WIND

8 Nov

WIND

We think of wind in a variety of ways, when we think of it at all: as part of the daily weather, as energy to be harnessed, as a key component to engaging in our preferred method of travel – hot air balloon. What we don’t necessarily think of when we think of wind is a terrifyingly marvelous group of young psych and free-jazz enthusiasts from Norway.

But that has now changed.

It changed only moments after we put the needle down on the debut album from Wind, the aforementioned marvelous group of young psych and free-jazz enthusiasts from Norway. Entitled Wind and Friends (and available now from Syrin Vinyl), it’s an album built entirely out of improvisation and that undeniable spark of inspiration that comes from being bold, creative and obsessed with that one episode of “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” where the kids can be seen taking covert drags on their dugouts only moments before Albert Ayler stepped up to jam with Sabbath.

Of course, such an episode never occurred – but Wind and Friends did happen and continues to be happening. It’s a bizarre, powerful and ultimately beautiful album.

Cluing us in to the happenings of the Wind and more is drummer Filip Ramberg, who we thank for his considerate answers, shared here with you. Enjoy.

How do you think the area where you live – or the area where you grew up, if there’s a difference – influences the music you make? Do your surroundings inspire you, or do you think of musical inspiration coming almost exclusively from the inside, quite apart from outside influences?

Living in Norway cannot be said to hold any direct influence on our sounds, though the mountains and the fjords further north tend to produce some majestic state of mind perhaps present in the music.

When I improvise or write music, I try as best as I can to express myself without self-importance or fear, and really wish to transcend my personality or physical body. Succeeding in this, I can feel a connection to my real self, or perhaps a voice from within speaking through the instrument, which probably is the real I.

Different forms of meditation have existed for thousands of years and I feel that music is the form that speaks to me the most. It can give you a sensation of being present in the whole body, and at the same time you can in some sense be present in the music, as if the music took a physical shape or form. When trying to express this feeling or state of consciousness in words … almost all the meaning is lost. Perhaps our music at best is an expression of this feeling or sensation.

All the music we listen to is of course the big influence, but I feel we are mostly inspired by a few choice musicians. John Coltrane for example really speaks through his instrument. He somehow got over the physical barrier of using the hands, fingers, mouth and lungs and was able to freely express his whole palette of emotions and feeling in music. He and the sax don’t really matter; he is talking or channeling God’s own divine language.

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Are you able to identify ways in which you think about music differently than you did just one or two years ago? In what ways? What are the two or three major musical turning points in your own personal musical evolution, the events, people or music that truly altered your perspective on what music can be, and by extension, how music can be made?

If there is one thing I could pinpoint, it would be the increased appreciation of details. That is one thing studio work has taught me. A tune could be as dynamic and organic and majestic as anything, but it is the detail work that colors the song and truly makes it interesting. Although we largely set out to make music of a spiritual nature, it requires a lot of technical precision work as well as musical insight in order for it to succeed. Apart from that, musical progress is a continuous search and I most probably was in a quite different place a few years ago. You cannot really tell because it’s so gradual. It’s like you are developing and fine-tuning some natural understanding of music. When you stop thinking and instead play exactly what you feel, something vital is achieved.

I have for the past three years used the method of not practicing. Instead I walk around trying to tune the ears, hearing drumbeats while walking the stairs, or a guitar solo in a big truck passing by, or a vocal harmony in an infants scream. When I first pick up an instrument I often feel inspired, as if it was the first time, and the music is a mirror of all my experiences and thoughts up to that point. Before this, I for many years used all my spare time learning the basic technique of the instruments, reading and practicing in many different styles and genres.

Although there are many turning points in my musical evolution there are a few milestones. Hearing John Coltrane for the first time surely was one of those. Trying to grasp the inventiveness that worked on so many levels was like being reborn into the musical world, being an infant again, realizing that everything you thought about music to that point could only be a footnote to this. No one had blended technique with spiritual feel in such a way before and it raised my own ambition bar by a mile. Another important turning point, a few years earlier, was hearing Skip James. I never knew that much could be expressed so minimally, by guitar and voice alone.

What was your history with the other members of Wind before you came together as a band? Had you played together in any other projects? How do you define membership in Wind, relative to the designation “Wind and Friends” on your new album? If you could invite two or three other musicians to become “friends” of Wind and record for your next effort, who would those people be and why?

Wind is a trio consisting of Martin van Houtum, Per Christian Berg and myself. I met Martin almost ten years ago, in our early teens. Growing up in a small town we had a lot of time to play the role of the typical loners, slowly working our way through the last fifty years of musical and cultural history. Somehow we were lucky and a lot of obscure and interesting albums presented themselves to us.

