It is young and small, but has attracted some of the most adventurous and experimental musicians in Norway, such as Arne Nordheim, Supersilent, and Maja Ratkje. The record company Rune Grammofon celebrates five years existence with a delicate book and two mind-blowing CDs.
About 30 releases after the establishment of the label, Rune Kristoffersen, the founder, can look back at a catalogue with a new type of music. Music that is hard to pinpoint according to traditional categories. Music that has surprised and impressed open-minded ears far beyond Norwegian borders. As a matter of fact, Rob Young, editor of the British cult magazine, the Wire, is a dedicated fan of the RG label.
In the newly released CD-book “Money will ruin everything”, Young describes his fascination with the small Norwegian label: “Having spent the best part of the 1990s with my ears buried in ‘leftfield electronica’, the output of Rune Grammofon since its foundation fails to shake out of my head, and remains one of the only things that immediately springs to mind whenever anyone asks me to name shining example of music of our time”.
Allied with the Wire
Rune Kristoffersen explains why RG and the Wire have several things in common.
“Rune Grammofon is a record company that falls between two chairs. That is also the case with the Wire, and we have been keenly aware of each other since the start. Yes, in a way, we have had a kind of collaboration.”
Kristoffersen argue that there is a red thread through his releases, which is a combination of
electronica, improvised music, contemporary art music, jazz, and experimental rock.
“We have managed to keep a strong profile and connect with good artists”, say Kristoffersen when asked about the label’s qualities.
In addition to the already mentioned musicians, Kristoffersen’s showcase consists of Biosphere, Spunk, Jono El Grande, Chocolate Overdose, Fartein Valen, among others.
“During the last five years, there has been a Norwegian wave within the kind of music we are making. We try to create something unique, and clearly, we have received a fair share of the foreign attention”. Rob Young explains why:
“No one word could describe the label’s output as a whole, but the quality that seems to recur, whether in the aggressive improv of Supersilent, or the electronic works of Arne Nordheim, or the digital meditations of Phonophani or Information, is ‘introspection’. Another word crucial to Rune might be ‘patience’. Entering any of the releases forces you to think along unusual time scales; places you in a soundworld where you simply have to resign yourself to spending longer between recognisable reference points; where you might find even jagged edges or landmarks vanishing like mirages, just as they do while out skiing”.
90 percent of the RG’s records are sold abroad, and especially Germany, France, Italy, USA, Japan have endorsed this kind of music.
“Norway is a tiny market, and since we are working with alternative music, we need to hit alternative audiences at different places throughout the world”.
The title, “Money will ruin everything”, might sound like a manifest, and in a way, it is. Money is not the main focus for RG. Kristoffersen is now working in the Norwegian record company, Grappa Music Group, but he hopes one day to dedicate all his time to his own company.
“The title is not necessarily meant literally, but as a reminder of why we are doing this. We do it for the music, not the money. And by the way, it is a good slogan!”
RG has not felt the down turns in the music market, rather seen an increase in interest, but as Kristoffersen says, “we work in a niche market, we don’t feel the same waves as everyone else”.
New acts on its way
Next year, RG is releasing new albums from the duo Suzanna and the magical orchestra, Danish Skyphone, and four CDs from Deathprod, as well as other projects are on its way.
The compilation is designed and illustrated by multi disciplined Kim Hiorthøy. All RG’s CD covers are collected, which shows the consistency and originality of the label’s graphical expression. The anniversary book can be ordered from Rune Grammofon’s web site.