Though Lasse Marhaug has been pushing abrasive, midnight tones for over a decade, he’s keen to disassociate himself with the church burning arm of the Norwegian Black Metal scene that torched their way to prominence in the mid-90s.
“I can appreciate the energy of the music and its aim at deconstructing taboos, but essentially the scene was just a group of teenagers who started believing their own hype,” says the stocky musician. “Anybody who lets the media affect what they do like they did doesn’t deserve respect.”
Marhaug’s penchant for experimentation and refusal to conform can be linked to his remote upbringing in the glacial northern expanses of Norway, where his only connection with music was through his own unique work. “I put out fanzines and released tapes without ever meeting anybody related to the music I was involved with,” he admits. “I hadn’t even seen any of that type of music live. The first noise concert I experienced was one I performed myself.”
After years spent pummelling Scandinavia’s nightspots alone, Marhaug found a co-conspirator in fellow sonic saboteur John Hegre and in 1998 Jazkamer was born. “I performed a really intense gig and John was one of very few people not to flee the room,” laughs Marhaug recalling the chance meeting. “After corresponding for a while we decided to work together on a permanent basis.”
Since then the duo’s genre-hopping sonics have taken them around the world, collaborating on stage with a range of heavyweights including Sunn0))) and Merzbow, and releasing over 40 albums and EPs. Latest long player ‘Balls the size of Texas, Liver the size of Brazil’ is arguably their most innovative work to date, with subtle touches of distortion and ENO-like ambience yoked to dense washes of reverb and amplified feedback. It’s an album that triumphs in size and scope. This weekend sees the pair sharing a stage with Tinnitus inducing taskmaster Mark Durgan, with whom they’re releasing a split 7” single on Newcastle based noise label No-Fi. Always improvised, live Jazkamer are a clamorous force, with Marhaug and Hegre yelling into microphones whilst whacking their instruments off every hard surface in sight. “We never learnt how to play conventionally,” says Marhaug of their intense stage shows. “We just make music to the best of our limited abilities and try to get away with it.”