The Curiosity Newsletter – May 3, 2020
Oppdatert: mai 4
Here is this week's collection of good stuff I'd like to share with you.
First of all, random quote of the week:
«The subject of a joke isn't necessarily the target of the joke.»
- Ricky Gervais
FILM & TV /
ARCHITECTURE & SURFING
The Norwegian director Benjamin Ree just released the trailer for his documentary The Painter and the Thief. I saw an early cut of the film some time ago, and what an astounding treat this is. No wonder it was the toast & talk of Sundance this year. The story is almost too wild to believe, but it is Ree's unique and innovative storytelling that lifts this to absolute brilliance.
I saw Jakob Rørvik's short film Apocalypse Norway this week. It tells the story of a group of young, privileged Norwegians at an exquisite designer summer house on the Stavanger coast, indulging in exactly that: Being young privileged Norwegians at an exquisite designer summer house on the Stavanger coast. However, the idyllic scene shatters as the outside world creeps in through the news of an escalating worldwide virus outbreak. Sound familiar?
It was filmed in 2018, but just recently released, making it hauntingly relevant in its contemplation on how democratic a virus acts, as it takes no consideration on whether you are a British or Russian prime minister, jazz legend, supreme leader of a dictatorship or wealthy Scandinavian kids, isolated on a South Norwegian beach front property.
You can see the short film in full on Vimeo below, currently also featured on Nowness.
As you will see, the house plays a central role in the film as well.
It's a building by the architects Jarmund/Vigsnæs:
If you're into architecture, it's well worth a trip into their website, where you can dive into design like this:
If the film makes you want to take a trip to the beautiful Stavanger coast and jump into the ocean, it's always best to know someone who can show you the right spots. My outdoors-loving friend Gunnbjørg Umbach is a surf and SUP guide there. She'll take you out and make sure you're all good. You can get in touch or follow her on @gunnisumbach
I heard this song at 4 PM on Friday afternoon.
We had just grilled up some burgers, poured a glass of white wine and the sun made a most fortunate appearance – and then put on Do Me That Favor by these two Oslo boys on the stereo. Perfect. Made my Friday afternoon.
Vuyo is floating smooth like a newly massaged puma, while Ol' Burger again lives up to Okayplayer's description of him "stunting like (dare I say) Dilla at times".
"Do me that favor" will be circulating on my playlists this summer,
as well as a number of other tracks, like this:
And then there will be times where I'll need to play this:
The New York Times Magazine has a piece on the artists George Condo and Rashid Johnson, who both have current exhibitions.
Rashid Johnson’s “Untitled Anxious Red Drawing” (2020)
One of the interesting topics of the conversation, is the term “artificial realism” which George Condo coined in the 1980s. He describes it as an "idea about representing reality, but reality being a construct of man-made appearances". Condo goes on to say that he "felt like artificial realism took over when Trump was elected, not as an artistic discussion but a political discussion".
Right now, I think we might have to expand the term, since "artificial realism" hardly covers that weird show Trump is putting on.
I've been watching season two of After Life this week. Reviewers are pointing out that it's basically more of the same from season one – and Gervais' earlier material. Sure, it can feel a bit repetative at times and doesn't feel as "fresh" anymore, but I really don't care. It's still one of the smartest and funniest new series on TV right now, and that's more than good enough for spending one more season in this particular Gervais universe.
BE A CRAFTSMAN OF THE MIDDLE AGES
I'll add a piece of advice by Arvo Pärt on how to keep on working through corona times. One of the greatest living composers of our time recently gave a rare interview. In it he was asked "if the crisis, the current terrible situation, inspired you to create something, to compose, or on the contrary, is it off-putting to you as a composer?"
"The American author, John Updike, once said that he tries to work with the same calmness like the craftsmen of the Middle Ages who decorated the hidden sides of the pews with their carvings, although no-one would be able to see them after completion. I try, as much as I can, to live by the same principle".
...and followed up with this:
Any adversity makes artists move closer to what is important, essential. Only time can tell what fruits will such a focusing on the essential bear.
A "TINDER" FOR SONGWRITERS?
On that note, did you know that the new "Tinder for Songwriters" is thriving in corona times?
The Tinder reference used by Rolling Stone is a bit misleading, since this is just about connecting songwriters, but you get the point. The app, called We Should Write Sometime, has seen an enormous rise in downloads and use since March, which means that musicians are spending their time writing – and that's a good thing. It will be interesting to see what art can come out of this period.
I'm pleased to see that my piano single Come Summer now has passed a quarter million streams. Currently at 270.000 streams and being placed at numerous playlists by Apple Music and Spotify, it's spreading around the world. More on that below.
I haven't tested the "songwriter Tinder" yet, but I work with a whole lot of songwriters myself. In addition to currently focusing much on my follow-up album to The Guest, currently writing new songs with numerous artists. This time around I'd like to mention that I have two albums with Anders Tjore coming up soon, which are in their final production phases. The photo below is from the recording/filming of A Night At Studio Paradiso (directed by none other than Marius Troy) where we did an acoustic version of Procession – earlier written/recorded for a documentary film score.
Jazzland Recordings artist Torun Eriksen (photo below) and I were supposed to be in the studio these days, but corona has delayed it. I can't wait to record and write more with her. That voice.
She also writes regularly about her writing processes and more on Torun Eriksen.
Photo: Torun Eriksen
Rikke Normann is also a personal favorite of mine. We wrote the duet This Is Where It Ends together, and released it right just as corona hit.
Stay calm, we are not Nostradamus. Quite the contrary. I think.
Either way, this is a song about new beginnings.
Photo below is also from A Night at Studio Paradiso, where we did a live version of the song.
Finally, I'd like to mention that two tracks from my new piano album Northern Lullabies have now been featured by Apple Music on their modern classical playlists. My piano version of Byssan Lull on Melancholy Piano and Vi har ei tulle on the Meditation Moments list – which also contains music by one of my personal favorite composers Arvo Pärt (more on him, later in this post). There are also two other Norwegians on the list – Jan Garbarek and Ketil Bjørnstad. What company!
The piece Come Summer is now also on the playlists Classical Edge, Classical Chill and Piano Chill (below), which also features new recordings by Vikingur Òlafsson and Joep Beving. Very grateful that the classical music editors at Apple Music have featured me on at total of 5 of their official playlists.
So, that's it for this week!
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About Andreas Ihlebæk I'm a Norwegian composer, pianist, writer, editor, director and TV host living in Oslo. I work with classical label Naxos Records, where my new piano album Northern Lullabies has its physical release in US & Germany in May. I compose music for TV/Film/Theatre and write songs for/with numerous artists. As a writer I have written on popular culture, classical music and politics for the top Norwegian magazines and newspapers, including DN, Aftenposten and VG, and also contribute as non-fiction editor for Pilar / Strawberry Publishing. Having lived for long periods in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Hamburg (Germany), as well as traveling extensively as a writer, musician and television director, I stumbled into hosting two TV series on travel & food for Matkanalen (the "Norwegian Food Network"). Oh, and I'm a certified Santa Claus from the Howard Santa School in Michigan.