. Sometimes, I can spend ages of time editing a single second and never get it right, other times I can nail a theoretical concept in just a few quick minutes. When the latter happens, I never quite believe it's right, even when everyone else seems to think it's perfect. Anyway, the music worked for everyone, and I think this was important this early in the project to have the fundamentals in place.

For the most part during summer, my terribly exhausting 15 minutes of pre-prod work was over. The production team hired text writers Karpe Diem, media teams worked on the title and message, producers assembled the celebs, the shooting team, I was in and out mostly just as an external advisor how we could grab the best vocal sound possible during shooting. I hoped to be present during shooting, but that coincided with first leg of my Rikskonsertene tour. So we tried preparing as much as possible, the shooting team had lots of options for clicks, beats, reference and guide material to help the celebs, some of them would not be used to vocal performances. I expected there to be post-prod editing, but we tried setting it up to get as good sound and performance as possible.

During August the personal stories from the celebs where ready, lyrics from Karpe came, and we started working on how to pull all of this together. There are two videos, one with adults and one with kids, 8 persons in each, to fit in 40 seconds of time. Lots of messages of various length, and it should all add up make sense musically.

I wasn't particularly worried - we had thought a lot about this up front, the Karpe guys are excellent lyricists. They also recorded superb guide tracks for each celeb to follow. We had a pretty good plan how to approach this, in the end I think we ran through a few quick various iterations for structure, and then landed on the most natural one.

I went for a trip in the Norwegian woods playing Ugress Live Sample Theater at primary schools, while NRK did the production in Oslo.

Then I was back into work, and if I spent 15 minutes on the music I spent the opposite amount of time editing all those takes. I had to use all the tricks in the book and invent some new ones to pull it all together. The celebs did great deliveries but to pack all of this into a tight 40 second punch with coherent sound and rhythmical flow, we had to do a lot of cuts between different takes, angles. Soccer stars are not, and should not be, perfectly fluid hip-hop MCs. That was my job, making their vocals flow and groove naturally, but keeping their personality in it. Also, it should all run in sync with the images, which would also be a puzzle on NRK's part.

The post-prod period ran for a few weeks this autumn. NRK needed a tiny library of various versions, I was just about finished and delivered all masters just as I went out for the second part of the tour.

NRK BlimE Kids Final by GMM

This is the final version for kids. The structure is a bit longer than the first draft, but musically there hasn't been much changed. You can watch the final videos at the NRK Super BlimE! site. There's also a bunch of making-of videos for the shooting sessions.


NRK BlimE! Campaign Is A Success
Posted November 4th 2010, at 19:42 with tags , , , ,

BlimE! is a campaign initiated by NRK promoting the importance of friendship.

I wrote the music and did the post sound editing, celebs presented their personal stories, Norwegian hip hop band Karpe Diem wrote the lyrics, brilliant people at NRK did all the rest. It was launched a few weeks back while I was in the touring bubble, I understand it has been a massive success.

For my part, in essence, it's just 30 seconds of music, which I wrote in 15 minutes... but lots of work behind them. I wrote a making-of post in the blog, with sound examples.

My Making Of (English), more information from NRK (Norwegian).

Cinematic Photos From Volda, By ASG
Posted November 4th 2010, at 19:27 with tags , , , , ,


A Facebook / Flickr set of super neat and cinematic photos from the Volda show, taken by Andreas S Gulbrandsen.

In particular I very much like this.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 26 - Final Shows, Ghost Revenge
Posted November 2nd 2010, at 12:00 with tags , , , , , , ,

Today was the last day of the tour. Two shows at two different schools. The last one is important in several ways.

I wake up early, slightly groggy. I had lots of bad dreams. Ugh. Perhaps I shouldn't have messed around so much with the ghost thing last night. We kept making ghost sounds and acting scared all night, making all the other guests uneasy. I think everybody at Hotel Hogwarths now knows the place is haunted thanks to us. Karma punishment I suppose.
First show, ouch, I'm still slow in my system, we have some tech breakdowns, my wireless mic screws up, the sampled sounds I grab from the kids aren't optimal. The kids are great, the sounds are funny enough, but TOO funny, which means they don't work as well when pulled into a musical context. To my pleasant surprise, when we are finished, the kids seem to love it just as much as any other show. Though, I can't help feel a bit irritated, we didn't quite perform our best, maybe I fooled around too much yesterday, the ghosts are having their revenge in the machine.

I gather myself and try to focus during the drive to the next school. The next show is our final show. I want to end the tour with a great show and a good feeling - and also, the final show will be filmed, and judged by an official board at Rikskonsertene. The board will analyze the show, make a decision, I don't know exactly what the outcome will be, if I get another tour, a nice diploma or maybe thrown in jail for corrupting young minds with sinful beats or using up all the hot water in hotels.

This show is a bit like a final exam. I don't like that everything depends on this one show, but that's the way it is. My producer Mats is there, taping the show for Rikskonsertene.

We set up our stuff, preparing for the show, and one of my AirFX boxes stop working, and I'm like NOOOOO even more tech failures, what is GOING ON? We haven't had a single failure all tour, and everything breaks down today? We swap wireless mics, since I talk the most, but the bad unit is still crackling so we might loose Jens. I finally locate the AirFX error, fix it, some weird snafu in the Max/MSP patch not loading properly, and it's showtime, we head for the wardrobe to wait while the kids gather.

We start playing. After only a few seconds there is a loud, determined "pop!!!" from Jens' mic. We look at each other. And then everything works, really works. The ghosts in the machines implode.

From there it all works as if by magic, everything is perfect. For the first time on the tour, the kids are clapping and cheering already during the first track. Our gags kick just right, we even laugh ourselves. The samples we grab from the kids are PERFECT. They laugh, clap, cheer, yell, and by the final track when I say "dance floor" they all jump up and run to the stage and start dancing, they join in to play my infrared instruments with me and I'm just jumping around having a blast. After the show we get hugs, another first, and they have even rehearsed a thanks-for-the-music clap-and-dance routine.

I completely forgot about the cameras taping the show for the board, until afterwards I realize we just got a fantastic show on tape. The ghosts just wanted to scare me, in the only way I can be really scared - by unexplainable tech breakdowns *. "Don't mess with us ghosts, we like you, and appreciate the trouble, but let US do the haunting. Know your place, mortal ones".

We pack down our stuff, Mats takes the footage and the sound system to Oslo, we head back home for Bergen, a long drive through the mountains. It rains all the way, but I'm happy, full of energy. Seems like I've made friends with both kids and ghosts.

(* Not really.)

Video: Atlantis Coastguard Corruption (Live)
Posted November 2nd 2010, at 11:45 with tags , ,

Live footage of Ugress performing Atlantis Coastguard Corruption, at Teglverket, Kvarteret, May 21st 2010.

At this show I got to play with a huge LED wall, wrote a report on that.

This is the first from a bunch of 2010 videos. I finally took time to sort through all the footage from live shows this year. There's always a camera or two pointed at the stage, mostly for my own reference and archive but sometimes it looks nice enough to share here.

Videos are available in HD (720p) if you click on through to Youtube.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 25 - The Ghost Of Brattrein
Posted October 28th 2010, at 20:31 with tags , , , , , , , ,

Supposedly, there is a ghost at the hotel we are currently staying. Some kids on the shows earlier today told us. (The shows went great.)

Haha, perfect, then I plan to scare Jens and capture his terrible fright on video!

It didn't play out exactly as I intended.

Embedded Flickr photo story below, also Facebook album.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 24 - Connections To New Friends
Posted October 27th 2010, at 16:40 with tags , , , , , ,

Super show today, and bonus: We're invited to a concert tomorrow here in Notodden! Maybe we have to go. I'm nervous.

Long story, short summary: Last week playing Flatdal school, tiny town, deep in woods, great place, meet contact teacher, she's from Notodden, I confessed sceptisism, asked for advice, what to do in Notodden next week, she'd think about it, I forget, time passes, today we play here, turns out, THIS contact teacher is related to previous, they have talked, she gives us complete overview of whats happening, films, music, art, and invites us to huge concert tomorrow! We cannot possibly turn it down. I'm nervous for unplanned social events.

It seems not only our rental car making new friends in Notodden.

For the shows today, we manage to arrive an hour too early. How perfectly NOT rockstar-ish. Dear me, this is the second time we arrive too early on this tour, I'm a terrible administrator and tour manager and coordinator but at least my errors seem to dip in the right direction. Mostly.

(If you ever see a hotel room door with the key in it - yup, that's mine.)

We lounge on the tjukkas and shoot hoops with some of the kids while waiting.

Show runs great. We keep inventing new tricks and silly gags; trying out new stuff for every show, some things work, others doesn't - but either way one of three happens:

  • The kids laugh
  • The teachers laugh
  • We laugh

I like having a combination of this. 

Best response today was the "headphones-in-eyes-trick". It's actually pretty hard to pull off I have to bang my head just the right amount and then catch the phones on my nose and keep it there and then play absolutely wrong notes, panic around the stage WITHOUT actually knocking anything over but hopefully try to look like it almost happens. Jens then grabs me and guides me into place, corrects the headphones, I continue. The youngest ones finds this screamingly hilarious. The bigger kids find it decidedly daft and stupid but they still smile (pity, I suppose). I think the teachers marvel at how such exceptionally bad acting manages to produce laughter. 

We're back to Hogwarths pretty early, it's raining, I set up my office in the empty lounge and get to work, nuking emails, typing out these reports and doing research on wireless motion sensors for an upcoming contemporary dance project.

Running around the empty hotel waving my Wiimote, measuring distances and latencies and data patterns, gaffing the controller to my thighs and elbows, pretending ballett moves, knocking over my coffee, desperately trying to wash it off with tea-water before the hotel crew notices the stain. I'd rather not explain what happened. 

Now we're off to find a new place to eat.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 23 - Friendly Notodden
Posted October 26th 2010, at 20:38 with tags , , , , , ,

A few weeks back, during the previous leg of the tour, I stayed over in Telemark metropolis Notodden for a few days. Back then I wrote a report on that. I found the town a bit forlorn, out of sync. Like a town ridden by invisible trouble in a noir western. (I actually liked that, as a visitor.) 

However this observation made me anxious for this week - we are playing schools in and around Notodden for the final part of the tour. How would they receive our show in the post-apocalyptic, last frontier town of Notodden? Maybe all the kids have guns and boots and they cast hard shadows and drop cynical one-liners.

Well they don't. They're really bright and friendly, perhaps the most friendly and social kids we've met so far. Or maybe it's us, we've become more secure and comfortable around the trolls, I'm not sure. But the atmosphere at schools in Notodden are awesome. We also for the first time on the tour, play up on a stage. (If possible, we stay on the floor with the kids, but now we're playing bigger schools with less room on the floor.)

Both shows today run great. Kids love it, lots of laughs. As mentioned, by chance I started using the Wii remote this weekend, I have now brought it further, into the kids show, it works great here too. We're working on developing nice routines, like me running around in the room triggering samples from the Wiimote and Jens replying with other samples from stage.

The kids are quick to notice, "He's playing Wii! He's playing Wii!". We get a lot of questions and curiosity after the show, I let them play everything, try to explain how it works.

We're also staying at a different hotel than last time. This one is old, but nice and cozy, looks like a mashup of a hotel, a school and a castle. I get a Harry Potter vibe from staying here, like we're on a boarding school for touring mad kinder-scientists.

In the afternoon and evening the lounge is filled with people working on laptops, there's a team of women, I can hear they are talking about kids and music, maybe they are another RK band or show. There's also other people who look like artists coming and going.

Oh and I lost my tiny memory card in the lounge the first day, and the next day someone found it and returned it to me. Wow.

We went to the same Indian restaurant as last time we stayed here and the waitress recognized us, happy to see us again. I got me some extra yummy mango chutney. Tomorrow are two shows at the same school, and it's just a two minute drive from the hotel.

We even found a playmate for our rental car!

Notodden is warming up.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 22 - Another Photo Report
Posted October 26th 2010, at 20:06 with tags , , , , ,

Photos from day 22.

Of particular note, please observe: Young human being falling out of his chair laughing in number four.

Report: Ugress Live Volda
Posted October 26th 2010, at 16:39 with tags , , , , , , , , ,

Screen shot 2010-10-24 at 11.38.40

I can quickly conclude, it was terrific. This show was in the middle of the current school tour. I absolutely love playing at schools, but I sorely miss the loud, immersive pulse of a sound, lights and visuals in a smoky, dark club. The dystopian cinematic show in Volda was a delightful contrast to bright and funny school shows. 

I tried a bunch of new things. Paragraphs:

Strings Electronique

I invited guitarist Kristian Svalestad Olstad to join, on rather short notice. We briefly met a few weeks back and talked, on a very general level what could be possible. I gave him the live repetoire and some thoughts on what I wanted (or not wanted). For some tracks I had strict guidelines or ideas, for other tracks, I gave him free reign. The week before Volda, before I left for the school tour, we then met up and had a simple run-through of each track, what he had come up with, briefly discussing what worked and how to approach any changes.

The run-through left me with a good feeling, I was very excited to play live with him, and I note with glee the end result was A+ splendid will play again. In particular the tracks where he got a prominent part. Kristian brings an impressive arsenal of effect boxes and pedals and electronics, which sounds intriguing but also looks magical, an important visual aspect of my portable electromusical laboratory.

The greatest surprise however, for me, was to have a melodic/effectronic/riffic player with me on stage to actually PLAY with. Completely by accident (or perhaps not) we suddenly found ourselves battling little melodies - and even cooler - morphing the melodies into similar sound effect-patterns and stubs.

Wiimoting Around Like You Just Don't Care

I got me a Wii remote earlier this fall, and had not intended to use it on regular live shows. I got it mostly as a research tool for an upcoming ballet project, looking into motion sensors, movement patterns, stuff like that. I brought it with me on this tour so I could do some research hidden in the hotel room.

Just on a whim, when I saw it in my flight-case during sound check, I thought to set it up for triggering the live audience samples, mostly just for fun during rigging, running around the venue playing beats annoying everyone trying to do honest work. Took me only a minute to set it up through Osculator. It also took me only a minute to annoy everyone.

This was a BRILLIANT whim. Later during the show, I suddenly grabbed the Wiimote and moved out to front stage, dancing around like a mad man (perhaps strike "like"), triggering sampled claps and tramps and shouts of the audience as a drum battle with Nasra. This worked much better than the iPad, which needs two hands to operate off-table, and is cumbersome to handle while dancing around a a mad man. (Also I tend to inadvertently hit the Home button with the left hand who holds the pad, and by that quitting TouchOsc which is rather impractical because it looses all values - looking forward to a state based version of that yup.)

Later, after our first encore, as we left the stage, the audience kept cheering and clapping, eventually chanting UGRESS in rhythm. For some reason, I don't know why, I still had the Wiimote in my hand - and I instinctively started playing audience-beats in rhythm with them, which they seemed to find pleasurable. So we had a second encore.

Visual experiments

I'm continuously developing the visual aspect of my show and for Volda I tried a setup of 3 LED-TVs in front of me (as the school concerts), synchronized with projection at the full backdrop. Theory being; a balanced, dimensional rising line-of-sight visuals with my laboratory as the middle part of that, and the front/back visuals connected to each other by theme. This should hopefully give the impression of depth in the visuals with me "inside" them, not outside or edge-wise. I think it worked so-so, the problem was rather mundane; the venue projector was too weak. It didn't quite provide the same intensity as the LED screens and Kåre Ivar's impressive light design. When everything pumps at max, the backdrop kind of disappeared in it all.

Sequence 5

I am not worried though, for the upcoming show at Landmark, the projectors are the least of my challenges. *Cackles quietly for himself with megalomaniac glee.*

Now I'm running out of time, these were the most important aspects to document, I have other reports to type tonight so rest of this report is a lazy adjective summary:

Band - Terrific.

Crew - Terrific.

Venue - Terrific.

Crowd - Terrific.

Conclusion - Terrific.


Ugress RK Tour: Day 20 and 21: School Is Out
Posted October 26th 2010, at 16:35 with tags , , , , , ,

Observe the incredible infographic above, visually explaining my weekend.

We spent day 20 and 21 driving for 12 hours up to Volda, hammering out a thundering live grown-up show with my live band (separate report on that), then driving 12 hours back to Telemark, a few hours sleep and then early rise to continue shows on day 22.

Photo Report: Ugress Live Band, Volda
Posted October 24th 2010, at 14:14 with tags , , , , ,

Photo report from Ugress Live at Rokken, Volda. Featuring Nasra Ali Omar (drums) and Kristian Svalestad Olstad (guitar).

Played with new live musicians yesterday at the student festival in Volda. I'll type out a report later, I've written some comments at each photo. The live show shots are taken from video cameras.

Update: Also on Flickr.

Tonight: Ugress Live, Volda, With Band
Posted October 23th 2010, at 14:55 with tags , , , , ,

Thundering beats, hammering drums, scientific grooves, cinema sized notes, epic guitars, explosive visuals, blinking lights and fearless pixels.

Ugress Live featuring Nasra Ali Omar (drums, percussive electronics), Kristian Svalestad Olstad (guitar, string electronics) tonight at Rokken, Volda.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 19 - Snowy Friday Rock Disco
Posted October 23th 2010, at 13:29 with tags , , , , ,

Yesterday evening it started snowing, this morning a frosty layer of white everywhere. A chilly drive to the first school, the cables and wires left in the car overnight are almost frozen stiff. 

Today we have shows at different schools, and then a 5-6 hour drive up into the mountains, crossing the country playing a regular show in Volda tomorrow, and then back again here on Sunday. Grinding the road this tour.

A bit drained on energy, multiple shows each day, little sleep, working nights at the hotel. My top secret super-hero dunderhonning ingredient is simply the energy radiating back from the kids at shows.

Both shows today are nitro injections; at the first show in Seljord the kids are in cinema seats which makes it hard to dance, but we get huge laughs. There's a bunch of kids helping us loading in and hanging around during setup, we're throwing friendly banter with them, afterwards writing tattoo-graphs on their arms and faces(!). I expect their parents to really appreciate that.

Next and final show of this week is at a tiny, charming school at the foot of huge hills and mountains, in bright sun. We arrive early and the principal invites us into the teacher's room for coffee and cake. I am still terrified of this room, it is forever firmly planted in my mind the horror of this rooms means I'm in deep s**t. Being Friday, they are serving cake, I force Jens to have some and see if it's a lie.

But the teachers are really nice, the show runs great, the kids are bright and very much present, lots of laughs and energy poured into the samples I grab, and at the final part of the show, we have everyone jumping around and some kids gather round my setup and I hand the iPad over to a kid, with no words between us just tap pads to show him how to play it and he goes crazy hammering out disco drums I built from one of the other kids while I'm improvising lead vocals built from a single tone sample from another kid again and everyone's dancing around us, friday afternoon gym-hall mad disco laboratory.   

Back in the car it's a long drive up the mountains, I'm shifting my mind from kids to clubs - we are playing a festival in Volda tomorrow, I'm bringing full band and crew, trying a new musician and new visual setup, everyone's coming in by plane or car from here and there, so I'm on the phone and laptop organizing and preparing, while Jens is navigating the rental van cutting through endless Norwegian woods and hills.  

We stay the night half-way to Volda, at a mountain ski resort. Yumminess, they have a tapas bar and we're really happy to have a choice of some "urban" food after many days of questionable hotel meals where there is only one choice.

I work late into the night at the hotel, just before dawn I'm finished, PHEW, got all edits done and new versions prepared and laptops in sync and the live set visuals are now 30 gigs of HD and SD video for multiple screens I'm REALLY pumped for the show later tonight.

I take a long hot bath and a cup of tea and sleep for a few hours, not nearly enough but I'm relaxed and happy because everything is ready and set for tonight, I can kick back and chill in the car drive all day, I'll be having my very best crew with me tonight and trying out brand new stuff and I'll be running on crowd energy, I have a long breakfast and finally have a spare moment to see that hey Apple is out with some new stuff and ooh that looks like the new core i7 for the Macbook Pro finally is available.

Typing this now while zooming through Jotunheimen, pictured above, splendid views and ninja trolls you cannot see them in daylight but they are THERE I can sense them.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 18 - In Pictures
Posted October 21st 2010, at 23:59 with tags , , , , ,

Ugress RK Tour: Day 17 - Electro-magnetic Rjukan
Posted October 21st 2010, at 23:04 with tags , , , , , ,

We're playing Rjukan and I wished I had more time staying here. The school turns out to be a wonderful place to play, and the place itself is loaded with intriguing history.

I recently read The Northern Lights, about my hero, brilliant mad scientist Kristian Birkeland, and his tireless research which both nailed the Aurora Borealis and eventually took him to Rjukan where he found enough power to fix up his famous electromagnetic cannon. Would love to dive into the history of this place but I only get a glimpse of the stuff as we zoom past it.

Two shows today at the same school here in Rjukan, and we're taken care of by a sweet team of pupils who helps up with gear, coffee, introduces the concert and eventually gives me a tour of the school.

After the first show, they take me around looking at the various departments and classrooms, and I end up in a room where the class just saw our recent show. When I come visiting, they are busy writing reports (AWESOME!) on the show. A few of them read up their report to me.

The reports are super sweet and honest, and almost exactly like my own journal. They mention something we hear a lot on this tour: They expected to be bored (I know, I was always bored when I had to endure a concert as a kid) but they are totally NOT bored. They love it, they're enthusiastic, laughing and moving and having fun.

(A side note relevant to this detail: After the previous part of the tour I got evaluation reports from the schools from my tour producer Mats. The only things the schools complained about: "The pupils are very energetic and wild after the show, hard to control and make them sit still and concentrate." Haha!)

Back in the classroom. When the kids have read some of the reports, it is time for some questions, and they ask really really smart questions - which are impossible to answer in short time. Not because there is no answer but because it would take me a really long time to explain it; like one of them asks: "How do you get the sound of us straight into playing it in the music?" which is a brilliant question. All I can sort of tell them is that the signal goes straight from the microphone into the computer, which runs special software and immediately after recording it's automatically prepared and ready for use. Which I get, is totally not a satisfying answer.. they're like "uuuhhh..." but then there are other questions, all of them clever and honest and curious and are you on Spotify and I am yes and then I write autographs, and I take a picture of them.

We play the second show. I hand the HD cam over to a great kid from the pupil group who's been showing me around and fixing stuff for us and ask him to just mess around and shoot whatever he likes. Haven't seen the footage yet looking forward to reviewing that.

After the final show they help us to pack and carry everything out to the car, and we wave goodbye, thanks for a super day. Drive for a few hours to Morgedal, a tiny place where skiing was invented. We seem to be traveling in woods loaded with history.

There's a pool at this hotel too. I head for yet another desolate swimming pool session, unwind by splashing around on my own.

There is a enormous sign "NO DIVING AND JUMPING", actually there are several signs. However, under controlled circumstances, I am your designated notorious rebel. And nobody is here, nobody is looking. There are no CCTVs. So I DIVE MULTIPLE TIMES! The nerve.

Then work for many hours in my room, preparing new tracks, edits and visuals for upcoming show with full band in three days. We have dinner at the hotel, food buffet. I like those, you can make very mashed up meals. Back to my room I work late into night, the hotel turns quiet, there's a full moon outside, rendering the forested hills outside in trollish hues. When I finally crash, the moon is high in the sky, flooding my room.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 16 - Perfect Start
Posted October 21st 2010, at 07:39 with tags , , , , ,

I wake up at and in then there is a VOLCANO outside my window. Well not really it's not even dormant it just looks like one. In my imagination it erupts just as we're driving in 200 km/h down the mountainside and Jens narrowly avoiding being hit by falling rocks and I'm on the laptop live-blogging it AND writing a new track AND we have a sick deer in the back that I have to perform surgery on but we handle it all.

But the volcano is quiet. So, a super neat breakfast with lots of fruit yum. We drive to the first school, running late because of ice and snow on the road. Some small technical glitches during setup but we're ready just in time bam we're on.

Eight weeks (I think) since the last show, but I haven't forgotten anything. Feels great to play again, I'm full of energy and so are the kids. They are laughing and cheering, they love the live sampling, and by the final track everyone is dancing like happy trolls. It's 10 am.

After this concert we have to write autographs to everyone at the school. When we're finished, one kid figures he want a tattoograph, to write our names on his hand. This spreads like wildfire and again we have to write our names ON everyone in school.

A bright little entrepreneur-kid realizes the value of this and has me writing 16 autographs in a grid on a piece of paper. Later he comes back with even more paper but I refuse telling him he's undermining the market. He sadly taps off.

We pack down our stuff, about to drive on to the next school, when finally the kid appears again, stuffing more papers into my hand. Sorry, no more graphs for you, I say. "No, they are for you!" he says, and I look at them and it's actually two drawings. The most beautiful portraits I have ever had the honor of receiving.

Me, Jens. Whats up with my left arm?

We sprint on to the next school, arriving just in time, lots of friendly kids help us carry the setup inside. Everything up, and again bam we're on.

And the same rush of energy from the kids, by the final track everyone is dancing and eventually they form a long line of all the pupils snaking around the gym hall while we're high-fiving and we even have to do an encore.

It's been nice to have some time off from the material, I haven't done much changes, only small nudges, mostly in how I communicate. Those changes has been very effective, creating more energy and humor in the set.

Back at the dormant volcano hotel I realize there is a pool. I go for a mind-clearing walk in the nearby mountains, with a surreal view looking down at Rjukan where we are playing tomorrow. Then I head down to the pool, nobody is there.

I'm alone in the empty swimming hall, it's snowing outside and I'm splashing around and jumping and diving and lounging in the hot-tub with my iPad and having a great time. I loved swimming pools as a kid and never stopped. The rest of the day I work on this weekend separate upcoming show at Volda, I have to fix visuals for a new stage setup I'm trying out.

Late at evening we drive into town for a meal at The Most Average Chinese Restaurant In The Universe. (This is not meant as an offense to China it's just an observation and respect for the perfect gastronomical symmetry of every single Chinese restaurant in rural Norway.)

Back to work at the hotel and crashing late at night.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 15 - Transport Day
Posted October 18th 2010, at 23:11 with tags , , , , ,

Back on the road. We're out for the second and final round of the tour.

Today was only a transport day. We had to go to Oslo and pick up the tech stuff from Rikskonsertene, and then drive to Telemark. Currently typing this at a neat mountain resort high in the mountains, the first few days we're playing remote schools up here. There was a pianist, and she turned out to be part of the band playing later.

The car we got from the rental company was too small, we had to leave one of the subs behind to fit all the equipment. I'm a bit nervous for tomorrow, first that all tech stuff works, and second that one sub is enough.

I spent most of the 10 hour drive working the laptop, not a very social drive but I'm trying to catch up on everything and the drive was a place I could focus on office stuff. We stopped for lunch once for an hour, and we picked up gear in Oslo, which was just about enough time a power outlets to recharge the batteries.

There were snow in the mountains, and we had cruel rains chasing us all the way. We left Bergen in darkness and arrived Telemark in darkness. Winter is here.

Status Update, October 18th
Posted October 18th 2010, at 22:37 with tags , , , , , ,

A super quick status update. 

I'm currently on tour in Telemark and this is the first day, which is just a transport day, which means I had time in the car and at the hotel to write a bunch of long needed updates to the website.

I think I've managed to get the most important notes out. One part of me is happy to have so much to do I haven't got time to document, another part is very sad because if I don't document it I feel like it didn't really happen. I need to have time to report what I did, to keep tabs. Here's a quick overview.

I've wrapped up all production jobs and my current concerns are this tour right now, with a separate full production gig in the middle, the upcoming album, building a new live band, a live date in Bergen with megalomanic production plans and a contemporary dance event at the Opera in Oslo in december.

Live band, I've already started working with a new drummer Nasra, and I'm currently trying out a smart new guitarist (which I'd also like to function as non-guitarist). It is very rewarding to work with talented people and I'm so looking forward to play live with them but I slap myself for forgetting how much time and resources it takes from me to work with other people. Structure and method has to be agreed upon, and versions delivered long before showtime, new tracks even before that, edits done to encompass new elements. It is well worth it in the long run, but it eats time (for all involved I know).

Upcoming album, I know I'm quiet on it, and I know I'm late on it, but I have been spending time on this I'm just not talking about it. I spent a good amount of time creating music and ideas during summer, and my recent hiatus in Berlin was a direct investment into the album. I almost don't believe myself, but everything is still set for a November 29th release.

School tour right now, I'll post daily updates. We are playing primary schools in Telemark. The coming weekend I'm playing at Uka in Volda, a student festival, which is the first show in a long time where my whole production team is gathered, really looking forward to that, almost a family reunion. And playing with new musicians, excited about that, I think it will be great. We're gonna try a lot of new stuff.

I'm a bit late on developing visuals for this coming weekend, I want to try out some new techniques that probably will be part of the megalomaniac event in Bergen late November, so I have to spend evening and nights of this week fixing those. Also we're trying out a bunch of new tracks I have to fix details in those that didn't work the last time.

Oh and I'll be spending most of December in Oslo developing a performance at the Opera, together with a choreographer, vocalist and dancers from the National Ballet. Very excited about that, so far we have just been exploring opportunities and openings, and I am convinced this will be awesome. More details on this as it progress, I'm allowed to talk about it so I plan to document the process, intensifying when I'm back from this tour.

What Is He Building In There? - GMM As Case In Science Master Thesis
Posted October 18th 2010, at 21:33 with tags , , , , , , ,

"What is he building in there?" is a Norwegian master thesis with subtitle "Distinctions between the authentic and the synthetic in Norwegian popular music", written by Stig Sæbø Øvreås.

The title is quoted from the title of a Bob Dylan Tom Waits song, and the quote reflects Stig's curiosity surrounding the thousands of choices being made during the creation of pop music, the choices that ultimately provide the music everyone ends up listening to. What are they really doing in the darkness of studios, what is it exactly they are creating and how do they do it?

More than a year ago I was approached by Stig, he told me about this paper and asked me if we could meet for a talk or two, as he'd like to use me as a case. I thought his ideas and research sounded intriguing and we had a couple of very interesting talks.

My case in the paper dvelves into interesting aspects of both my work and my career, how the choices you make (or avoid to make, or fail to make) forms you and your work. There are some real-life examples, a bunch of screenshots of how I work, the software I use, how I use it, how I use it differently from others, and also a segment on how sampling and copyright laws affect my work and choices.

There is also a lot more information and research into other artists and producers in the paper. I very much enjoyed talking with Stig, having reflected discussions on how I work, why I work like that, what is different, how do I think around it, it helps me look at my own work and methods from a fresh perspective. I learned much just by doing the interviews, and certainly more by reading the paper.

Science FTW.     

The thesis (in Norwegian) is available here at Google docs (might need a google account to login). It will be published in a magazine I'll update here when it's out. You can also contact Stig directly if you'd like a PDF.  

Ugress AMZ 1974 Student Music Video
Posted October 18th 2010, at 21:15 with tags , , ,

A beautiful, neatly toned and fast-paced music video for the AMZ 1974 track created by students Kristine Enoksen, Mikaela Bodin and Tam Britza.

In particular I love the black balloons, something I always wanted as a kid, and therefore I entered into the never-ending spiral of trying to color my balloons black with sharpie markers - but of course as the balloon fills with air your sloppy work is continuously exposed as what it is; a macgyverish-mondrian patchwork of failure, that keeps growing until it bursts.

Not this video though, I'm always amazed, and honored, by the amount and inventiveness of material generated, that uses or is built from stuff I made. Which I myself often built from what others did, sometimes my songs use samples or loops and I'm standing on very physical shoulders of others. Other times, there are no samples like with AMZ 1974 everything is created from scratch, but still I'm standing on shoulders, it's a more a mashup of my favorite genres and their tricks, and how I interpret those into my own style and then these talented girls come and build a music video on top of that which is then within their ideas of style and expression.

I like it when this cultural process of references, inspiration and development become so visible, because I think this process is very much the core of how art and creativity works. Nothing comes from nothing. It is just sometimes cleverly, or cluelessly, hidden.

One-Eyed Mechanobot Has Binary One-Eye
Posted October 18th 2010, at 21:11 with tags , ,

He looks exactly like retro robots should look. I really like the one-eyedness, robots should have a one-eyed look of the world.

Created by Mike Slobot:

"The Mechanobot is a brass tacks, no-nonsense slobot that loves nothing more than working on a motorcycle. Long hours holding a wrench bring him pure delight, and he specializes in detailed reconstruction work. Mechanobot carries around his own supply of grease, oil, and gas on his back, with his trusty ‘combo grease gun’ at his side.”

Kometkameratene: Music From Season 2
Posted October 18th 2010, at 15:15 with tags , , , , , ,

The music from the second season of the Kometkameratene is now out.

Twelve songs, from a broad selection of music videos, sketches and cues, written by your correspondent and Mr Sjur Hjeltnes for the second season of the show.

I prepared this material back in June, delivered to Egmont in July and they took it from there. We talked for a while during spring and summer if we should just release all of it - there is so much unreleased material from the show, including stuff from season one - but eventually we concluded it best to make a smaller selection of the more energetic stuff and make a nice album of it. But there is still more stuff in the vaults.

This is a digital only release, download and streaming. There's no booklet with lyrics this time. It's out in iTunes and Wimp so far, actually it was out September 20th, but I have been waiting for Spotify to catch up before announcing... but that could take forever. I'll update when Spotify and other services put it out.

Update October 26th: It's out in Spotify.

Wimp, iTunes

Ugress music in hilarious stick man death animation
Posted October 18th 2010, at 11:08 with tags , , , , ,

A brilliant and intense animation rendering 60 hilarious stick-man deaths in 5 minutes, by Terkoiz1.

Just recently found it by chance, wasn't aware of it until a fan asked me a question about it the other day. Watched during break the other day and almost splurted my smoothie all over the laptop, some of the deaths are superbly inventive. Others are... to the point.

The animation uses Kommisär Kontemporär for menu music, Spider-Man for first half and Harakiri Martini for second half.

Warning: Very, very graphical and deliciously gory stick-man animated deaths.


