Shining was formed in 1999 by saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Jørgen Munkeby. Munkeby had moved to Oslo to study at the Norwegian Academy of Music, and was in need of a band for a concert he had already booked. Knowing no one, he looked for bandmates among his fellow students. There he found bassist Aslak Hartberg, drummer Torstein Lofthus and pianist Morten Qvenild.
Their first album, Where the Ragged People Go, was released 5 November 2001.At a time when the young Norwegian jazz scene was dominated by future jazz, as pioneered by Bugge Wesseltoft and Nils Petter Molvær, Shining received a lot of attention by playing modern and energetic acoustic jazz. Their music especially contrasted that of Jaga Jazzist, a band of which Jørgen Munkeby had been a member since 1994.
The band’s John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman-inspired soundwas further developed on their second album, Sweet Shanghai Devil, released by Jazzland Recordings in 2003. Their music became freer, incorporating more elements from outside the jazz idiom, but remained entirely acoustic.
2005 saw a complete transformation of Shining’s music with the release of their third album, In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster, where progressive rock and metal were blended in with the experimental jazz heard on Sweet Shanghai Devil. Munkeby’s woodwind instruments were accompanied by the Akai EWI, electric guitars and synthesizers, and Aslak Hartberg’s double bass was largely replaced by electric bass. Drum machines were also used on the album, as well as a wide range of less common instruments such as the accordion, harmonium, church organ, clavinet and celesta.
Shining’s fifth album Blackjazz was released 18 January 2010 on Indie Recordings. The album’s title is meant to describe Shining’s sound,which on Blackjazz became even harder and more intense than ever before.
The instrumentation was also far simpler than on the two previous albums, with Jørgen Munkeby focusing on guitars and saxophone. This has made the album’s sound closer to how they sound live, as songs from previous albums needed to be simplified for live performances.
Shining’s collaboration with Enslaved is a clear influence on Blackjazz. The album’s first single, Fisheye, is a newer version of the seventh movement of The Armageddon Concerto, and the vinyl edition of Blackjazz includes a studio version of the concerto’s first movement as a bonus track. Blackjazz ends with a cover version of 21st Century Schizoid Man, featuring guest vocals by Enslaved’s Grutle Kjellson.
Shining recently released the final chapter of the acclaimed ‘Blackjazz’ trilogy, ‘One One One,’ via Prosthetic Records in North America and Indie Recordings in Europe. Mixed and co-produced by Sean Beaven (NIN, Marilyn Manson, Slayer) and mastered by Tom Baker (A7X, Deftones, Ministry), the album — praised by Pitchfork as ‘instantly memorable’ album and by MetalSucks as ‘a work of brilliance’– uniquely incorporates progressive rock, jazz fusion, experimental metal and black metal influences.