About the nominees
Band of Gold (Norway)
Band of Gold
Fresh new duo consisting of the gifted debut singer/songwriter Nina Mortvedt and highly active musician/producer Nikolai Eilertsen (known for his stellar bass guitar work for Susanne Sundfør, Elephant9 and Todd Terje, among many others). With the addition of some of Norway’s best jazz and pop musicians, Band of Gold are crafting their very own brand of skeletal funk, country soul and chamber pop, in a glowing mix. This is great songwriting; sometimes reminiscent of the more melancholic sides of ABBA and other magical music of the seventies.
Written in the aftermath of a difficult break-up, Vulnicura is like an open wound. Coming on like a dark-hued version of Joni Mitchell’s Blue, it’s almost unbearable in its emotional honesty, the lyrics a stream of consciousness address to a departed ex-lover. It’s truly a majestic piece of work – Björk’s most striking effort to date.
Frisk Frugt (Denmark)
Den Europæiske Spejlbue
Anders Lauge Meldgaard alias Frisk Frugt’s third album finds him travelling around Europe discovering folk music, compositional music and analogue electronic works. Yet he still maintains his singular vision – naïve in tone, but sophisticated in variety and composition, something between Zen and 70s Danish children’s TV. Around him you can hear 12 musicians either singing choir or playing bassoon, glass, violin, flutes, tuba and percussion. Meldgaard himself plays MIDI-controlled cembalo and a self-built organ made out of recorders controlled with keys and fueled with air blown from a vacuum cleaner.
Anna von Hausswolff (Sweden)
The miraculous place, the alternate dimension where human beings escape for relief from everyday life, became the focal point of Anna Von Hausswolff’s third album. Recorded in part in Piteå, Sweden on one of Scandinavia’s largest pipe organs, these hauntingly beautiful melodies sound as if carved out of ice blocks and accompanied by the Arctic wind. A challenging record, but worth the effort, by an extraordinarily gifted performer.
Jenny Hval (Norway)
What is soft dick rock? You’d might not get the whole answer from singer, composer and novelist Jenny Hval’s new album, released on Sacred Bones in the US, morphing high end pop, improv, poetry, and philosophy, but her examination of our sexual personae leaves the listener intellectually puzzled and melodically stimulated. Hey, even Rolling Stone dug it! The album, her third under her own name (she has other avant garde projects as well) is produced by Norwegian noise music legend Lasse Marhaug, stretching the limits of what pop music can feel like.
Jaakko Eino Kalevi (Finland)
Jaakko Eino Kalevi
This former Helsinki tram driver has charmed audiences all over Europe and United States with his melancholic but sweet dream pop and calm and comforting apperarance. His name is actually short for Jaakko Eino Kalevi Savolainen (pronounced “Yaak-koh Ay-noh Kah-lev-eeh Sah-voh-lie-nehn”)
Pekko Käppi & KHHL (Finland)
Sanguis meus, mama!
Pekko Käppi has his roots in Finnish neo-folk music. He plays jouhikko (yo-hick-koh), a simple old Nordic bowed string instrument. Some may play traditional folk tunes with it but Käppi plugs his jouhikko in a distorted guitar amp to play some mean and hypnotic electric blues and sings about passion, love and death.
Teitur Magnússon (Iceland)
Hippie acoustic folk-pop with a deliberate throwback to the 70s. Teitur, also a leader of Icelandic reggae group Ojba-Rasta, has a hard-to-decipher X factor to his music. He’s naïve in a clever, deliberate way; disarmingly melodic in his simple, tuneful songs that are all infused with thoughtful, direct lyrics contemplating live, love and all the things that matter.
Amalie Bruun alias Myrkur finds new meaning in ancient Nordic mysticism, choral music, folk tradition and black metal. She recalls an age when witch burnings were common occurrences. In this universe she manages to channel her voice, person and body into a many different styles and personalities: The avenger, the witch, the victim, the hunter and the hunted. Her voice ranges from growling over throat singing to angelic choirs where she sings in harmonies with herself. Fittingly she has created this her debut album with musicians from the Norwegian metal scene: Garm from Ulver (producer), Øyvind Myrvoll from Nidingr (drums) and Teloch from the legendary Mayhem (bass, guitar).
Ost & Kjex (Norway)
Five years after their successful Cajun Lunch, the Norwegian house duo returns in great style, channelling all sorts of deep dance music. Their first album was made solely out of samples of the sounds of various cheeses and biscuits, but their sound and feel has matured heavily, with hypnotic, twisted vocals, sometimes helped by Norwegian pop auteurs like Hanne Kolstø and Anne Lise Frøkedal, a gospel choir and musicians from the contemporary music scene in Norway. The album is released on the important Diynamic label.
Seinabo Sey (Sweden)
The breakthrough record of the year in Sweden contained instantly addictive, beautifully crafted pop music, laced with fiery gospel choirs, triphop beats and a voice strong enough to move mountains. Instantly recognizable, as if she had always been around, Pretend showcased a debutant impossible to compare to anyone but herself.
Danni Toma (Denmark)
Danni Toma is a rapper of Palestinian-Danish descent. His whispering flow with soft accents and the melancholic sonic architecture of his majestic hiphop/R&B creates smoky references to Massive Attack and early Tricky (while ‘Rotation’ is an intoxicatingly sly take on drum’n’bass), without being derivative. These are sonic twilight sketches of a new generation, with all the confusion and desire that implies. There is a kind of narrative to the album: tracks move from personal paralysis to socialist redistribution of wealth. It moves from the despair of a lost love to a light emerging at the end of the tunnel.
The Phonofile Nordic Music Prize is initiated by by:Larm in Norway, the most important conference and showcase event for the wider Nordic music industry.