Expedition Report: Berlin
Posted October 16th 2010, at 00:12 with tags , , , , , ,

Recently I stayed for some time in Berlin, capital of Germany. The plan was to get away from my own daily trudge, get some solitary time in an inspirational setting, to wrap up the upcoming Ugress album, which has a looming release plan that scares the shit out of me every time I see November 29th on a calendar.

This is the expedition report, organized per observation point.


I rented an apartment, which gave me a nice place to stay completely in my own world, no annoying room service cleaning messing up my system, a proper desk, and a fully equipped kitchen if I wanted to cook in (which I did some days, others eating out).

Idea was to get away from my regular life, where I tend to get sucked into too much daily practical and administrative stuff to get anything REALLY important done, but still have a normal life and not feeling too much like I'm on tour.


Most days was like this: Wake up with the sun, no alarms. Lay in bed for some time thinking about the day, what stuff should I work on. Make coffee. Drink coffee. Drink coffee. Make coffee. Drink coffee. Work, either producing music or sketching ideas and plans for both the release and upcoming live shows. Lunch, self-made, in a nearby park or by a canal or somewhere quiet and sunny. More thinking. Back to apartment, coffee, work for some hours, producing or sketching.

At some point, somewhat satisfied with the days work. Venture out into the city on a rented bike.

Just going somewhere, anywhere, with or without a loose plan of where I should end up. Whenever I got hungry or tired, fall into the nearest nice place and have some food, then back out on the bike. Around midnight I usually got tired and cold and navigated back to the apartment and crashed, without setting any alarm.


One evening, a perfect evening, I went for dinner and then to see the Berlin Philharmonic perform Offertorium by Sofia Gubaidulina and Sibelius' first. That was incredible, in particular the Offertorium. I was late coming in, and was politely directed by an army of hostesses to see the first segment high up in an alcove of the hall, which turned out to be a super neat benefit for studying the architecture and setup of the whole concert building, which places the audience 360 degrees around the orchestra.

After intermission I found my proper seat. This was directly behind the percussionists, which to my ears and eyes was a splendid experience, being a connoisseur of beats, both classical and modern.


I didn't do much tourism in the traditional sense. I went to the botanical gardens and spent almost a day there, and it was great but I felt so bad for having a salad for lunch. I tried having a contemporary art and museum another day, and saw some intriguing stuff and some crap stuff but then I failed the arts when I stumbled across an awesome Adidas store which carried the new Star Wars line of merch and a noodle shop with perfect ramen. Kid in candy stores. But that was all tourism and shopping I did. 


I found lots of peculiar sounds, and sampled a lot, from a huge palette of weird sources I stumbled across. When traveling regularly, on an itinerary, I rarely have time to notice what's going on around me soundwise. Staying in my own world, it is much easier to notice the sounds surrounding me, and to take the time capturing them. I have a plan for them, but not ready to reveal anything yet, I don't have time to realize the production aspect of this plan right now. I also noted; the background noise of the world is more ever-present in Berlin than in my hometown Bergen. I need better directional mics.


Mein gott in himmels und ein Unikorn mit free beer von der Rainbow, the Germans do cities and biking right. There are bike lanes everywhere anywhere, as a bicyclist you are way more efficient and flexible than a car. Both cars and pedestrians acknowledge you (and YOU ack them, mind you). You can get from one edge of Berlin to another in under one hour. You can get anywhere in Berlin almost as fast as the public transit. Biking in Berlin is simply profoundly natural, not some freaky health and alternative sustainable thing that crazy weirdos fight to do, like it is in Norway.

At night, when the flat, wide streets are mostly empty, but the pavements are full, and the cafes and clubs are even fuller, the avenues are lined by eternal rows of post-socialistic mega-blocks or by modern towers of steel and glass branded by Asian electronics or you are zooming past immense Bahnhofs looking like someone landed the Death Star and turned it into a mall with trains crossing each other vertically in 10 floors up, of course always perfectly on time, it feels like flying through the heart of a Europe that can't seem to make up it's mind if the time has been, the time is now, or the time will come, or all of that.

Post-Apocalyptic Graveyard

Biking around on chance lets you see the city from a different perspective and brings you into the rarest gems. One day, after exploring one of the many small garden-cities on the fringe of town, I had just biked on and on for several hours out one of the avenues, I suddenly found myself in a somewhat abandoned, overgrown forest-ish graveyard.

It had everything, super manicured Recently Dead Rich Guy lawns and also the well-known Central European Forgotten Socialist Jungle Area. I spent several hours in there, had my lunch by a fountain, parts of the yard was so old and neglected there were huge trees and tight wild growth between every grave line. You could get completely lost within a few feet. Like a graveyard hundreds of year after the apocalypse. Sehr goth.

Grocery Shopping

I have a morbid sense of weird accomplishment whenever I'm in a foreign country, going grocery shopping for the first time, and pulling off being taken for a local by just observing how the whole mundane system works for a few minutes. Kind of sneaking in as a cog in the wheel without the other cogs noticing. Ninja grocery cog.


It's untrue that Germans don't have any humor. Multiple times, I try asking someone for something and just confuse them with my terrible kraken-norwegisch-deutsch. To make it easier for everyone involved I then ask if "sprechen Sie vielleicht English?" and they set up a horrible scared face and go "ACH NEEEIIIN" as the world is about to collapse around us and I'm like SHIT I'M DEAD and they're like "haha just kidding, how can I help you" in perfect English.


On the subject of language, most Germans treat me like a sweet helpless kid when I try to speak my kraken-deutsch. They're almost ready to pat me on the head for my effort. This is I suppose a common feature of anyone trying to speak a foreign language you are really bad at, because you end all sentences half-way like a question, with an unspoken "did I say that right?". And they're like "yes little friend that was VERY GOOD, you are VERY BRAVE FOREIGNER".

Old man and squirrels

In botanic gardens I saw a lot of neat stuff, lots of plants but also friendly birds and a tiny mouse who kept following me around inside the greenhouse. But the nicest and also spookiest experience was outside, in the European part of the forest (most homely I guess), suddenly coming across an old man, on crutches, fumbling around, talking to squirrels, and I mean REALLY talking to squirrels - there were two squirrels on the ground, quietly sitting right next to him, attentively listening to his words. Even if he was sort of manically stumbling around, and scaring the shit out of me. They just sat there, on the ground.Disney and Burton collides.

Die Nationalmannschaft

One day, I was biking along one of the main avenues, when suddenly a police escort pulled up next to me, driving along for some time, and eventually in the middle of the escort, a bus labelled "Die Nationalmannschaft" gliding slowly past me. At first, I was a bit puzzled, why do the German national soccer team need a police escort? And at home turf? Then I realized, stupid me, it was probably because of ME, they didn't want the players to stop the bus and ask me for my autograph. Not every day one of the biggest electronica pop idols of Norwegian primary schools in Telemark visit Berlin.

No matter, the Germans have to FOCUS on their qualification match against Turkey. I waved, and I'm sure my wave was the inspirational touch the helped them beat Turkey the same evening.

I saw the game at home in my apartment. This was in a huge building complex, in the middle of middle-class area in the middle of Mitte, the center of the city. (Not in Kreuzberg, mind you, where the turks would prevail, and if I was there I would cheer for Turkey, as my heart is split between Istanbul and Berlin.) I could hear the neighbours around me shouting and cheering whenever Germany scored. Muffled bits of success, die neue Leben des gleiches Anderes. It was nice watching the game with lots of invisible Germans, none of us really there with each other, but together in our own little post-socialist boxes.


Speaking of Die Polizei and escorts, I was almost arrested. No, I wasn't, I'm trying to make it more exciting than it sounds. There were no escorts involved. I was spoken to by a very polite and friendly Fraulein of the Polizei who told me I had to disembark my bike if was to cross the street at that particular part of the road, because it was reserved for pedestrians. Bitte aufsteigen mein herr, danke. I felt torn between multiple extremes; a fear of authorities, a soft spot for women in uniform, a wishful rebellion for authorities, and a geeky love for such a super optimized and intelligent traffic system where everything is so smooth and efficient and there comes me screwing it all up and I feel bad and stupid for NOT being a ninja cog who fit in.

Guides, iPads, network, 3G

I didn't bring or buy any guidebooks or maps or anything like that. I decided to stay completely digital and impulsive. I navigated only by Google Maps on iPhone or iPad. If I came across something interesting I wikipediaed it and went from there. This was super great, it gave me a feeling of exploring the city by really exploring, going in the direction I found exciting, investigating what I found when I found it, not being told by some map or guide where, when or how to go to what like everyone else does. My only advisors were friends and contacts who sent me text messages or commented on social networks as the journey progressed, and as much as conveniently possible I followed any advice and this combined with random spurs of the moment was how I got around and found stuff, powered by digital communication and services.

There was a plan behind this. I was interested to see how this fanned out both practically and economically. A guidebook costs what, $20ish? And you always buy two to balance things, one indie and one you never put on your shelf. Then you have to study them. And they put you into their own systems. And the maps are not in realtime. What would the same amount of running 3G data cost me, on a foreign plan?

Turns out, some more  - but not so much more that it wasn't worth it. I haven't got the exact bill yet, but one of the last days I got an automatic alert from my mobile provider, that my international data rate was approaching the alert threshold (about $70) where you have to approve further use. So I spent maybe $80 or so on data on the whole trip, most of this is realtime maps, wikipedia and visiting regular websites of whatever institution I was currently present at. And of course emails and communication whenever I was not in the apartment. But I hardly phoned anyone, most realtime communication was done with Skype from the apartment.

I think the data usage was worth this cost, it covers more than just a single guidebook replacement, and this cost in itself is going to diminish over time and the value of digital services will increase.

Like one day I was exploring the insanely awesome Karl Marx Allee, which I absolutely loved, must be the widest avenue in Europe, kept walking around with my jaw on the 30 meter wide pavement, and by chance I dropped into this super neat cafe, Henselmann, for a lazy breakfast.

After reading the Wikipedia article on KMA while sitting there, I realized the stylish cafe was named after the architect, and from there I hyperlink onto the architectural development of DDR, of it's role in socialism, and the architects career, in the setting of the fall and rise of DDR, what it all means for the cityscape, and hey that croissant was neat, noch ein espresso bitte, how this is further developed and incorporated (not forgotten) in the new German republic, and when leaving the cafe I know a lot more about my surroundings, and later I connect this knowledge and data to what I pick up from completely other articles when staying at completely other places.

Another example is everyone have this common knowledge of well-known features of a city, like Berlin, but you don't know exactly what these places and features look like in real life or exactly where they are... so another day I was biking I suddenly passed something that looked like a comic book representation of an American border crossing, complete with guards, and I was thinking are they filming a movie here? why all the people taking pictures? celebrities shooting a historical drama maybe? good for them I suppose. And then I see a huge sign McDonalds Checkpoint Charlie and I realize oh so THAT was Checkpoint Charlie and it kind of just whizzed by me and anyway that was kind of silly and theme-parkish wasn't it?

This is like the opposite of traveling by guidebook, with their top-down approach, where you FIRST have to sort through all the possibilities and opportunities of the book (quite often sorted by most-visited) which tries to cover everything, and then you end up at some single end-point, which is explained by a tiny block of text in a huge book of many such tiny blocks, and you go "u-hu ok so thats that then". I like to approach from the opposite, starting at a single point, and expanding from there (as needed).

I end up finding things like this:

An underpass hallway through a massive Stalinuesque building into a backside courtyard at Karl Marx Allee, where someone had left a pair of nice women's shoes on the bottom of a blank frame, which probably some time contained an advertisement but now only served as a frame for the shoes in a corner. They were not particularly interesting, other than carrying an untold tale of who left them, but they made me stop for some time and look at them and when I stood there I realized the hallway was filled with leaves being blown through by the pulse of passing traffic at the outside avenue for each turn of traffic lights.

So every minute or so you had this sudden rush of leaves scraping by the marble floor and the acoustics in the hallway created a very eerie sound, so I spent some time right there recorded that and it sounded great and when you transpose this down an octave or two it sounds very complex and organic and alien and VERY SPOOKY. 

The only practical let-down was that my dual data card plan (one SIM card for phone, one for iPad) is not recognized by European carriers on a visit plan, so only the iPhone 3G worked, the iPad 3G was unusable without wifi.


I must confess, after disregarding those guidebooks so cruelly, perhaps sometimes they could point you in the right direction. Not always did my bold fearless exploration send me to a hidden gold mine. I once late at night went into this super fancy bar that looked incredible, lots of beautiful people and fancy interior design.

I went up to the bar and asked for a "Dry Martini, bitte" and pictured myself so successful and part of the in crowd and clubbing with the sexy youth of Europe drinking my favourite drink and the bartendress was like "Drei Martini?" and all deer in headlights for some seconds, and then she turns around and after staring at the bottles on the shelves for some time she grabs a Martini Bianco and is about to pour me THAT in a huge milk glass and I'm like "you know I changed my mind, just a beer please". It's a trap get an axe.


They have alternative grocery stores in Berlin where ALL the food comes from organic sustainable healthy unicorn-loving tuna-duplicating rainbow-farms where animals never die but if they do they do it voluntarily. Not quite all of that but they really DO have stores where everything is organic, eco-based, generally good for YOU and not just good for the industry making money of it.

Also, the menus at cafes and restaurants have footnotes where they indicate which courses have food additives, or artificial stuff, or whatever funky industrial thing, and this is great for me with my naive save-the-world-but-first-my-own-body philosophy and my stupid allergies. This is also at the core eminently German, because what it REALLY is, is efficiency, a way to speed up the ordering process: Give the customer any needed information they need before they order, so they don't have to pester the waiter with endless vegan allergy sustainable tuna unicorn questions the waiter then have to bring back to the kitchen and they really don't have any idea what to say so they just make up an answer anyway. Mein gott I love the clever efficiency of Germans, it's all in the details.


Regarding meat and stuff like that, I saw more animals then I expected.

Besides birds: Squirrels, many, several places. Deer, several times, in gardens in parks. A fox, wild, in Tiergarten, after dark, in the middle of Berlin, not far from my apartment, we both scared each other. Horses, pulling carriages. Mouse, following me around inside the tropical greenhouse in Botanical Gardens. Fish, in pond, in Botanical Gardens. Huge dogs in huge dog-walk groups, in Grunewald. Joggers, filling the parks, and like joggers everywhere, wearing this peculiar look combining distanced pain and sweaty forlorness. But I didn't see any cats.


I absolutely enjoyed Berlin, and in particular discovering the city on my own from a bike. There is much to uncover, I'm going back just for that. And I completely fell in love with the overall German vibe. I don't know if the rest of Germany is like Berlin, but it all feels like a combination of precision-relaxement and detail-planned efficiency. Nothing is wasted, but if it IS, it is wasted PERFECTLY.

For my own, I didn't get to produce as much material as I had planned, but contrary on the other hand I got to plan and think way more than I realized I needed. That was for the better, so much is happening now, I'll write a separate entry on that, I'm becoming more of a director than a producer for lots of my upcoming schemes, I cannot do everything myself I have to hire people and I need to have both perspective and detailed plans. Berlin, providing both a new world to explore and rendering this world in utterly planned relaxed efficiency, was a perfect backdrop for my world domination plans.

Biß dann,

Report: Ugress Live feat Nasra at Edvard
Posted September 26th 2010, at 20:44 with tags , , , , , ,

Report from live performance yesterday at Kafe Edvard. The live-stream was recorded and is available at my Ustream.TV channel.

The last few years I've been playing solo. I enjoyed being on my own, in particular the flexibility for new material, I could develop right up until showtime. Now I've decided to bring in musicians again, as part of a larger plan, and yesterday was my first show in several years with a live musician.

I had asked Nasra Ali Omar to join me on drums, and at the very moment we started playing, when I got that wash of energy from live drums right next to me... it was like coming home to a very dear place. It was fantastic, I've had a bunch of great shows this year but for me this is by far the most fun.

I know we weren't completely in sync yet, there were a bunch of charming transitions and some screw-ups. Mostly me, I sampled her tams and tried battling her but I lost, I'm not super skilled on my new iPad TouchOsc pads yet. We hadn't rehearsed (NEVER WILL! HAH!) and we're still figuring out how we'll pack it all together. Which is a never-ending process and of course half the fun, trying out new stuff. 

As a base I think we will have regular drum kit, so we can perform anything anywhere, but we'd like to expand this into acoustic and electronic percussion, and probably also control signals / gesture stuff routed back to me so I can apply it to stuff in my live set. Yesterday she had a slightly extended basic kit (extra snares and tams), and a Wavedrum.

What worked?


The live sampling finally worked at Edvard, and I tried it in stereo this time. I sample the audience performing various noises, and I build beats and melodies from that. At the recent school tour I also perform a whole song from the sounds, but I choose to skip one that yesterday. (Actually, I forgot.)

Not super happy with the mics, I felt the sound got a little bit thin, at least for me on stage, I'll look into try another pair next time. Also, I tend to have a script for how to progress the sampling during the set, I didn't have one ready for yesterday so I struggled to put the sampling properly into context with the set. It become more of a technical demonstration than a musical point. But I got the technical data I wanted.

New live version of Binary Code, not quite there yet but been a long time since I performed it live, nice to have it back. Not happy with the visuals for that one yet but I'm working on it.

Talking to fans and friends afterwards on what worked and what didn't work, getting feedback.

The new robot track (work title "Robot Revenge") kicked ass. It has worked great on kids (on the school tour) and it got good response yesterday. Needs some changes, looking forward to develop it further.

At one point between two tracks I was talking to the audience and a girl shouted a funny comment, and I managed to up with a comeback in realtime. Very satisfied with that.

I finally got an answer to why kids at the school tour laugh like crazy when I introduce Turning Wheel as "a song about a princess". The answer to this actually came from the funny girl mentioned above, when I talked to her afterwards.

What I can't figure out

Promotion. I love the atmosphere at the Edvard shows, it is very different to all other shows, it was the same yesterday. A fantastic crowd. I love everyone who came, despite me doing my best to NOT tell anyone. I don't like to "market" myself, so when I'm organizing my own live shows I tend to suck at promoting them, I know I should do it, but there's always something more important than sticking up posters or writing press releases or generating buzz.

I dared asking for promotional assistance on social networks (spread the word, get a free ticket) and lots of fans helped by spreading the word. Incredible! I don't have any numbers on how effective this was, but my intuition tells me it was VERY important. I am very flattered by the generosity of people's attention, especially from people at the other side of the planet. Tough it worked, I'm not inclined to keep asking for this favor. I appreciate the help so much, but it feels a bit exploiting.

I talked a bit with fans and friends about this after the show.

What didn't work

My wireless in-ears kept screwing up on me. Have to get that fixed, spent too much time messing with it.

The live-stream video got too dark. Sound was neat, but video was borked. Sorry about that. Even my HD cam (separate for documentation/reference) struggles to tape it. The place quite simply is too small to bring in a light rig and the USB camera is utter crap. I'll look into  better solutions for next time if budget allows.

Not too happy with the visuals this time. The wall screens are OK, but the room projector and the floor projectors were to weak, I think (hard to tell from my position). Here's a sketch of my plan, I wanted to try a new way of throwing the visuals:

I had the wall screen (2) running main visuals, a room projector that washes the whole wall (1), and two floor projectors (3) which was intended to cast light upon Nasra and me and work both as content providers and as light design. But I didn't have enough time to develop the graphics as much as I wanted, and I couldn't position them properly at the cafe. I'll develop this further for next time.

Multiple outputs to Jens (sound), so he could separately balance and adjust beats, bass, instruments in my mix against the live drums from Nasra. This didn't break down, I sort of screwed up myself: I hadn't realized multiple physical outs would also need adjustments to both my own headphone mix and the external click/reference mix to Nasra, I could probably reroute things by bus tricks but there wasn't time to correct and then test for stability, so I prioritized giving ourselves proper mixes in-ears and killed the multi outs. I'll fix this snafu for next time, which should give much better sound for the audience.



The Edvard series have become exactly what I intended it for; a regular series where I get to test out new ideas, new tracks, new techniques, new instruments, new visuals, new setups, new musicians, new whatever in a proper live setting, and observe, document, evaluate, communicate, talk to people afterwards what they think. I'm not making money on these concerts, they run with a slight loss, but the data and information I gather from these shows are utterly essential and invaluable.

Haven't set a date for the next show yet, because I'm out on tour most of October and then there is an upcoming album release late November where I might set up a show at a larger venue in Bergen, but I'm definitively continuing the series in 2011.

Live Now: Ugress Feat Nasra Ali Omar
Posted September 25th 2010, at 15:25 with tags , , , ,

Update next day: Show's over, thanks for watching!

This post originally contained the embedded live stream but I removed it so the website loads faster, pointless to load a widget with no video.

You can watch the recorded stream over at Ustream.TV.

I also wrote a report on the concert.


Report: Spotify, Norwegian Music Scene Meeting
Posted September 24th 2010, at 01:52 with tags , , , , , , , , ,

Yesterday I attended a gathering with people from Spotify and from the Norwegian music business. The meeting was arranged by Phonofile (my own label's aggregator) and Music Export Norway

The background for initiating this meeting, AFAIK, is because there has been a public discussion in Norway recently, regarding if streaming - and in particular Spotify - is viable as a new business model for artists and record companies.

I suppose I was invited because both my digital streaming numbers and my opinion of the future are somewhat different than others, which created some buzz. (I run my own label and release my own stuff.) I have no plans to withdraw my material form Spotify, on the contrary I have been actively pushing more material into the service.

The meeting was held at Molly's, a wonderful, shabby and torn old apartment with lots of vintage stuff, turned into a "sometimes" cafe and nightclub. A perfect backdrop, it felt a bit like a secret mob meeting in the thirties. Except for everyone's tapping on iPhones and someone's struggling to get the huge flatscreen TV hooked up as an external screen to a Mac.

I was very nervous, I had been invited at the last moment and didn't know who else would be there. It turned out to be a great collection of very smart and opinionated people, both from Spotify and the Norwegian music scene. That didn't make me any less nervous. But I love being in the company of BRAAAIINSS.

I tend to share as much as possible, usually never withhold information, I think transparency, within sensible constraints, is an important aspect of new digital media. However, for this meeting, Spotify, and others, asked if the information shared at the meeting could be kept confidential. I agree to that. There is great value of having meetings like this, where competitors on multiple axis can talk freely. Exposure would ruin that value. 

Which means, this report can not be as juicy as it could be. I understand Phonofile and MEN will prepare a report from the meeting, which probably will contain approved conclusions.

For my part, of what I can reveal, I learned so much, a little bit as an artist, but mostly as a label. Spotify gave us great information on how they have seen their own user-base behave and develop, and explained their motives and responses to the challenges they face. We got to ask them detailed stuff about their operations and systems.

There were lots of questions and answers, and good discussion. Everyone has different goals, and different routes to reach them. I understand the challenges that many labels face, especially indies, those challenges are also relevant to me and my label, but perhaps I'm more flexible and willing to take risks than others. Being only one person/artist means I can adapt very fast. I can quickly try out new opportunities. And I have an uncanny faith in the future and streaming media, even if there aren't yet data to convince others.

I got to ask about a lot of stuff, one of my biggest wishes from Spotify (and other services) is not more MONEY, but more DATA. Spotify knows so much! They know where my listeners are, how old they are, for how long they play my songs, where in my songs they skip to another, what times of the day are my music played, what weekdays, how a listener plays my tracks over time, what group of tracks of mine do each user play, do I have a few fans who plays a lot of songs, or do I have many fans who plays a few songs, are my songs on playlists or played through radios, data data data! Currently all I get is "total number of plays pr song pr month".

This stuff is not only interesting as a label, who runs a business, but also as an artist - if I can observe that 90% of my listeners always skip at a particular point in a song, something could be wrong with that part. I know a lot of people are going to be "oh that's not art! That's focus group marketing shit! Me, I create ART in a dark corner and never sell my soul".

I dare to disagree. (Except for the dark corner part, I agree with that.) This IS about learning to make better art, and connect it better to those who want it. To learn about weak parts in songs from cloud statistics, is just a digital extension of the same you do on stage; you connect to the audience, you can feel the energy in the venue, and when something doesn't work in a track, you can FEEL it. If this happens in multiple shows, there is something wrong in that track, and you make adjustments. It's the same kind of data, just from another angle. It's about learning.

Allright that's a sidetrack I'm a bit tired, focus is slipping. I suppose there should be some kind of conclusion to this post, and that would be to the question "will I keep my material in Spotify?", the answer is YES of course. Things are just getting started.

Dear me I wish I could write more, so much exciting is happening now, I'd like to write more what I asked, what we talked about, and compare this meeting with the MusTek observations of last week. It's like two opposites of today's media culture but at the same time this is all interconnected.

I have to terminate, absolutely have to get a few hours sleep, can't think straight. I'm desperately late with preparations and edits for the upcoming show at Edvard.

Help Me Promote, Get Free Tickets
Posted September 22th 2010, at 00:22 with tags , , , , ,

I'm really bad at promoting.  Maybe you're not. Help me promote and get free tickets!

This coming Saturday the 25th is the next show in my Kafe Edvard series. I haven't started promoting it yet. That's wonderfully irresponsible.

Preparations with my new super-drummer Nasra has über priority, new tracks and visuals are more important than sticking up posters, and I'm typing this on the night train, on my way to Oslo again, those recent Spotify data generated quite some attention, have to attend to sudden new label biz, which is great, but eats time.

I figured, I cannot reach enough people on my own for this concert. 
But - maybe I can reach the BEST.

If YOU help me promote, you get free entrance. Win-win-win!


Good question. I have no idea, I suck at this, remember?

A tweet or status update or post or email or telegram or billboard poster or sky writing, anything goes. I am so clueless when it comes to promoting, I'm sure everyone's better than me. Maybe just tweet "I'm going to the super duper Ugress show at Kafe Edvard, Saturday," or something. Or email your friends and invite them.

The Facebook event is here.
My website news item is here.
The video stream will be on the front page.

Just let me know what you did (email and I'll put your name on the guest list (*). Doesn't matter if you are coming in person, or will be watching the show online on your phone from Antarctica or Africa or next door at Landmark, I'll put you on the list anyhow.

* = If there were small print I would now write in tiny invisible pixels: Limit to first 50 and/or most awesome promoters.

Hope to see you there,
Prof GMM & Mrs Omar

Press Play - Computer Game Art Exhibition
Posted September 21st 2010, at 23:58 with tags , , , , , ,

Press Play is a computer game graphics fine arts exhibition in my home town, at Permanenten, Vestlandske Kunstindustrimuseum. I went to check it out.

The overall design of the exhibition is neat, pic above, it sort of makes you inside a platform game.

I really liked the gallery of printed screenshots. Great shots and good quality prints. I think something important happens when you take a beautiful screenshot of a game, give it a high quality print, and hang it on a wall in an art gallery, it makes a statement.

I also very much enjoyed the walls of concept art, displaying games in development progress. I found a bunch of black and white concept art from Machinarium, a game I really enjoyed (especially the soundtrack). Nice to see preliminary sketches for scenes and characters I've only experienced fully fleshed out.

The graphical presentation of how computer game graphics has developed over the years was interesting.

I realized there were a game inside the exhibition itself, there are clues scattered around, and a safe with a code lock on one of the walls. I didn't have enough time to investigate but appreciated the idea.

There were some parts I didn't quite care so much for. On overall, I grew weary of meeting the same games and developers over and over in the various aspects of the exhibition. DVD playback was a bit overused, I'm not a fan of spoon-fed information. I think my reservations stem from a wish for a grander scope (always want to know MORE), I was surprised the exhibition wasn't bigger.

And I wish the game music segment could have seen more focus, but I understand the exhibition was primarily about game graphics, and not about my personal interests. Teh nerve!

I'm not sure how to conclude. I suppose it depends. I liked it, it was well executed, but I was hungry for way more.

I know there is the everlasting public discussion if computer games are art. My personal opinion, IF games are to be accepted as the new kid in the family of arts, THEN it should relax a bit with the inferiority complexes HEY LOOK AT ME and start just being an art form. But that's just typical adolescent behavior so I'm not worried. It'll happen.

Get Lamp - Text-Adventure Documentary
Posted September 21st 2010, at 23:39 with tags , , , , , , , ,

"Before the first person shooter there was the second person thinker."

Many people do not know this - perhaps more than 6 billion people does not know this - but back in the days, for my college group thesis, I actually wrote a text-based, online multiplayer adventure game. A virtual representation of our very real school, together with some good friends, based on MUD software.

I think we aced it, or at least all I can remember, the school hadn't much idea what we really were doing. So they just played it safe and nodded approvingly.

Yesterday I was geekily thrilled to catch a public screening of Get Lamp, a documentary by Jason Scott about the early history of text-based adventure games. Get Lamp was screened at Landmark, as part of the ELMCIP festival, Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice. (Impressive title.)

There were a public Skype session with director Scott in the middle of the movie, who answered questions, and gave us more background information and funny trivia from the process behind the movie. Unfortunately I had to leave before the rest was screened so I haven't seen the full feature, and haven't had time to attend the rest of the festival.

I'm younger than internet, but older than the web, I grew up with the eight bit sprites and four channel trackers, the era of text had passed, or matured into other forms. Very nice to get a glimpse of this early history of games, before home computers and consoles, and especially with this focus on pure text-based games.

I love literature and I love computers and technology, where these two meet, like right here with text-based games, there is a rainbow in my mind. This is very geeky, I suppose.

MusTek: Conclusion
Posted September 21st 2010, at 22:53 with tags , , , , , ,

Conclusion from my observations at MusTek.

My participation was initiated and funded by BEK. My objective was to observe, report, learn as much as possible, and relay data back to home planet.

Of course when I'm there, I'm not only a third-part observer but also an artist, composer, producer, consumer, with my own ties to music and technology and the marriage between us all (which in my definition ranges from mp3 players, to gestural controllers, to web sites, to crazy-ass DSP de-mix methods, to Internet itself and back to basic power outlets in the wall - this is all technology).

Now, what did I observe, and how do I conclude from those observations?

I'll conclude very broadly - I see a pattern and development I have also seen with myself: Technology has matured, become ubiquitous and reached a plateau, focus has shifted from "oooh that's nice what I can do with this" to "I want to do THAT".

I guess in some romantic way you could say that the future is now.

It's not that there aren't any new discoveries to make, or improvements to do on existing technology, by all means. I'm sure there will be fantastic things to come. But tech is no longer a barrier. Anyone can do anything really. And everyone can listen to it. Exploring the possibilities of tech is no longer a driving force in inspiration and creation.

A few years back my journal was fueled by enthusiasm for new plugins, software, techniques, updates, possibilities... not so much anymore. Posts are less frequent, now I spend more time thinking what to do, how to do it, and then I do it, and consequently my writing here has changed accordingly.

This is partly because I've simply become more busy, but also partly because I've stopped using technology as an inspiration, and I'm more using it as a tool, it enables me. At MusTek I got the impression that I'm not the only one.

Which is DEADLY exciting, because when I realize this, I expect we're on the verge of moving into a new era of media, fueled by technology both on the producing side and the consuming side. It is a confident excitement.

Expedition To MusTek: Day Two
Posted September 18th 2010, at 17:37 with tags , , , , , ,

I slept ok. This morning I had breakfast at the University stairs, my plan was to spy on passing hipsters, but I was distracted by a spontaneous new friendship.

A crazy huge seagull calmly landed, came walking up to me, cleaned her feathers, sat down next to me and patiently waited for sharing a piece. We talked a bit about this and that, but she was even more shy than me, I was the one doing most of the talking. She didn't care much for potato chips, but certainly enjoyed my salad so I suppose she was a vegan gull. When I left, she looked a little sad on her own. 


I headed on up to Musikkhogskolen for second and final day of MusTek. The coffee available in the auditorium was in a huge pot, and one eager sip informed me it was from yesterday. A SCANDAL. Your correspondent tried his best to conceal his dismay.

First talk of the day was composer Ivar Frounberg discussing using Max/MPS interactive patches in live performance. He demonstrated his current work; talking about his challenges for structuring patches. Interesting, but I must confess, I didn't quite understand if his efforts to create standarized methods for composing and performing in Max/MSP was meant to be accessible like Jamoma or if these were efforts for his own internal work. I blame the lack of proper coffee for my lack of understanding. 

After Ivar, Jørgen Orheim presented the Music Design course at Kreativ Fagskole, a general course with practical lessons for sound and music, writing, composing, scoring, producing, film, TV, all aspects of a commercial music career.

I am amazed at all the opportunities available today if you want to study stuff like that. When *I* was young and innocent all we had was a tracker, 512 kb of memory, without any of those "uhm, eh, uhm, uhm, uuuh" terribly sad Youtube screen-cast clips explaining how to press a f*#king simple button, no! when I was young, before the war, we had to figure it all out by ourselves and we had to generate electricity by building dams on our way to school and was always late because flooding the dam was an important part of the process and if we really wanted those Youtube videos anyway they were monochromatic and delivered on floppies carried by owls in the night who often got shot down by anti-aircraft guns running on microwaved steam because this was during the war. So there's a lot more opportunities now. I'll get back to this later in my conclusion.

Alex Guina gave a presentation of the Live Electronics course at Musikkhøgskolen. As part of his presentation, he first performed a splendid laptoptronica seance together with someone else (left in the pic, didn't catch his name, sloppy correspondent, sorry). Delicious ambient glitch circuit-bent noise-scapes. If I understood correctly Alex created some of the sounds by patching electronic signals thru himself or using himself as a conductor of current. Sounded great.

It was late morning, early sunny autumn, long shadows, an attentive auditorium, excellent sound (terrible coffee). Sun was shining outside, sometimes the reflections of cars turning a corner outside was slowly cast upon the screen above the musicians, providing wonderful glimpsy, abstract visuals of trees and pedestrians. Alex then talked a bit about the course, which is a very new course, what challenges they are facing. Very interesting, and again I'm like, wow teh opportunities! for a music education today, I am so excited to see what this can bring in 10-20 years when there are legions of electronic music hordes. (And also a little bit concerned.)

Next, Håkon Kvidal, the producer of the event, gave a quick introduction to some of his own work, in particular electronic academic texts on the use of music technology. I found the most interesting part of this to listen to his philosophies and strategies, would love to hear more like that. His presentation was cut short for lunch.

Your correspondent did not have neither the time nor the guts to socialize during lunch.

