One knows the Berlin School with its representatives Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze & Co., who with their hypnotic style significantly defined electronic music in the seventies. Breidablik have now released "Alduorka", an album that ascribes itself to the Bergen School of Electronic Music. A Norwegian counterpart to the famous Berlin School? Mastermind and keyboardist Morten "Klangmajor" Birkeland Nielsen provides clarity.
eclipsed: How did that start with Breidablik?
Morten Birkeland Nielsen: Breidablik started in 2012 as a one-man project of mine. The debut album "Vinter" was released on cassette in 2017. This led to a contract with Pancromatic Records and three LP releases on the label: "Penumbra" (2017), "Nhoohr" (2019) and "Omicron" (2020). Håkon Oftung joined the band for "Omicron." Meanwhile, we are signed to Apollon Records, which released "Alduorka" in 2022. The line-up was expanded with drummer Trond Gjellum.
eclipsed: So what does the Bergen School of Electronic Music mean?
Nielsen: Bergen School was just a term I coined to acknowledge the Berlin School's inspiration for electronic music. Since I'm from Bergen, the term is also a way to emphasize our Norwegian heritage and that we aim to sound a bit different than the Berlin School bands.
eclipsed: Where does the band name Breidablik come from?
Nielsen: Here, too, I wanted to emphasize our Scandinavian roots. The name may seem somewhat exotic to non-Scandinavians.
eclipsed: How exactly did Håkon Oftung come to Breidablik? After all, Tusmørke is a different kind of fish ... well, music ..
Nielsen: (laughs) Although his first album appearance with Breidablik was in 2020 as part of "Omicron", Håkon has always been very important to Breidablik. He was the one who encouraged me to record and release my music, and Breidablik's very first release was a split cassette with Håkon's main band Jordsjø. He's a great musician, so I'm really proud to have him on board. He can play any style of music and seems to be able to play any instrument imaginable as well.
eclipsed: "Sound Major" Morten Birkeland Nielsen sounds, well, slightly funny. Where does this name come from - is there any reference to the wry humor of Monty Python?
Nielsen: (laughs out loud) The "sound major" was just something that came to my mind one day when I was walking the dog. It sounded really stupid, so I decided to use it on the album. I didn't think anyone would notice. It's a derivative of the Norwegian expression "Klossmajor" which means a clumsy person, so I guess that's what I am ... a clumsy but "sonorous" person!
eclipsed: Your style lies somewhere between classic Berlin School, ambient, minimal music and prog. How do you define this strange mixture yourself?
Nielsen: Bergen School, of course! No, all joking aside, defining music within a certain genre is really not that important. I just write songs and see where the process takes me. I'm pretty sure the next album will be very different from "Alduorka".
eclipsed: Speaking of ... what are your musical influences?
Nielsen: I've been listening to metal - everything from classic Black Sabbath to extreme metal - since I was more or less a toddler, and discovered progressive music in my early teens. The only types of music I don't like are reggae, rap, and certain types of country. Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze are of course very important to Breidablik as they are to everyone who composes electronic music. But I would also like to mention Michael Hoenig, Robert Schroeder, Mark Shreeve and Rolf Trostel as some of my other sources of inspiration.
eclipsed: Is "Alduorka" Faroese for "wave energy"? If so, why did you take this term as the album title?
Nielsen:... Right. I had chosen "waves/wave energy" as a conceptual starting point when composing the music and wanted a title that reflected that concept. I think "Alduorka" fits the music quite well, as it combines the four "wave"-inspired songs with the two more energetic songs "Orka I" and "Orka II".
eclipsed: The longtrack "Alda" represents your original mix of styles, a steamy, electronically charged brew - how did you build this track?
Nielsen: I had had experience with polyrhythmic sequences for some time, and this led to the opening section of "Alda". To create a contrast, I decided to follow this lively beginning with a more static ambient synth sound in the second section. The third and final section was the result of an improvisation around a sequence I did a few years ago. I really love Håkon's guitar work here, and am very pleased with the "orchestral" ending, which includes French horns and timpani.
eclipsed: "Orka" is in two parts and very similar to Tangerine Dream - on purpose?
Nielsen: I would say "Orka I" is more space rock à la Hawkwind than Tangerine Dream. It was really fun to record that track. As for "Orka II," though, I really wanted to do something similar to Tangerine Dream's "Love On A Real Train." That is: not a similar song, of course, but something that could evoke the same emotions and feelings. Trond deserves a lot of credit for his drum parts. He brought these two songs to another level.
eclipsed: Other tracks like "Rán" and "Himinglæva ok Kolga" seem more like soundscapes of Scandinavian fjords and mountains ..
Nielsen: I haven't really thought much about it myself, but the "Scandinavian influences" have been highlighted in several reviews. Being from Western Norway, mountains and fjords are an integral part of my life, so I think it's inevitable that the music is influenced by the nature that surrounds me. And as mentioned above, my Scandinavian heritage is an important part of Breidablik.
eclipsed: What are your next plans?
Nielsen: We have already recorded a 20+ minute song with Jordsjø for the upcoming split album "Kontraster". If everything goes as planned, it will be released later this year or in early 2023.
Interview: Walter Sehrer