We're trying to cover a massive range of artists and genres this week, and this is a perfect excuse to delve into what I would describe as 'diverse eclectic' acts and others might probably describe as 'weird stuff'. 'Det Skandaløse Orkester' are from Bergen and play a rather extraordinary blend of progressive jazz, inspired by the likes of Frank Zappa and many others, and the 8 piece collective (which includes 'a Major Parkinson') play impossibly complex and occasionally self indulgent music with Norwegian lyrics which reputedly some Norwegians don't even understand.
Now any number of these facts might have put you off already, but 'Tenk om noen ser deg' ('Imagine if someone sees you') is utterly brilliant and totally bonkers in equal quantities - and in line with this weeks 'theme', it is full of contrasts, with simply outrageous rhythms and tunes competing with beautiful lyrical and melodic sections. Somehow it all fits together, even though I'll never be able to explain how, and certainly not why...
After a thudding overture 'Tenk om noen ser deg' really gets going with 'Lokkemann, lokkemann kor e du no', (a 'Lokkemann' in Norwegian is a child thief, as in an adult who steals children rather than a thief who is a... ok you get it), and after a slightly fraught vocal opening, they launch into a brilliant comic tune where Benny Hill meets Cardiacs, before the saxophone takes the track away almost into a fantasy dream, and then after some frightening cackling vocals a huge cacophony of sound plays out a slowed down version of the earlier melody - I could continue, but it's not even worth trying to describe a track by 'Det Skandaløse Orkester', you just have to take a listen:
'Skandale Morale' meanwhile is a warped lullaby that I'm not entirely convinced would send my child to sleep (lyrics which broadly translate to ''Being wary of strangers is for your own good / You need to feel fear creep coldly down your spine'', and then we're offered 'Skulle jævlig vært på tv' (''I'd f**king love to be on TV''), with a huge anthemic chorus with repeated proclamation of the words ''I’d love to be on TV''. I love the fairground style opening of 'Ukomfortabel' and the warped tune that disappears away in a slightly drunken direction, and the inspired contribution from the Saxophone, and then the instrumental backdrop that slowly builds and get more complex and incoherent, a deliberately shambolic discord.
Following the instrumental interlude 'Skandale Fenomenale' we're offered the complex and intense 'Forvirret' ('Confused') and a mammoth guitar solo before it opens into the most beautiful melodic instrumental section that is one of the highlights of the album, mainly because I wasn't quite expecting it. But of course the direction is then spun around about 540 degrees with 'En naken mann ble funnet i et bosspann' ('A naked man was found in a trash can') with a quite riotous collection of nursery and folk rhyme inspired melodies that borders on the genius, and lyrics which pose the thoughtful question 'What had he realised that no one else could understand'? And then it all concludes with 'Verdens beste land' ('The Greatest Country in the World'), which somewhat surprisingly isn't a homage to post-Brexit Britain, but is equally tongue in cheek lyrically and allows us to get washed away in a laid back groove ridden series of choruses and with a long sax solo to wrap things up.
Now in my humble opinion, 'Progressive' music is very often hideously dull and simply doesn't push the boundaries as the name suggests, but in 'Det Skandaløse Orkester' there is a band that are not only truly progressive, but more important than that are simply brilliantly entertaining. 'Tenk om noen ser deg' has completely blown my mind, and it makes me laugh, cry and be joyful in equal quantities. It is also outrageously ambitious but still full of comic moments, both musically and lyrically, and whilst I totally realise the album may have slightly 'niche' appreciation, I think those people that enjoy offbeat releases will absolutely love this band, and I'm delighted to wholeheartedly recommend them.
Nordic Music Review 9/10