Then, post lunch, the best part of the whole seminar I think: Performance and presentation by Tone Åse. She performs with her voice, sampling it, processing it, creating a cloud of words, non-words, narratives, non-narratives, soundscapes, tones and music from just this voice.

Her performance - which was brilliant - and philosophy - brillianter - sums up the gist of the current state of music technology - the focus really has shifted from explorative "WHAT can we do possibly do with THAT" to the more creative "I want to do THIS and THAT will let me". Technology is about enabling and now we're at a state where so much is being enabled, focus is turning from HOW to WHY. Everybody (in the West at least) CAN write and produce symphonies, or 4'33 or or thundering industrial rock or cheesy saxophone MIDI techno and everything between these points, and you can do it on a piece of technology that costs at most a few months of low-paid work. There are no limits in technology now. Exciting times indeed!

Finally there were a discussion. This was initiated by a set of observations from Jøran Rudi regarding this current state of music technology, mostly seen from an academic viewpoint. The discussion was great but perhaps slightly internal (I think lots of these people know each other) and had it's roots firmly planted in the academic arts. Stuff like that can sometimes become a little bit introspective with a distant fragrance of self-preserve, but I guess the introspection is an important part of theory at that level, and everybody is concerned with self-preserve.

This was a seminar on music technology, but in the discussion there were few voices from commercial producers of the technology, few voices from artists outside the fine arts environment and no voices from the most important part of music: Listeners. Anyway I'm guilty, I didn't say much, I thought I had asked enough stupid questions so I shut up. You can learn a lot by just listening to smart people discussing.

Your correspondent will type out his final conclusive thoughts of MusTek after posting this eventful referral.

Expedition To MusTek: Dinner
Posted September 17th 2010, at 17:47 with tags , , , , , ,

Social events are my nemesis. But I survived this one galantly.

At first I managed to go to the wrong Indian restaurant, running late, and confusing the poor waiter by asking for the table with music technology. He had no idea what I was talking about. I looked around, but nobody there, so naturally I thought they'd ditched me.

Eventually he realized I perhaps was at the wrong place (what else is news) and sent me off to another nearby Indian place. Which was correct. There I found the others, and had a super nice time, table talk was loose and fun. I got to talk quite a bit with Jo, the developer of Musicator, and Henrik, the developer of spectral demixing tools holding a presentation earlier in the day. So great to talk to people who know so much about things I'm interested in!

The food was fine, but the best part: The walls at the restaurant was spectacular, looked like a high-school-musical-Bollywood mashup of Avatar and Buddhism, complete with frenetic blinking LEDs decorating plastic greenery. It looked like someone from Geocities had done the interior. Pic or stfu:

What the picture fails to convey, is the wonderful background music; a combination of cheese-trance and easy listening MIDI saxophone hits. I can't help it I love places like these, they're so far off they actually wrap around the scale and become something on their own, a mysterious je ne sais quois.

Afterwards people scattered, I ended up at super brown pub Olympen with friends, hunched in a corner over IPAs and iPads. In bed by polite hours with an 8 hour sleep strategy in mind.

Conclusion. Geek's night out. It was very nice to sit at a table in such an absurd place, having great food, and chat with smart and enthusiastic people about music, technology, art and the future.

Expedition To MusTek: Day One
Posted September 16th 2010, at 17:59 with tags , , , , , ,

I'm in Oslo exploring Musikkteknologidagene at Høgskolen. Here is report from day one.

Slept like an ice-cube in a volcano, but it's a very nice day, so I have breakfast in the royal gardens; watching a guard shift. Then a nice walk up to Musikkhøgskolen where the seminar is held. The school is a maze and after walking past the auditorium multiple times I realize I've done just that. The seminar is held in a fancy hall with great setup for sound.

The first part of the day is four man laptop setup SKKR.

They perform on four laptops, drums, guitar, monome, wii controllers (I think) and various midi controllers. I love their glitchy soundscapes and cannot imagine a better way to start the day, why wasn't school like this? Free coffee, laptop noisetronica, wi-fi! Only thing I wished was that afterwards they told and showed us how and what they performed. With four persons doing twist-the-secret-knob it gets kind of tricky to realize who does what when with where, even though some of it was understandable.

After SKKR it was Cato Langnes from Notam who talked about new microphone techniques, in particular regarding a complex upright bass performance. He explained a clever setup to capture as much dynamics and nuances as possible, and showed us differences between the various mics, placements and what they eventually did in post. I love listening to people explaining how they did something (technically challenging) I found the presentation intriguing. But most satisfying was talking to Cato separately about improvements to my own live sampling setup; I've got the software and crowd control up and running, now I would like to focus on getting great sound.

Then Risto Holopainen had perhaps the most exciting and brain-twisting talk of the day, regarding synthesis through feedback systems (not sure my translation is spot on). I didn't quite get all of the math, but I found the main theory and sound examples inspiring, maybe because it's a way of synthesis I haven't experienced before. Hard to explain how it works and I might screw it up so I cheat with a referral to the PDF.

Then there was lunch break. Your trusted correspondent is a little bit shy and a tiny bit afraid of all these smart people so he preferred writing these notes instead of socializing but he will find courage for the dinner tonight, we hope.

Lunch consumed, music technology back on track: Trond Engum had in my opinion the most musical and artistic talk of the day; probably because he comes from a rock music performance background. The title of his talk was "What happens when dark rock meets new music technology strategies".

He talked about how he uses and manipulates concrete sounds (real sounds from our everyday surroundings) into musical instruments, frequently by the use of convolution. He also explained the challenges of taking his methods into the realtime and live performing domain. There was a part where he showed how they had a live drum set, convoluted and routed back to the drummer in cans, meaning he was playing a himself convoluted. How does this change the performance itself? Making a note here; IN TEH REST ING.

He wrapped up with a live performance, demonstrating how built-on controllers on his guitar control software on the laptop in realtime. I loved the sound of his music, and getting to know how he did it. Again, can't believe I get to sit here with free coffee and observe so much geek yumminess.

Sigrid Jordal Havre gave a lecture about her research into children's online digital music creation. She talked about and demonstrated jam2jam, educational music software that allows kids all over the world to make music together in realtime, via internet. As Sigrid explained, very little research about digital music creation and children, this is a new field and lots to uncover. I think it's great that children gets onto music making on computers early, all though there's a devil inside me expecting all music in 20 years to sound like Brokencyde.

Then Anne Lorentzen gave an insight into her research of how female artists are slowly entering the producer role in contemporary pop and electronic music. I think in general over the last decade or so most artists have grown more comfortable with producing their own stuff, mostly powered by the digital music revolution. Her talk was very thorough and I must confess a little bit on the academic side. My attention span is damaged after touring primary schools.

Final talk of the day was by Henrik Sundt of Notam, giving a brief overview of today's demixing possibilities (how and what can be separated or extracted from already recorded material, like Melodyne DNA or SonicWorx Isolate etc). A subject dear to my heart, but therefore perhaps already thoroughly researched by your correspondent. Nevertheless there's always something I didn't know, and it is certainly inspiring to see how and why others are using these devilish tools. I was also happy to learn that Henrik is working on his own software (no idea if it will be public).

Now I have to run for the dinner, we're meeting at an Indian restaurant. I'm nervous to meet all these geniuses. But spicy Indian food and Kingfisher and talk about demixing, copyrights, feedback systems and interactive controllers, I might survive. If not at least I died on the front line.

(I alive, I'll look over this and fix URLs and typos later, must run.)

Expedition To MusTek: Day Zero
Posted September 15th 2010, at 17:26 with tags , , , , , ,

I'm going to MusTek 2010, Musikkteknologidagene, courtesy of BEK who sends me as their special agent field explorer!

MusTek is a gathering of the arts, science, business and technology surrounding music technology in Norway. I was present two years ago. As a super geek I'm very much looking forward to this. Will be hectic but the program looks great and there will be lots of exciting people. I will be reporting continuously.
Today is just travel day, MusTek starts tomorrow morning. Woke up early, my cold is retracting, fever is gone, excellent! The cruel resident evil virus that tried to kill me was neutralized by ginger and strong chili, and perhaps too many beers. But I'm a little slow-headed and messy, I should wrap up some music for a new NRK production and write some applications for funding but work too slowly, eventually just have to throw all my disks into my bag and run.

Now typing this at the airport, I was here early. Everything is crowded, even the wi-fi. I've finished the applications, now just have to find a printer, and a plane.


Spotify income passes iTunes
Posted September 13th 2010, at 20:30 with tags , , , , , ,

There's currently a public discussion on streaming rates in Norway, where some labels want to pull their material from Spotify. The reason is discontent with current rates, especially from the ad-based model, if I understand everything correctly.

In light of that I was a little bit surprised to see my latest payment for digital music, where Spotify actually passed iTunes, income-wise. I now make more money on streaming than downloads. I knew it would happen at some time, but didn't expect it that soon. Relative graph of my numbers picture above, per quarter.

Almost a year ago I posted some stats on my then-current Spotify data compared to iTunes data. There is also a follow-up post in March, with all numbers for 2009. At those moments, streaming was growing but not fast enough for me to expect a catch-up by mid 2010.

There is a bunch of cave-ats and notes though:

  • Numbers above are ONLY from those two services, I have more
  • Numbers above are actually BEFORE the Collectronics release
  • Numbers above are from INCOME, not number of streams or downloads
  • It's been almost 1.5 years since previous major album release, which naturally means that digital downloads will flatten (peak in Q2 2009 with Reminiscience release).
  • My streaming numbers are probably not growing because *my stuff* is getting more popular, or streamed more than others, they are simply growing because *more people* are streaming and/or rates are slowly improving
  • I expect the streaming numbers to flatten and behave more like downloads, when streaming reaches critical mass, but no idea when that will be
  • It will be interesting to see how both numbers behave around next album release
  • (I have very little data from Wimp so far so can't compare them into this yet)

To conclude; there is no way I'm pulling my material off Spotify, or any other streaming service. The fun is about to start, I think, lots of things will happen in the next few years.

Of course I would like higher rates, who wouldn't. But at the moment I don't think rates are the most important aspect of digital music. Establishing a new musical environment that works for all parts; fans, artists, the music business surrounding them, is more important. The music business did a lot of wrong over the last few decades. We're not quite in position to demand or complain. We have to rebuild.

Update Septh 14th 16:00: The numbers has intrigued Norwegian music news service Ballade.

Update Septh 14th 18:00: Also picked up by The Next Web.

Ugress Live: Edvard, Sept 25th (feat. Nasra Ali Omar)
Posted September 13th 2010, at 19:07 with tags , , ,

Next show in my regular series at Kafe Edvard is set for Saturday 25th of September.

This time introducing my excellent new drummer, percussionist and slam bam batterist: Nasra Ali Omar. She's lately played with Ost & Kjex, Kolargoi, Maja Bugge, and several others but now she is ALL mine.

Nasra has been a guest performer with Ugress Live several times before, but we've never had the whole evening to ourselves. I'm very much looking forward to this! We'll be performing a very cinematic and energetic set, spanning from completely new material, to vintage hits in new interpretations.

I'll also try out some new visual stuff. The holoscreens are now up and running properly, and I've got some new ideas for the same tech that I brought in for the Rikskonsertene tour.

My beloved assistant Jens are technical director for the evening.

As usual, the show will be video-streamed live on


  • Ugress Live feat Nasra Ali Omar
  • Kafe Edvard, Bergen
  • Saturday 25th of September
  • Doors open 2200, Showtime 2230
  • Cover 100 NOK
  • Age limit 20, younger persons allowed accompanied by a guardian

Ugress RK Tour: Day 14 - Conclusion: Little Suns
Posted September 11th 2010, at 20:22 with tags , , , , ,

There's a saying; children and drunk people always tell you the truth.

Everyone's worried what what others think of them, me too. I wish I could detach myself from this, who doesn't, but I can't. I worry about it all the time, in particular with live shows, the ultimate judgement of Teh You and Your Music.

I was very anxious for this tour; playing primary schools, dear me, what if they hate it? Little kids throwing tomatos at me. I would be worried about them not managing to hit me, and then feeling sorry for them, a double let-down.

Or even worse, more realistic, they quite simply Are Not Interested? The schools, the children, they have not asked us to come to them, we are forced upon them by Rikskonsertene and Kulturskatten, they HAVE to sit there and watch our show, we're part of their day.

Turns out, to my relief, the kids really like it. At first, they're a little bit confused, or rather surprised, sort of "what is THIS?". We have massive subs, multiple video screens, pumping beats and a fast pace. And we're silly-funny clueless within this framework, the whimsical professor and his forgetful assistant, we have all this stuff, but THEY have to help us do the show. They do realize we're acting, they get the play-pretend-acting (we're not Oscar material), but they accept it, they "get" the meta level, they enjoy it. They probably do not grasp the meta part of it, but at some level I think they realize the setup and they enjoy realizing it. They're smart - they know we know they know.

They create the most vital sounds. They save the show. They laugh, they clap, they shout, they smile, they move, they dance. And afterwards, they come up to us, asking questions, politely thanking us, giving us thoughtful, real compliments. Asking us why, how, and telling us what they liked. Completely in honest. It's like talking to little suns.

After the final show, I'm completely drained of energy on all levels, a girl on her way out, in a crowd of kids, she turns and yells back at me, "hey, thanks, you guys got good rhythm in your beats!".

I'm a solar panel.

Ugress RK Tour: Photos Second Week
Posted September 11th 2010, at 20:21 with tags , , , , ,

I uploaded a bunch of photos from the second week of the tour to Flickr, and also to Facebook.


Ugress RK Tour: Day 13 - Last Shows
Posted September 11th 2010, at 19:59 with tags , , , , ,

Final day of this leg of the tour; both shows at the same school.

We have done I-don't-know-how-many shows in 13 days, I've been working around the clock at the hotels at night, Jens doing all the practical bits, driving and talking to the schools, we're both mentally and physically exhausted. I simply don't have any energy left in my muscles. I notice I've lost a lot of weight, clothes are falling of me, my belt can't even hold the wireless transmitter. I have a cold standing by, I know it's going to hit me the moment I let it.

I can't manage any breakfast, which is stupid but my body just resists it. We drive for half an hour or so. Rigging the setup takes much longer than usual. I start laughing a couple of times, overtired laughs, my body quite simply doesn't do what my brain instructs it to do, I fumble so much. None of us say anything, but I guess we both silently hope the kids are with us from the start. I'm not sure I'll manage to pull a crowd up twice in a few hours.

The kids, bless them, are there from the start. We simply run the show on their energy.

I can't explain it, but you know this the moment you enter a stage. Sometimes there is this invisible energy in the air. Sometimes there isn't, and you know you have to create it. I don't mind creating it, but it costs a lot of energy. The live shows where this energy is present from get-go, are the most rewarding, both for me and the audience. You're kind of just surfing this wave of energy, conducting it, guiding it, multiplying it.

That's how this day went. I can't remember much else, other than playing, sampling, dancing and jumping around with a huge crowd of enthusiastic kids.

I can see from the HD cam, at some point I'm dancing like a madman, swinging my lab coat in the air, and making high-five dance moves with Jens. I know we had a break between the two sets, I went for a walk in a sports field, scaring some kids hiding (smoking?) below the stands. And there were some teachers coming by, trying to talk with us backstage, asking if we wanted coffee or something, but we're kind of just sitting there with blank minds, our only focus on the final show.

We play, it works, and we're finished. Then a 10 hour drive back home, via Oslo to return the sound system, I don't know how we (Jens) made it, but we did. I think we listened to a lot of radio shows. We have dinner somewhere with a huge turning wheel I was fascinated with as a kid.

Now a month's time before the next leg, in late October.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 12 - Early Morning Dance Floors
Posted September 11th 2010, at 18:30 with tags , , , , ,

Two shows today at two different schools. First was a charming school, beautifully placed at the edge of the forest, with very friendly teachers and kids. A splendid start of the day; very attentive kids and a pumping dance floor before 10 am.

After the show we got cupcakes. And a teacher came up to us after the show, and told us the kid we used for sampling a long vocal tone, usually never participates in any group or stage activities. Today he was the star of the show.

Then, pack it all down, drive to another school, set it all up again.

The second school was kind of like the Day 11 school - less movement, not so much dance floor, but bigger laughs. I've started to notice a trend; there is an inverse relation between dance floor and laughs. Either they dance, or they laugh. There's also an age factor in this; the younger the crowd, the more easily they dance. The bigger kids focus on the humor and the screen visuals.

At the second school - as with all schools - there were a bunch of super cool kids, trying to "not" like us. At first they were booing, and then they tried sabotaging the live sampling by shouting wrong sounds. This sabotage, of course, is to be expected (I was one of those kids), and naturally we are prepared - we use it as a feature:

The youngest kids sometimes struggle to understand we're actually sampling them, that the sounds they hear in the songs are created by them. We have multiple methods to counter-balance this, one of them being these "wrong sounds" during recording, which than means - oh no! - we have to do another take. Whenever someone laughs or claps or something happens during recording, they tend to recognize this "error" during playback, and realize a-ha, it's actually US. So any sabotage is very welcome. And I've got simple methods to remove and control the sabotage sound-wise, when we've got the takes I want.

Note: By the end the cool kids were dancing and jumping around anyway.

Late afternoon I went for a walk, found an abandoned ski jump structure, including a white cat supervisor.

I climbed to the top of the tower, super view! And somewhat exciting, gaping holes with missing boards and trees growing through them.

Then realized the white cat mentally informed me; abandoned wood doesn't last very long. I quickly climbed down to ground.

Person Of The Day: Both kids at both schools were called Sander! They're both person of the day.

Track Of The Day: Something Datarock. Don't know which one, but they've been all over radio all week, we finally give up, Fredrik's got a track of the day.

Music for NRK Barnas Supershow
Posted September 11th 2010, at 18:00 with tags , , , , , , ,

I did the music for a new kids show at NRK, Barnas Supershow, premiering tonight.

I did most of the work for this show back in April, May and June of this year, and some follow-up work in August.

I didn't write the theme music, which is by the excellent Martin Horntvedt, and I'm not working on the music videos, which are continuously done by others. My music is the score, the background music used in various scenes, and vignettes for various sequences and characters.

I haven't scored each scene directly, but as usual I develop a library of cues and themes for the various directors and editors to pick from, which they use when cutting the various situations in the show.

Barnas Supershow runs every Saturday at 1800 at NRK Super from today.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 11 - Tough Crowd, Crazy Mutant Cannibal
Posted September 8th 2010, at 21:35 with tags , , , , ,

Backstage at today's school, waiting to play.

Today was opposite of yesterday. We played two shows at one school, which is comfortable. Not so much physical labor. However the crowd was very different from the previous school, tough to get going. We didn't get much movement, but on the other side, we got lots of laughs. A more intellectual mindset, perhaps?

There's been quite a span of response throughout the tour, and I think this depends on multiple, related factors; our own mindset and effort, my momentary level of extroversion, the vibe at the school, their experience with live music, the confidence of the students, the size of the room, did they just have lunch, are they low on energy, am I low on energy, how is my improvisation, is it early in the morning, is it late in the day, was the coffee acceptable...

All of these aspects makes it hard to conclude; impossible to state this school is like THIS, that school is like THAT. But from our perspective, today was an uphill battle. We had good fun, I think the kids had good fun, but I was completely exhausted after doing two shows, it drains so much energy trying to pull an anchored crowd. On the other hand, the kids were very attentive and focused, and we got the biggest laughs so far. I guess our show appeared more as a performance than a concert.  

When we got back to the hotel, I went for a very long walk in a local forest. Woods absolutely helps charging my batteries, better than sleep. I just kept walking deeper and deeper into the woods. Then! At some point, several hours into my walk, I suddenly came upon a lakeside camp with a lavvu.

I was terrified, what if there lives a crazy reclusive hermit cannibal, kidnapping lonely hikers and chopping them up for dinner, one body part at a time, while the hiker is still alive? There's no mobile coverage here! I froze and used whatever technology I had available to recon the situation. I don't have binoculars, but I zoomed in with my camera and took several photos of the area, and then look at them afterwards, zooming in to the most intimate megapixel looking for traps.

As you can observe, zoomed exhibit above, the campsite looks abandoned. It could be a trick! Megapixels can be deceptive! If I was a reclusive hermit cannibal, I'd easily camouflage my human trap as an abandoned camp. And put up a "free wi-fi" sign. But after some time of nervous surveillance, my sensibility got the better of me. I'm on a tour for primary schools. There are no mutants here, or if there are, I could possibly trample them. I boldly sneaked into camp. It really was empty, long time abandoned.

So I had my tea there, relaxing by the early autumn lake, sheltered by a post-apocalyptic lavvu.

Got back to the hotel eventually, ingested video from the last few days, killed emails, called Jens, we went eating a local Asian place, surprisingly ok food, then a beer at our new hang-out Den Gode Nabo, now typing this out in the hotel lobby, Jens has crashed. Some old guys watching TV. Have to crash now, we're up extra early tomorrow for the first show, two schools tomorrow.

Person of the day: Crazy reclusive mutant cannibal hermit.

Track of the day: Hansi Hinterseer - Ich can einfach liebe dich. German easy-listening singer, we saw him on a TV commercial during the soccer game yesterday, then we also found him at gas station today, he's following us.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 10 - Encores
Posted September 7th 2010, at 22:57 with tags , , , , ,


Today we played both shows at Lunde school. We were late getting in, there were construction which threw us off route (or we were just late). And at the second show of the day I had some trouble with my wireless mic transmitter, making weird noises whenever I moved. Jens fixed it in realtime, while I was playing.

I guess tech problems looks like it's supposed to happen (clever design, hah), but it kind of threw me off, most tech has performed perfectly so far. We had to stop the first track to locate the error. Embarrasing moment.

So, both shows got somewhat amputated starts for our part. But surprisingly, they end up as the best shows of the tour so far. We got great laughs, massive yelling for sampling, the kids are on to the sampling routine, and by the last track we have a pumping dance floor.

After we finish, another surprise, the kids demand encores. This is unexpected, but of course we're happy to oblige! We pump another dance floor track, party on, the gym hall goes crazy.

For the first show, with youngest grades, I have first graders crawling around my feet trying to grab my pants (why the pants?), I'm terrified of stomping their fingers while jumping around. While for the second show, older kids and later grades, the crowd forms impromptu dance crews, taking the stage, performing grouped moves while I'm improvising cut-up sampled vocal lines from one of them.

I look at the time, it's 11 in the morning.

We're finished and back at the hotel by early afternoon. I spend rest of the day working. Would like a dip in the pool but my nerves remember the chillness of yesterday. I stay inside, fixing some visuals I'm not satisfied with, and doing small changes to the final track, we'd like it to have a longer intro to do the final crowd communication with beats during the dialogue.

I also work on the main voice-sample track (an exclusive track only part of the performance), but not satisfied with the changesI come up with, too tired to do anything valuable creative. I observe, we're playing the same show every day, it should be routine, and it sort of is, but it drains a lot of energy regardless.

I'm typing this now at a splendid roadside pub in Bø, we're watching a national football game, Norway versus Portugal (or rather Jens is watching and I'm typing this with one eye on the game). Norway just scored the first goal, atmosphere is nice. There's a huge moose head on the wall (look to the left of the screen).

I kind of like Bø.

Person Shop Of The Day: Lunde Kunstgress og Wunderbaum, Lunde.

Track Of The Day: Ugress - AMZ 1974 (feat random kid on voice sample), our triumphal encore.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 09 - Swimming Pool
Posted September 6th 2010, at 22:22 with tags , , , , ,

There's a swimming pool at the hotel!

It's right outside my window!

And we're staying here for five days!

The water is freezing cold (they turned off the heat pump because the hotel is empty) but I dared a quick dive, alone under a grey sky. Refreshing, after a hot and busy Monday.

We played two shows at two separate schools today, which means rigging everything up and down twice, in and out twice. This is a lot of physical work, in addition to the show itself, which for my part is very physical. Played in tiny gym halls, baking in the early September sun, almost like summer festival tents.

At the last show today, I brought the iPad with me into the crowd. It's set up as remote control, I can play and adjust all crowd-sampled sounds on it. I handed it over to one of the kids, briefly showed her which pads to hit, and then let her play the sampled version of herself, while I was dancing on the floor. Great laughs, I looked at the HD footage afterwards, even Jens is bent over laughing.

My suspicions confirmed; STAY at the bar with your hand anchored to a drink, when in clubs.

Both shows went fine; even for a Monday. Small schools with small crowds, intimate, which is a little bit tricky for both us and the crowd, but eventually we got them going, disco at both schools by the end.

We're now staying at this swimming pool hotel in Bø, Telemark, for the rest of this week, it's a nice place. I'm relieved to have a proper base for some time, it gets a bit stressful to move your whole life multiple times a day. Most shows now are in close vicinity of this town, I can have my portable studio set up back at the room and get some stuff done at night. And even a dip in the pool! Luxury.

I went for a long walk this afternoon, exploring local forests. Mostly thinking through our set and optimizing small parts, I have more hours tomorrow for some musical changes I'd like to do. Jens working back at the hotel. Then we had dinner at a surprisingly neat roadside diner. I was very happy to finally have a salad that was NOT put together from sad industrial buckets of pre-cut vegetables. And I was also allowed to order specific items from the kids menu.

I'm alone in the lounge now, Jens went to bed. The receptionist at the end of the hall is humming to herself, maintenance routines I guess, probably not even noticing I'm here. I think our stay here, and this week, it'll be ok.

Person Of The Day: "Where are your instruments?"-teacher at second school today. She came in just before showtime, everything is ready, my rig is set up, screens running, laptops glowing, controllers shining, she goes "I'm just here to see your instruments... but apparently I can see you haven't brought them up to stage yet... so I'll be leaving, ok, never mind, carry on!". And then she leaves. I guess they are used to a lot of accoustic music.

Track Of The Day In The Car: Heroes Of Telemark - We Hate The Seljordsvann (we have passed by Seljordsvannet, a huge lake in the disctric, so many times now, and will do it again, and the road along this huge lake is so bumpy and full of twists and turns, it's impossible to get any work done, so we decided to write and perform a punk metal laptop song every time we pass it.)

Ugress RK Tour: Photos From Week 1
Posted September 5th 2010, at 17:00 with tags , , , , , , , ,


I've uploaded a bunch of photos from week one of the tour to Flickr. (Also Facebook, if you're into that.)

We try to document as much as possible. I try to take a photo of all places and roads. Jens tries to photograph us during the show, as part of the routine. We also set up a HD cam for each show when possible, there are some dumps from that.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 07-08, Layover Notodden
Posted September 5th 2010, at 16:30 with tags , , , , ,

Now I'm in a tiny town, Notodden for the weekend. I have so much production work to wrap up, I can't spend time travelling back home, which would cost a whole day. so I'm dropped of here, where we start next week, gives me two point five days of catching up.

The hotel is really bad. My room smells weird. The windows open up into a wall of bushes. There are construction work in the hall. But the hotel crew is very friendly, there's almost noone here, so I spend most time working in the empty breakfast hall and it works out ok. And I sleep ok.

There's no way to wash clothes in Notodden so I had to wash them in my room. (I get soaked during each show and I'm out of clean shirts). Benefit; the smell of drying clothes fixes the weird room smell.

Notodden is a strange place. A lot of empty buildings. Closed businesses. Closed faces. Drawn curtains. Cars cruising up and down the main street. Then up and down again. Loud alcoholics. Curiosity overriden by suspicion. Empty parks on a sunny Saturday in September. Lots of families in bunads, gliding by in SUVs. Abandoned industrial areas, with half-finished grafitti pieces. There are five, six, gas station skeletons, like instead of keeping one running, they build a new one when the previous closes.

Tried visiting the Hydro museum, because I'm really into my mad professor hero Kristian Birkeland, but it was closed - on a Sunday.

It's like a town the apocalypse gave up on, half-way there. Stuck, one step into abandonement. I find myself to like the desolation of it, a real-life non-place. Don't know why, but I have a soft spot for places like these. Though only as a transitional observer.

My manager Per called yesterday morning, told me he had cancelled an upcoming gig for me; it had grown in scope and responsibility, but not in payment, so he terminated it. I'm pressed for time out October and I've got more than enough to do, he wants me to focus on the album as soon as possible, if we are going to make it by November. I agreed, I was very relieved. This means less stress next week, I can take some evenings off. Hopefully I can manage to keep this diary in realtime, and also get back to work on the album.

Spend Saturday day working on music, then the evening cleaning up emails and stuff, typing out all these journal entries at the empty hotel lounge. Catching up with friends and family, pics and videos from friends back home, send some back, digital yumminess.

Turns out eventually, the bartender/receptionist is from Istanbul, my favorite city, I stayed there a few years back, fell in love with the city. We talk Istanbul neighbourhoods, and then iPhones and Skype and keeping up with friends and family back home. We're both not sure if we're saving up for iPhone 4 or not.

None of us ask the other but I'm sure we both wonder why we are here and not in Istanbul.

I go to bed early Saturday evening, very tired, sleep for 12 hours, I think my immunity defense is having a diplomatic challenge with a sneaky cold, trying desperately to avoid full-blown war. I let the body do what it needs, I can afford the sleep tonigh.

Sunday, slow breakfast, then a few hours work. Had lunch by the lake. There is an airport in the distance where some kind of show is going on, I see airplanes doing loops.

It is now Sunday afternoon, I've wrapped up and delivered all the music commitments, and done some edits to the show for the upcoming week. Journal is up to speed. Most office work done. I'm looking forward to get back on the road. I'll have the evening off, my brain is screaming for downtime. Jens should arrive her late tonight and we'll plan the next week itinerary.

Track Of The Weekend, radio in the hotel lounge: Guns N Roses - Knocking On Heavens Door, suits this town.

Person Of The Day: Mr Istanbul The Hotelier and the nice hotel crew making my stay.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 06 - First Week Wrap
Posted September 5th 2010, at 14:22 with tags , , , , ,


Morning coffee at lærerværelset (teacher's lounge). I'm still terrified going to this room. To me this room always mean I'm in trouble.

This is the last day of this week, two final shows at small schools, high in the Norwegian mountains.

First show early at Rauland. We screw up the timing and arrive an hour early. Absolutely not rock and roll, whats happening to us? We are messing up in the wrong direction!

Greeted by very friendly contact person. I am continuously impressed by the resourcefulness of every place, the hospitality and friendliness of everyone we meet. People are polite, enthusiastic, helpful. They fix things, organize, nothing is never a problem, would we like some coffee? The schools are bright and shiny, full of life, kids yelling, stuff works, things are organized. The kids are curious, attentive, interested. Enthusiastic. I don't know what I really expected of this tour but it certainly was not meeting this kind of ... yumminess?

It's like this: I get up at 7 am, drive for a few hours into nowhere, suddenly arrive at a nice school deep in the woods (kor ein ikkje skulle tru at nokon kunne bu) at 8 in the morning, we set up the tech stuff, start playing at 9, and by 9:30, I am dancing like a madman together with a crowd of kids, powered by innocent enthusiasm. At 10, we're packing down, driving for another few hours, rinse, repeat.

Second, and final show of the week, at Edland. First technical breakdown of the tour; signal is lost in the left channel, after some scientific research we discover a faulty cable.

Of course my excellent technical chief Jens has a spare. We're up and running only a few minutes delayed.

The final show of the week is a perfect end note for the weekend. Maybe 40, 50 kids, most of them very young. They pick up very quickly on the live sampling stuff. We're having great fun.

By the end we have most of them jumping around dancing and clapping and having a party. We have to write autographs to almost everyone, because someone has connected dots and figured I did the Kometkameratene music.

Then a few hours drive, Jens drop me off in Notodden, where I stay for the weekend to work, I don't have enough time to spend traveling home, need every minute. More on Notodden tomorrow.

We've played ten shows in four days, I'm pretty exhausted, I get a terrible salad at a local place (no dessert), try to get up to speed on emails, office work, the journal posts, but crash after two beers.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 05 - Deaf Girl
Posted September 4th 2010, at 18:11 with tags , , , , ,

Photo above, Jens took picture of me during our first show at the first school. We've developed a routine, if I notice Jens taking photo of me, I stop whatever I'm doing and freeze for a smiling Kodak moment.

We usually get help from the kids to load in and out our equipment. This is wonderful assistance.

At load-in at the second school this day, there was a deaf and mute girl, I'm not good judging age but maybe she was 10, around there. She was only communicating by sign language, which I don't know.

She was the only one helping me with the heaviest cases, quickly grasping how to navigate them on wheels, very alert, and all the time with enthusiasm and a bright smile. She radiates. The only way I could thank her, was by returning the smile and a happy thumbs-up. She kept assisting me with the biggest cases. A final thumbs-up when we're done, thanks, and zzzapp she's off like a lightning bolt to the next challenge.

We bring serious subs, I want a proper system so the kids can really feel the bass pumping physically. There are also synchronized visuals, some graphics are connected to audio pulses and frequencies, you can kind of read the music on the screens, placed in front of me.

All clips and cuts are mostly synchronized to musical changes, if there are storylines they follow the track and progress by pulse. For some tracks, you can see what you can hear. This is deliberate, not only for visual effect: For some tracks I'm using it as a visual cue for interaction by the kids, like when they should clap or tramp, stuff like that. Maybe they get it, maybe they don't, at least it looks fancy.

I thought, maybe this girl could enjoy our show even if she couldn't hear the music - she can feel the pulse of the bass, observe and participate with the energy of the crowd, and she can connect the visuals on the screens to the pulse she feels.

I kind of forgot about her as we started, other than a couple of times during the show I glimpsed her enthusiastically signing with her assistant, who probably tried explaining to her what was going on during the live sampling segments.

The show went great, we got everyone up and dancing, by the last track we have a gym hall disco party in broad daylight, teachers trying to calm the kids down and we trying to pump them up.

After the show, the crowd is gone, while we're packing down, she suddenly appears in front of me, excited. Her smile a radiant sun on the verge of supernova. She gave me a hearty thumbs-up, and zzzaap, again, bounced off.

