Norway’s Kings of Noise Bombed Bangkok
09 December 2010 | news Andrew J. West | photos Andrew J. West
With the thunderous noise of Thor’s chariot rumbling through the falling sky, the kings of Norwegian noise Lasse Marhaug and John Hegre – collectively known as Jazkamer – have announced their riotous arrival in Bangkok as part of a mini-tour of Southeast Asia that also includes Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
Performing their ‘SO::ON – Machines’ show at avant-garde Nospace Gallery located in the entertainment hub of Royal City Avenue (RCA), the duo played in Bangkok for one night only on December 3, deafening local noiseophiles with their in your ear mix of experimentalism and manic pandemonium.
Nospace Gallery, which is surrounded by clubs playing the greatest hits and latest commercial releases for the offspring of Thailand’s hi-so’s or hi-so wannbes, seemed an improbable but somehow appropriate place to drop their anarchic bombshell in Bangkok.
The performance began timidly enough. Lasse Marhaug, with his head hung low, began fiddling with his desk of little boxes. John Hegre, standing with his guitar, began cutting the strings with a knifelike piece of metal. Had the performance begun, or was this a sound check?
The noise, already booming, intensified further. Most of the audience began to cover their ears with hands that remained affixed like those of the Wise Monkey who hears no evil. But there was to be no such salvation as the inexorable resonations began passing through the body in tumultuous waves.
After half an hour – or was it longer? Time, overwhelmed by sound, lost all meaning – of increasing animated twitches and writhes, John Hegre began bashing his guitar on the ground. What was happening?
He began smashing it harder and harder until he broke its neck then, in spasmodic bouts of a crazed delirium, he gradually pulverised it, each of its death throes amplified by microphones implanted inside the wooden instrument. The performance only ended when the last of the microphones had been destroyed.
The crowd went wild.
“We had a foot massage before performing. I wish we could get that in Norway before we performed,” said Lasse, smiling coolly after the show.
“We’re only in Bangkok for two days, so we’ve been making the most of it, eating and visiting Chinatown to buy Chinese tea,” comments John, streaming with sweat.
“We’re Chinese Tea connoisseurs, it’s a passion, like other people love wine,” adds Lasse, still smiling. “Our favourite is oolong.”
In 2010 Jazkamer released a CD album every month, a phenomenal effort by any measure, nearly doubling the number of its releases to 25 albums (available from www.discogs.com/artist/Jazkamer).
“The idea is to keep things exciting all the way, so in keeping with our eclectic tradition of making very different sounding records, each monthly album will cover the wide (non-) musical range Jazkamer has become known for since we started in 1998,” said Lasse.
“We are currently touring our ‘Failed State of Mind’ album, which was released on Pica Disk in October. The material we play in these gigs is from that album, although we improvise a lot around the themes,” he said.
“We’re visiting Thailand to perform at Nospace, which is run by our friend Koichi Shimizu. Before that was one night in KL and a week in Singapore playing at the Norwegian Seaman’s Church, and one show at Lasalle College of the Arts. The students like our boxes of weird stuff as they wonder what we are doing. It’s good they can see it for themselves because we don’t know what we are doing either. It’s kinda confusing.”