Part of my duties as an unpaid scribbler and music obsessive is to unearth obscurities and bring them to the attention of the wider prog-inclined audience on DPRP’s Something For The Weekend blog. That is how I found this fine and quite bonkers album by this band of Norwegian loons.
I downloaded it from Bandcamp a few weeks ago and since then it has wormed its way into my affections, as it cannot fail to put a smile on my face each time I play it. This band, as you will see from their website, are a happy bunch and they like colour, both in their clothes and in their music, something they share with Spanish troupe Cheeto’s Magazine. Is this a new trend of Happy Prog I wonder? Probably not, for Mr Wilson will kick that right into touch with his new doom-laden waxing in a few weeks, of that I have no doubt!
Det Skandalose Orkester have only been in existence since 2011, but they have a knack of sounding like controlled chaos, something only consummate skill in their craft and hours of practice can pull off with the panache shown here on their debut album.
The band say that their “main source of inspiration is Frank Zappa, which is expressed through full genre confusion, madness, spontaneity and perfect choreography in perfect harmony. Other key references Bare Egil Band, Yes, Pink Floyd, Bubble Jacket Bob, 50 hertz and cartoon music from the mid 1900s.” A statement as barmy as that can only mean that their music is a delightful concoction of fusion inspired lunacy – and it is! Describing themselves as satirists, No Har De Laget Skandale Igjen! is a tabloid headline spoof that translates as “Yet Another Scandal!”.
The songs are all composed by keyboard player Sondre Jørgensen who has been kind enough to supply me with copious explanations of the Norwegian lyrics and the ongoing theme of scandal writ large from inconsequential beginnings. Developing the idea, we have the three-part Kjenningsmelodien (theme) that describes the band’s involvement in sessions of “Skinny Dipping”, “Hysteria” (trouble with the cops for grilling seagulls with an old hobo), and “Death Threats” (apparently from bishops and priests, arising from dancing while wearing priest collars – they must take their religion rather too seriously over there in that strange land!)
The seagull-grilling old hobo gets his own song with Hull i Buksen (Holes in his pants), a defiantly joyous romp including a flute solo, inspired by another drifter residing in Sondre’s home town who has a marked similarity in appearance to the cover star of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung LP. There is also a scorching wah-fuzz guitar solo for good measure, and if there is a star in the band, it is guitar player Øystein Eriksen whose fiery bursts, while obviously nodding toward the aforementioned Zappa, show enough individuality to escape plagiarism or pastiche.
Øystein also sets the place alight on Blotterne Blomstrer i Varmen, which translates as “The Flashers Thrive In The Heat”, a typically Zappa-esque header that describes “the traditional wave of half-naked and almost nude people that takes place in Bergen city in springtime, and is inspired by the police and media’s attitude towards this huge problem”, as Sondre puts it, no doubt with tongue firmly planted in cheek! The track starts off in lounge jazz mode before frantic comedic rock takes hold, a combination of Zappa and a less serious Samla Mammas Manna for the modern age. The two styles alternate in verse/chorus face-off.
The song develops in an always interesting fashion, going through mood and tempo changes, and following a slow middle section, from around six minutes in Øystein lets fly, and yes, he can sure play a bit. This track sums up the album, going through all the stylistics twists and turns present elsewhere, and it is a delight to listen to.
Other tabloid delights tackled on the album include stories about an award winning musician caught masturbating in public, and a priest (religion, again!) who was forced to quit after writing a book about a sexual encounter in the Bible. The latter is En Prest og en Plage, and it includes some nice Hammond and a great little guitar break, all followed by a contemplative, almost ambient ending. Oh, and I’m sure you can work out which one is the wanking song from the title!
We’ll let Sondre sign off – “Skandale Finale sums up all the terrible episodes, and like the theme songs it implies that we (the orchestra) have been involved in all of them”, and a great time you all had, by the sound of it!
While climatically poles apart, No Har De Laget Skandale Igjen! shares the same infectious zany spirit that infused the very wonderful Boiling Fowls album from Spain’s Cheeto’s Magazine from earlier in the year. If you danced like a loon to that – in your head, at least – then you’ll love this too. And what’s more it’s a “Name Your Price” offering on Bandcamp, proving that these folk do it for the love of it, and nothing else. Quick, Steven’s coming, enjoy Happy Prog while you still can!
01. Det Skandalose Orkester – Kjenningsmelodien (A: Pipekonsert, B: Episode 1: Nakenbad) (2:35)
02. Skandale Instrumentale 1 (5:20)
03. Det Skandalose Orkester – Kjenningsmelodien (Episode 2: Hysteri) (0:55)
04. Hull i Buksen (6:58)
05. Det Skandalose Orkester – Kjenningsmelodien (Episode 3: Drapstrusler) (0:58)
06. En Prest og en Plage (4:44)
07. Superonanisten (1:40)
08. Mannen med det hårete fødselsmerket på den ene skulderen (4:26)
09. Skandale Instrumentale 2 (2:26)
10. Blotterne Blomstrer i Varmen (8:29)
11. Skandale Finale (5:41)
Total Time – 44:19
Mats Erik Mikkelsen – Main Vocals (1-8, 10 & 11) & Monotron (1, 9 & 10)
Sondre Jørgensen – Fender Rhodes (1-7, 10 & 11) Wurlitzer (9), Hammond B3 (5, 6, 11), Akustisk Piano (8), Monotron (9), Backing Vocals (1-11)
Øystein Bech-Eriksen – El-gitar (1-11) Backing Vocals (1, 3, 5-7, 10 & 11)
Sivert Karlsen – Drums (1-11)
Bård S. Larsen – El-Bass (6 & 10)
Andreas Tangen – El-Bass (1-5, 9 & 11)
Alexander Lund – Upright Bass (2, 7 & 8), El Bass (7), Crying (8)
Endre Tufteland – Marimba (1-3, 5 & 7-11)
Olav Dale – Flute (3, 4, 8 & 11) Clarinet (8)
Morten Norheim – Tenor Sax (7, 10 & 11), Alt Sax (7)
Hallvard Lyssand – Trumpet (7, 10 & 11)
Birte Sofi Thomassen – Trombone (10 & 11)
Arne-Henning Markhus – Trombone (7)
Annlaug Børsheim – Violin (2)
Pia Nilsen – Backing Vokals (10)
Helen Indrevær – Backing Vokals (10)
Julia Jin – Scream (7)
Einar Gelius – Preacher (6)
Aleksander Haugland – Sampling & Sound-Effects (1)
Sven Tommy Renholm – Recorder (4), Poetry & Wisdom (1, 3, 4 & 11)
Record Label: Goodbye Records
Year Of Release: 2014