Track Of The Day In The Ca
r: Lars Vaular - En Eneste

Person Of The Day: Ms Yumminess at the fancy Rauland mountain resort where we slept, after a long drive up the mountains. She was cute and made me have a dessert, for once. I usually never want any dessert. I was just standing still in front of the sugary buffet, wondering why I never want any of it. Suddenly someone behind me asked if I was lost in the all the yumminess. I suppose I am.


Ugress RK Tour: Day 04 - Teachers
Posted September 3rd 2010, at 22:24 with tags , , , , ,

Split day, first we are doing an early morning school show, then we are playing at Kulturtorget late afternoon; which is like a festival for teachers.

The early morning show at Vinjehuset runs pretty much the same as yesterday. Only difference; I think the balance of kids is slightly towards the older. They are more cool, takes a while to get them warm.

After the show, the kids gather around my setup and wants to know how everything works, they are worried we are cheating them by "playback" because what we're doing is not possible.

We let them play the stuff themselves for a few minutes. One of them sneakily quits TouchOsc, my remote control software on the iPad and starts playing games. Heh. We talk iPhones and iPads and games with them before packing down.

Then we drive for some hours to Bø, a place I've played several times before, but late at night with a band. We are playing the same show as this morning, but this time for a crowd of teachers and cultural workers instead of kids. It's kind of a showcase.


We have a few hours to kill after get-in, so we set up our office and do the evil office things like charge all electronics, ingesting video, dump photos, emails, phone-calls, plan adjustments et cetera, exciting times indeed.

Then showtime, surprisingly many turns up, the hall is full.

It runs very well for our part, probably because I'm kind of more used communicating with grown ups, so we do the kids-routine but with grown-up tempo and humor. We struggle somewhat getting sounds out of the teachers for the live sampling; luckily we have a backup plan: My producer Mats from Rikskonsertene is present, he already fears we are going to try find him for making sounds, and has tried hiding far in the back. But we have very long cables. Jens spots him hiding, and force him to make disco drum sounds in front of all the teachers. Hah, payback from setting us up a tour where we have to get up insanely early.

I placed the HD cam next to us to get some close-up action.

After the last show, we drive for another few hours to a hotel that someone built in 1982 and then forgot all about it. They even forgot about the receptionist, because when we arrived she was so happy to see people, she was super-over-friendly and kept talking for a looooong time, explaining everything about a hotel check-in procedure, as if this was our first time at a hotel ever. Maybe we're the first guests since 1982. We were really tired and just wanted to get to our rooms, but didn't have the heart to cut her off, she was so friendly.

Turns out, our rooms are in a separate building, which is really just an old house made into even older hotel rooms. Look at that fancy office!

But there is a nice view, nice crew, and when we have dinner, there is even a magical rainbow. 

Jens is catching a cold and goes to sleep to fight it off. I work for a few hours on music for the TV show and crash, for the first time in weeks finally looking forward to 8 hours sleep.

Track Of The Day In The Car: Jay Z - Empire State Of Mind

Person Of The Day: Coca Cola girl Mari (was her name I think) in Bø, brought us glass cokes with straw, and entertained us during packing down with delightful sarcasm.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 03 - First Show
Posted September 3rd 2010, at 22:23 with tags , , , , ,

I'm up at 5 again, final edits to the script. Breakfast at 7. Arrive at school around 8. First show at 9. My life upside down.

First day are two shows at the same school. Our first show for kids ever, we are very nervous. We're playing in a very fancy hall. Nobody's there, so we just set up our stuff, and wait for the kids. 

They precisely arrive on time. We play. They have huge eyes at first, "what's THIS?". We play some more. We sample them. They love it. It works. By the end, they are dancing in the aisles, laughing and clapping and yelling.

I suppose I'm the most relieved one.  

We're doing live sampling, turns out it works fantastic, somewhat as a musical effect, but especially as a mechanism for drawing the kids into the show. It works like this: 

"Hi guys, we're there to play my music." But ooops, oh no! Turns out, over and over again, Jens (my hapless assistant) has forgotten some machinery I need to make sounds. What are we to do? Where are we going to find a disco drum sound HERE? 

We don't ask the kids to provide the sounds, they actually figure that part out for themselves (and I like them to). Surprisingly it's the younger ones that catch on quickest. 

The second show of this day, was a small crowd of very young kids. We're like "oh no we forgot the stomp sound machine, how are we going to make stomps?", and they instantly start stomping like crazy, it sounds like an earth-quake. And they are having a great time. 

Me and Jens are just looking at each other - they got it, without us even delivering it! This is win.

And then I sample that, play the stomp back a few times, they hear the earth-quake, with extra sub bass, they love it, a little real-time editing where they hear what I do to the sound, and voila, I have a kick drum.

Then I sample them clapping, and have a snare. I can play beats with them. I sample them sshhhing, and I have a hihat. I sample them beatboxing a disco drum sound, and I sample them singing a tone, and eventually, I have a complete orchestra, and I can build a song from that, and I can use them in my own songs. (Note; all this isn't done in one take, it is spread throughout the show of regular Ugress tunes.)

So far the absolute hit of the show is a song built only from sounds recorded from the kids right there. At the end I have enough sounds to build a kids-orchestra. Especially when we get funny sounds, like someone shouting while someone is singing, and they instantly get that it's really them being used in the songs, they can instantly recognize themselves as a crowd in the takes. 


This is of course a neat musical challenge: I need simple, clean sounds to build a complex arrangement, but they need noisy, complex sounds to recognize themselves. 

It's kind of a tricky balance how to tie all this together. I am very early in a learning process how to make this work as smoothly as possible. Sometimes it is very dependent on the crowd, on the sound, on the "story" we're telling, on lots of variables really. Because sometimes it doesn't all work out perfect. We are continuously developing and testing new methods and approaches. Sometimes we get lots of laughs, other times a total silent WTF. Usually, then we just start laughing ourselves.

I am very happy that I can adjust everything in realtime, often in the car trip between two schools I can adjust stuff on the laptop for the next show. And we're discussing script changes and sampling methods. 

Anyway, back to this day. Much to our surprise - we are finished with both concerts by noon! Our day is over, and we're back at the hotel around 1300. Which is perfect for me; I have five episodes of TV to score, so I go for marvelous walk in the local forest to clear my mind, before fixing up cues for the TV show at my room. 

We spend the evening having excellent dinner at the hotel, then lounging before the fireplace, while Elvira the excellent pianist plays our favorite classical and film songs. 

We're the only ones there and when she plays music from The Lion King we're all singing.

Track Of The Day In The Car Piano Bar: Can you feel the love tonight - Lion King

Person Of The Day: Elvira The Pianist

Ugress - Rikskonsertene School Tour Diary
Posted September 2nd 2010, at 22:22 with tags , , ,

I'm now on a two week tour with Ugress, making new friends. I'm keeping a daily journal in the blog.

This is a Rikskonsertene tour, early in the morning at primary schools in the foresty heart of Norway. It is a bit different from my regular shows, which are usually performed some time around midnight in a loud dark club. (Or in an empty festival tent.)

I'll be documenting the expedition as it unfolds. There's a daily tour journal with reports and photos in the blog.

Ugress RK Tour: Day 02 - Rehearsals
Posted August 30th 2010, at 23:39 with tags , , , , ,

Rehearsals at Rikskonsertene in Oslo. 
I was up around 5, and worked on the script for a few hours. I had hoped to get this done in the car yesterday but I get naseuaus to quickly, not very fond of traveling by car, no. Anyway, I need a script, I am adapting my routine more towards kids; several changes but the two most radical ones:
The first, I have the sound technician up on stage with me, creating a stage dynamic between us; the mad professor and his never-good-enough assistant. The kids end up saving his ineptitude by having me live sampling them. Everyone wins! More on this later. The second change; I've moved the visuals from a massive projection screen behind us, down to three widescreen LED-TV's in front of us. This completely changes the visual aspect of the show to a much more floor-friendly performance.
We got in at Riksteateret around 9 in the morning, and met the various producers and technicians assisting us. We are travelling with everything, instruments, screens, our own sound system, so Jens and the friendly sound dudes at RK did their technical thing, while I was talking to my producer Mats. 
Then, we set up everything as needed, and created a rigging routine. At some time, Åse Kleveland pops by and she looks confused at us (in white lab coats) and we look confused at her (in galla dress) and there is a true surreal moment.
After this there were dress rehearsals for my show. I find it very hard to perform in front of directors and producers, I'm not an actor, I'm an artist. Without an audience it feels silly to act as if there is one. Also, our stage routine changes depending on the audience response. Anyway, thanks to the script, we sort of get by without any response. (This turns out to be very helpful a few days later.)
We performed, and had feedback and discussion with producers and directors, a few hours for me to adjust setup and script, musical changes, another run through, discussions, technical adjustments from this process, and ZZAPP we're off, back on the road, heading towards the first town. 
After four or five hours drive we arrive at Dalen, a small place in the heart of Telemark, the most Norwegian area of Norway. To our surprise, we are staying at a superbly Lynch-Disneyesque hotel that looks like it comes straight out of The Shining. 
The area is too beautiful to be real. The hotel looks like a fairytale. Everything is completely quiet. Except, there is a pianist in the lounge playing classical and film soundtracks. The food is incredible. There are two Russians in tracksuits looking like mafia. And there is a one-armed bartender. We're getting paid to do this?
We spend the last few hours of the evening planning the rest of the week, mapping up driving distances and all that practical stuff.
Track Of The Day In The Car: Eurythmics - There Must Be An Angel
Person Of The Day: Åse Kleveland (in galla dress)


Ugress RK Tour: Day 01 - Transport Day
Posted August 30th 2010, at 23:38 with tags , , , , ,

First day of tour, just a transport day.

We have rehearsals early tomorrow morning in Nydalen, other side of the country, 8 hour drive. I am traveling with a bunch of equipment, can't fly, so we're driving over the mountains today, staying the night in Oslo.

Jens (tour manager, driver, sound, tech, my sanity, usually fired once an hour) was working at Hole In The Sky metal festival all night and I was simultaneously working with final preparations. We decided to leave late afternoon, allowing for some morning sleep.

Picked up the rental car, my instruments, and got going. The car is (Jens!!! what car is this?) a Ford Transit, a white van, lots of room for equipment and sound systems… and no room for my very stiff passenger seat to recline. It's kind of a dull car really.

It was an uneventful drive; I've done that ride too many times, most exciting was a terrible meal at a roadside stop, and The White Van Ahead Of Us That Looks Like Us That Never Disappear And Got Seriously Annoying To Look At All The F**ing Time.

At least I could take a lot of photos that looked like it was photos of us.

We arrived in Oslo late at night, the last few hours in tedious rain. I crashed for a few hours, and got up around 5 to do the final edits for rehearsals.

Track Of The Day In The Car: Nirvana - In Bloom. 

Person Of The Day: The White Van Ahead Of Us.

Ugress RK Tour: Day Zero
Posted August 30th 2010, at 23:35 with tags No tags.

I'm now on tour with Ugress, the first of two 2-week tours arranged by Rikskonsertene. This is a daily diary from the tour. 

I'm playing primary schools in Telemark, Norway, two or three concerts each day. I was hoping to post an entry every day, but the first stretch has so far been insanely busy. First today (fifth day) I have some hours at the hotel at night, catching up on the diary.

So here (above) goes as many as I manage tonight.


Music For Instructional Video Parody
Posted August 21st 2010, at 19:04 with tags , , , , ,

I wrote the music for a new comedy web-series that premiered yesterday. "Ah, så det er SÅNN det er" is a Norwegian parody of the endless instructional videos flooding the internet.

You can watch the whole first episode over at ABC TV. (It's in Norwegian.)

All parts are acted by comedian Calle Hellevang-Larsen, of Raske Menn. Director is my long time music video ace Magnus Martens.

It has been (still is) a speed-run job, I have to write the music in my lunch break and between my REM cycles. I can't afford the timely luxury of directly scoring everything continuously as it is cut, so I got some preliminary shots and lots of green-screens and then wrote them a library of cues to pick from when editing.

Talking a bit with Magnus we decided on a "sound", and which characters and situations needed their own themes. There's also tiny bunch of stings and specially scored situations.

It was great fun working on this. Probably because I am not allowed to spend any time on it: Early on we decided I should use as little time as possible on each cue, a kind of "one-try-only", too keep within the overall aesthetic (the stock matte's are REALLY noticeable, and there's "deliberate green-screen" in a later episode that looks REALLY bad). Also, the music is really subtle and mostly not there for comic effect.

I don't know how they use my music within each episode, until I watch the final cut. In this first episode it was interesting to see their choices. Mostly as expected, although I note with glum satisfaction that the cues I think suck, they don't use. At least I seem to KNOW when I write bad stuff.

There is a total of seven episodes, and a new one will premiere at the ABC website every Friday. There's also a Facebook page. My favorite episode is the third one, "Urtehage", with time travel and multi-clones...

Post-apocalyptic Tokyo
Posted August 21st 2010, at 18:17 with tags , , ,

Post-apocalytism! How I miss thee.

This excellent collection by Pink Tentacle, with wonderful abandoned and forlorn art by TokyoGenso, is bad medicine to my poor soul. Which is stuck in an ever-efficient, ever-mundane, never-nothing social democracy.

But, as a side note, wIth all the Japanese tourists strolling by my window during summer, I suppose this is actually what Tokyo looks like during summers.

(There's more at the TokyoGenso link but the PT link is nicer to scroll.)

Journal Entry, August 15th, 2010
Posted August 15th 2010, at 21:57 with tags , , , , , , , ,

A brief note on current whats-up.

I'm slowly waking up to the real world after a concentrated period of writing. Back in June I went underground to work on the next Ugress album. I scaled back on production work, live jobs, and the usual continuous web / social network activity, and since then I have mostly concentrated on just writing music.

For those six weeks I've pretty much done nothing but thinking, creating and writing. It has been tough, but nice, kind of zen. I've come up with lots of good stuff. It was very refreshing to not worry so much about all the necessary daily fuzzy buzz that surrounds my music and career.

Though, writing a whole album in six weeks is a tiny bit ambitious, of course I didn't make it. I'm currently scheming up devious plans for how to realize the album within upcoming time constraints. The schedule is still November 29th.

As of this last week I'm now back working on a bunch of various jobs. I'm writing music for a couple upcoming NRK productions and also writing incidental music for a new mini web-series by Happy Family / Monster. I have a ton of smaller commitments (mixes, remixes, songs for a theater show, masters, sound-designs,) to balance, I also have to initiate the practical details around the upcoming album release, and the next two weeks will be intense pre-production for the upcoming first batch of the Rikskonsertene tour. Most of September I'll be on tour.

I haven't quite gotten up to speed with web updates and social networks but that'll pick up eventually.

I've set up the next live show at my Edvard series for Sept 25th. The previous season was a great success, looking forward to continue this series, where I can try out new material, develop my side-projects and afford to fail. I'm planning to introduce guest musicians, and I've started assembling a live band. There's also popping up a few dates in Norway during autumn, but haven't confirmed all of them yet.

In one way it's great to have very tangible, practical tasks to concentrate for the next few months. But I feel interrupted. I totally fell in love with having a quiet, solitary life of just creating, building and writing music.

Album Progress Journal, Late July
Posted July 21st 2010, at 10:22 with tags , ,

Continued album progress journal. This isn't terribly exciting really. Just a brief journal of what I'm doing each day.

Mon, July 5th

As usual, Monday is office day, only relevant action for the album was posting the previous entry of progress.

Tue, July 6th

Busy day, working on multiple tracks, a few hours for each. Have to start wrapping up and finalize any track that is to be tested at the gig this weekend, but my inspiration and heart is with other tracks. Tried to balance between want and must.

Wed, July 7th

Mostly worked on the new tracks that I'd like to try out live. This means working on tracks where the "falling in love" part is over and it's just good old WORK, hammering things into shape.

Thur, July 8th

Not much work on album material. Spent most of the day preparing the live show for the SommerØya festival. They've been kind of hard to get proper communication with so I have no idea what hardware and setup I will meet, which means I have to set up and bring a pretty all-encompassing setup. Not a big problem except it costs more prep time. A little annoying but this is kind of normal. Live touring sucks a lot of time.

Fri, July 9th

Playing at festival. There is a longer, separate expedition entry for this day.

Sat, July 10th

Staying over in Oslo for Sunday, having a short break from working on the album. Spent the day documenting yesterday, then some hours for myself relaxing with a book, before catching up with friends. Went hiking with my previous manager Roar, who still functions as sort of advisor and strategist. When we have the chance we head into forests, talking about music and future plans. This time we talked mostly about long term plans, not so much the imminent album. I'm right in the middle of the process, everything's a mess and just making sense inside my head, not quite comfortable discussing it without having something proper to show.

Sun, July 11th

Returned back home with an early flight. Again, as mentioned in Fridays festival post, trouble with my instrument flight case, but this time a very helpful attendant. He didn't know how to handle it, but again showing him SAS' own web page got things moving. Dear me that company, head doesn't know tail. But the attendant was very friendly and helpful. I don't mind the overweight hassle so much if the person behind the counter is there to actually help me make my flight. Got back home, spent some hours shifting my gear back ready for album process, then watched the world cup final. Kind of disappointing final game after a nice tournament, maybe because I didn't care much for the final teams.
Mon, July 12th

Somewhat office day, cleaning up, paperwork after the festival. The rest of the day I spent trying to get back into groove, looking over all my work so far and mostly just entering a state of mind about the album, have it all in focus. Only one distraction this week, on Wednesday, then I can give the album full focus for a few weeks.

Tue, July 13th

Continued work on some of the previous sketches. One of them suddenly changed direction completely, from a rather militant rock-electro thing towards more casual and loungy dub. I like it better the new way. I like how things can change so suddenly, and grow from there. But now I'm one short in the electro department.

Wed, July 14th

First half of the day was tour planning. I'm off for a Rikskonsertene tour this fall and we have to start preproduction and planning. Spent a few hours doing strategy and practical details, then I had a meeting with my sound guy Jens, talking problems, solutions, possibilities and production. Second half of the day, I sketched up a new track, and this one gave me a good feeling; I prefer to have at least two or three really strong tracks on each album, and this is a potential strong track I think. I might struggle a bit to integrate the sound of it into my story, but thankfully as I'm building the whole world at once, it shouldn't be a problem to adapt the world to what I need.

Thur, July 15th

Continued working on yesterday's track, spent almost all day on it. Things are just flowing right now, I heart days like these so much. They are so rare. I turned off all communication devices and stayed focused on the track, keeping everything about it in my mind; the sound and mix, the music and structure, the idea and concept and potential future directions. I worked for a whole day and then went for a bike ride to rest my ears and mind, but took audio and musical notes on the phone. Back in studio continued working on the track, and late at night I was out of juice, but was satisfied, the track could be good. Now I need some distance. Rewarded myself by installing the new Reaktor 5.5 public beta to have some fun and play with new software. It looks neat.

Fri, July 16th

Up early. Wanted to fix up a track for one of the characters, I've already written a track for him (or, it), but I'm not happy with that so I decided to write another. Spent first half of the day writing this track. I've mentioned earlier there's a backstory, and characters. I have no idea if this story will be there in the end product, but it helps me build the album as a world.

Sat, July 17th

Just a very regular long day of working. Took the evening off, had some beers in a quiet pub and read foreign newspapers (an easy way to travel).

Sun, July 18th

Kept working. Went exploring, almost killed by a steam train. Back and kept working.

Mon, July 19th

Tiny office day, there are some routines to do, but so few I'm skipping most of them. Mostly tried to assess the current album status. I can afford two more weeks immersed in the album, I will spend the first few days this week trying to get some kind of overview, big picture, and then the final ten days wrapping things up within this larger frame.

Tue, July 20th

A bit of a schizo day, was supposed to work on the overall picture, but ended up writing yet another new track. Kept going back and forth between working on both, which really wasn't optimal but got some things done anyway.

Wed, July 21st

Writing this now, yesterday's evening and this morning have to do some non-album related things. Some of the office routines, web stuff, and communication tasks I was supposed to do on Monday finally caught up with me, got to get these things done. Wrote the blog posts, killed a bunch of emails, blah blah world attention, thanks, bye.

Now back inside my head.


Ugress - Collectronics out now
Posted July 21st 2010, at 10:01 with tags , , , , ,

The Ugress - Collectronics album is now out and available with all digital music services.

This is a compilation of previously released singles and EP tracks. There is also Nightswimming, a previously unreleased vocal track with Christine Litle.

The album is available for streaming right here on For hi-fi freaks, the album is available in lossless at my own store over at Bandcamp.


Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Wimp, eMusic.

Almost Terminated By Steam Locomotive
Posted July 20th 2010, at 22:55 with tags , , , , , , , ,

A few days ago I went on urban safari, exploring an old abandoned railroad track. (Spoiler: It wasn't.)

I'm staying much alone lately, working on the next album. I have a lot in my head, prefer to keep to myself as much as possible, just write and think and eat and sleep. Exploring remote areas on bike and foot are nice breaks, I bring my lunch and just kind of zombie around in deserted areas.

On one of my longer bike trips this weekend I came across an old and rusty railroad track, a segment of the Bergen-Oslo line replaced by a longer tunnel. Great! I could follow it some distance on my bike by a dirt track, but eventually the track continued alone through tunnels, along a steep mountain side by the fjord. So I parked the bike and set out on foot, with my camera and handheld recorder.

I walked for some miles on the track, through tunnels and steep canyons carved out of the mountain side. There were lots of great sounds to sample, it was a windy day but deep in the canyons it was quiet, just lots of eerie drips and spooky drops. Splendid reverbs and weird tonal soundscapes from all the water running. Some places along the track there were piles of rusty nails and rotten boards, making for  soggy haunting sounds. It was very meditative, quietly exploring, listening to soft mountain walls and banging out tones on moist wood.

After a while I came upon a short, open segment, with a nice view to the fjord. In the distance I could hear a remote factory whistle echoing between the mountain walls, and I thought "hey that sounds almost like a train, that's nice for atmosphere". Depending on the wind, sometimes the whistle was really loud, and I decided to sample it, would be a neat addition to the eerie tunnel sounds. I climbed up on a short cliff by the track to get better clearance from the walls.

I was adjusting the recording level, kind of hard to find a proper gain, the whistle was suddenly superbly loud and clear, sounded like it was just around the bend...

...and then. It actually came hurling around the bend. Embodied as a fucking real life full size full speed thundering Harry Potter steam locomotive.

My jaw dropped to the mossy ground decorated with rusty nails, and I completely forgot about sampling - but I had the sense to grab my camera and shoot, or else I wouldn't even believe myself this actually happened. So there:

The train zoomed past me, so close I could have touched it. It seemed very, very real. There were people inside. They were as surprised as me at seeing someone real. It made a lot of noise. The ground was shaking. Then it was gone and all was quiet again.

I was like: WAHT TEH FUU I'm in a steampunk time machine movie did you see that DID YOU SEE THAT it was a real steam engine and vintage wood wagons and it sped just past me it makes a whistle sound and it was so f**king awesome did that really happen I could almost touch it and it probably weighs a ton or five and where did that come from oh my god maybe there are zeppelins too where are they! where are they!...

Then it dawned on me; I got the shivers, the track is NOT abandoned. At all. If this had happened one minute earlier, or I had been one minute later with everything I did in my life, I could be dead now. I have no idea if I could have escaped that monster in the tunnels or canyons, or if I would have even heard it, or if it could have stopped, if it had seen me. That was many tons of iron moving really fast along a very given trajectory, there's a physics formula here that most likely does not compute to my advantage.

This track is so NOT abandoned. And there are tunnels in all directions how on earth am I going to get back to my bike? Must I stay here for the rest of my life, die of starvation on this puny cliff of safety from that sneaky ninja locomotive? Can I eat pine? Grass? For how long? Are there mobile coverage here? Does it matter, because did I bring my mobile and can I phone in an airlift? NO.

Any lesser person would probably lie down to die, but I laugh in the face of fear. Or rather - I have an album to make. So I tiptoed back towards the recent canyon, stood absolutely quiet for two minutes, trying to listen for a new train, then ran like a shit-scared chicken through the mountain pass. Eventually on the other side I found an opening in the steep hills, and could climb back through the woods to my bike. Sometimes in the distance I could still hear a train whistle, but no train never passed me again.

I am so not going into a train tunnel again.

Back at my bike I quickly pedaled myself back into inner city safety, and had my lunch in a quiet graveyard park. Suitably, contemplating life and death. Realizing some of my current and regular album struggles are kind of petty. I am actually lucky to be alive to tell this tale. Mostly because of my own ignorance. Though, how awesome would it have been to end up as "met his end by steam locomotive"? 

That WOULD have been an awesome end.

Expedition Photo Report From SommerOya
Posted July 10th 2010, at 12:31 with tags , , , , , , ,

Photo report from expedition into the wild, playing live with Ugress at the SommerOya festival.

My baggage, instruments and personal items.

Had to get up around 5 in the morning, took a taxi to the airport with my sound tech Jens.

The SAS check in attendant gave us a lot of trouble. She insisted I could only send items weighing 32 kilos or less. I tried politely telling her I could, I have done it many times, could she please just look up the limits and the rate I had to pay? It's usually 720 NOK. She refused, and she was confusing me a little bit, why couldn't she just look it up, or talk to someone who knew? Eventually, I had to bring up SAS overweight webpage on my iPhone, and showing her what her company officialy states.

She just grumbled and mumbled, and finally sent it off.

It's a bit sad with people who doesn't know their job and is just being mean and troublesome. Especially at 6 in the morning before I've even had any coffee. Sigh.

The flight was almost empty, and very quiet.

Picked up at the airport by the festival, approaching Oslo.

The hotel floor I'm staying at, belongs to Victor The Elephant. Not sure what this means, do I have to pay for his "protection"?

I never saw him.

Nice hotel room. The palette is approved by Victor I suppose.

Transport to the festival area, on an island, by boat.

Very nice wooden boat.

No trouble with overweight baggage on this part of the route.

Boat trip to the festival was very relaxing, beautiful boat, fresh sea air and sun.

When we arrived at the festival, everything was a slow mess, nobody knew anything, everything incredibly delayed.

It took us an hour just to find out who to talk to and what would happen.

I thought it was very weird to set me up for start at 1200 (noon), that's way early even for a festival. My show was now postponed to 1500.

So after arrival there was nothing else to do but wait. Christine Litle (vocals on the last few albums) came by to say hello and we had a nice time catching up while waiting.

My managent tried to set me up for a spot after dark, because my show relies heavily on visuals; playing without is sort of missing half the fun.

The festival wanted me to open the show, and insisted the tent would provide adequate visual setup for projection, even in daytime. 

We never found out if it did, because the projecting equipment never arrived anyway, even with 3 hours of delay, where nothing really happened. What a mess! At least I had lots of time to set up my stuff, and I did some changes to the set, there are some tracks that doesn't work very well without visuals, so I skipped those.

The biggest let down for this was that I lost Dr Doppeltganger, and our communication which I think brings a very nice and lively touch to the show.

The backstage area.

At 1500, there were almost nobody inside the festival area, I don't know if there was really anyone on the island. I wasn't surprised.

After I started playing, people slowly came lounging by, and to my surprise I had a really great time. The sound system was huge and I had delicious sound, I enjoyed playing and had fun. The few people who stayed, lounged on the grass and there was a nice atmosphere.

I took the opportunity to try out a bunch of new tracks I've been working on for the next album. That was helpful, I learned a lot. Satisfied with one of them, the others need more work.

All in all, musically for myself the show was a success, even if I lost the visuals and Doppel.

The DJ taking over after my set. She played very nice organic house. Again, like with me, very few people actually inside the festival area.

We packed down my gear and relaxed at the grand backstage (pictured above).

The tent stage. Not a lot of people, there's a few groups inside dancing.

View from the tent towards the beach.

As you can see, there were lots of ninjas at the festival.

We didn't want to stay on the island for long, so after packing down and talking to some friends, we took a boat back to Oslo to grab some food.

View from the boat coming into Oslo harbour, with the Opera in front.

I was travelling with my regular sound tech Jens, and looking at the Opera we talked about how weird my last years have been, we're really not doing any regular shows at all. A little over a year ago, my music was performed by a full orchestra at the Opera in the picture. I'm playing regular concerts with all my different projects at a small coffee shop. I just played a crowded Rockefeller (large club venue in Norway) - but crowded with kids high on sugar. I performed live with two tractors. And now today I played for an empty party tent on an empty party island.  

But one great thing about playing early, you are finished early!

I am used to playing very late, which means a whole day of anxious waiting, and then little or no social time after the show.

We put the stuff back at the hotel and went for a nice Italian meal, relaxing in the sun, just talking and chilling. I'm staying over for tomorrow, Jens also he's doing sound for another artist at the festival.

Eventually I was pretty tired, was up early, so after a few delicious pints at a brown pub, when dark approached I imploded.

There were posters for the festival some places, but most people I talked to told me the festival hadn't been properly promoted.

Good night Oslo, heading back to the hotel.

Conclusion; the festival was a mess, but not in a cruel and stupid way, I think they mean it well but this is the first year and lots of things weren't ready in time. Being the first act that mean we had to take the brunt of the problems.

Nevertheless I had a great time, I got to try out new tracks, and add another weird experience to my expedition logs.


Ugress Live: Sommeroya, Oslo, Friday July 9th
Posted July 5th 2010, at 18:16 with tags , , , ,

I am taking a short break from album production and playing live with Ugress this coming Friday, at electronic music festival Sommerøya, Langøyene, Oslo.

It is a nice opportunity to try out new material, and get a real life sanity check. I've been inside my head writing music for quite some time now, the fresh air and loud beats would do me good. According to the schedule I'm playing at high noon(!).

More information, tickets and practical details at the festival website.

Album Progress Journal, Early July
Posted July 5th 2010, at 17:46 with tags , ,

I am working on the next Ugress album and I'm keeping a brief journal. Here are the notes from the last two weeks. 

Monday June 21st

First official day. I have already been stealing some time off and on the last few weeks, mostly thinking and planning and dreaming what I would like to do. I have quite the amount of plans, and many unanswered questions. Today was the first real day where I had time to sit down and write, start prototyping with sound and music, asking questions, and maybe answer them.

Tue June 22nd

Wrapped up one track, first track is already done. That was fast, but no idea if it will be included in the final album, or if it needs more edits, but it feels nice to have a finished part already. Kept working on other sketches.

Wed June 23rd

Crap day. Wrote a lot of bad stuff, especially production wise, just sounds like shit. Tried again and again. Realized I wouldn't be able to do anything and did some reading instead. I even failed at that. My brain just wouldn't settle. Ugh days like these. Probably doesn't matter, way too early in the project, but still makes me feel awful.

Thursday June 24th

OK day. Rainy day. I wrote a lot of music, got stuck a few many times, but found a couple of openings, and tried them as far as possible. Spent good amount of time on just the sound, and a few wrong sounds. Watched a world cup game.

Fri June 25th

Not so good. Lots of writing, lots of crap. Tend to get worked up on some nasty detail and spend too much time trying to get it to work, while I should just kill it at once. I did however get down the conceptual sketch for one of the characters (I'm building a world, at least inside my own head) and after that everything became a little bit easier. Still struggling with the overall tone and sound, and I think one part of me is struggling for a faster progress, while another wants to take it easy and let things happen in their own tempo. Not satisfied with the week at all. I wished I was further ahead.

Sat June 26th

Spent the weekend learning a new tool, not directly related to music but a tool I need to master to develop a prototype for outsourcing. I love learning new things, especially digital tools that broaden your skill-set. Bought a few books, and had a nice time running through them. What I particularly liked, weather-wise it was a nice weekend, and I spent some quality time in the park reading, learning and thinking.

Sun June 27th

Same as yesterday really, but also watched a world cup game at night. Looking forward to round of 16s coming up now!

Mon June 28th

Good progress. Also, spent some hours on administrative efforts (Mondays are usually my "office" days killing all the administrative buggers that needs to run all my stuff). Besides a swift ninja office routine, I also wrote and developed quite a lot of sketches and ideas, and was pretty satisfied with most of it.

Tue June 29th

Blackest Tuesday in the history of mankind. Not sure why, I was just in a foul mood, and everything I did sucked so much they created small black holes of imploding desperation. Days like these, ugh. I tried over and over to get started, but everything I did just stopped dead.

Wed June 30th

Back on track. Up early. Wrote a few news sketches, and continued on a bunch of those I already have. One track seems to approach "full track" status. I was hoping to try out a few new tracks at the Sommerøya concert next week, but so far progress has been too slow. Maybe I can try this one.

Thursday July 1st

First sunny day in a long while, was up early, worked for a few hours, then went for a super long bike ride, exploring a remote forest, that was very nice and inspirational. Got back and continued writing.

Friday July 2nd

Good day, wrapped up that track I mentioned on Wednesday. I like it today, very satisfied, but I will give it a few days rest and I'll probably think different. Kept working on other sketches. Took the evening off and watched both quarter finals in the World Cup. I've been in a bubble until now, haven't been social with anyone, it was nice to watch the game with friends and feel a little connected to the world.

Saturday July 3rd

Short work day, but productive. One of the earlier sketches suddenly found a new direction and lots of things fell into place. Same as yesterday, took the evening off watching the WC games.

Sun July 4th

Back in the bubble. Up very early, I was eager to continue on the sketch from yesterday. Happy to report, after a few hours I think I have another track close to full status. Will let it rest. Went for a long bike ride and walk in a forest to reset my brain and ears.

Mon July 5th

Ugh boring office day. Paper work, bills, finances, emails, web updates, social network dust cleaning, the works. Didn't have much time to work on music.

So far there are 16 sketches or prototypes, in various states of progress. Maybe two or three are almost finished, the rest is just a mess. This will be a short and week for the album, I have to tap into the world for a few things and I really wouldn't, I' like to keep focus, but I can't afford the luxury or solitude this week.

Two tracks on Supersanger compilation
Posted July 5th 2010, at 16:57 with tags , , , , , ,

Got a neat package in the post the other day:

Supersanger is a new compilation CD with music from Norwegian kids TV. I've got two tracks on this, from the Kometkameratene show: Reise (from the episode "Travel") and Kovalova (from the episode "Language")

The album is out and available, Spotify, Wimp, iTunes, Amazon, Platekompaniet.

(We're working on a way to publish the music from the second season of Kometkameratene.)

