Music blogs, as much as anyone, are well known for trying to shelve artists into specific genres. Music journalists and critics as a whole have a genuine need for placing artists and bands into certain groups, so they can explain their subject to the reading audience through the medium of words and descriptions. It’s a tawdry affair, which earns writers little credit, as they put pen to paper (or should that be fingers to keys) with an entire armoury of pigeon holes. NME and some other corners of the traditional music press push it a little further by trying to develop whole movements for the teen market to latch on to, but we’ve seen that do more damage than good these days – just look at the ‘nu rave’ story behind the Klaxons.
If the truth be told, this process of selecting genres and the general activity of compartmentalizing music is mostly irrelevant. Sure, it allows the reader to associate with it and perhaps consider if they too would like the artist, but we know the Internet’s burned away the edges of tribes and blurred the boundaries between gangs and groups, so it’s less important now. This leads us to is to reflect on the artists in a different way. Their style, or genre, is no longer so essential, and ultimately if you ask any truly creative musician he will surely tell that he isn’t aiming to copy others. It’s this discussion point that brings us to Torgny, as here is an artist devoid of pigeon holes, who’s attempting to focus on perhaps the most important element of writing music – to explore.
To date this Norwegian solo artist, real name Torgny K. Amdam, has hopped around the styles, in various bands, over several years, starting out as a singer for the guitar band, Outward and also The Black Diamond Brigade, before forming the hardcore punk band, Amulet, who released a string of albums over the last two decades. His latest work better suits The Recommender’s palate, arriving as it does from the opposite end of the musical spectrum, with a heavy mixture of synthetic electronics. His new EP, entitled Oslo 31. August, is set for a UK release, rather confusingly on October 31st. It’s being regarded as his debut UK release, although there is a debut album, Chameleon Days, floating around somewhere, but in fairness it’s had no UK backing, mostly confined to a Scandinavian audience, so this is the first time he’s had a proper presence over here. Either way, we’re absolutely loving it.
We find Torgny doing what he clearly does best – to investigate new avenues in his imagination, pulling out ideas and forging new materials from his artistry. If you really think about this, that’s exactly what the really great musicians do, from Bowie, to Lennon, to Eno. It’s pioneers that get us truly excited, with their freedom of mind and the removal of the shackles that come with a genre. Take the tune, Everyman, and you get a delightful muddle of electro beats and playful synths, before a vocal sample similar to CSS‘ Lovefoxx arrives. It has the sexiness of MEN, as they aggressively instruct the listener to “lick it hard” and that “its your turn now“. It’s direct and crunchy, yet it regularly wanders off mid-song, as if he’s trying to tame a thought process. Dying Hipster is more ethereal and arctic, but what it lacks in motion it makes up for in stunning beauty, particularly with Maria Due’s voice.
His creativity stretches into a batch of really gripping videos too, (which you can see more of here), as he pitches his songs behind a portrayal of Norway’s liberal youth. Activities of them basically enjoying themselves is infectious, but it’s done in an almost documentary style. This has led up to him being involved in a film, which uses the new EP of the same name for it’s soundtrack, that was premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. (A clip of the movie can be seen here). His music seems to be more of a project, more of an experience. It super-cedes boundaries and feels like output from a mind that’s truly creative. For us, the best thing about Torgny, and the lesson for any budding musicians, is that it’s not about repeating the past, or looking the part, or focusing on success, it’s actually about being an open-minded artist. You see, that’s the best thing about all the finest explorers, they always return with such magical treasures. (MB)
TORGNY – DYING HIPSTER
TORGNY – EVERYMAN