Emerging electronic talent

As part of the prestigious ‘Roundhouse Rising’ showcase events for upcoming artists, ‘Incidentally Nordic’ is a platform for emerging electronic talent from our most northerly neighbours. Tonight’s performance takes place in the cosy ground floor studio of the otherwise cavernous venue, to a sold out audience. The first of the three acts appearing is Torkelsen, a talented young producer and beat maker from Fredrikstad, Norway who was part of the now disbanded ‘Munn til Munn Metoden’.

Putting his burgeoning remix career to one side to concentrate on his own compositions, the classically trained pianist and hip hop aficionado treats us to tracks from his forthcoming self titled debut album. I'm unsure if it's nerves or if he just likes the company but he's brought a few friends onto the stage for support. Standout track "Lavkarbovår" demonstrates that he would be wise to continue in his endeavours. His sound is familiar, fashionably compressed and glitchy but ultimately warm hearted. The intricate jazz infused soundscapes are peppered with interesting turns and unusual samples. The downside of such stuff however is that no matter how interesting it is to listen to, it can appear terribly insular on stage. That said, the audience respond enthusiastically and I suspect we’ll definitely be hearing lot more from this guy.

Second up is Sandra Kolstad, who is also classically trained (overachievement must be in the water up there). She worked briefly as an acoustic musician before her love of synths, drum machines and a heady dose of spritely curiosity pulled her headfirst into electronica. Splitting her time between Oslo and Berlin, she’s harvested the best of both cities sounds and mixed it up into a moreish muesli of cheeky avant-garde pop. She takes to the stage, roguishly exuberant, a fleshy featured boy/girl sporting a bowl cut and a plastic sleeved top. Visually she’s on the money, but what of the sounds? This glacial genre of electronica has incredibly strong female ambassadors and it would be churlish to ignore the comparisons, so evident are they. Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife/Fever Ray is the most obvious influence/inspiration and although there are undoubtedly moments of darkness during this set, it’s a more upbeat affair that I expected. Her northern European lilt is hard edged but unfailingly melodic and packed with sass.

She performs tracks from her recent album ‘Crux’, which she also co-produced. To learn that it was partially recorded in a Swedish forest with sound artist Isak Eldh comes as little surprise. It has a DIY post punk sound combined with the early 80’s glamorous synth vibe of Soft Cell or the Associates but it still sounds fresh and sophisticated. Her moreish delivery dips and weaves over deep contemporary beats calling to mind Santigold or perhaps even M.I.A. The backdrop is engaging too, split screens displaying elemental imagery, macro close ups of water and rocks which suit the music perfectly. Tonight she’s performing as part of a three piece which she gladly acknowledges, the synth player is Swedish, and the drummer is from Luxembourg. Their introduction is followed by an enthused ”lets play some pop music!”

Combining great pop sensibilities with a jubilant spirit, “Fire Burn, Blood Flow” is an obvious single and provides the evenings stand out with its sexy deep throated alto and a defiant chin in the air; stroppy but in an infectious, good humoured way. Everyone in the tiny packed crowd is now dancing. Her set seems short; everyone is just getting loose limbed as she rounds up with a closing track, that sounds very much like early Sugarcubes. Sandwiched between the good if slightly unengaged opener and the well meant but overly earnest indie of Bloodgroup, which is to follow, she’s without doubt the northern star that shines the brightest tonight.

Words by Anna Wilson
Photo by Helen F. Kennedy

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