Dark Star Safari is three Norwegians and a Swiss offering a beautiful addition to the legacy of David Sylvian.
13 years ago, Jan Bang and Erik Honoré started the Punkt Festival in their home town of Kristiansand. They have arranged meetings with great artists in some of the most beautiful electronic music genres of our time, among whom we also find British living legend David Sylvian. The history kicked off about 13 years prior:
This is the history:
One day in 1992, one of the few Norwegian indie labels at the time, dBut Records, released two albums produced by Erik Honoré. One was the debut album of Kristiansand band Velvet Belly. The other was a duo called Room.
Erik Honoré was not a member of Velvet Belly, but put just as much of a mark on its sound as vocalist Anne Marie Almedal did. The indie pop band would emerge as a border breaker to lead on in a motion from alternative to mainstream.
Velvet Belly took its name from a song by 4AD all-stars project This Mortal Coil. However, its main source of inspiration, was American band The Innocence Mission. The Kristiansand band pointed out the direction of art pop alongside Cocteau Twins and Belgian based Norwegian act Bel Canto. All three were picked up by major labels in the mid 1990’s.
Room, on the other hand, turned out to be a one off of sorts. As much as art pop, it was poetic rock. The album, Imaginary Borders, is a collection of beautiful songs that seem to combine the alternative soundscapes of David Sylvian’s early solo albums with the experimental side of A-ha.
This is the start of the history of two art pop entrepreneurs, a history that manifests itself at a new milestone named Dark Star Safari. The Start, but the source is David Sylvian, who also appears in this history.
(continued under the video)
JAN BANG | ERIK HONORÉ | EIVIND AARSET | SAMUEL ROHRER — Dark Star Safari
[VINYL] [CD] [Digital]
INDIE, ART POP, DREAM POP, NEWAGE ROCK
Band: Jan Bang (vocals, sampling, piano, dictaphone), Erik Honoré (synth, sampling, synth-bass, vocals), Eivind Aarset (guitar, electronics, bass), Samuel Rohrer (drums, percussion, electronics, synths)
Rights: Erik Honoré (music, lyrics), Jan Bang, Eivind Aarset, Samuel Rohrer (music)
Producer: Jan Bang, Erik Honoré, Eivind Aarset, Samuel Rohrer
Studio: Ingo Krauss (rec, mix, Candybomber Studio, Berlin), additional recordings by Bang, Honoré, Aarset and Rohrer (Punkt Studio, Kristiansand; The Green Room, Oslo; home studios, Oslo, Berlin), Mike Grinser (mastering, Manmade Mastering, Berlin)
Cover: Ian Anderson (The Designers Republic, Sheffield, UK)
A&R: Samuel Rohrer
•Management: Samuel Rohrer, Arjunamusic
•Booking: Jan Bang, Erik Honoré, Punkt Festival
•Record company: Arjunamusic Records
•Label: Arjunamusic Electronic Series
•Distribution: Kompakt Distribution
Dark Star Safari is a new project with Norwegians Jan Bang, Erik Honoré and Eivind Aarset i collaboration with Berlin based Swiss jazz, contemporary and alternative musician Samuel Rohrer (42).
The album Dark Star Safari is relesed on Mr. Rohrers own label, Arjunamusic, while the cover design is reminiscent of Bang/Honoré's album projects from the early years of the Punkt Festival, on the label Panavision Series.
Erik Honoré (52) from the city of Kristiansand has an extensive discography as a performer, composer, producer, mixer and remixer on releases by Velvet Belly, David Sylvian, Arve Henriksen, Nils Petter Molvær, while his two albums as a leader are as recent as 2014 and 2017, both released on the remarkable Norwegian label Hubro Music.
Jan Bang (50) from Kristiansand has been a frontrunner in electronica and technology centered jazz and pop music in Norway since 1988, and an international authority on the instrument known as "live sampling".