Escape To The Planet Of U
Posted June 22th 2010, at 22:22 with tags , , , ,

A notice: I'll be quiet for some time ahead.

I have six weeks to make an album and I need as many of those 3 628 800 seconds as possible to survive this daring expedition. I will therefore ease up a bit on website and general social activity.

Collectronics: Out Soon
Posted June 22th 2010, at 18:42 with tags , , , , ,

I have finished and delivered the Ugress - Collectronics album to my aggregator. It should turn up in digital stores and streaming services as soon as they ingest it. It could take anything from a week to a month, there's really no telling.

This is just a collection of singles and selected tracks from the myriads of EPs and web releases I did between 2005 and 2010. There IS an exclusive track, Nightswimming featuring Christine Litle. Because I'm a poor cynical bastard who thinks slapping an exclusive track on something increases the special snowflakability of it.

But really the point of this release is quite simply a strategic move, get more of my material into streaming services. So... that's it.

I'll update with a news item when it's out everywhere.

Tractor Symphony: Final music and video
Posted June 13th 2010, at 21:27 with tags , , , , ,

Bygdalarm Tractor Therapy Symphony by GMM

The music is from the Tractor Symphony, performed at Festplassen, Bergen for Bygdalarm. All the sounds are coming from two vehicles, a huge John Deere tractor (slightly to the left in the mix) and a Volkswagen Transporter (slightly to the right). 

I sampled the vehicles extensively, and built musical instruments and percussion kits for each of them. Then I wrote the music, using only these instruments and sounds.

The music above is the final part of the performance. I also built a simple story, which was mostly revealed during the first part. I'll type out a brief version here for context.

In a bygd far far away... we have these two vehicles, a huge, massive, John Deere tractor (very impressive, modern, shiny), and a funky old Volkswagen Transporter (your typical old rusty hippie bus).

They are the best of friends. But - the tractor only wants to work, all the time. And the Volkswagen only wants to party. This is a problem, the tractor can't do everything himself, and it's pretty boring for the Volkswagen to party all by himself. Their relationship is suffering.

They need therapy! They hire a science-induced music-machine therapist. That's me. I get to work at once, interviewing the vehicles. (Interrviewing the vehicle means getting sounds out of them, Alvin of Bygdalarm helped me perform the sounds. This setup lets me "talk" with the vehicles, giving them a character in the performance, but most importantly it demonstrates in a very obvious way to the audience that the sounds they hear, are actually coming from the vehicles themselves.)

Eventually, after talking to each vehicle, I conclude that the best therapy, is for them to talk to each other, express their feelings and communicate their needs. From there and out the music takes over and the audience can put whatever they want into the rest of the machine dialogue.

They end up realizing they need each other, you can't work all the time, and you can't party all the time.

The live vehicles themselves aren't present in the above Soundcloud mix. At the live performance, they were miced up, and I had everything in a surround setup, running each vehicle as their own stereo mix within the surround mix, layered with realtime sounds from the vehicles. I communicate messages to the drivers with posters.

I also filmed the concert, but I was very busy before the show and no time to find a good setup. It was impossible to film the vehicles, and I had to crop and zoom it pretty badly during post. But here's the video, same segment as the music clip, but I faded in the camera sound where possible.

Visually, it's really boring, there are no cuts. This was just intended for my own documentation, but it shows me messing around, and how I communicate with the drivers.


This has been a super fun project to work on. Both the early sample session, and the final week where the music was created. I have had enough budget and time to actually think through things properly, and then execute those ideas in a proper way. I have had time to report and analyze the project continuously.

I am very satisfied with the sound and realtime performance. I think the surround setup was a brilliant late addition; just hearing the John Deere tractor engine blasting in surround was worth it. Then top it off with slamming beats and quirky clangs. The most important part if this project was to have the vehicles make beautiful sound, and they certainly did.

There's a few things that didn't work as well. I think the storytelling aspect was a good idea but it could have been better executed. I should have had a stricter script, and it could have had better flow. Some parts of the music worked better than others. 

I was very cruel with other projects by clearing time and prioritizing this project for a full week. That was painful and I didn't like doing it, but afterwards I understand this was actually a very good thing to do. I can not always be so strict with my time, but I will when possible (hello next Ugress album).

Experiment conclusion: Success.

Tractor Symphony: Day T minus 0
Posted June 12th 2010, at 23:24 with tags , , , , ,

I got up very early, just a few hours sleep, still had some final details to get in place, render down a backup solution, and give everything a few test runs. Everything went smoothly. I even had time for an extra cup of coffee.

Then I went for soundcheck and rigging around 9. Godforsakenly early, and many hours until start. I had requested a few extra hours of setup time, I needed time to figure out which sounds from the vehicles I could trust to sound good during performance. We mic'ed up as needed, and after an hour of testing, I had figured the final details. Afterwards it occured to me I probably woke up the whole city, banging on a tractor in surround, looking for just "that" tone.

A nasty wind and some unwelcome rain started misbehaving just before showtime, and I had to wrap most of my setup in plastic to keep the laptops dry. This made it very hectic for me and I wasn't able to set up the camera in an optimal position. I like working alone but it sucks when lots of stuff has to happen at once. I was glad to have my regular sound tech Jens with me, I knew the surround sound was in safe hands and didn't have to worry about that.

I got my stuff dry and safe, the show was on. I wrote a separate entry on the performance itself, with embedded video and audio.

Afterwards there were some social responsibilities, then I packed down my stuff, and went home. I was kind of mentally empty, performing live always drains me. And physically tired from a couple of nights with little sleep. I was supposed to be doing my taxes, but my brain was in no shape for accounting, so I started ingesting the video and audio recordings, typing out these reports, doing some digital housecleaning which is always needed after a project is finished.

I remember I also streamed one of the world cup games, kept an eye on that, but I can't remember what game it was or if it was any good.

And that's it really. A weeks work. Conclusion for the performance itself in the performance report.

Tractor Symphony: Day T minus 1
Posted June 12th 2010, at 07:44 with tags , , , , ,

Radio interview, stationary stocking, and writing final music eyeing the World Cup opening games.

The final day was (as always for live performances) very hectic. I was a little behind on writing the music, and I was definitively behind on final promotion and marketing. Lucky for me, the Bygdalarm festival crew has been awesome at doing the promo work, so my responsibility was mostly towards my own friends and fans.

(A sidenote here; I try to alert everyone whenever I do something, but I also realize there is no point in me continuously notifying people in New Zealand / Jupiter about a live show on the other side of the planet / solar system. According to my own stats, approx 70% of my fans live outside Norway (which is my regular live scene). I feel it's a tricky balance between my live activity and the amount of people it is relevant to. Unfortunately most social and digital systems rarely allow me to geopoint promotions. So - I am aware of this. I try to keep a relevance balance. Further, as far as possible, when I promote a local public event to a worldwide audience I also strive to provide streaming access to the same, or at least follow up with recordings and reports for those not able to attend. As will come from this.)

Back to the last day. We have been doing promo interviews for newspapers, and today there was a radio interview with NRK P1 Hordaland, a regional branch of the national broadcast network. I had sent them the same samples as I used in these previous blog entries, and we talked about those, the project, how to do things like this, how to approach writing music for mechanical vehicles. The journalist was nice, asked good questions, we had a good time, it was a fun session, I think it made good radio. Not all interviews leave you feeling like that. 

After the radio interview I did some errands to grab necessary stationary (yep, stationary). I figured the easiest way to communicate with and conduct the vehicle operators, was with huge, coloured posters indicating them what to do. So I needed paper and pens.

I went home, did a minimum of social network and web promos, because my to-do list kept screaming about it, and then I shut down the outside world. I had only 20 hours left, and needed every minute. (I cheated a little bit, I had the opening games of the World Cup running on a separate laptop, glancing over now and then. I had to kill the sound though, those buzzing flute-things were really annoying for my work.)

Somewhere between the two opening matches I wrapped up the final music, and was a little relieved to realize I made it. There were still a lot of boring technical and practical issues to fix up, but the script, story, sounds and music was done. From here it was just a matter of stamina. I crashed, with the alarm set for a few hours later.

Note: If you're in Bergen the concert takes place at Festplassen (map), the event starts at 1200 and my concert starts at 1400. There's also a Facebook event set up by Bygdalarm.


Tractor Symphony: Day T minus 2
Posted June 11th 2010, at 00:32 with tags , , , , ,

Spent most of the day writing the music. Current project screen above, there's a bunch of development sketches and some fleshed out material from the midle and out. (Won't link to a bigger version because instrument names contains spoilers...!)

I am aiming for somewhere around 10 minutes of music in total, hopefully a bit less. I'm halfway there already. I think there is just enough time to write all the music, but that's it really.

My usual "production rate" when scoring is around 2 minutes of original music pr day, and for this project I have only two days available for the music part. So the math doesn't add up...

But I decided to shift "music-time" into building the instruments, turning mechanical noises into musical sounds. The soundscape of the presentation is very important. Some of the instruments sounds very nice and can (must) play extended phrases alone, which fills out material pretty quickly and makes me more efficient when creating the performance.

On the other hand, balancing the alien soundscape and mixing the surround setup takes more time than I'm used to because the sounds are pretty special and demanding. What I didn't realize was there probably needs an extra balancing and mixing session in the end. And I need time to set up the performance so everything can be adjusted in realtime. So of course I'm way behind and as usual I'm pretty stressed out.

I really ought to be doing social network updates, promote the concert, all that buzzy fuzzy huzz, and there's a ton of emails yelling for attention but I only have time to write this report, I'm dead tired and need a few hours sleep to reset my ears.

Tractor Symphony: Day T minus 3
Posted June 10th 2010, at 00:11 with tags , , , , ,

Oh shit only two days left (I'm writing this at the end of the third last day).

Today I finished all of the instruments, and the "story", figuring the last theoretical bits. It took a lot of walking and thinking.

I wrote a finished script and plan for myself. With this locked, I could then sketch up and deliver the practical and technical specifications requirements.

I asked very nicely if it was possible to get a kind of surround setup. All of the sounds from the vehicles are in stereo, I think it would be if I have a larger soundstage to place them in. I won't be needing as many microphones as I expected, maybe the budget could be shifted over to more speakers..? The answer was: Yes.

So there will be surround! This is going to be so awesome.

I briefly started toying with musical ideas and concepts late tonight, but haven't really gotten into the writing part.

The next two days I will concentrate only on writing music and assembling the final production. I also need a little time to rehearse and debug. I am a little worried (read: panicked) with so few days left to do the music. I have spent more time than usual on sound preproduction, and definitively more time on concepts and scripts. But I think that was necessary for this project, the sound and presentation of the vehicles are the core. If that doesn't work, the musical aspect won't matter.

Tractor Symphony: Day T minus 4
Posted June 9th 2010, at 12:09 with tags , , , , ,

Bygdalarm Instrument Demonstration by GMM

Two examples of sounds and instruments built from the vehicles. First the original sound then just a quick improvisation of the instrument. This isn't musically related to what I'm writing.

The first sound is from the Volkswagen, there was a metal pipe or tube at the back side, when kicked it gave a bouncy, springy kind of response, with a fast pluck and a longer, vibrating tone. I didn't have to adjust much, only cleaning up the frequencies of the long tone, which was slightly off pitch. The instrument is built from multiple takes to avoid having a mechanic MIDI feel.

The second sound is the engine of the John Deere tractor. There is much noise in the sound, but there were also a couple of prominent sustainable tones. I took all of these and moved them to the same, an average. It sounds a bit synthetic when played far from the source, but I like that.

Tractor Symphony: Day T minus 5
Posted June 8th 2010, at 00:24 with tags , , , , ,

Repeating myself, but today was same as the previous days; kept on building and adjusting instruments. Simultaneously as I'm building the sounds, I'm taking mental and physical notes as to how I can or will use them. So my palette is expanding, but I haven't started writing anything concrete yet.

The previous days was mostly working on sounds from the John Deere tractor. Today I was working on sounds and samples from the Volkswagen minibus.

I try to create similiar instruments for both, so I can write the same part and perform it with one or both cars, or ghost / duplicate / call-response phrases between them within similar instrumentation. Or quite simply select which vehicle suits the part best. This kinda depends on the story framework, how things should be presented.

I am very happy to observe there is great difference in sound personality between the two vehicles. it is easy to hear what sounds comes from which vehicle.

Tractor Symphony: Day T minus 6
Posted June 7th 2010, at 01:53 with tags , , , , ,

Today was just a continuation of yesterday, working through the library of samples and building instruments.

The process explained yesterday is a basic one, for many sounds there is only one or few fundamental pitches, and they are often just a subtle nudge to fall into place.

For the percussive instruments there is even less editing.

But there are some sounds, especially noisy ones like engines and hydraulics, that takes a little while to figure out how to make them musical. And sometimes the theory doesn't work in practice, I either scrap it our experiment until I find a way.

Tractor Symphony: Day T minus 7
Posted June 7th 2010, at 00:41 with tags , , , , ,

Today, I continued editing, but now on a more detailed level. I know I am going to need tonal sounds, not just mechanical percussion, so I select some sounds that I think can work as musical elements. Then I do magic tricks to turn them from noisy mechanics into beautiful tones. Or not magic at all really - it's just math. I adjust any frequency in any given sound, to the nearest relatively usable musical frequency. I think I will have to give an example of this.

The following is not an example of the music I'm writing, it's just a demonstration of how I turn the mechanical sounds more musical.

Bygdalarm Sample Edit Demonstration by GMM

I have a raw sample of a hand hitting a metal surface, the first three sounds in the player. Sounds great! It works fine as a percussive element, but when playing it as a tonal instrument, the next melodic phrase, it struggles to work musically. If I combine many instruments with such a tonal freedom, the result will eventually be melodic mayhem. That would be neat but not what I really want.

So I pull it into Melodyne DNA Editor, and the editor gives me an overview of all the prominent frequencies in the sound.

As you can see (click for large), there is a fundamental base tone around Gb, and then another further up between E and Eb, and then a cluster of more overtones in the octave above, some of them off-pitch. 

I would like this sound to be played polyphonically, so I simply adjust all tonal elements to the nearest musical pitch of Gb within their own octave.  

Now, the sound is more playable as a tonal instrument, as you can hear in the second part of the sound example.

But it sounds like I lost some of the bouncy stuff in the attack part of the sound, the edited version sounds kind of muffled, more like a string instrument than a hand hitting metal. I think the new sound is not really representative of the original. So I layer the original sound on top, but now with a highpass filter, that starts out low, but quickly rises to a high cutoff. This retains the noisy slap of the hand, with some atonal information at the very start. Then the sound moves into a stable pitch, and to our ears it appears to be a regular tuned instrument. This you can hear at the third part of the sample.

It's not perfect, some nuances is lost (or changed) when performing the edit. And regardless of sound quality, there is also the question, is this sound still representative of the vehicle? An interesting discussion. But since I am a cruel evil world dictator, the discussion is quickly concluded. It is representative, because I decide it is.

Tractor Symphony: Day T minus 8
Posted June 7th 2010, at 00:37 with tags , , , , ,

Grunt work.

Went through all the sampled material, organized it, structured it in the various kind of sounds available, and started basic editing. I select the good takes, cut the bad ones, edit any glitches or noises where necessary. I also start to get a feel for the sounds, building up a mental "awarenes" of what I have available. (That sounds kooky I know, but it's the easiest way to describe it.)

My plan is to build myself interesting, playable instruments of each sound I have recorded, and then build the music from this. Sort of creating the orchestra first, learning the musical possibilities, then writing the music. This is my way of working, I prefer to work with sound first, then music when the sound is established.

So the first few days will be building the instruments, turning mechanical samples into living, animated sounds. Even if the vehicles have a mechanical nature, the MUSIC shouldn't be forced to have a mechanical nature. I made sure to grab multiple takes of all sounds, so for example if I play a drum that is built from hitting the wheel, the drum will alter between many different hits, including different levels of hitting the wheel related to different levels of hitting a key, avoiding the traditional "machine gun" effect of using sampled sounds.

The day was sort of cut short when I got news of receiving a scholarship. That was great news, not complaining at all, but it DID ruin my concentration and flow.

Tractor Symphony: Day T minus 9
Posted June 7th 2010, at 00:29 with tags , , , , ,

This was the first whole day in the final stage of the project. I spent most of the day just thinking.

I went for a long walk, coming up with ideas, methods, solutions, problems, expectations, questions. Most of this I just speak into Evernote on my phone while walking, then transcribe and organize when back in the lab.

I have decided to ONLY use sounds from the vehicles. There will be no other sources of sound. That is a nice and challenging limit. I'm not worried about the sound palette aspect.

What I'm more worried about, most important, how to make this interesting and entertaining. When that is solved, the rest should be relatively easy (famous last words).

I think I will use a story framework. This should be a tool with multiple functions: It should work as a narrative to carry the presentation itself forward, it should work to build and develop characters from the vehicles AND it should work as a method to expose the sound and music of the vehicles. And it should help make the whole thing neat and interesting to watch. In simpler terms, the story should answer: WTF is this? 

I did some prelimenary scripting and fleshed out some concepts, trying out various storylines and options. Some ideas are great but not practically realizable. Others are perhaps easy to execute, but not sure they are interesting.

Eventually I sort of concluded with a basic idea and concept, no script but "I know what to write when scripting it".

Tractor Symphony: Day T minus 10
Posted June 7th 2010, at 00:26 with tags , , , ,

Day 10 is really day X, a few weeks back, while the project still was secret.

I was in Øystese and sampled the John Deere tractor and the Volkswagen car. I spent a few hours crawling all over and under and inside the vehicles, looking for everything that could and would make a sound. I was getting to know the vehicles, trying to figure their sounds, and also investigating how to create sounds with them in a live concert setting.

I recorded everything on a wireless, handheld Yamaha Pocketrak recorder, which is very convenient for acrobatic sampling and getting into small and secret spaces. I think the device falls perfectly between an axis of sound quality and portability. I could have used a larger setup with marginally better sound quality, but flexibility is more important. The tiniest sound details will be lost to the audience in a live setting with noisy engines.

I got a couple of hours of material.

After I got home I just dumped the sounds to my library, and took a backup. Then I had to put the project on hold for some weeks while wrapping up a few other projects and a live tour.

Bygdalarm Tractor-Symphony Process Reports
Posted June 7th 2010, at 00:21 with tags , , , ,

I have been commisioned by Bygdalarm to write and perform what I like to envision as a Tractor Symphony. Next Saturday June 12th I will perform this piece live at Festplassen in Bergen, featuring a huge John Deere tractor, a funky Volkswaven minibus, and computer electronics.

It's not really a whole symphony, it's probably going to be a short performance, but it sounds impressive calling it one.

The next 10 days I have scheduled myself to only work on this project (I hope). I will try to document the process under way. My schedule is tight, it won't be in-depth reports, but I have planned to spend an hour each day to report what I'm doing and why.

If time permits I will try to give sound and video examples.

A Beautiful Picture - Frankenhawks
Posted June 2nd 2010, at 16:24 with tags , , , , , ,

Edward Hopper is perhaps my favorite 20th century artist, and Nighthawks is perhaps my favorite 20th century artwork. If I had to rob a museum, I'd take that.

Mary Shelley is one of my favorite 19th century writers, and her Frankenstein's creature is decidedly my favorite 19th century artwork.

So I really really, really, really liked that mashup by Dave Lowe.

(Via Frankensteinia.)

Ugress 5: November 29th, 2010
Posted May 29th 2010, at 22:54 with tags , , , , , ,

In exactly 6 months, on November 29th, 2010, Ugress will celebrate 10 year anniversary. 

The same day the fifth Ugress album will be released.

I have great ambitions for this.

On that day, it is exactly ten years since the first vinyl album E-Pipe was released, with the first live show at Dromedar, a local coffee shop in Bergen. I still have the flyer.

I can't belive it's been 10 years! I can't believe I made it. It cost a lot. Was it worth it? Maybe. Who knows? You can't know stuff like this. And more importantly, I can't imagine how I'm going to do an album in only 6 months. This is going to be so great!

November 29th, 2010. V.

Dreams Come True: Kvarteret LED Wall Report
Posted May 29th 2010, at 22:35 with tags , , , , , , ,

Expedition report from Ugress Live at Teglverket, Kvarteret, May 2010. This is a geeky report. If you just want to look at pretty pictures here is Flickr a photo set.

Be careful what you wish for - you just might get it. Or, more likely, you get enough budget to rent it for a night. A few weeks back I was at the Gullruten award show, and there were many stars there but to me the biggest star to me was the massive LED screen they had as a backdrop on stage. I was mesmerized, dear god of spaghetti that was awesome, I wish I had that.

I had no idea I would be using it myself only weeks later.

For the Kvarteret gig, I received a flat upfront fee. This is nice, it means I know how much money I have to spend on the show. (Usually, I get the door, and don't know the budget upfront, and the responsibility of marketing falls on me, and I hate marketing, so naturally I never make any money with door deals.)

Not this time! They give me money!

So I could have pocketed it all and had caviar for breakfast for a whole week, but I decided to spend all the money on the concert. When playing my hometown, I like to try new things and make as much show as possible. I hired my regular light designer, the super talented Ivar Skjørestad, who works in Avab-Cac, and we discussed multiple options. He mentioned they just invested in a huge LED wall, that was used at Gullruten... I was like OMG it can't be...! Asked how much it costs to rent, and of course it costs a lot. We didn't think it was possible with my budget to rent enough to fill the stage, but we talked about various options for using bits of the wall (it comes in 60 cm tiles) and scatter the tiles around stage, combined with the holo-screens and regular VGA monitors. 

This was the original plan, and I was preparing visuals for it, when the super neat guys at Avab-Cac did the coolest thing in the world: They announced I could have the wall, as much as I needed, even with the budget I had. The screen is new and they wanted to learn as much as possible.

For real? I got a LED wall? Yes indeed.

LOOK AT THAT! It's so sexy. I didn't really want to perform that night, I just wanted to see the show myself.

We had the screen at 5% output. The screen is so powerful we had it running at lowest capacity, to balance it with regular lighting, holo-screens and VGA monitors, and still the wall is really the only thing you see. In the shot above, you have to look REALLY close to see the holo-screens, with a separate image of the Doctor. And if you look even closer.. there are VGA monitors at the edge, barely visisble (you can't see the right ones from that angle).

Rigging the screen was a swift affair, but it took a lot of people. It is built from many small tiles, each tile is really just a mechanical plate, with strips of LEDs, and a computer at the back. Here's a series of shots from the setup process.

We had some tech glitches after setup; each tile of the wall is a separate computer, and they needed to be reset with new data, which was only available on an external control unit at Koengen, the big outdoor arena. 16 kilobytes of reset data was retrieved via taxi, and voila, everything was up and running and OMG ITS FULL OF STARS. 

The whole wall is transparent, so Ivar set up a lighting system behind the wall to utilize this effect. We got news of the screen only one day before show, so I didn't have time to optimize visuals for it - if I could have done something different, I would have waited a few tracks with introducing the screen, as it was I think it almost got a bit too much having the wall running all the time.

But let's not forget the music.

Compared to the previous Månefisken show, here's a bunch of observations.

Dr. Doppeltganger. He is win.

Set list. The set progress, almost the same as in Oslo, worked great in Oslo, didn't work optimally here. Maybe because Kvarteret is a larger venue, maybe because there wasn't a support band, I don't know. But been talking with management on this, they had good input. 

Robot Army. I tried a live edit of Robot Army, with some live vocoder tracks. It didn't work as well as I had hoped. But glad I tried, wouldn't known if not.

Live sampling. Didn't work as well as it did in Oslo. I think this has a little bit to do with room/mic setup, I should get a better mic, but also timing wise; it ought to happen earlier in the set. As it was tonight, it happened at a moment where it cost a lot of pulse. Also, I learned something very valuable; the live sampling is very dependent on the sample itself; in Oslo I grabbed great takes, in Bergen not so great, I'll look into ways of streamlining this.

Stage presence. I was very nervous to take on such a large venue as Kvarteret alone. Small stages are easy to carry alone, not so much bigger ones. I've always been playing with The Igor, my drummer, who is currently on hiatus in Africa. I did Rockefeller alone last week, without both The Igor and The Doppel, and at that show I felt something missing. At Kvarteret, with The Doppel, I didn't miss anyone, and I'm a little bit surprised, and satisfied, that I can carry such a stage on my own. I think this is partly due to the scope of the visuals, but also thanks to the doctor. He works in mysterious ways.

After the show, I was so pumped and exhausted I didn't have the energy or the focus to sell merchandise, which is a little bit silly, because I could probably have made some money selling merch, balancing the visual spending spree I had just performed.

I stayed backstage for some time, hanging with my crew and friends, discussing the show, what worked and what didn't. Eventually backstage is filled with both friends, crew AND a lot of people I have no idea who is or why they are there, except I suppose they are there to leech on the free beer. So I make my quiet escape, down to Doppel and the laptops, helping the tech crew disassembling the wall, wrapping up my own gear and preparing to go home.


I spent all the money on visual toys and it was SO worth it. I learned some intriguing data on material that worked well in Oslo, but not so well in Bergen, and vice versa. I got a bunch of fantastic photos and excellent HD footage.

Expedition conclusion: Visual win. Don't forget to check out the Flickr set.

Expedition Report: Ugress, Maanefisken
Posted May 29th 2010, at 20:50 with tags , , , , , , ,

Photo by Tom Ståle Engebretsen

Saturday I played live at Månefisken, Oslo, together with my friend Guttorm aka Kaoss99. Månefisken is a charming, rustic cafe in an old mill by the river, my kind of place.

I was really late in booking the show, there wasn't much time to promote. It has been a long time since I played live in Oslo, according to the calendar it is 5 years! I was intrigued to see if we could pull a crowd.

The stage isn't huge, and we're lazy laptop musicians. We set up the stage so we didn't have to move anything between the sets. Since I had material on projector and screens on stage, I took the back. That did put me a little bit distanced from the crowd but we're convenient bastards...

Getting all my stuff up and running on a cramped stage is a little effort, especially the projecting equipment, but eventually I found a place for everything. It looked kinda Macgyverish but I don't think that matters; it suited the cafe and it suits my music. It was quite a shift from the smooth, perfect hi-tech stage at Riksteateret where I had rehearsed some hours earlier.

After setup I was a little bit worn out, wish I was a folk-singer sometimes... not so much tech to battle. A battery for your tuner maybe. I got some food at a pub, as usual before a show I was really nervous, didn't eat much, some salad I think. I went back to the cafe, spent the waiting hours backstage.

Guttorm played first, a great set of UFO bleeps and explorative noise, I really liked it.

His music being labeled as noise, and we're at a cheery cafe, I suppose it doesn't matter much that there was a noisy audience too, but I would have loved to experience his music in a quiet, attentive environment. He's got so much fun and quirky instruments and builds it all up live.

Then it was my turn, I started out with a live version of Trigger 22, and took it from there, playing a few tracks from each album, most of them in live edits, and a couple of exclusive ones.

Photo by Roar Hals

I was excited to try two things; first, my holo-screens had upgraded projectors, which should render the visuals better when viewed from an angle. Second, the live sampling part would finally be tested in a live setting (it broke down at Edvard).

I think the show went great. I had a super time, and the atmosphere was fantastic. I even remembered to shoot a crowdshot at the end:

The holo-screens worked fine. Here's a screendump from the HD cam that recorded the show, not the best quality but gives an indication of stage balance:

They are designed to be optimal in smaller clubs, and with better projectors I think they are visible for everyone in small clubs. On larger stages, like Rockefeller the next day, they're not so visible, they kind of drown against the huge backdrop. I'm not sure how much I should worry about that, on average I expect to be performing on small to medium stages. If I have to scale up at some point, the finances will probably scale up as well, taking care of that.

The live sampling - I am super happy, it finally worked and was a perfect start. I have to do some minor adjustments, there were some elements that didn't work, but other parts did. I look forward to develop this further.

What I didn't expect, and a pleasant surprise - Dr. Doppeltgänger is really popular! This was the second time I used him, and the crowd loved him, at once. Or they love the idea, I'm not sure exactly what it is that but he works. He gets much better response than me, or as my management recently told me; "some people shouldn't talk so much on stage - you're one of them. Let him do the talking."

Granted, all these elements, it's nice that they work, but I am careful and concerned to keep a balance between circus and music. I have to create a universe that is an extension of the music, not an add-on. Also, in different settings each element create different responses, as I will note in the upcoming Kvarteret report. I will be developing everything further during the summer, there's also some other ideas I'd like to try out.

After the show I hung around for some time, chatted with fans and friends, and eventually got my stuff packed down. I was back at the hotel late at night / early in the morning, very tired but very happy. This was the first show outside my hometown in a long while and it is good to be back on the road.

Expedition conclusion: Success.

Expedition Report: Oslo Rikskonsertene Rockefeller
Posted May 28th 2010, at 00:32 with tags , , , , , , , ,

Expedition: Oslo, May 2010

A report and observations from a week in Oslo; rehearsals and autumn tour preproduction with Rikskonsertene, meetings with multiple projects at NRK, and Ugress concerts at Månefisken and Rockefeller.


Up early. Had some breakfast and looked over the equipment. I always have this terrible feeling of forgetting something vital. (Like the laptop, which I once forgot.) Called for a taxi and in a few minutes I was en route to the airport.

I was early at the airport, I have excess baggage with special needs, takes some extra checkin steps.

Everything went smoothly (wtf? it's a trap!) and there was surprisingly short security checks, despite morning commute crowds. So I had time for some ugly coffee and quick emails at the airport. This is good, it makes me feel in charge of the day. But the coffee really sucks.

Almost empty flight, more sucky coffee, arrived in Oslo and my first hotel was right next to the airport train station, very convenient. Checked in, and set up my stuff for final visuals rendering and preparations for Rikskonsertene rehearsals.

I still had some leftover adjustments, and was hoping to have them rendering during the day while I was away in meetings. (Most visuals are pre-rendered, they have to, I need the CPU for audio instruments and effects.)

Then I had several appointments at NRK, a Norwegian TV network. The network produce their own material, as a freelancer I'm doing the music for some of the kids series.

I've just finished one show, currently writing incidental music for a new one, and will be doing music for another upcoming feature this autumn.I write everything in Bergen. The network film, cut and produce everything in Oslo, we exchange music and video back and forth in the clouds and communicate as necessary on email, Soundcloud and phone. This works really well. Nevertheless for larger productions it's good to physically get in the same room every now and then. I think it is vital to develop a sense of the people behind a project, as much as the project itself.


Thursday I spent mostly at the hotel, final edits and some rehearsing.

Well not really rehearsing in a traditional sense. Me "rehearsing" is more of a debugging-to-nuke-errors-process than a repeat-pattern-until-perfect process - I want to keep a live element, I always have multiple options for how to perform tracks live - but I'm going over everything multiple times, looking for potential glitches and errors, things that could interrupt or alter the flow of the show. With all the audio and video I'm running, the effort is really keeping it all running smoothly, and reducing the chances for me to do something stupid.

I skipped using the iPad as a controller for this weekend, I haven't found the reason for the previous snafu, neither have the software developers, and I have a different tolerance level for errors this weekend than at the regular Edvard series. So I used a physical Edirol PCR controller instead.

I managed an afternoon walk in the Marka forest, and then a meal at Olympen, a fancy pub (dichotomy, I know).

I haven't been there for many years, wow they had leveled up. I got me an IPA and some really good fish.

Then I spent the rest of the evening at a hotel bar, killing emails and iChat meetings with the other side of the planet.


Friday was rehearsals and pre-production at Rikskonsertene in Nydalen. (Previous info on Rikskonsertene).

I will be doing tours at primary schools this autumn, and as part of that there is a pre-prod segment, where producers at Rikskonsertene look over your show, helps optimize it for kids.

The process was tough but educational. I am happy to have smart and experienced people analyzing my stuff, pointing out obvious issues they have seen a million times. Efficient use of experience. It was good to discuss what I'm doing and why I'm doing it this or that way, it helps taking it out of my head and observing it from multiple perspectives. We also discussed technical issues; I usually travel only with my own equipment, but for the Rikskonsertene I have to travel with the stage setup as well, and a technical assistant.

We wrapped up early afternoon. I travelled back to another hotel, and continued working alone. I did some editing and adjustments, based on feedback, and preparing for new tests the next day.


Saturday was same as Friday, more rehearsals and feedback. We also focused on the next day's concert. After some discussion, we decided to skip the Doppeltgänger segments, and rather focus on the live sampling part. At the moment, I agreed with this suggestion, he didn't really work as well during rehearsals as he does live on stage.

We wrapped up in the afternoon, then I had to throw myself around for the show at Månefisken. I'll write a separate entry on that. When I finally got back to the hotel late at night, I was exhausted, but only a few  hours sleep before getting up, and doing a bunch of final edits for the Rockefeller show.

Having all my stuff portable and mobile means I can edit and adjust anything anytime, this is both a lifesaver, and a curse. I'm kind of never DONE in a way.

Was daytime concert for kids at Rockefeller, as part of an event by Miniøya, Camp Indie and Rikskonsertene. For me it was an excellent opportunity to test out what we discovered during rehearsals.

I had late breakfast at the hotel, which was crammed with an impolite horde of cruise-boat tourists. Yuck, those buffet-vultures.

I checked out and got my gear over by taxi. I was there early, my stuff with the holo-screens takes a little while to set up and navigate into place. The crew at RF was very helpful, and although everything was delayed, there was a good tone, I got everything I needed and we got my stuff up and running just in time.

I've played RF a few times before, but always with a band and my own crew. This time I was completely alone and it was really weird. Not only being alone on stage, but also it was early in the day and I was about to play for a venue filled with sugar-pumped kids. The waiting time alone backstage was surreal. There's a lot of material to dive into regarding that surreality - but it'll have to wait for another campfire moment.

I played my show, a short set, and it went rather well, especially the live sampling. I very much enjoyed the look on the kid's faces, many of them staring at me or the holo-screens or the huge projection of spider-mens, robots, pixel-bands, computer game dancers and spaceships. I know I would have loved this when I was 5.

