It is time for us here at MIC to wrap up 2007 and get our toboggans out for the seasonal flight to the mountains. And as we pack our vintage canvas rucksacks and don the outfits we’ve all kept from the 1952 or 1994 Olympics (depending on age and personal style) we would like to wish all our loyal readers a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. Perhaps you are lucky enough to be in for a flat little gift under the tree; a Norwegian CD! If not you can start planning the year ahead with the aid of our newly updated festival calendar for 2008. (http://www.mic.no/calendar)
But back to 2007, what kind of year has it been for Norwegian music?
Judging by the lamentations of the critics representing the mainstream media 2007 has not been a very inspired year regarding Norwegian music. In fact it has of lately been described as something of an annus horribilis. And if one scrutinises the 2007-catalogues of the major labels it is indeed somewhat drab reading: your predictable selection of safe and established artists, few debutants and no records to make 2007 a year to remember.
However, Norway is home to some of the most industrious and visionary independent labels in the world, especially in the musical realms of jazz and electronica, and for these labels 2007 has been a good a year as any. And those involved in this part of the music industry have duly protested against the mainstream media’s portrayal of 2007 as a year when nothing of interest has happened. This assessment is evidence, they claim, of the degree to which the mainstream ignores the independent sphere. Mainstream journalists retaliate and claim that no-where in the world does eccentric music and releases get the kind of attention in daily newspapers as it does in Norway.
Not much of a conflict then really, for the simple fact is just that major labels are no longer vehicles of musical innovation, and this is true everywhere. And at the same time it is true that avant-garde musical expression is never really the stuff of tabloids.
So when the reminiscing mood of Christmas sets in it should be easy to draw a water-based picture of the musical year that has past: on the surface 2007 has been a slightly boring day of unremarkable sailing, but below there are weird and wonderful fish swimming and if you dive in you’ll certainly find records that balance the picture. Norwegian independent music is as fresh and alive as ever.