Eivind Aarset (58) from Drøbak near Oslo is easily the greatest Norwegian pop artists' session guitarist of choise the past 30 years. He is a Jazzland and ECM recording artist, and carries much responsibility of the explosion of the new Nordic electric jazz scene since mid 1990's, including Nils Petter Molvær's album Khmer, and its initial Vossa Jazz festival commission work “Labyrinths”.
Dark Star Safari has the honor of opening this year's Punkt Festival in Kristiansand on Thursday 5 September 2019.
When his band Japan split up, Sylvian took off on an odyssey through the remarkable worlds of collaborators such as Robert Fripp of King Crimson, Holger Czukay of Can, film score greats Ryuichi Sakamoto and Mark Isham, in addition to — would you guess — Erik Honoré and Jan Bang.
Erik Honoré was first credited on a David Sylvian album in 2002. In 2005 the two Kristiansandians started the Punkt Festival in their home town. The festival instantly became a powerhouse of technological music and ambient jazz, pop, rock and electronic genres. In 2011, David Sylvian was the Punkt Festival artist in residence.
All these pieces of history seem present in Dark Star Safari. Its launch happens to follow the re-issue of all three This Mortal Coil albums and David Sylvian’s solo albums of the 1980’s, and most recently, the one-off Japan reunion project Rain Tree Crow.
This is the Review:
Inspiration has a tendency to take off in one of two opposite directions: Either as imitating, or as a toolbox. Dark Star Safari carries two toolboxes. One is a catalyst, a new collaborator from what seems to have become a new focal point for Norwegian art pop: Berlin, Germany.
Samuel Rohrer is neither Norwegian nor ‘ein Berliner’. He is from Switzerland, but lives in Berlin, where he has a studio and his own label, Arjunamusic. It seems as though Rohrer is the one pulling Dark Star Safari the strongest towards David Sylvians’s early solo works, the albums Gone To Earth and Secrets Of The Beehive.
The Swiss on drums and electronics is not imitating. He has a distinct grip on the beauty of this kind of soundscaping. It is also apparent that Samuel Rohrer is inspired by these Norwegian artists, and thus the whole set of ideas that makes up the little world of the Punkt Festival.
The second toolbox is Erik Honoré’s lyrics, which more often than lyrics are poetry. Thoughts in close-ups, postcards of conceptions, voiced by Jan Bang. He is most known as a virtuoso on the “instrument” live sampling. His voice is as distinctive as that of David Sylvian’s, so of course he reminds of him, which in itself is an achievement.
Dark Star Safari holds no room for a star vocalist. The vocals are instruments to the lyrics and the poetry, but the electric sound sculptor Jan Bang has a solid grip on the framework within the art-form. By the help of timbres from instruments and production, the vocalist Bang occasionally finds room to explore the edges of the quartet’s collective inspiration.
The same can be said about Eivind Aarset’s guitars — and electronics. For 30 years, he has been the most sought-after session guitarist in Norwegian pop music and a pioneer in the “new Nordic” jazz and electronic improvisation music. Aarset has also become quite a guitar hero within European progressive rock.
The guitarist of Dark Star Safari is the Eivind Aarset we know from his solo albums on labels Jazzland and ECM. His guitar sounds are at the core of what we call “ambient”, and more electronic than guitar. This guitarist has become a master of the unexpected, and Dark Star Safari easily places Eivind Aarset at level with Robert Fripp and Bill Frisell.
Ambient is a genre prefix that has always followed the arts of Jan Bang and Erik Honoré. They master a rare trade, generating indisputable artistic beauty through manipulation and distortion of equipment that are stone cold in form and utter synthetic in substance.
With the help of Eivind Aarset and Samuel Rohrer, the two Kristiansandians embrace four decades of ambient new age pop rock and propel it into a fifth decade without overstretching.
This is the core of Jan Bang and Erik Honoré’s mission, the identity of the Punkt Festival, and a wonderful extension of inspiration from David Sylvian.