But I'm not super satisfied, it could have been better. I learned a lot, some things I had expected, others I realized there and then. The most obvious shortcoming is me, I have to work on communication (I communicate concepts too fast on a too complex level). Also, tracks have to be shorter. However what I felt most sad about was the suppression of Doppeltgänger - that was an error. I really missed him, halfway into the set I realized he was the missing piece to the puzzle. The kids would have loved him. This is partly based on how extremely well he worked at the show the night before, and partly my intuition there and then, which is completely different when pumping live on a hot stage, than during intellectual, theoretical rehearsals. This wasn't a critical error, rather I'd say it was very valuable lesson, to learn how important he has become in very short time.

I think I will be spending some quality time with the good doctor during the summer.

After the show at Rockefeller, I was really exhausted. Packing down my stuff took longer than usual, I was kind of just zombie-ing around backstage. The other bands playing had all their friends and entourage and everyone being fresh party people. I didn't have the energy to socialize, I was just a quiet ghost in the corner, eating a mango, wiping my holo-screens, bundling my cables and typing down notes for improvement.

Eventually I managed to get myself and my stuff together and get to the airport. I had a flexible ticket, hoping to get on the first plane home, but being May 16th (17th is a national holiday) there were no free seats until the last plane out.

So I spent the evening at a completely empty airport, tucked into a dark corner with a laptop and a beer.


A very rewarding and informative expedition. Lots of good meetings. The Rikskonsertene pre-prod sessions were very educational and it was neat talking performance and touring with professionals. I can get sort of lost in my own head sometimes. The Månefisken show was incredible. The Rockefeller show was totally different, it worked great but I was more intrigued by what I learned, than how well it went. THAT is good.

Expedition approved.

Ugress Kvarteret May 21st: The Science Of Visual Thunder
Posted May 19th 2010, at 11:52 with tags , , ,

This Friday Ugress is playing at Teglverket, Kvarteret, and I'm bringing serious sonic and visual weapons.

How to present and entertain electronic music in a live setting? An excellent question.

I've spent the last year experimenting at my Kafe Edvard series, with new music, new  visual effects and new performance tricks. At Kvarteret I will conclude and demonstrate a year's worth of intense laboratory research, on a larger scale.

  • Kvarteret, Bergen (Map)
  • Friday May 21st
  • Starts 2100 according to program, but I'm sure it's more like 2200
  • Admission 170,-
  • Tickets at Apollon and Billettservice.
  • Facebook Event

Ugress Bygdalarm Tractor Symphony, June 12th
Posted May 19th 2010, at 11:36 with tags , , , ,

I'm writing music for a diesel powered performance with tractor, volkswagen and laptops. On June the 12th, the music will be performed live and loud in Bergen, with the vehicles as musical instruments.

The concert is a brilliant stunt from music festival Bygdalarm.

A few weeks back I travelled to Øystese and met the machinery, spent some hours getting to know them, documenting sounds and sampling as much as possible. It was great fun, crawling all over the massive tractor, investigating heavy machinery from a sonic perspective. I was most happy to discover the two vehicles have very different personalities in sound; you can easily tell which sound comes from which vehicle. 

There's a nice feature of the sampling session in today's local paper BT, unfortunately only available in the paid version.

The show will be at noon June 12th, in a public space. I'll update with more details as I learn them.

Expedition: Oslo Photo Report
Posted May 16th 2010, at 20:48 with tags , , ,

I'm at the airport on my way back from a very exhausting but fantastic week in Oslo. For now here's a photo report. I'll type out a proper report later.

This is what a week like that looks like from my perspective. I tried shooting a mobile picture as often as possible.

There are no photos from the shows, because... I can't photograph myself when playing. But I taped the shows on HD and there were photographers present, I'm sure they'll appear eventually.

(It might look like I'm alone all the time - which is almost true - but I do actually meet people. I just keep a different level of privacy for them.)


Expedition Report: Gullruten
Posted May 12th 2010, at 08:30 with tags , ,

Gullruten is the Norwegian Emmy awards. I was there this Saturday, since I wrote the music for one of the nominated series, Kometkameratene. I've been on a few award expeditions before, but never kept a journal. This time I took some notes - glitz and glamour is not a regular ingredient in my laboratory, and must be archived and analyzed.

(I lost my mobile phone the day before, so unfortunately no pics). 

I arrived 30 minutes late; I was performing with Signatur at Avgarde when the live broadcast started. So I missed the red carpet seance, and the pre-show party. But didn't matter - when I arrived, everything was still there - completely empty! So I had the lounge and red carpet to myself, deserted, no-one else around. A post-apocalyptic entrance. Excellent, excellent.

A somewhat skeptical team of security guards let me in, and one of them escorted me to the main hall entrance, where he handed me over to a producer, who told me to wait for a video segment before finding my place. It was surprisingly close to the stage.

I was seated with the Kometkameratene crew, and Sjur, my fellow composer. When I finally got seated, they all had sad faces - I feared the worst - and it was true: The award for best kids show had already been handed over to a competitor. Preposterous. I am certain there must be an investigation, this can only be a scandalous error.

There was not much else to do then, except enjoy the show. I am happy to report, I actually had a good time. The show was entertaining, lots of laughs, things to look at, chatting with Sjur. Granted, not all of the entertainment was to my taste, but I think it worked as a super commercial, pure entertainment effort. It was a well run circus, really.

Here's a couple of things I found interesting:

There are cameras everywhere, but they are really good at hiding them in the broadcast. There are camera operators running around all the time, lingering on a row or person. I think there was a camera on us most of the time, but very rarely being active. Eventually you stop noticing them.

The hostess, Mrs Skappel, is a ninja. I never saw her move. She just suddenly stands somewhere - in a new dress. She reads all her lines from a teleprompter. Then there's another, more powerful host-boss keeping tabs on the audience. He's the one getting angry and sending you off to the principal when you leave your seat and run in front of a live camera.  

I really liked that Ingen Grenser and Hotel Caesar received awards. They are polar to each other, and polar to regular TV programming, and it is important to honor and award those regions; they are the ones expanding the palette - even if it is in a direction I'm not personally intrigued by.  

There are errors, snafus and glitches happening all the time that probably does not make it to broadcast.

I wish I could afford the massive LED wall-screen they had on stage. I wish I could afford lots of the shiny toys they had.

Everyone gets up and sneaks out and buys drinks, all the time. The further into the show, the more messy this gets, and the host-boss gets edgy.

The after-party was interesting, an uncanny human safari; lots of wonderful, crazy beautiful people to look at, as if being in a fairytale. With free drinks! But DANGER DANGER - there are also invisible, cunning, social predators everywhere. Everyone looks at everyone and tries to work out who/what/how/why/should I/must I/did I/can I. Every gaze upon me felt like an intense calculation of value assessment and then immediate refusal. Like someone picking you up mentally, sniffing, then throwing you hastily away. I don't have a problem with that, I don't condone this game, that's kind of what these events are for. But I don't play the game, I suck so much at it it isn't even funny (well sometimes it's funny a few days later).  So I mostly walked around, marvelled at the sights and the prices at the bar.

I think what I liked best about the whole evening; it wasn't REAL. It felt like being on a stage, everyone is just playing a part. All those shiny people, they're going to be hungover and soggy and worrying about commonalities in a few hours.

Luckily I ran into some old friends and we grabbed a few beers in a corner, before I left a little bit early - I had to launch Operation Get My Mobile Back. I spent the final moments at Gullruten like I always do - on the laptop in a corner. I was trying to organize an exchange of my mobile, which I lost the previous day. It was on the road, in a taxi somewhere in the night, waiting to rendezvous and connect me with the real world again.

Expedition Report: BEK Signatur Performance
Posted May 11th 2010, at 00:02 with tags , , , ,

This Saturday, the BEK Signatur crew performed live at Avgarde.

Signatur is a media workshop for youths, administered by BEK and managed by Maria Oy Lojo. I have been a guest instructor and collaborator for the spring semester. We have investigated sampling, remixing, composing and performing electronic music.

The crew were invited to play at Avgarde, a contemporary music series, held in the emiment Tårnsalen at Bergen Kunstmusem. This is a beautiful, airy ballroom at the top of a modernist museum building, with a tall towered roof.

Together we built a story as a framework for each of the kids to develop their own character, and then create the "sound" and music of this character, acting their part only by sound and music. The setup is a bunch cartoony characters, all crazy in love with the beautiful dragon... they need to have a music competition to decide who gets to marry the dragon. The story develops into a full blown musical battle, where all characters are fighting each other and everyone wins, polyamorous success!

My role was mostly to act as a supervisor/director during development, sculpting and planning the performance, and at the performance tie it together live as a "MC Circus Storyteller". This worked both as a conducting element for the kids and an explanatory element for the audience.

We've been rehearsing and developing the concert over a few weeks, and Saturday we met at Bek for final preparations, dress rehearsal and pizza, before heading over to Avgarde for setup and soundcheck. Everything went super smooth, and the performance was a blast.

I am very impressed by the kids, how they executed this. They were super professional, focused on the performance but still having fun. Even more impressive to me was their creativity - they found a musical personality and then expressed this in their sound and performance. I wish I was that talented when I was their age.

Ugress Live: May Concerts, Oslo/Bergen
Posted May 7th 2010, at 17:10 with tags , , , , , ,

Some upcoming live dates and info.

Saturday May15th I'm playing at Månefisken, Oslo, together with Kaoss99, splendid noisetronica from Guttorm Andreassen. We have the place to ourselves this evening, I'll be presenting an arsenal of vintage hits, celluloid nostalgia and scary bleeps. Maybe the good Dr. also makes a visit, you'll never know...

  • Månefisken, Oslo (Map)
  • Saturday May 15th
  • Starts 2200
  • Admission NOK 70
  • Tickets at the door (no presale, we're too late)

The next day I'm playing a somewhat different show at Rockefeller, as part of Rikskonsertene and Miniøya's Camp Indie for kids. Still Ugress but a somewhat different selection from the previous night:

A week later I'm playing at Teglverket, Kvarteret. This will be a cinematic explosion of beats and visuals, I have the whole place to myself and I'm bringing the big guns. THE BIG 'UNS.

  • Kvarteret, Bergen (Map)
  • Friday May 21st
  • Starts 2100 according to program, but I'm sure it's more like 2200
  • Admission 170
  • Tickets at Apollon and Billettservice.
  • Facebook Event

I'll update with more info and reports continuously.

GMM Live: Signatur Live Performance
Posted May 7th 2010, at 16:30 with tags , , , ,

Tomorrow Saturday May 8th the Signatur crew I have been working with, will be performing live at Avgarde. I'll be part of the performance, I have a sort of supervisional MC kind of role.

More info at the Facebook event (Norwegian).

Journal Entry, Apr 30th, 2010
Posted May 1st 2010, at 20:32 with tags , , , , , , , , , ,

Why is there a cloud accompanying this entry? I don't know, it was just there on the sky, earlier today. Maybe because I spend a lot of time in the clouds.

So what have I've been up to the last few weeks:

tl;dr version: Writing music for NRK, developing my own liveshow, Signatur live performance preparations, funding applications, mobile applications. Long version:


I'm currently writing music for a new show at NRK, so most days I'm working on a cue, theme or character, communicating with various directors and editors on how to approach and develop the material. The new show is great, it is quite different from the previous Kometkameratene show, which I think is a good challenge for me.

There is a strong "sound", or theme, to this new series, I have to adapt my style and sense more to the show, and we spent a good amount of time at the beginning, working out the general sound of the show. I think this is invaluable at the start of a project; establish the fundamentals as far as possible, before moving on.

I'm not doing the songs or the theme this time, and I like that the music I create is a supportive element. It means I write music that is not supposed to be noticed, it should only "work", it's a score. It means more back and forth with the production team, but I think it will result in a more coherent sound for the show.

A day often ends up like this: Getting feedback from the director on a scene or cue, sometimes with a video sequence, with suggestions / requests for changes. Then I write for a few hours, developing or adapting stuff as I think the director wants. Then I deliver music, and the editors get to work, and we're full circle again. The NRK crew is VERY good at communicating what they want. Sometimes I'm good at responding musically to that, sometimes I fail, but then we just need another round of adjustments. Everything goes back and forth digitally.


I played live at Edvard last weekend, and tried out quite a few new technologies. Learned a lot, wrote a report on it. There are also photos. That took a lot of work and development, but I love it, learning new stuff, experimenting and exploring opportunities. Greenscreens, mattes, scripting, acting (bad), interacting, walking around with an eyepatch (have you tried it? You loose all sense of space! I walked into the walls all the time!), battling myself, voiceovers, the works. I'm becoming a personal bad-B-movie-factory.

For the next few weeks with the upcoming Rockefeller (16th) and Kvarteret (21st) gigs I need to do a bunch of adjustments to both music and visuals, and develop some new musical material, so I'm busy enough. I saw Kvarteret has started putting out posters for the 21st gig. After doing the poster rounds for Edvard myself the last few months, it felt kind of weird to see a poster I didn't stick up myself.

BEK Signatur

Today I spent a few hours at BEK, we're working on a live performance with the Signatur workshop. Also wrote a separate entry on that.

Applications, funding

I spent most evenings of the last few days writing applications, balancing budgets... May 1st is deadline for a lot of local and national funds, this isn't something I love to do, but we do have pretty good funding opportunities for art in Norway, and it's silly not to invest some effort into this. I'm kind of ambivalent regarding public funding of arts, I see both good and bad sides to it, everyone has different opinions on this and I've had many great discussions on it, but the reality is; I pay taxes - those administering taxes spend some of it on art - I'm doing art - therefore I apply for those funds.

Applications, mobile

I'm working on that, it's all top secret so far, not revealing anything yet, but we're onto it.

Personal Life

What's that?

Report: Signatur Performance Preparations
Posted May 1st 2010, at 18:51 with tags , , , , ,

Today I was at BEK, with the Signatur crew, making final preparations for the Avgarde show next Saturday.

Signatur is a workshop in electronic arts, for kids between 15 and 20, we're investigating and exploring digital music, sound, sampling, recording, remixing, performance. As a conclusion of the spring semester, we're using all we learned, playing live at Avgarde on May 8th. Avgarde is a monthly concert series, featuring a musical span from contemporary performance to club music. I can imagine Avgarde being slightly nervous of what they can expect from us, hah.

Without revealing too much - we've built a super neat set to perform, with a hilarious story as a framework, where every participant gets to create and present their own musical part. My role is just as sort of an MC, tying it all together. We've had lots of fun developing the show, today was a final run through and test of the setup. I'm amazed at the sounds and ideas everyone has come up with, and the enthusiasm of everyone. 

I've got a good feeling about this, it's going to be great!

Photos From Recent Concert At Edvard
Posted May 1st 2010, at 18:45 with tags , , , , ,

The excellent Marius Pettersen was photographically present at the recent Edvard gig and shot some great stills. In particular I like the one above, where my new super-flat holoscreens flex their sexy sexy flatness.

More shots in his gallery.

Report: Ugress Live: Introducing Dr. Doppeltgänger
Posted April 26th 2010, at 13:15 with tags , , , ,

A report from last night's show at Edvard.

It was great. The place was packed (yey!). I played both vintage and new tracks. I experimented with new visuals, it worked.

As always, lots of techno stuff broke down. But I've found a brilliant way to incorporate any technological breakdown as a feature, not a bug.

Meet Doctor Doppeltgänger, the cruel and evil nemesis of Professor Martens!

Last night, Dr. Doppeltgänger was exposed. He is the reason things breaks down, he is the one wanting dark, dystopian beats, he is the saboteur, he is the ghost in the machine. He is the sordid and scary side of Professor Martens, and he's also a comic relief.

Both me and The Doppel have great plans for each other, last night was a preliminary prototype of our relationship, it performed perfectly. Dr. Doppeltgänger was very well received by the crowd. Especially the battle sequence, where we both are musically battling against each other, was splendid fun! I was uncertain if it would work, or be too silly, but the crowd loved it.

Naturally, Dr. D also works as my scapegoat on a technical level - some things really DID break down during the show, and I can just blame it on the evil Dr. D when something unforeseen happens (or when I press the wrong button).

An observation of what didn't work as expected:


There was supposed to be new transparent, "holographic" screens, but because of the volcano predicament last week, and a tedious bureaucracy with TNT Express, the transparent screen-material didn't make it. I did find another solution, projecting the visuals on acrylic plastic screens dressed in very light silver craft paper. For the next show however, holoscreens should be up and running.


GRARRR. The price one pays for using super fresh technology.

I'll keep this short. I got an iPad last week. It is awesome. It will replace (it HAS replaced) my Lemur touchscreen. It is really perfect for a remote control.

I had set up and programmed the iPad to act as a touch-screen remote controller for all necessary functions. During preprod and testing it worked great. During the show, it worked great - then at some moment, it suddenly DID NOT. I do not know what broke down, or where, but it was somewhere in this chain: TouchOSC is running on the pad, with my personal custom setups. Osculator is running on the laptop, receiving OSC data from the pad, translating to MIDI. Osculator then communicates the signals as a remote control to Ableton Live. The pad and the laptop are on their own private wireless network.

During development, rehearsals and soundcheck, this chain worked without any hiccups. But midway in the set, signals started dropping out, and buffering up/bursting. I don't know where the problem was (I couldn't possibly check for errors during performance). But it seemed like a buffer or memory problem - a massive amount of already sent signals was suddenly sent out, and some of those commands reset my show, jumping to starting positions. I know, because I get a click-track with info and reminders in my ear, and I could hear the stat click going crazy bananas, meaning something somewhere was sending out a wrong signal, way too much. It also meant, there probably was also running signals around which I didn't know about. This was the reason for several stops and restarts of tracks, which kind of totally disrupts the flow of the show. Argh!

I disabled the iPad after the second time this happened. I didn't have a backup, so I was forced to do a lot of mousing from there on, which isn't optimal for rocking out. That was STUPID of me, it is the second time in a year that I lost my main touch-screen controller, and I'm thinking, from now on I will have a duplicate, physical controller standing by.

I have no idea WHY this happened, but except for the fact that I'm using very fresh technology, it was either the iPad itself (not likely), TouchOSC (maybe), Osculator (maybe) or Live (not very likely). It could also be the wireless network, but I don't really think so.

Live sampling

Another thing that broke down, as an effect of the iPad mess, was live sampling, and I was really sad to loose that.

I was supposed to sample the crowd, and use the sampled sounds in tracks, and further to battle Dr. Doppeltgänger. I've hired the brilliant Thorolf Thuestad to help me develop a custom built sampler in MaxForLive. We spent the last week prototyping, developing and executing this daunting task, and we DO have a great realtime sampler for me to use.

Unfortunately, due to the before-mentioned iPad breakdown, I lost control of the sampler. Not only did I loose control, the iPad breakdown corrupted settings in the sampler. We checked after the show, the sampler works perfectly, it sampled like it should, but the iPad remote control (which was set up to control the sampler) had bursted everything to meaningless random settings, which I wasn't aware of, and I didn't have a backup plan for resetting everything to workable values. My fault for not having a backup, or "panic" button, but still, GRAAARR on the iPad fault.

Streaming camera

The audio stream works pretty well, but video isn't optimal. Even the new better quality camera struggled with the dark. I had a separate camera at the side of the stage (single frame shown above), which worked much better, but it doesn't cover the wall screen or room projection. Have to think out a solution for that for the next show.

Did these breakdowns matter?

Not really, no. It was a great show, only myself knows it could have been much better. I'm actually very satisfied; I introduced five new elements; only a few of them didn't work out as expected, and I learned very valuable lessons. The exact reason why I'm doing this concert series; show science: Develop, experiment, perform, analyze, adjust.

The show was great. The place was packed. The room projection was wonderful. Dr Doppeltgänger, evil as they come, was loved by everyone.  Very much looking forward to the next show, playing Rockefeller in Oslo May 16th, where all of the above should be up and running, and The Doppel coming up with new evil tricks.

Note: The stream was recorded and is still available at my Ustream TV channel.


Live Stream: Ugress, April 24th
Posted April 24th 2010, at 14:57 with tags No tags.

Update: Show's over. I removed the embedded video and chat stream. You can still access the recorded stream and chat window from Ustream via the links below.

Live stream from tonight's show. I'll update this post when we go live, some time before 2200. The concert starts 2230.

You can follow me as SuperGMM on Twitter where I squeak when I have a moment.

You need a Flash enabled browser to see the embedded stream and chat windows. You can also watch the video directly at Ustream.TV.

Nomadic Robot Plants
Posted April 17th 2010, at 20:24 with tags , ,

This is great - robot plants, self-sufficiently moving around:

Made of recycled consumer goods, these small robotic creatures explore the urban space in search of any source of energy they can feed on.

Whenever its bacteria require nourishment, the self-sufficient robot will move towards a contaminated river and 'drink' water from it. Through a process of microbial fuel cell, the elements contained in the water are decomposed and turned into energy that can feed the brain circuits of the robot. The surplus is then used to create life, enabling plants to complete their own life cycle.

(Via We Make Money Not Art.)

Wow it's been ages since I did a via. (And it's ages since WMMNA did an update!)


Extraordinarily Excited For Ms Adele Blanc Sec
Posted April 17th 2010, at 17:32 with tags , , , , , ,

I'm a sucker for adventure and the Victorian era and steampunk and occultism and dinosaurs and mumies and I might also have a soft spot for cynical female heroes. I also for some reason, no matter how bad they are, always enjoy any Luc Besson motion picture.

So I'd just like to note here, that I have decided to very much enjoy the motion picture version of The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec, when I get to see it!

A selection of clips here at Slashfilm. HD trailer here at Youtube.

Live: Ugress April 24th
Posted April 17th 2010, at 15:30 with tags , ,

This coming Saturday April 24th, I'm playing live with Ugress at Kafe Edvard, Bergen.

There will be a most welcome and top secret guest artist.

There will be new and vintage Ugress tracks, spiced up with some clever new stuff I'd like to try out.

  • Ugress Live
  • Kafe Edvard, Bergen
  • Saturday April 24th,
  • Doors open 2200, showtime 2230 CET
  • Tickets NOK 100,-
  • Age limit 20 (younger attendees are allowed if accompanied by guardian)

They've done some interior changes to the cafe so I'm not sure about the live stream setup but I'll know more soon.  UPDATE: Live stream should be fully possible as usual and I've got a new camera hopefully the image quality should be better.

You can follow realtime updates at my Twitter account SuperGMM.

Apple iPad First Impressions - Good, Bad, Ugly
Posted April 16th 2010, at 13:36 with tags , , ,

When I was a little kid, which I still am, this was something I never, ever, thought I would have. It was a pure science fiction dream: A sleek, sexy, handheld super-responsive multimedia device, with swooshy interface, capable of containing all the knowledge, all the media, and all the connections of the world.

And now I have it in my hand. An Apple iPad, the 64 GB wi-fi version.

Data: I bought it directly from Apple in the US ($699) via my US itunes account and used Jetcarrier forwarding it to me in Norway ($220 in import duties and transport), a total cost of $919 which is approx NOK 5400. It took 14 days.

It arrived this morning. I am too busy to do an in-depth review, but I've been tagging it along all day, through several meetings and pulled it out whenever I had a moment for myself and with others. Tablets are crazy important in everyone's future, in particular mine, both using it in the live show, and also producing content for it. It will take some time before I can dive properly into these aspects with this iPad, but here are some notes from my first day, as a regular consumer/user:

The Good

I love it, I love it, I love it, iloveit iloveit iloveit iloveit iloveitiloveitlovelovelove. I love it so much I'm going to sleep with it tonight and forever. (Because I can read books on it all night long. Because I can go on Wikipedia when I wonder about something. Because I can type down any ideas or hum in a tune when I need it. Because I can put on Wall-E when I have a nightmare.)

After unboxing, I did a few minutes of poking around, trying everything, I was dabbling in the iBooks application, downloading books and pressing everything, and eventually I just laughed out lout, alone for myself. I AM IN THE FUCKING FUTURE. At some point all books in the world will be accessible like this. All albums. All movies. Everything. Web, wikis, comics, networks, whatever, swooshing around in a tasteful and subtle 3D interface, manipulated directly by our fingers.

Everyone who saw it today was like "OMG", some was prepared to hate it but when they touched it... when their fingers nimbly jumped around, intuitively grasping it, dancing on the glass... it's like touching the future. You can't NOT like it. You can - at most - wish for something else from someone else to potentially be better and then go for that. But this is the tablet kickoff.

Setup. Painless. Plugin, sync, hook up to my MobileMe account, everything popped into everywhere over the air, within three-four minutes of opening the package all my personal stuff was in place. Everything syncs from now over the air. Whatever, wherever - iPhone - Mac - iPad - Web - I don't do anything besides create or modify something, and it just pushes into place on all other devices. I set this up two years ago. I haven't done anything else but adding devices since then and today was no different, just works, all the time, ALL THE TIME. I don't think anything else is acceptable.

Speed. It is fast, it is snappy, it is way more responsive than even the iPhone 3GS. Most apps open back where you were, so multitasking is not a problem, except for background services like streaming audio etc.

A critical observation - I'm definitively getting the 3G version when it arrives here. I already have a free roaming plan and this device HAS to be online, it looses so much potential when without a connection.

Safari web browser is win. Google Reader mobile is super awesome. I haven't had time to test most websites but in many situations today we just needed regular web accessing and it just works, perfectly. I don't miss tabs, the multi-page setup replaces it as needed.

Mail, calendar, address book, they are exactly what they should be. Personally I'm not too fond of the fake-reality interface, I'd skip the "let's pretend it is a real leather-bound address book", but whatever. At least it looks like a nice fake leather-bound address book, and the UIX works great. Calendar is the best digital calendar I have ever seen, why isn't the OSX version like that? The Mail app is perfect for my usage, but probably not for power users. I could use this device for multiple days for my office work, but couldn't do the heavy lifting needed weekly or so. I also got Pages (it's like Microsoft Word), and well OK not bad but I prefer typing notes and ideas in Evernote, I don't see me designing stuff in Pages on the tablet.

Photos. WOW. That surprised me. I take a lot of photos, but up until now, I usually spend more time taking photos than looking at them. But with the iPad, looking at photos is great. I spent some time just browsing photos from the last few months, it just LOOKS nice, much nicer than printed photos, or fullscreen monitor photos, or mobile photos. Which means, all those photo I've taken... just got more value.

The "picture frame" function, accessible from lock screen... hah, brilliant.

Comics. Incredible. Tried both my own digital comics collection and some Marvel. The device will save digital comics. Or comics, in an updated, digital form, might save tablets.

Spotify, the iPhone app, works just like it should. Pandora figured out I was in Europe and refused me access.

Other iPhone apps, no probs. I just tried the most important ones, stuff I use regularly, everything works like it should. Doubling the pixel size for enlargement is not as ugly as I expected. In most of my cases you'd do this more to expand the touch-zones, than for the visual benefit. For things like drum-machines or keyboards, it is great to have more finger-room.

Haven't had time to try out too many dedicated iPad apps. Alice, a slightly interactive animated version of Alice In Wonderland was very promising for what is possible on the unit. Evernote, naah, that felt like a hasty solution. A few 3D games was impressive but only played them for a minute, enough to be impressed by visuals, but no opinion on gameplay because of the short time.

Typing, no problem. I can't type quite as fast as on a proper keyboard, but I type faster on the iPad than I write with a pen. 

Reading books. I think I need to test this in proper situations (like actually reading for an hour or two) before forming an opinion, but dear god I love the backlight and color. I am very comfortable reading on the iPhone I expect this to be better. Both the iBooks and Kindle apps works well (enough). The snappiness of the iPad means death to the Kindle hardware unit.

The OS and UIX is wonderful, because you don't notice it. You don't fight it.

Battery, I've used it many times over the day, it's been doing a lot of different stuff, including all syncing and transferring of movies/comics/music/photos since 9 am this morning, now it's 9 pm, battery level is at 66%. Impressive.

Is there anything I don't like about it? Yes.

The Bad

Any data outside what MobileMe supports is a pain in the blackest part of the universe. It's not doable. It should be completely transparent and automatic. If I'm working in a document in Pages on the iPad, the document should be exactly what I left it when I pick it up on the laptop, or if I grab it in the web. Same goes for all other apps really, I realize this is a little bit into the future, but it is important, and it is very possible to pull of right now. Ubiquity. Do one thing one place, it updates everywhere else without user interaction. I want everything I have in digital form to be available everywhere I go, regardless of which hardware I use to access it. This is VERY realizable.


I'm a little surprised by the weight. It is slightly heavier than I expected, and holding it with one hand for a long time won't cut it (compared to Kindle).

Movies, widescreen movies, that doesn't really work. The screen is 4:3 I think, so 16:9 or wider movies get kind of small when watching in full width. You can "fill" it but then it cuts the edges (of course).

Stereo? Speakers are at the bottom of the unit... Not sure why I don't like that, but it appears to me that you'd be more in need of stereo sound when the device is in landscape mode (movies, gaming) than in portrait mode, so I'd rather see the the speakers at the top and bottom.

Flash. The Safari mobile web browser does not support Flash. I'm not too worried about that, my opinion on Flash: It sucks like despearate moose coming in from a month in the desert, except when it doesn't. In some cases, Flash is great, like with Soundcloud widgets, visualisations of data or other subtle web interactions where it is of benefit to enhance the possibilities of HTML. But THAT IS NOT OFTEN. There Are. So. Much. Crap. Flash! I am not at all worried if Flash dies a terrible death. The only thing I hate more than Flash ads, is Flash websites, artsy fartsy artists or photographers or (worst of all) institutions who present some kind of "fancy" interface. GRAR! Flash could have been great. Bad taste ruined it.

iTunes, it feels kinda silly using "iTunes" for all my devices and things that clearly has nothing to do with music. Also, since 9.1 (the iPad update) iTunes has been unstable. That's just silly. Apple should separate the media consumption and the device operation.

Design glitch. The Apple logo on the back is annoyingly protruded, feels like there is something "wrong" on the back when holding the unit in one hand.

Background image? That was a really weird choice of factory default background image - a starry night in the woods, there are some meteor stripes or something, and they look like scratches in the glass at the very first glance.

Charging takes time. It charges pretty slowly, compared to the iPhone. And it can't be charged via a hub (or at least the hub I've got right here). I suppose it needs more power than the iPhone.

The Ugly

What is the worst part of my new iPad?

It is so attractive I keep loosing focus of what I'm supposed to do and pick it up and just have fun.

I've seen it written and I feel stupid repeating it: You have to actually use it, touch it, to get it.

Once you touch it, once you TOUCH an app, a book, a text, the internet, a movie, a picture, at that size, something just clicks. You have the whole world in your hands, literally.

I'm so enthusiastic I spent most of the evening sketching plans and writing this entry instead of doing all that what I should have been doing.

Tablets are the future. This one is the portal. I'm making a note here.

Journal Entry, Apr 13th, 2010
Posted April 13th 2010, at 21:35 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A brief note, what's up:

In general the last few weeks has been an "under the hood" period. Negotiations, contracting, budgeting, planning, much administration and little fun to reveal. But some things are up and running:

I'm currently working around the clock writing music for a new show for kids at NRK. I won't be doing the theme, that's already in place, but I'm developing a sound, delivering a music library for music and skits running throughout the program. We just started the last few days, the directors and editors are cutting and testing in Oslo while I'm developing concepts and ideas. We're still searching for the right sound and musical palette, but I reckon we nail it this week and I can start producing the library.

Simultaneously I'm scripting and preparing the Ugress live show for April 24th. Finally putting the x into experimental in my concert series, I have a few clever changes for the live show which I'd like to prototype and test. I have some larger events coming up in the near future where things should be up and running. There will be some new hardware, some magic, still working out the details, waiting for deliveries from all over the planet... and I find myself spending surprisingly more time at the planning and scripting stage than usual. 

I did a quick session with Signatur on Saturday, mostly just keeping tabs on progress for the upcoming performance.

On Monday I did a photo-shoot with Chris Aadland, a photographer currently documenting the artists and people of the local music scene over the last few decades. I got to see a prototype, it's going to be great, and my photo looks like a perfectly daft professor portrait, slightly inconvenienced at having to abandonded the lab for a photo-moment...

What else, let's see, we're working on setting up some live dates and events for late spring and summer, and the Rikskonsertene tour dates for the autumn are falling into place. The dates and schedule for the next few albums has been set up ahead. Looks like my calendar is pretty full until mid 2011 already.

How Much Do Music Artists Earn Online?
Posted April 13th 2010, at 21:08 with tags , , , , , ,

Regarding my recent posts on how much I make on digital music, here is a splendid visual representation of how artists make their money.

The original post over at Information Is Beautiful (indeed) has more background info and links to further data.

Kometkameratene Nominated For Gullruten
Posted April 7th 2010, at 17:53 with tags , ,

Kometkameratene, the sci-fi series for kids where I did the music, is nonimated for Gullruten.

Gullruten is the Norwegian Emmy Award. The other nominated shows are Waschera (TV2), Newton (NRK) and Megafon (NRK). I'm not familiar with Waschera and Megafon, but I'm happy to see Newton also nominated. Science FTW.

I hope to be able to attend the show, if time permits, I'm performing with Signatur earlier the same evening right across the street from Grieghallen. 

Expedition! Target: Future. Transport: Tablet.
Posted April 3rd 2010, at 19:33 with tags , , ,

The reason I like the future is because you can change it. 

I like change. I like to learn new ways. I like to adapt. I like to invent. I like to face something I do not know. I like to figure things out. I like not knowing how things will end. I like to find possibilities where others find problems.

I thought I should make a journal entry today - I am super excited about a new gadget, starts shipping today. Mine is enroute, somewhere up there, I had to get it from the US via forwarding service so it will take a few weeks before it arrives.

It is not the holiest grail, it is not the first of it's kind, it probably has a lot of whoopsies, and in the end it certainly won't be the best thing ever. But right now, I think this little device is very very important to engage.

I am so much looking forward venturing into this part of the future!

New York Times does full Ugress coverage
Posted April 1st 2010, at 15:41 with tags , ,

Wow, I'm in the New York Times!

(Edit: This was a daft April Fools joke, but it's still true...)