A few years later we were in a band together, taking on various constellations, some of them no good, others promising yet never really successful or serious. During the slow death of this band we got together with our mutual friend Per Christian in a common desire to explore and develop some psychedelic music of our own. We spent a hazy, bubble-like year jamming in a rehearsal room (a real dump) located in an abandoned industry area by the river, throwing occasional private parties, before stepping up and into the outside world, becoming a band in a more proper sense, with pictures and a website.
 If we are ever to do another recording in the vein of Wind & Friends (which we probably will sometime), we could include Fredrik Severin or Frederic Bech, who are both friends of Wind and friends of the Wind sound. Or even better, play with some people we have never met before, making a Wind and Strangers LP…

Speaking further about “Wind and Friends,” we’re interested in hearing more about how this album was created. Why did you decide to create the album out of one long studio jam session, and what confidence did you have that it would turn out to be as undeniably stunning as it is? What was the most difficult part of the album’s creation?

Incidentally, a friend of ours was in town during the Christmas holiday last year. His name is Morten and he is an excellent sax player. We had a recording studio available and decided to head out there for a day and record whatever came into mind. We also brought along another talented friend, Stefan, to play the flute. There were no rehearsals; no cues were given as of what was going to happen or where we were heading. A spontaneous approach made way for a presence and energy not possible otherwise. In advance there was no plan about releasing the session as an album; in fact, no one really knew anything. It wasn’t until hearing the playback at the end of the day that we decided that the material deserved an official release. The most difficult part of the process actually was listening through hours after hours of jamming trying to decide upon what to include.

The name Wind makes sense to us when listening to the album – at times calm, turning loud, but always natural and always there. What does the name mean to you? What do you think of when you think of Wind? What do you think of when you hear “The Wind Cries Mary”? 

Wind just sounded so powerful. That is all. It does indeed reflect the organic feel we wish to express. Something affecting everybody, beyond human control. We can relate to that.

When I hear “The Wind Cries Mary,” I think of my 11th birthday, opening the greatest hits of Jimi Hendrix CD i got from my uncle.

Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor that we are attempting to start right now) that you will soon release a download-only tribute album to the great L.A. funksters Earth, Wind and Fire, entitled “Shining (Norwegian) Star”?

This is absolutely true.

What music have you been listening to lately? If push comes to shove, what is your favorite At the Gates song of all time?

Lately I’ve been listening a lot to Bert Jansch (again). I have been somewhat overfed on psychedelic music the last couple of years and for some time now I’ve been looking elsewhere. I have been exploring the world of free jazz and modern classical for over a year now and some favorites include Albert Ayler, Peter Brötzmann and Sun Ra. My favorite album these days is probably Charles Tyler’s epic, drummer-less 1967 LP, Eastern Man Alone.

Favorite At the Gates? Hard to say. Possibly that heavy, melodic one.

Has Wind been able to play live shows much, if at all? What do you wish to bring to the Wind live performance that would be different than what you have recorded thus far? What is the most impressive live band you have seen in the past year?

We have done some shows in Norway, most considerably in Oslo. Performing live always affects how we sound compared to playing in a recording studio. Although we pursue a lot of improvisation in both settings, having a larger audience makes a world of difference. Shows are our preferred platform; it is where we push ourselves to the furthest, a little deeper into the unknown every night, always handling our instruments a little better, and more boldly utilizing the energetic vibes that pour through the concert venues. When performing live we start out within the familiar frames of a song, before venturing into some improvisation (of course different every night), knowing that at some point we will have to return back to the song we started out from. This kind of logic makes everyone focused and on guard, you know? We cannot hide behind anything, our playing needs to be soulful and attentively directed if it should keep from getting boring and tedious. I believe this is an effective way to grow as a musician, always having to deliver right there in the moment. When its really good it is like the audience breathes our music back to us.

Mark Twain (a huge Tangerine Dream fan, we hear) said the following: “Our best built certainties are but sand-houses and subject to damage from any wind of doubt that blows.” Your thoughts?

Knowledge is problematic at best, the way I see it. Given our sensory input as the only way of perceiving the world around us, shaping us into who we are and forming notions we claim to be certain, who knows what reality might really look like? We cannot point to any evidence justifying facts about anything by pointing to anything above and beyond our senses; they are the tools of our understanding and might very well be deceptive, at least scarce in the forming of any objective truths. My point is that we cannot really know anything for sure. Accordingly, our best built certainties would be subject to damage from any wind of doubt that blows; however, people tend to firmly grip their convictions, convictions yielding predictability and a sense of safety, through some defense-mechanical habitual stubbornness, because reality as something inconceivable is too much to handle for some. It is not adaptable in any evolutionary way. I believe the human mind in these modern times generally is in its infancy – its possible greatness has yet to wake from its sleep. Every once in a while you meet someone who is aware of themselves.

What’s next for Wind?

We have recently been recording a studio album due for release this winter, featuring ourselves only (no friends). It consists of semi-structured songs as well as heavy psych jamming and defines our creative motivations at this point. It’s going to be a blast! The release will be followed by more gigs. After that, we will decide what new and possibly even unexpected musical scenarios to pursue.

Wind

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  1. ØRESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE « Revolt of the Apes - November 28, 2011

    […] over the last few weeks we’ve had the pleasure of exploring earth (Hills), wind, (uhhhh … Wind) and fire (Magdalena Solis). We could not be more excited to now explore outer space, in the form […]

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