This is the year of thinking differently and making the most out of what you have in place. During Oslo World Festival, Paal Nilssen-Love was always somewhere out in the world, either in Ethiopia, in Rio or on the plane to God knows where. The well known current situation “locked him up” in Norway, in Nesoddtangen to be precise, and thanks to that, he could finally accept intivation to play at the festival. As the most of his projects are combinations of international musicians, the only “safe” option was to present a totally new project with the musicians that are in place. Get your candy ready, because new Circus arrived in town!
Paal Nilssen-Love Circus consist of six other fellow acrobats: Juliana Venter on vocal, Oddrun Lilja on electric guitar, Signe Emmeluth on alto saxophone, Thomas Johansson on trumpet, Christian Meeas Svendsen on double and electric bass and Kalle Moberg on accordion. Isn’t it an excellent choice of musicians? Everyone expected a lot from this project, and hell.. we got even more!
Paal hits the four gongs back his drum set, the first tunes of “Humming bird” sounded, and the audience is listening in a complete silence. Juliana joins the opening with her angelic vocal, and suddenly we are all walking through a dark forest, with a low bass tunes, accordion and guitar warmly wrapping around us. And then the saxophone and trumpet emerge from the left side, and you start running, faster and faster so all the instruments meet together and unfold their powers.
Everyone is completely silent. I am listening with my eyes and mouth wide open from the astonishment.
After the intro, Christian gives us a solid solo on electric bass, making the sound by beating slightly the bass guitar with one hand and playing the chords with another one. Suddenly, the sign is being made and the whole circus joins him to break out in a cheerful and rousing tunes. What a joyful, free cloud of music it it, with Thomas leading the way on the trumpet. A sudden need of standing up and dancing in the middle of the floor came up to me, but I could only cheer and move sitting on my chair to get out my excitement.
This whole project is inspired, as Paal mentions in the interview for Now’s The Time, by his travels to Etiopia under the local holiday Timkat in january, and travels to Brasil under the carnival. “I have been influenced by music, culture and all that it involves, in both Ethiopia and Brazil, something that has come more and more in the way I play and think about music, dance, life etc.”.
“Now we move to more darker bars..”, Paal introduced the next track titled “Round about lappa”. Juliana shows her deep, powerful voice and opens up her soul to us. Original and outstanding. There is one part, when she is making sounds similar to popping the radio on, when you turn between the channels. She’s cracking and whizzing and inbetween she starts singing excerpts of different songs, classics you may recognize: “round and round and round I go, riding high and feeling low, “Your looks are laughable; you make me smile…”, or “Strawberry fields forever; Living is easy with eyes closed..”; talking in Portuguese or telling news in Norwegian about the traffic. And then the bands joins, fire begins and escalates into a free jazz canter. Juliana grabs the microphone and jumps to the middle of the stage, leading everyone with her voice, screaming and making the audience scream together with her, like she was starting a rebellion with all those hungry music lovers:
This new project is everything that I am seeking in discovering new music. It was refreshing, heart-warming and heart-touching. It made me cry while listening to beautiful voice og Juliana, it made me laugh and dance to the catchy rythms and it made me wanna fight for finding the beauty in every moment of the life, especially right now. Such a complex circus – a lot of jazz-rock vibes with Oddrun on electric guitar, Christian on electric bass and heavy drum-beating by Paal. The fresh breeze of free jazz from Thomas and Signe, delivering the best vibrations as always. And the fragile and beautiful side of Kalle Moberg’s accordion and again, angelic and powerful voice of Juliana.
And last but not least – huge applause for Stig Gunnar Ringen, known as the master of sound in Norway. He did an amazing job with taking all what’s best with the sound out to the audience, which of course was crutial to the reception of this gig.
Going back again to the interview, Paal said: “I wish we could danse in those days.. move aside chairs and tables and let sweat drop. I hope that our music will trigger a lot of feelings in people; rythmic, emotional, energetic, mystic, to be both naked and grand…” – well Paal, congratulations. This is EXACLTY what I was feeling during this concert and am, in fact, still feeling this way.