Scandinavian Street-Art In South-France
Posted March 30th 2010, at 21:16 with tags , , ,

Another "I wasn't there but my music was":

Not sure how to describe this one, but I'll try: Gaby Bazin travelled Scandinavia documenting street art, and the result is an exhibition in Southern France, funded by Zellidja. This is her blog, it's in Francoise, but there are screenshots of the report. Via a friend of her, they asked for permission to play my music at the vernissage (of course) and some posters and flyers (of course). 

I got some photos from the vernissage, it looks great. I'd love to play there, but as usual, where I can't go - at least the music goes.

Thanks to Gaby and HK for spreading my music!

Journal Entry, Mar 28th, 2010
Posted March 28th 2010, at 22:22 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I haven't written a single note of music in many weeks and it is driving me crazy.

I sat down tonight, after a long day of emails and phonecalls and workshops and meetings, which was fun, but I feel exhausted, in a fundamental way. I have been so busy the last few months, I haven't had time to stop and breathe, and worst of all, I haven't created anything.

This is not a complaint, it's an observation: To realize value, from the creation of value, I have to manage value. I prefer to create music, but there's more to music than just writing it. Now I've had to focus on the managing aspect for a longer period than usual, and I sorely miss the creative production process.

But I'm exhausted in a happy way. Professionally, things are going great. The recent swoop of administrative efforts should enable me to concentrate on writing and performing for minimum a year ahead. A quick recap:

I've hooked up with Made Management, a local agency with brilliant people, focusing on music, arts, film, theatre. They're interested in working with me as a producer and composer (rather than as a traditional "artist"). I sorely need help with administration challenges, as they have grown the last few months. We're just starting out, trying to figure how to balance everything, if we're right for each other, but I have a good feeling about this.

Next live show in my experimental development series at Edvard is set for April 24th. I have lots of new ideas and prototypes to try out.

There's an Ugress compilation album coming out in a month or so. Nothing new, just a practical release to get more of my material into digital services like Spotify, Wimp, iTunes etc.

The date for Ugress 5 has been set. It's late 2010. Insane ambitions. It will be a great release. I'll reveal more as the process intensifies.

I will be doing a tour for Rikskonsertene this autumn, playing shows at primary schools around Norway. There will also be a showcase for the tour in Oslo in May. See separate blog post.

I will be writing music for a new TV series for kids at NRK. Haven't signed contract yet so can't speak too much of it, but we've started preproduction and I'll spend easter composing and producing preliminary music for the show. I'll also do another project for NRK later this year. 

I will help develop, and probably perform, a live concert for the BEK Signatur group. We started this process today. More information in separate blog post.

There's also been Messe with some new software and hardware, the iPad is soon out, Steam mac beta, lots of digital future news from SXSW, location-aware apps are buzzing, I haven't had time to look into any of it yet but love having a backlog of goodies to research over Easter.

Just have to write some notes and beats first, get that out of my system.

Ugress Rikskonsertene - Rockefeller, Oslo, May 16th
Posted March 28th 2010, at 22:08 with tags , , , ,

Still in the planning stage, but great news: Ugress will be part of Rikskonsertene's 2010/2011 season programme!

As part of their programme, there certainly will be lots of touring, but first I will be doing a showcase at Camp Indie, together with MiniØya at legendary Rockefeller Music Hall, this coming May 16th. 

Rikskonsertene (English: Concerts Norway) is a national organisation "presenting living music of high artistic quality accessible to all people in the country." They make sure diverse music and culture become available for the entire population, which is quite the challenge in a country with so much remote population.

I have discovered I absolutely love working with music for kids, and we're starting out presenting Ugress to the primary schools first. The tour isn't set yet, only the showcase so far. But nevertheless I am very flattered to be part of their repetoire. This is the first time they include electronica in their programme, I'd better not mess this up.

MiniØya is Øyafestivalen for kids, at the end of June. They're also presenting part of their lineup at Camp Indie the same evening at Rockefeller, its going to be a splendid evening.

Disco for kids with cakes and blasting beats, this is going to be fantastic!

  • Rockefeller Music Hall
  • Sunday May 16th
  • Left wing: 15.00 Disko og kakefest
  • Main stage: 16.30: Ugress
  • Main stage: 17.10: VOM
  • Did I mention free entrace? If you're a kid or not, COME DANCE

More info at MiniØya website.

Next Ugress Live: April 24th
Posted March 28th 2010, at 22:00 with tags , ,

Next concert in my series at Edvard is booked for April 24th.

I've got some ambitious plans for this one. Lots of new stuff to present: Tracks, concepts, ideas and technologies.

There will also be a very special guest star. It's going to be awesome. Follow up as date approaches.

Report: BEK Signatur Workshop
Posted March 28th 2010, at 21:40 with tags , , , , ,

Note from the Signatur workshop at BEK.

For this workshop we choose to concentrate on the live performance aspect of electronic media. The workshop will be performing live, at Avgarde (contemporary music series), and possibly also another gig later this summer.

I'm thinking to build a live performance, where the kids (not sure what to call them but I'll call them kids) present themselves, and in the process have to utilize everything they have learned so far during the workshop. Concepts, ideas, recording, processing, building, structuring, playing, performing. How to build and present the final concert is also part of this, so we're doing everything together.

I think everyone (including me) was surprised how much time we needed to brainstorm, filter and discuss various methods for presenting our skills. Also, how fun that part was. We'll be developing the performance and presentation framework together during the next few weeks, and the kids will develop their own part for themselves.

I've got a hunch the concert will rock the socks of the contemporary art scene.

As a reward for several hours of conceptual brain gymnastics, we spent the last hour crowdsourcing lots of hands making beats, noises and beautiful melodies on my Lemur (pictured above).

Report: Russerne Kommer Live Performance
Posted March 26th 2010, at 19:00 with tags , , , , , , ,

A note on the Russerne Kommer performance. Lots of fun and chaos, pictured above is my setup on stage during soundcheck.

Background: I did a cover version of Russerne Kommer (The Soviets Are Coming), a classic punk-synth track from the eighties, as part of a compilation of new local artists covering older ones. For the release party, lots of artists came together to perform their tracks.

Many artists participating, both new ones and vintage ones, famous ones and unknown ones (hello that would be me). So backstage was full of people, it was kind of surreal, hanging with famous artists I was listening to as a kid, current pop stars and also met some old friends. It was also a little bit frightening, there was a punk band totally being a punk band, not very compatible with me and my train controller and laptop and video camera and iphone apps, you know.

Here's a photo of Torild Sivertsen and Tor Endresen (I think?) performing something, can't remember. I'm a little freaked out hanging backstage with Torild Sivertsen and Ove Thue and most of the music history of my home town.

So in many ways it was like going back to high school. Lots of cool people, loud rockers, hot girls, douche guys, elite people, and then me hiding in a corner in a lab coat with my pocket calculator. Thankfully, now the calculator had internet so I was not too alone. 

I had been told the original artist, Jarle Zimmermann, would perhaps join in on our performance, but I was never introduced to him, so I figured Calle (the cover vocalist) would do all the vocals. But while standing by at the stage waiting to be introduced there was this guy next to me, and I suddenly realized - that must be him! So I finally met him 20 seconds before we played, and learned he had never heard the remix (!).

So we had to improvise, and naturally the performance became a splendid mess, the two vocalists didn't know when to sing or what to do who with when where, deer in headlights, but for me it was great fun, eventually we all sang the hook and Zimmermann just ad-libbed some Russian on top of the beats, and I played whaow whaow synths with totally awesome my portable train controller.

I like to imagine, maybe some of the punk guys was just a little bit envious: Thundering beats, me jumping around in a lab coat, rocking my Taito, two vocalists trying to figure out WTF is going on.

The most rewarding part of the evening was Mads being the only one catching and appreciating the "Bjørnen Sover" reference in my cover. I also think their impro-funk-jazz cover of Eple is the best track of the album, and it was also the best performance of the evening, photo:

I taped the show for reference but the resulting material is not very presentable, I didn't have time to rig a proper setup for recording. Supposedly there was a picture of us in the paper the next day but I haven't seen it.

Finally, an observation that puzzles me: I'm typing this at Landmark right now, and next to me there are two guys speaking Russian. That's really weird.

Shoes For Beats: My New Feits Unboxement
Posted March 24th 2010, at 08:30 with tags , , , , ,

A poem:

Package for me,
What can it be?
I'm filled with glee,
Let's open and see!

Feit shoes!

A few weeks back indie production company world wide mind films (in Los Angeles) contacted me and asked for permission to license one of my songs for a documentary about indie sneaker company Feit (in Australia). 

The film is about the owner's long struggle for his art - to create the ultimate sneakers, facing global behemoths like Nike et al. I've seen a rough edit and the film looks great.

As payment I decided for a BRILLIANT pair of Hunter Black - street sneakers, so neat and ninja I can also use them at finer dinner parties.

Making a living of music is great, and never the way you expect it to be. When it comes in doses like this, incredible shoes as barter for a license, it is awesome.

I'll update with a link to the film when it's out.

Snowchology Expedition Discovery
Posted March 22th 2010, at 17:37 with tags , , , ,

A sign of ice crystal importance!

I found this, far into the wilderness, on one of my daring ski expeditions.

Cloudification: Godspeed, JD-800 and Prophecy
Posted March 22th 2010, at 17:22 with tags , , , , , , , ,

Lots of things happening lately, amongst them is a stern reduction of THINGS.

I'm happy to get rid of stuff - and heavy hardware is the easiest to wave off. Still, a touch of sadness when old friends travel separate paths alone. A little obituary is in place.

Roland JD-800

The Roland JD-800 was a synth I dreamed about as a kid with Protracker, I remember reading the brochure over and over and over again. At the time, I was clueless to hardware setups, I had no idea a rompler was not really what I should get - I was just fascinated with the size, the sounds and the sheer number of controls and buttons.

A few years ago, I had some room in my budget (WTF). I knew I didn't really need the beast, but I found a cheap one in Japan, and bought it for myself as a present - fulfilling a misguided wish in my youth.

So this become a huge, unnecessary but dearly loved toy. I enjoyed programming the fat-ass. The wave memory is full of new agey waveforms, but you can build and manipulate them into weird, sci-fi'ish soundscapes with all the modulation and envelope opportunities. As long as you keep the unit in monotimbral mode, you can also spruce it up pretty good with the onboard effects.

Can't think of any track where you can really hear it, but I made sure to sample all my own sounds and edits before parting ways. Some of the material suits an upcoming project perfectly.

Korg Prophecy

The Prophecy I've had on and off over the years, in multiple units.

The first Prophecy was my third synthesizer, I bought it while studying, and I remember eating only instant noodles for half a year, sacrificing food and party budget to afford it. I loved the myriad of virtual synthesis models available, the Prophecy taught me a great deal about synthesis.

But the most valuable lesson I got from this unit, was to realize that sequencing synths via MIDI is daft - it's much better to just sample them and keep everything "in the box", particularly for hassle-free total recall setups. This was probably spurred on by the fact that the Prophecy was monophonic. 

I sold the first one to fund going all-computer based, but got another one recently when I found a cheap used one. Mostly I just used it as a controller, because of it's smaller size and strong durability. 

The Prophecy is quite noticeable in my late 90ies material. After that not so much, but like the JD, I have now sampled most of my sounds and they're now more approachable.

Thanks so much guys, it's been a blast. Best of luck, I know you're in good hands.

Live: Russerne Kommer Remix - Release
Posted March 22th 2010, at 17:07 with tags , , , , , ,

I did a cover version of track Russerne Kommer, together with the brilliant Calle Hamre on vocals. The original song is a legendary punk-synth track by Zimmermann, from the early eighties. If you grew up in Bergen you are certain to have shouted the chorus at some superbly chaotic party, regardless if you are communist or capitalist or social democrat or pastafarian.

I put a lot of stuff in the cover, using a nice palette of references. I'll type out a production note later, right now just excited to see how it'll work live - the song is quite simply a bad-ass song, and now it also has bad-ass beats.

The track is part of a brand new compilation album "Bergensbølgene", where various artists from Bergen cover other classic artists from Bergen. This coming Wednesday there's a huge release party for the album, and I'll be performing the track together with Calle Hamre - and perhaps also Mr Zimmermann!

Other artists performing: Nathalie Nordnes, Ove Thue, Fjorden Baby, Pogo Pops, The Soul Express Orchestra, Tor Endresen, Chickendales, Karoline Krüger, Christine Guldbrandsen, Mads Berven Sekstett, Tarmer, and more.

  • Bergensbølgene - Et dykk i Bergens pop og rock historie
  • Russerne Kommer (Ugress feat Calle Hamre/Zimmermann)
  • Venue: Logen, Ole Bulls Plass
  • Date: Wednesday March 24th, 20:00
  • Tickets: NOK 210, presale Logen and Apollon

More info at Logen website.

Posted March 22th 2010, at 12:22 with tags

Now A Depth Is Reached.

Let's go exploring!

Ugress er også mat (og såpe)!
Posted March 19th 2010, at 12:21 with tags , , , ,

"Oppskrifter på aktuelle surrogater av ville vekster."

Hah, this is super neat, I got the best present ever yesterday: "Ugress er også mat", a book with recipes for meager times... how to cook and fix food with wild plants and weeds. Translated the title means "Weeds are also food", with funky subtitle "Recipes for available substitutes of wild growth".

The book is printed in 1941, during World War II, where our ancestors made coffee from wood, and they had to watch Youtube on the village cinema. I love the font, and the feel of the paper, it feels like an ancient artifact.

This is a great follow-up to the Ugress soap I got a few weeks back:

Most heartiest thanks to Maria for soap and Magnus/ Kamilla for the book!

8-bit music, film, concert, art at Landmark
Posted March 19th 2010, at 11:54 with tags , , , ,

Of course, I'm out of town, the bits come rolling in one by zero.

8-bit Music Party at Landmark, organized by BEK. 8-Bit The Movie, lots of great artists, an interactive Tomb Raider installation, VJs... There are also workshops right now at BEK, for Nanoloop and LSDJ.

Sucks not being there.


Streaming is steaming: 2009 numbers
Posted March 17th 2010, at 19:11 with tags , , , , , , , ,

Just got the numbers for the fourth quarter of 2009 from my aggregator Artspages, now I have complete overview of 2009. Did some quick stats on downloads vs streams, per quarter.

These are based on actual INCOME from each type, not number of downloads / streams.

  • iTunes and Spotify are by far the biggest players.
  • First quarter I made all my money on downloads.
  • Sharp rise in both downloads and streaming when Reminiscience was released.
  • As expected, slow decline in downloads since release (less exposure over time).
  • Except, STREAMING actually continues to grow, even with less exposure.
  • Last quarter, 1/4th of my income is from streaming .
  • Last quarter, income from streaming is almost up to 50% of first quarter's downloads!

Streaming is picking up steam.

I'm certain, this has more to do with the fact that a growing number of people are streaming, than my music growing more popular. But it does indicate, following the invisible lines indicated - in a year or two, streaming will surpass downloads as my primary source of income from digital distribution.


HyperSID: C64 in a box with VST plugin
Posted March 17th 2010, at 19:06 with tags , , , ,

Rarely do I miss the Windows platform, but this little box stings my retro 8-bit heart just a little bit.

The delicious HyperSID is a synthesizer built on the C64 soundchip, remotely controlled (with total recall) by a VST plugin in your host. Alas, Windows only for now.

New Live Photos From Edvard
Posted March 12th 2010, at 17:56 with tags , , , ,

My photo-documentarian Eivind Senneset shot a new batch of great moments from the latest live show.

We also took some new promotional photos. I uploaded a selection to my Flickr account.

Popround: GMM - "A musical David Lynch?"
Posted March 12th 2010, at 17:44 with tags , , , ,

Popround, a mixtape collective, is featuring a neat amounts of my music on their "Beyond The Fjord" compilation. 

"This was fun – I went on a little mission to find out what’s going on in Norway, and found all sorts of really interesting stuff. In particular there’s Gisle Martens Meyer, a kind of… musical David Lynch?"

That has to be the best compliment I have ever had. Thanks Yari!

Listen to mixtape at Popround, lots of great Norwegian electronics.

Farewell, My Beloved Powermac G5
Posted March 12th 2010, at 17:43 with tags , , ,

I am currently getting rid of much old hardware. Some of it is hard to part with. I spend most of my waking time with technology, in particular computers. They become parts of your life.

Today BEK adopted my beloved old G5, I am happy to know it has found a new home where it will be put to good use. Though, even if I know the little fat-ass will have lots of fun, lots of friends and be very much loved, it still is sad to part ways with such a good and trustworthy friend.

I bought this computer just around the release of Cinematronics in 2004, and it was my main studio workstation until late 2007, when I got a Macbook Pro. All of the NDG films, the film music album, Shadow Of The Beat albums, Ugress - Unicorn and much of the EPs was done on this box. 

In 2007 I decided to become location free, and started moving over to mobile technologies. But ever since, I have kept the G5 standby, mostly because it was a portal back to PowerPC plugins and projects - often the only way to open old projects. But it was also a backup, like when my MBP screen kaputted during the Reminiscience preproduction a year ago, the G5 saved the day.

I have now spent the last week together with my old friend, talking about the good old days, exporting tracks and rendering instruments from the old guy. At first I did this just in case I'd might need it up ahead. But then I realized - I was actually taking farewell, remembering the times we had, the music we made.

It was good to have these last final moments together. For the G5, there are new challenges to met in a great, young environment. For me, I'm off to the clouds, there is not turning back. The final string has been cut.

Thanks for the memories, fatso.

Webhost Upgrades Could Interrupt Programming
Posted March 12th 2010, at 11:40 with tags , ,

Just a quick note: My excellent webhost Webhuset is (was?) upgrading and moving their datacenter today, there could be static for a moment or two while your browser searches for the new and improved channel.

Interview for Amigaz.Org
Posted March 6th 2010, at 18:42 with tags , , , , , ,

I did a quick interview with Mike for, a few questions on retro computing, and a mention of me smashing my Amiga. The memories...

There's also a link to some of my earlier music, in module format.

I keep forgetting, some of my tracker music is actually available here and there in the tubes. I still have all of it stored in my digital vaults. One fine day I should find time to collect and somehow present my pre-2000 music.

Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Music
Posted March 6th 2010, at 18:01 with tags , , , , , , , ,

"Virtual musicians are already real, and they’re only getting realer."

Wired describes Zenph Sound Innovations, which takes existing recordings of musicians (deceased, for now) and models their 'musical personalities' to create new recordings, apparently to critical acclaim (PDF).

The company has raised $10.7 million in funding to pursue their business plan, and hopes to branch out into, among other things, software that would let musicians jam with virtual versions of famous musicians. This work unites music with the very similar trend going on in the movies — Tron 2.0, for example, will clone the young Jeff Bridges. If this goes on, will the major labels and studios actually need musicians and actors? In the future, it could be harder to make money playing guitar with all of the competition from dead or retired artists."

(Via Slashdot.)


Kometkameratene: The Final Episodes
Posted March 6th 2010, at 17:41 with tags , , , , , , ,

Kometkameratene Behind-The-Music: You can watch episodes directly from NRK or download official torrents. There is also a list of each behind-the-music entry. NEW: You can watch the whole video over at NRK Super.

My work for the Kometkameratene show is over, since production is wrapped up long before the episodes are aired. I think there are maybe 6 or 8 episodes left to be aired during this spring.

For these final episodes, it was not possible to produce a dedicated music video for each episode. So instead we did four independent music gags, disconnected from the episode theme, so the gags could be placed and recycled as needed. I don't know when each gag will be aired, and I'd rather not reveal them prematurely. So I'll wait for Easter, when they all should be available online, and type out the final four songs then. 

There's a hilarious drum battle, an excellent night-club jazz performance, a funny glove dance-and-hunt, and a jaw-droppingly awesome one-take performance by Rampejentene, struggling to get their animal tune right...


Daring Ski Expedition Fail - Saved By Unknown Ski Girl And Ski Guy
Posted March 4th 2010, at 19:33 with tags , , , , , , , , ,

The kindness of strangers strikes again. A few weeks back, at an airport, a security girl unasked for pulled me out of the longest security line in the world and helped me just make my flight. Today, again uncalled for, complete strangers saved me. And found each other.

Prepare for an exiting and thrilling love story in the remotest of arctic wilderness, scribed by your daring correspondent.

When I woke up this morning the sun was quite alone in the sky, brimming with life like only an early spring sun can. This could be the last day with snow in my town. I decided; now or never, I am doing "Vidden", a mountain plateau between two local mountains, Ulriken and Fløien. You can access both mountains by cable and funicular from the city centre, and hike or ski between them in a few hours. I've never done this trip on skis, but as you know, I have no fear for anything. What is a mad scientist without daring expeditions, either for dangerous minerals, rare mutated cyborg-butterflies or musical inspiration? I cabled up the tallest one, procured a cup of coffee from the last outpost known to man, and set off into the wilderness, never looking back. 

It was the most perfect day ever. Spotless blue sky, friendly sun, and a vast, quiet white wilderness of solitude and inspiration. I walked with my mind for a few hours, before finally making camp just below the summit of the tallest peak on the route. I enjoyed my soggy knekkebrød with luxuriously sweaty cheese, and sent a glorious picture message to all of my friends stuck in offices. (That's ok, they send me pictures of glorious dinner parties when I'm stuck on a hotel or tour-bus.)

Well, enough loitering and relaxing in the mountains! I packed down my lunch and got ready to set off down the mountains.


My ski was FAILING. The ski bindings would not hook into place. The boot kept slipping off, any movement, and "thwack" the ski went off and continued on it's own. I kept trying and and trying but no, broken. "This is not happening," I thought. There I was, on top of the world, just having teased all my friends, and my Ski. Did. Not. Work.

I was mad! Eventually I found a way to hold my foot so it would keep the ski in place. But of course it kept slipping off, and I had to walk like a combination of a mad ninja and a delirious cripple and I faceplanted maybe 20 times down the first steep hill.

I was cursing, fuming, scheming and gnarling, and in particular I was planning my evil cruel revenge on everyone in the store who sold me this piece of utter crap ski shit, not to mention the ski producer and everyone ever related to them! I'll crucify every one of them, I'll set up huge terrible crosses of skis, all the way from Ulriken to Fløien, and stick them all up with ski poles through their limbs, and an extra pole with casters where the sun never shines, and I'll smear them all with ski wax so the sun will burn their naked skin and the winter nights will freeze their exposed cells to smithereens and I'll force rotten oranges through their eyes and pour scolding hot cocoa down the....

"Excuse me, are you having trouble with your ski"?

Said a beautiful voice. Three girls was slowly passing me and one of them, Ski Girl, noticed my ski falling off all the time. I was like "umm, yeah, it keeps falling off." 

"There is this really nice and kind ski instructor just ahead of us, he helped us with one of our skis a while back, we could try run after him and get him to wait for you? Maybe he can help you."

Wow, I was like, is this for real? Someone here, can fix my ski? Just like that? I gracefully accepted her angelic offer, and off they went! A couple of minutes later I catched up with all of them, a bunch of fresh guys and sporty girls, and the ski instructor looked at my ski, and deduced there must be ice somewhere inside the binding, and starting breathing hot air into it... and VOILA! After a little while of blowing, the ski worked again! Like new! I CAN WALK ITS A MIRACLE

I was amazed and everyone there was amazed, especially Ski Girl. And he was like, "nah, it's nothing, this is quite normal, I didn't do much", and this is could be right but still he made my day and did it humbly. A kind stranger.

BUT, you see, this is where I'm going, it gets interesting: Because I think Ski Girl actually had a crush on Ski Guy, and he on her, from their previous encounter, and me having a broken ski was FATE giving them another chance to meet. They kept looking at each other with that special look.

He was thinking: "She's so cute!"

She was thinking: "He's so awesome!"

I was thinking: "This is so a movie!"

Crucified ski producer on cross: "Let me down please?"

The rest of the trip was perfect. At the top of the next mountain I looked back, and the crowd was still at the same spot, talking, probably arranging after-ski. I walked on with a smile, imagining Ski Girl and Ski Guy getting married, having kids, living happily ever after, all of them travelling the world fixing ski bindings with their magic breath, the sun was high and I never faceplanted again and even got a free coffee for telling this story at my coffee place.

Oh and I drew a map of my expedition and noted the places of events.

Report: Ugress and Shadow Live: Success
Posted March 1st 2010, at 16:27 with tags , , , , ,

A note from the latest concert at Edvard. Photos by Eivind Senneset.

I love it when a plan starts coming together. This was the third show in my concert series, and after a slightly rocky start, we're gaining good traction. I started this series with intention to experiment, develop, test and adjust my material continuously. The two first shows convinced me there was a lot of potential, and this potential is now beginning to realize.

Musically, I played very vintage Ugress tracks, a few tracks from each album, and also a couple of brand new ones. I cut my finger last week so there were some keyboard parts I couldn't rehearse properly and perform, but nothing the good old "unmute-the-playback-backup" didn't fix... For Shadow I played two old tracks in new edits, and three brand new tracks. I choose to run the Shadow set as a continuous performance, weaving the tracks together. 

Visually - the room projection worked, and it was amazing! I think it was kind of "um wow". Very glad I finally got it to work as intended, considering last time's letdown. Especially the Shadow set, where I restrained all visuals to synchronized mashups of biological microscopic material in a stern night-vision palette. The wall screen carried the main visuals, the supplemental screens ran supportive clips and the room projector ran mostly monochromatic reductions of the main visuals, or custom synced clips with high contrast. It works kind of like a super-animated light-system. I taped the show with a HD cam and will be analyzing how things are interacting, then optimize the setup and visuals for the next show.

Attendance, there were maybe around 40 people, and 50 watching online, not a lot, but the number is slowly growing, and everyone there is there to see the show, no collateral. I realize I could (should) increase this number - if I had an ounce of marketing and self-promoting in me, but I quite simply don't. I try to stick up posters whenever I have an errand somewhere, but they're covered in a few hours anyway. Digital marketing I sneak in when I dare taking a few hours break. I'd rather focus on developing music and visuals as much as possible.

I suppose my philosophy is something like this: All the marketing in the world does not make a great performance. A great performance does not need much marketing. I should spend my time on making the performance great.

Technically, we had some minor issues with the sound system during setup, but the excellent sound crew made some calls and the faulty speaker was replaced and there was sound and he saw that it was was good.

For my tech, I finally managed to get one laptop to run everything: All realtime processing, all soft-synths I'm playing, all playback and backup audio, and most impressive, all three video feeds. It is controlled by a Lemur with custom controls. This certainly minimizes setup time, it makes visual sync DEAD TIGHT and also removes a lot of potential for error. On the other side, if the laptop breaks down - hah, nothing works at all. So I keep a duplicate laptop standby just in case.

The backup laptop was right next to me on stage. At times when I had a free moment, I made sure to confirm, and surpass the laptop musician myth: Not only was I checking email, I also twittered.

Conclusion. I am satisfied. I had fun. Stuff worked. Stuff didn't work. I observed, recorded, noted, will analyze, adjust, improve, experiment, retry.

What's when's next who? I've talked a little bit with the cafe regarding schedule, we both agree that it looks like a bi-monthly schedule is better than monthly. From this I deduce that the most likely next date will be sometime late April. What will I do? Lots of plans. Need some time in the lab to cook first.

Live Stream: Ugress, Shadow Of The Beat
Posted February 27th 2010, at 09:41 with tags , , , ,

Live tonight from Kafe Edvard, Ugress and Shadow Of The Beat.

If not too much breaks down, it will be streamed here via the Ugress Live Ustream account at approx 2230 CET.

I'll also follow up on Twitter when I have a moment, follow me at SuperGMM.

Update 2130: Seems like everything works. The stream is up and running.

Update, next day: That went ok I think, nothing broke... The audio was good ,the video was not so good. I removed the embed from this post, but the recorded show is still available from the Ustream page.



New Track: Ugress - Ghost Von Frost
Posted February 22th 2010, at 12:22 with tags , , ,

New track out, Ghost Von Frost, a little pop-symphonic piece of ghosttronica.

Ugress - Ghost Von Frost by GMM

Wasn't sure if I should release this as Ugress or one of the other projects. At times the track verges into cute melodic pop territory, but there's also an element of spooky sci-fi to some parts. I've written some production notes in the journal.

If this is too sweet, rest assured this Saturdays live show with Ugress and Shadow Of The Beat will travel in the opposite direction, an expedition into dark lands and evil beats.

You can download mp3 from Soundcloud and also directly from

Ghost Von Frost - Production Notes
Posted February 22th 2010, at 11:11 with tags , , ,

Some notes, observations and reflections around the recently released Ghost Von Frost.

As mentioned in the release post, I was unsure how and with who to release the track. Sometimes I think it runs to cute, but the cuteness is intended to work as a contrast to the somewhat jarring sci-fi parts. Being that Ugress is the most pop-oriented project, that's where it ended up. (I did almost start a new project to release this.)

Musically the track is an interesting experiement in patterns: The main melodic phrase in the body of the track is a repeating theme, while the surrounding harmonic background is being developed. It's kind of geeky structural composition. 

Production wise, the track was prototyped in Renoise, right there in that picture. I stayed in Oslo for a few days doing recordings for Kometkameratene. When traveling, or some spare time any place, I like to noodle around in Renoise with musical ideas and sketches. Here's a screen shot, the music occured to me while I was teaching myself the new pattern matrix editor.

Originally the track was much more 80ies sounding. When I decided to flesh it out, I brought it into Logic, and at first I wanted to continue this eighties sound, make a cold and melancholic synth track, but it didn't quite work. The synthetic voices and repetitive bass synth was enough on their own, so I tried something else, used lots of tiny samples from classical music pizzicatos, and built my own clusters from them to make them bigger. I also built a regular house-ish beat for it. This helped bringing a more organic sound, but also made the track cuter than I originally had envisioned. 

The melodic elements isn't terribly interesting, neither production wise nor musical wise, but as mentioned above I like that they stay in a pattern, while the harmonic background is really what brings the track forward and builds tension. When the main melodic pattern finally starts moving, towards the end, it works as a little payoff. Allthough I don't think the final part after that resolves what the track deserves.

I did much of the track building and mixing while travelling, so it's kind of an on-the-road track. Not sure what that means but that's the way it is. I only did the final balance back home on my speakers.

Finally, I did spend quite some time deciding how to name the song. The work title was "Frost", and I had several variations of barons, ghosts, frost, ladies and choirs but in the end simplified it down to "Ghost Von Frost". I like the single o's and dum-dum-dum of it, and the "Von" should perhaps hint towards which class of ghost we're dealing with here.


Live Feb 27: Ugress, Shadow Of The Beat
Posted February 22th 2010, at 09:42 with tags , , ,

This coming Saturday Feb 27th, I'm playing live with Ugress and Shadow Of The Beat at Kafe Edvard, Bergen.

There will be new and vintage Ugress tracks, and certainly a lot of new Shadow material - dark shadows moving in the electric woods. 

  • Ugress Live
  • Shadow Of The Beat Live
  • Kafe Edvard, Bergen
  • February 27th, 2230 CET
  • Tickets NOK 100,-
  • Age limit 20 (younger attendees are allowed if accompanied)

If everything goes to plan the show will be streamed right here on as usual.

BEK Signatur Workshop Report
Posted February 20th 2010, at 17:48 with tags , , ,

Report from todays Signatur workshop at BEK: Six awesome kids with laptops and curious enthusiasm; Reaper realtime remix workshop, pedagotronica win.

I had prepared a set of loops and bits of a remix kit, and some extra material, with the intention of building a little remix of Blue Magnetic Monkey. I've picked up enough of Reaper during the night to kind of know my way around (there are some weird editing paradigms), but mostly I focused on how to pull in various sounds and loops, build it into some kind of song-ish structure and play with effects and properties to find inspiration - kind of playing into a remix.

I made sure to just base everything on just Reaper, no externals, to ensure everyone could copy my edits on the screen, and also continue working on their own.

It took some time to find a common platform of communication, I wasn't sure where to lay the speed of progress and each individual there has different background, but eventually I think we found a way to communicate, and together we actually built a nice start for a good remix.

The second part of the workshop, I focused on turning the laptop into a musical performance instrument; from a very basic but fundamental point. There is a simple sampler included in Reaper, and there is a onscreen MIDI keyboard. So we dropped various percussion and samples into the sampler, and the super talented noise-jazz kids went at it, going bananas on the keys! I tried conducting the madness, and captured some of the madness in Reaper. Good times.

Bek Signatur Samtids Jazz Støy Orchestra by GMM

I had great fun, I hope the kids had good fun too, or at least picked up some inspiration. It was very interesting and challenging to talk about my own process and focus on the essentials, from a pedagogic viewpoint. In particular the live aspect of hammering the laptop keyboard like crazy for noisy samples proved a great success.

GMM at Signatur at BEK Workshop
Posted February 19th 2010, at 16:36 with tags , , ,

Signatur is an electronic media workshop by BEK (Bergen Center for Electronic Arts), aimed at young aspiring media geniuses between 15 and 25. Signatur has a broad focus on sound, video, music, electronics, photo, animation - bits and blobs and everything between.

This Saturday I'm invited to run the workshop, focusing on electronic music: Composition, arrangement and probably also performance. I'm quite sure it will derail, deform and develop into whatever fits the moment but hopefully it will end up as some kind of making, baking and devouring electronic noise and music.

The music and sound part of the workshop has so far been based on Reaper, developed by mad genius Frankel himself, a wise choice. So I'm spending the evening freshening up my Reaper skills. I have dabbled with each major version but never investigated properly.

Looking forward to the workshop, I'll document and grab some pics and hopefully samples too.

I Sampled The Largest Ice Spiral In The World
Posted February 19th 2010, at 00:46 with tags , , , , , , , ,

Look at that, it is the largest spiral of ice the world has ever seen. I sampled it, without realizing how huge it was.

The Skagerrak, the sea between Norway and Denmark has been unusually cold the last few weeks. The cyclone-like pattern above in the satellite image is an epic slush of ice, slowly pulsating and rotating.

I had no idea, I was spending a few days outside Larvik, right at the top of the spiral, and one day I was going for a hike along the coast at Mølen. To my surprise, from a distance the ocean looked frozen solid, but as I approaced the beach I realized it wasn't stiff, rather a massive, compact glob of slush. It moved, but slowly, pulsing up and down with calm, unrushed waves.

Standing at the beach looking out at the breathing slush of an ocean was surreal, it was like the whole horizon was alive.

I threw a rock into the slush (is it alive?) and with sudden inspirational glee noticed the water was making a wonderful response; the rock itself created an explosive fountain of slush, and when this cloud of slush fragments came back down into itself, a wishy washy slurpy sound was produced.

I whipped out my iPhone, loaded with FiRe, carefully balanced at the edge of the slush, and spent hours throwing rocks and bits of ice into the slush.

Here is an excerpt, this is the raw recording from the iPhone, in stereo (it samples in mono, I just put different sploshes in each channel for a stereo result).

Skagerrak Ice Spiral Samples by GMM

I was not aware of the scope of the ice during sampling, only a few days later I discovered the phenomena. I am very much looking forward to manipulate and modulate those splooshes into something sinister and slurpy, worthy of the worlds largest spiral of ice.

Uncanny Animatronics: John Nolan
Posted February 19th 2010, at 00:29 with tags , , , , ,

John Nolan makes animatronics, and he must have his workshed in a damp, dark corner at the very bottom of the Uncanny Valley.

Fantastically creepy. There are great photos, but do make sure to check out the animatronic showreel. The movement of the almost-real is the ice on the cake that is a lie.

Thanks Soma Holiday!


Website Adjustment: Blog Entries On Frontpage
Posted February 19th 2010, at 00:18 with tags , , ,

I did a tiny little http tweak - journal entries are now listed on the front page, in a subtle manner.

Not perfect yet, but that's all I managed in very short amount of time. I need to run it for some time to see stats.

Making Of Kometkameratene: Sickness
Posted February 15th 2010, at 13:42 with tags , , , , , , , ,

Kometkameratene Behind-The-Music: You can watch episodes directly from NRK or download official torrents. There is also a list of each behind-the-music entry. NEW: You can watch the whole video over at NRK Super.

For this episode, I can't remember exactly how I came up with the music or what the reference originally was. Only thing I remember, I wanted "sickness" to somehow exist in the sound of the track, not only the lyrics, but not in a bad way, more in a crazy way.

This is a track with a lot of edits and subversions, a typical hammering-it-out through pure persistence. There is a bunch of classical music in there, but I know we broke it pretty much around during preproduction, originally it was in a waltz figure, but at some point we shifted it to 4/4, with some interim versions where we experimented with multiple time signatures, but that didn't really work. Or at least I didn't like how it didn't play well with the beat and flow of the track, even if I realize multiple time signatures would make the track more complex.

I also spent a lot of time on the beats, building a kind of layered break that should both fit the mainly orchestral sound, without overloading anything. 

We wrote the lyrics, with good help from the director. The final piano solo, originally much longer, just kind of happened as I was messing around. For the umptheenth time the "capture last take as recording" key command in Logic saves the day - a keystroke, that magically catches whatever you just did as if record was enabled.

Here's the final production track.

Kometkameratene - Sykdom / Sickness by GMM

Tonewheels - A Brief History Of Optical Synthesis
Posted February 15th 2010, at 13:37 with tags , , , ,

Found this via Metafilter, Tonewheels, a historical presentation of optical synthesis, a form of synthesis I find very intriguing. Like the introduction touches upon, there is a certain balance between "scientific" and "supernatural" for this kind of sound generation.

Would be nice with some audio examples, but they aren't hard to find for some of the more popular inventions. Nevertheless a good read, especially when I should really be performing my weekly boring Monday office work...

Journal Entry, Feb 6th, 2010
Posted February 6th 2010, at 20:22 with tags , , , , , , ,

Last two weeks, very many things have happened. Some for good, some for bad, some I can speak of, some I can't. There has been a lot of unexpectedness, amounts of drama, but also good things coming up. Hopefully the next few weeks will ease down so I can focus on writing new stuff, which is what I long for.

Productionwise I've been working on new material for both Ugress and Shadow Of The Beat. In all of my projects there will always be a certain amount of overlap. Right now I'm working on 5-6 tracks and I'm not sure where any of them will end up. I observe, even if I sit down to write Shadow tracks, I'm really in a Nebular Spool kind of mood so maybe the next Spool isn't too far off. I am nevertheless looking forward to revisit and upgrade older Shadow tracks, preparing them for the upcoming liveshow.

Got myself a new hardware controller, Edirol PCR-300, not sure how satisfied I am with that, wrote a separate journal on it.

I do manage to get some fresh air. After rediscovering skiing, I've got myself a pair, and I try to ski as much as possible before the snow disappears.

A friend of mine brought us up to the Vidden, a mountain plateau available from local Mount Ulriken, a quick trip by cable car from the city. I had no idea there were so vast opportunities for proper skiing right outside my door. We skied down the mountain afterwards and I probably faceplanted twenty times. It was awesome.

Thursday I went to see Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra perform Bela Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. Bartok is one of my favorite 20th century composers, and the Concerto did not disappoint. There's a couple of delicious parts where the whole string sections are going off like crazy with staccatos, it tears in your ears and hairs are spiking in your neck, I don't know why but it just feels incredibly satisfying. The whole piece is kind of built for each group of the orchestra to show off and they certainly did.

There was also a violin concert as part of the program, I'm usually not too fond of those but this one had a good performer in Nikolaj Znaider who drew me in and I very much enjoyed that part too.

Bookwise, I've finished Foundation, my first experience with Asimov (in direct literature), and it wasn't bad. Not sure if I will be continuing the series though, it didn't capture me that much. I suppose that's because political systems and civilization development are the main protagonists, not people. I think I'll check out his robot novels before extending on Foundation.

OK thats it for journal update... Right now it is weekend, I'm off to a pub catching up with an old friend, the snow outside is slowly disappearing in the frontline of spring rain. I wish it would keep for some time so I could play more with my skis but what happens, happens.

There will always be another winther, that's for sure.

New Gadget: Edirol PCR-300
Posted February 6th 2010, at 19:39 with tags , , , , , , , , ,

I got myself an Edirol PCR-300.


Why not?

Well actually I do have a reason for getting this - at my last live show, the Lemur controller broke down, and I lost a lot of realtime control. I want to have a portable hardware backup with lots of physical options, so if the Lemur breaks down again (it will), I have something to fall back on.

Also even if I never use all the controls in the studio, I like to look at lots of controls. I like having access to potential in front of me, even if I never use it.

The good

The build is good, the size is GREAT!

Tactile wise, the feel of keys, buttons, knobs and faders are good for this price level.

The unit fits perfectly between my keyboard and monitor, it also fits perfectly in my gear flight. Looking forward to give this a spin on the next live show.

The notes on the keyboard are slightly smaller than regular, but I am a tiny person with nimble fingers, so I actually prefer the subsize keyboard, it means comfortable playing and greater reach.

It looks neither too much nor too little, visually and mentally it fits my world just where it should.

Crossfader feels good but not slap-able.

USB powered.

MIDI in and out, can hook up to my Faderfoxes if need be.

The bad

I was surprised that the keyboard starts at F, not at C, there is only 2.5 octaves, not 3 like I thought. My bad for not noticing this in the photos or promotional material, slapped myself when unboxing. I've had something like this before, can't remember what it was, but I'm not a stranger to lower F, and I'm not too fond of it.

Normally this wouldn't be as overly dramatic, but I've kind of got a weird way of doing things in realtime, during production, the lowest octave of a keyboard are set up to be control commands (a dimension of 12 commands with potentially 127 steps each) instead of regular notes. Not a life or death situation loosing parts of this, but not paradise either, could mean a lot of button presses.

Crossfader feels good but not slap-able.

Pitch bend and mod wheel does not display transmit value, but everything else does. Why not PB and MW?

Not universal USB support, needs an installed driver.

The driver install needed to reboot the computer. WTF kind of 1990ies setup is that? What's next Roland, I have to edit config.bat to adjust realtime parameters?


Really like the unit as a physical thing. Fits my fingers and workspace perfectly.

Surprised at lower key is F not C. Would actually prefer 2.00, or 4.00, octaves instead of half-assed 2.60.

I'm going to try it for a couple of weeks, see if this works out. If not I'm getting the 500, even if I think it is too big. That could actually be a win-win, having the 500 for studio work and the 300 for live work. I do dislike all the rigging up and rigging down so this is a viable option.


Ugress Interview In Portuguese Open Sound
Posted February 1st 2010, at 20:58 with tags , , , ,

Portuguese music blog Opus Sound did a review of latest album Reminiscience, and to follow up I also did a long and friendly interview with Miguel, talking about lots of stuff, including Fado, one of my favorite nostalgic music genres.

Portugal has a good place in my heart, I spent some special time there a few years ago. I'm very happy to have my music presented to Portugal, and flattered to be featured on the excellent Opus Sound.

Reminiscience review in Portuguese, and English version (Google Translate).

GMM interview, English.

Ski Report w Pics - My First In Decades
Posted January 31st 2010, at 19:37 with tags , , ,

Today I wen't skiing for the first time in decades.

I haven't been skiing since some school trip way back when, even before snowboards. I used to love skiing, both cross-country and downhill. I was intrigued with snowboarding when it hit, and really wanted to get into it, but I prioritized music. When friends travelled to the mountains, I fired up Protracker. When friends got their drivers license, I got a synth. When friends got sensible degrees I got a tiny record deal. When friends bought apartments I started a record label. While friends have been building homes, families, safety, I've been reducing my world to a laptop, a portable studio.

There isn't any right or wrong in this. But I have realized, this choice, sometimes it is the right one, but sometimes it is not. More importantly, maybe it doesn't always have to be a choice. I suppose this is obvious to most balanced people, but not to me. When it comes to many important things, I'm a clueless amoeba, not aware I am riding a one-way missile, jumping excitedly up and down on the guidance controls, messing it all up. I am just amazed at the speed and all the shiny things zipping by. Wohaa, look at THAT! Isn't this WONDERFUL? Then; impact, pain, hard lessons.

Well that's me blabbering, from skis to missiles in a paragraph. I need to get back on the ground. Skiing?

I'm in Oslo, I borrowed a ski set. My good friend and manager Roar knows Marka very well, and took us deep into wonderful terrain, away from the busy tracks, crossing frozen small lakes and through magic, soft and silent woods. We had an excellent trip, a great talk, I got lots of perspective and inspiration.

Here are my observations.

  • I still know skiing! I am The Unconquestable Ice Master Of Ski.
  • Ski technology has certainly improved, bindings are easy, shoes are comfy, skis are lightweight, not at all the hassle I remembered.
  • Underwear does not itch anymore but I still don't like it.
  • Skiing must be awesome for listening to music, but:
  • My iPhone does not work very well in -15C / 5F, crashed like crazy
  • However my Canon G11 works as usual.
  • Downhill is awesome, and even more so when I have no idea what's around the next corner, bring it on.
  • The slower someone moves, the more friendly they are.
  • It was way more fun than I remember.
  • I got blisters and complained like a child the last kilometers, and got a waffle.

Pics or stfu.

I'm sending Roar off first to check the, umm, sound of the skis on the ice.


I hope it's thick enough.


No moose for my sunset shot.


Sudden secret magic lake.

Making Of Kometkameratene: Home
Posted January 31st 2010, at 19:04 with tags , , , , , , , ,

Kometkameratene Behind-The-Music: You can watch episodes directly from NRK or download official torrents. There is also a list of each behind-the-music entry. NEW: You can watch the whole video over at NRK Super.

My debut as lead vocals!

The episode subject is "Home", where you live, or in Norwegian, "Bo". First, I wrote a really bad first draft, that didn't work at all. Then Synne the director came up with the idea to do something different for this episode - there is a nest with some quirky birds, and what about having those birds performing the song, singing about how much they enjoy living in a nest? 

A great idea, and we decided to have me an Sjur perform the birds, with some additional pitch editing. We've already performed many supportive vocals, like the Boogles, socks, gloves, children and more, but never been the lead vocals.

I set to work and wrote the following Nobel price winning piece of literature:


Vi bor i reiret!
Det må vi feire!
Å bo i reir e best!
Hver dag i reir e fest!

English translation

We're living in a nest!
We have to celebrate!
Living in a nest is best!
There's a party every day!


The birds are performing this text in very broad Bergensk, my own dialect, which is excellently self-smug and self-centered when taken to extremes. It is a perfect voice to the happily clueless birds, enjoying life in their nest.

There is also a solo part, where the two birds yell about how incredible awesome it is to be a bird, how great everything is, and they are now going to perform an awesome chirping solo.... which of course absolutely totally suck.

I built a very 80ies pop setting for the song, I'm sure the references are easily spotted. The chorus are performed by everyone, and the wonderful lofi video as usual is produced on a legendary budget.

Kometkameratene - Bo / Home by GMM

So that's my debut as a lead vocalist for a music video shown on prime time television. (Me to the left, Sjur to the right).

The iPad: You're Hating It Wrong
Posted January 29th 2010, at 16:35 with tags , ,

When was the last time you enjoyed reading a pdf? Did you ever try reading comics on a computer? On a mobile? Yuck.

There has never been a great way to read and enjoy electronic text, comics and visual material on computers. Music, films, games and somewhat books, has moved into the digital realm with great success. Now is the time to combine all of this into something new, bringing along all the rest of media.

The iPad as a device may be a lackluster response to everyone's dream of the ultimate portable everything-all-the-time, but that's not what the device should seek to be at all.

There are two important pieces of information necessary to this puzzle, both written before launch, and then exciting conclusion onfirmed by the announced device.

First this excellent article from Gizmodo, from an interface perspective, on why the device will not, and should not, be a "handheld computer". It won't multitask, it won't run OSX.

Then this intriguing observation from Epicenter, that the iPad isn't about hardware, it's about content.

And these two point to what I think has been missing for digital content: A dedicated delivery platform for new futuristic digital content, it being music, film, text, graphics, games or more excitingly - all of this at once. Interactive, intelligent content, stories told and produced by small companies and single individuals like myself. 

This is the mp3 revolution, now happening for text, films, games, multimedia.

Now for the letdowns, I agree with most of them too. Yes it sucks massively that you can't play Spotify in the background while reading books, or have a chat going while surfing the web. No Flash is just sad. It doesn't look too superhot, with that fat bezel. 4:3, not 16:9. The closed Apple controlled application process is both a pain and a pleasure; both as a consumer and producer.

There will be other pads that does what the iPad doesn't. This is just the beginning of something really great, I'm super excited about this new platform.

Journal Entry, Jan 26th, 2010
Posted January 26th 2010, at 22:21 with tags , , , , , ,

Journal entry, January 26th, 2010.

The last week has been a busy bee composer work week. I delivered the final four songs for the Kometkameratene show, plus some pieces of incidental episode music. I also finished a large scoring job for a production company, which concluded a long, but fun and challenging, scoring gig.

I don't know when how this production will be public, so I can't reveal much yet, except an interesting fact: I composed and produced the music BEFORE editing. This isn't the usual old-skool method for film production, but it is not a technique I am strange to.

My album music is often used in films and TV stuff, where editors cut the film to this already existing music. As an extension of this, I am often asked to do subtle changes to tracks, helping them fit the cuts optimally. This has developed further into a working method where I am involved early in the production, and start writing music WITHOUT images. The editors then edit the images to the written music. I did this somewhat on the Perfect Moment series, and I've been doing it more and more on several productions later, finally now with this large production where I did all the music without actually seeing anything of the movie - they are cutting it now to the finished music.

Writing music to specific images you haven't seen is challenging but I think it is a great challenge and I love doing it this way.

Oh and I also went to the dentist this morning. They had this new digital roentgen thing, I forgot to ask if I could hae a copy of my teeth. Anyway, what I wanted to mention, as usual, no holes, for the fourth year in a row! I AM THE INDESTRUCTIBLE PERFECT TEETH ROBOT.

NRK Urort: Happy 10th Anniversary
Posted January 26th 2010, at 21:46 with tags , , , ,

NRK Urørt, the radio show that originally broke Ugress in Norway, is celebrating their 10 year anniversary.

Happy birthday, dearest Untouchables. And eternal gratitude, not only for what you have done for me, but what you are doing for music in Norway. Urørt has been vital in the growth and development of new music in Norway over the last decade.

Personally, the Urørt radio show is the most important kickstart that happened to my career as a musician/artist. Today, I am your average struggling artist, fighting to make ends meet, but doing this on a professional level: Since 2002, my income has been from my music. It's tough, it's a lot of work, but I'm there, and I'm there very much thanks to Urort. Climbing up to this platform, making it possible to I live from what I create, I can only give my deepest gratitude to NRK Urørt for.


Making Of Kometkameratene: Senses
Posted January 22th 2010, at 22:22 with tags , , , , , , , ,

Kometkameratene Behind-The-Music: You can watch episodes directly from NRK or download official torrents. There is also a list of each behind-the-music entry. NEW: You can watch the whole video over at NRK Super.

We are writing a song about senses, of course the first thing that pops into my head is 60ies psychedelia, and Doors in particular. For kids, this setup will fly above their heads but hopefully the grownups will appreciate the reference.

I wrote a beautiful piece of silly and simple psychedelic poetry, here's an excerpt:

Kan du smake vind?
Kan du høre vann?
Kan du se et smell?
Hva er lukten av et fjell?
Do you taste the wind?
Do you listen to the water?
Do you see the noise?
How does a mountain smell?
Kan du føle,
Vinden brøle?
Kan du merke,
At sansene er sterke?
Do you feel,
How the wind screams?
Do you sense,
How your senses make sense?


It sounds better in Norwegian. After writing the lyrics, I dressed them in a very 60ies rock sound, with compulsory sitar. I suppose the influence of this track is rather obvious (harr harr).

The first version was much longer and better than this broadcast version, with more of my excellent poetry and more room for each instrument and vocals to build, creating a finer linear structure. However there isn't much time for the music videos in each episode so we reduced the track to the essentials.

Kometkameratene - Sanser / Senses by GMM

From this track the production team cooked up a hilarious video, spinning further on the 60ies theme.


I think this track is great, it nails the 60ies in a respectful parody. But retrospectively I'm a little bit concerned we're having more fun as adults than the kids do, it doesn't talk too well to kids. But thats OK, most tracks in the series prioritize the kids first, we're allowed to do some grown-up jokes too, this one was too good to let pass.


Official Kometkameratene HD Torrents
Posted January 22th 2010, at 19:49 with tags ,

I'm writing and producing music for a Norwegian sci-fi TV series for kids, Kometkameratene.

The latest episodes of the show are now available in full HD quality, as torrents from NRK. This is pretty cool and I'm quite proud to be part of one of the most modern, forward-thinking series at NRK.

According to NRK the episodes can only be available for 30 days, due to certain rights issues. Rest assured this is not because of my contract.

I'm a little bit behind on the regular "making of" for each episode. They'll be coming here rather soon, working on them now.

For returning readers, you'll have to excuse this occasional explanation of Kometkameratene in the introduction. Web stats inform me there is a continuous growing number of new readers (hello, noobs), which is great, I'd just like to have everyone informed on whats going on and why I talk about it.

A Week Of Electronic Music Documentaries
Posted January 20th 2010, at 21:21 with tags , , , , , , , ,

Wow, Rhizome is running a whole week of documentaries on electronic music!

As usual I haven't the faintest moment of time to dive into this right now, but these are seriously bookmarked.

So far it's only been two days into the series, but they have unearthed delights such as Magic Music From The Telharmonium, The Alchemists Of Sound from the BBC and a program on Max Mathews and Miller Puckette (Miller is the originator behind Max/MSP and Max is named after... guess who.)

Uncanny Planet expands to South-Korea: Signs With FeelMusic
Posted January 18th 2010, at 14:41 with tags , , , , ,

Ah, excellent, my world domination plans are coming into action!

My own label Uncanny Planet has signed a sub-licensing deal with South-Korean company FeelMusic, one of the largest record companies in South Korea, with focus on importing up-and-coming international artists and placing music in films, TV and ads.

This means most of my music and projects will be promoted and available in South Korea, where iTunes and Spotify are not available yet.

I very much looking forward to this collaboration, I have always wanted to visit Korea. I am fascinated with how quickly the Koreans have embraced digital and mobile opportunities for music, and in general how wired they are. They're in the future.

I haven't had any albums for distribution there yet, but the Harakiri Martini music video went viral in South Korea first, before anywhere else. A tiny part of me starts to dream of playing live in Seoul. What is a Monday without deceptive illusions of grandeur?

The Beat That Came From The Shadow
Posted January 16th 2010, at 18:10 with tags , , , ,

Next live show, and my first show of the decennium, is a new gig in my concert series at Kafe Edvard, February 27th 2010. As usual, lots of Ugress classics and new tracks, and finally, I'm playing live with Shadow Of The Beat again!

I did a few gigs with SOTB  back in 2005 and 2006, around the release of the Nanokaravan debut album. Since then I have written a few tracks for the project over the years, and I've toyed with developing spooky visuals, but haven't played or released anything, except the Shadow Vault which was mostly a compilation of older tracks. Forcing a live show on myself is a good step towards a new release.

I'm not sure how to classify current SOTB, it has equal amounts of sordid organic darkness, frenetic drum and base, massive dubstep, and glitchy industrial horror-noise. The visuals are equally dirty and sordid. I know dubstep is en route to massive sellout these days, but coincidentally, it turns out my superhero skill is a fierce resistance to hypes and trends. So industrial, organic dubstep it is.

I'll be back with more specifics as the date approach.

Journal entry, Jan 13th, 2010. Final Kometkameratene Recording.
Posted January 13th 2010, at 22:02 with tags , , , , , , , , , ,

So this week I was in Oslo for the final vocal session with the Kometkameratene show, and some top secret new business meetings... Right now I'm at the top of Oslo, in the super expensive SAS Radisson bar spending my last money on a celebrational beer before catching the night train. This was my last session and I'm kind of sad, celebrating alone in a hotel bar. Here's a journal of events.

Sunday evening, I took the overnight sleeper train from Bergen to Oslo. I never get to sleep on those trains but I am so fed up with flying. And even if I don't sleep, I really enjoy traveling by night trains, the whole atmosphere is quite the opposite of air travel. The night train is an eternally moving bar, zooming through the icy Norwegian wilderness with your bedroom a few paces away, how can you NOT love that.

So I prefer the night train. While lounging in the bar a good friend of mine turned up, so the first few hours of the journey we had lots of space, lots of time, some beers and talked music and technology and future and and in general travelled the way one should.

I arrived early Monday in Oslo, with some hours to kill before my first appointment. When touring or traveling for work I like to have some time off on my own, exploring the new planet, observing it's indigenous wildlife and perhaps take some expedition photographs for my journals. I took the metro up towards Frognerseteren, a popular recreation hill outside Oslo. From there I headed into dark dangerous forests, unravelled by a frosty January sunrise. Thanks to my GPS I eventually ended up at a Sognsvann, another metro line, some time later.

(I got myself a Canon Powershot G11, recommended by my usual photographer suspects Eivind and Siri (thanks guys), and I'm documenting my travels and taking stupid wilderness photos with it and I'm loving it silly.)

The rest of the day was spent in meetings and catching up with friends, broken up by a little network session at the Deichmanske, public library. There is a quiet working area at the top floor, with wifi, power outlets and comfortable desks.

Tuesday I had a long work session at the hotel, I worked on some new tracks, and I prepared the recordings to be done Wednesday.

I took lunch break at Nasjonalgalleriet, there's a really nice tea salon there, with crazy over the top decorated walls. Then, a few more top secret meetings and an early evening.

Regarding these secret meetings: I'm generally reluctant to mention "future maybe's"; I always have a certain amount of upcoming projects that are really exciting and I would love to do them and talk about them, but they might or might not happen; usually they don't. Like last year I was very close to scoring a computer game but the funding didn't come through. I'd rather not mention anything until contracts are signed.

Wednesday, recording at NRK, I was up early getting packed and moving out. The last sessions at NRK has been in the same studio, a wonderful surround mixing room, with excellent working conditions. I set up my stuff in a corner and hook into the wall screen, for the actors to watch the video and lyrics. My setup is very simple, just the laptop, an Apogee One, an AKG microphone and a cheap headphone amp providing monitoring for the actor, the director and myself.

There was only four tracks to record this time, with only a few lines for individual actors. The sessions went very smoothly, we had lots of time for each actor, a nice change from some of the earlier super-hectic recording sessions. I liked that this final session was relaxed, friendly and full of laughs. I think the whole production team, actors and external has become good friends during the production. Everyone is kind of sad this is the end, the production is finished. The episodes we are making now will be running until summer, after that nobody knows (or tells me) what plans the brilliant brains at NRK have. The show has become a success, everyone is hoping they will continue this in some way or other, but nobody knows if, how and when. So it is kind of goodbye.

We've written and recorded 32 songs, and I've scored a massive amounts of tiny scenes, cues and character music. The show, and the people doing it, has been a huge part of my life for almost two years now. I've had the most wonderful time, I've never been so busy and hectic ever, and I've had the time of my life. And then POOF it is over, we're all gone, moving on. NOT working on this TV show scares me.

All right, I have to go catch the night train back home, which means NOT getting any sleep, get up gruesomely early, I have to mix down these recordings and I've got some other production work work to wrap up. And I have to start preparing for the next Ugress live show, we've set the date for February 27th, I think I'll be doing a lot of new Shadow stuff, must get to it.

Movies 2.0: Voddler First Impressions
Posted January 6th 2010, at 19:52 with tags , , , , , , , , ,

The era of physical media, and perhaps even digital copies, is coming to an end.

Voddler is to film what Spotify is for music - a thin client on your computer, accessing full featured films in a torrented cloud library, through the Voddler network.

I got my Voddler credentials and gave it for a spin. Install is quick, then it tests your network connection, and you're ready to go. First it crashed, but after a restart of the client service (yes it installs and runs an ever-running client) I got it up and running. Stable from there. 

Very simple and effective user interface, which is navigated with arrow keys and enter/escape. A+ on the UIX. The interface is clearly setup for being used at a distance, with the Apple remote (or any remote probably). The interface, a matrix of posters with a genre menu on top, works fine for browsing and selecting, but I fear it to meet some challenges when you need to search, or know exactly which movie you want. There isn't a mouse/keyboard approach at all. At the moment this isn't a problem, because:

I didn't count, but the movie selection is very meager for now. This isn't a big deal, this is very new service in a closed beta, and they are working out agreements. There is a handful of films in each genre and a selection of recent blockbusters. There's also TV series, and I was happy to see the documentary genre well represented. I was a bit let down there weren't more Scandinavian material - this is the one area where Voddler can raise up and challenge iTunes immediately.

However, as content collections grows, there has to be ways navigating and discovering "what you want", not just matrix overviews. Look at how Amazon "helps" you select or browse products - there is no way you could browse products on Amazon from a up/down/left/right method... iTunes is much better at presenting content, especially through the Genius feature.

Who watches the Watchmen? You watches, for 1 USD.

Rental prices was competitive with iTunes, everything from 1 USD up to 4 USD. Many movies are free to watch. I tried starting one, and had two watch two Swedish commercials (2 x 30 sec) and one trailer (2 minute) before the feature started. It runs very smooth, controls are simple and you can search up to 8x.  No chapter navigating though (on the titles I tried). Subtitles are in Swedish. Picture is good. No lag.

Will this challenge my iTunes use?

I don't think that is the right question to ask, because we are entering the era of ubiquity and overlappingness. What content do you what, and how do you want it? This will decide what you use at that moment.

For music, I'm using iTunes, I'm using Spotify, I'm using Last.FM, I'm using Youtube, I'm playing SIDs, I'm streaming webradio - what I'm using when how where for what is in constant flux. One moment I could be playing a track in iTunes, an hour later I might play it on Spotify Mobile with some friends, the next day on Wimp... I expect this to be the same for movies; I'll be using iTunes to get at the things iTunes does well, and I'll be using Voddler for the things Voddler does well. I'm sure there will be a third and fourth and n'th option very soon. And I'll be using unspeakable options for the things that i MUST have, but which is not available to me through the proper channels. But this, I am happy to observe, is rapidly declining.  

To answer my question, I will be using both. But at the moment, clearly iTunes wins. I have an American account and buying films/shows/music through iTunes is a breeze. I can buy, or rent, movies and start watching them at once, with no ads or trailers. iTunes as a massive lead when it comes to content and presentation, in particular TV shows. This is to be expected, iTunes is more mature.

If Voddler builds up a respectful library, I do not see why this can't be an excellent choice. And it certainly falls under my own philosophy - if you provide good services for content with reasonable prices, people ARE going to use it. Most movies I just want to see, right then and right there, and I do not want to hassle with ANYTHING, not even keeping any gigabytes around afterwards. If I want to watch it again, I'll just rent it again. At some point this rental/purchase model is going to move over to a subscription model.

The era of physical media is over. Content is moving into the cloud. Voddler is a good nail in the coffin and a nice winglet.

Sexy data web stats for 2009
Posted January 4th 2010, at 20:37 with tags , , , , ,

I love stats. I spent some quality time with my website analytics, looking into the numbers for 2009.


In one year since January 1, 2009, overall visitor stats has tripled. One fourth of this growth came from the fusion of my previous gmm journal into, which carried a good number of readers into, but still - since June, when this happened, everything has grown much faster. Also, clearly, since releasing Shul and re-launching the live show, visitor numbers climbed even steeper during the last months of the year.

I observe with smug satisfaction that when I am active, my website is active. When I'm not, it's not. The live concert series might not work in the real world, but it works very well in the clouds.

Enough with the self-congratulations, numbers are more interesting:

Visitor geographics

Politely distributed around the planet, two/thirds outside Norway:

  • Norway, almost 30%
  • Europe, almost 30%
  • USA/Canada/Australia, almost 30%
  • Rest of world and International Space Station, around 10%

Surprisingly, within Europe, UK sends the most visitors, just a tiny lead on Germany, with France and Sweden just behind. From there on, East Europe headed by Russia and Poland. Southern Europe/Mediterranean, almost nothing.

Visitor browsers

  • Firefox 49%
  • IE 20%
  • Safari 12%
  • Opera 8%
  • Chrome 7%

These numbers are almost the same as for 2008, only IE had 30% last year. Since then, Safari and Opera has taken from IE.

Visitor operating system

  • Windows 75%
  • Mac 22%
  • Linux 4%
  • iPhone 1%
  • Playstation 0.2%
  • Android 0.1%
  • Symbian 0.05%

A little note, Windows is down from 80% in 2008 to 75%. Simultaneously Mac is up, by a larger percentage, from 13% to 22%.

Network speed

70% are on highspeed lines, either cable, DSL, or faster. 28% are unknown (pidgeons?), and 2% are on dial-up (who ARE you? Or is that perhaps mobile tethering being reported as dial-up?)

Pixel Curiosa

1280 is by FAR the most frequent screen size, with more than 50% of visitors having some variation of 1280, most frequently 1280x800 and 1280x1024. Next up is lots of widescreens, before finally 1024 at around 10%. A curiosity: Most of the 1024 users are running Internet Explorer.

Also curiosity: 1024 died a quick death. It was the second most popular screen resolution in 2008. Now it is very rare.


This isn't representative for visitor's spoken language I suppose, but English is reported as being in use by 60% of my visitors, Norwegian 15%, third most popular language is German at 5%. This really reflects the language of the browser installation.

Now for the interesting bit - how do these data interact?

How does the different countries like Ugress?

Most new visitors come from the US! Hello America!

Least new visitors come from Burkina Faso, which actually is the only registered country which did not visit me even ONCE in 2009. So looks like I should do some touring there to raise awareness. Yes, that is a brilliant idea, let all these data govern my future touring and release plans.

People from Croatia spend the most time on the site, with an average of 11 minutes per visitor. People from Uganda spent the least time, only 1 second on average. (Hello Igor, expensive dial-up in your camp I reckon?)

People from Lichtenstein read the most pages, with an average of 9 pages per visit. I reckon this is a peculiar occurrence due to the population number, a few visits skew their number up high.

The next more sizable stat is Czech Republich with an average of 4 pages per visit. It is a bit hard to measure the "least pages read" stat, because so many only read one page, but of the countries with significant visits, Brazilians are actually only reading an average of 2 pages pr visit.

Browser Stereotypes

Already established, most users are running Firefox. But they are impatient, those foxes! Internet Explorer users spend more time on the site, almost a minute more pr user than Firefox. However, this is not nearly as much time as Opera users have on their hands, they stay for the longest time, almost twice that of Firefox, and they read the most pages when visiting, almost 4 pages per visit. That's what you get for having a fast browser, more time to spend on the website.

Safari users on the other hand, they are suffering from ADHD. They are just reading two pages, and they manage to do it under a minute.

Hello I'm A Mac, Hello I'm a PC

The data for different operating systems are very close, I wouldn't call these data indicative of OS stereotypes, they are too close.

But there are discrepancies: Windows users on average spend more time on the website, and read more pages, than any other operating system. Of the three big ones, Mac users again are the most impatient ones.

An interesting, but obvious observation regarding operating systems: Users of portable devices (iPhone, BlackBerry, PalmOS, Android, etc) are spending the least time, and have the highest bounce rates (they take one look at the frontpage, and ZAP! never come back). This could mean several things, most likely that my website suck for portable browsing, but also that portable browsing in general has a higher tempo. I think this is very important to learn, because I think mobile/portable browsing will grow exponentially in the next few years.
Finally, Flash

A few words about Flash, since an important part of my website (the streaming music) uses Flash. 82% of my visitors are running Flash 10, 12% are running Flash 9, 5% are NOT running Flash, and the rest are running some obscure version of Flash from World War II.


These are mostly just trivial observations and data. I am happy with the growth, mostly because I am starting to approach sizes of numbers that actually are worth something tangible due to size and they are usable for strategic planning. Expect to see me in Ouagadougou within a few weeks, surveying optimal poster positions.

Also, I am very intrigued to be observing the start of trends. There are future ghosts in past numbers, it is beautiful how things are manouevering into position. This helps me start planning my next web iteration accordingly.

I think there will be one or more tablets in 2010. I think tablets will sort of explode, because they will meet a demand most people don't know they have. They are entering a void that very much wants to be filled but nobody knows that yet. Tablets will change very much the next few years, they will also introduce a new class of art and entertainment, hopefully tightly integrated with the web.

This is a good thing and I'm on it.