If you’re reasonably familiar with ‘80s music in the vein we’re (hectically) trying to imitate here, you’ll immediately spot the strong influence from British guitarist Allan Holdsworth. To this day I still haven’t learned a note of his music, but these kinds of timbres and voicings were a big source of inspiration back then for a lot of us young and budding guitarists. Listening back to the old and distorted live recording from 1988, I took note that this piece starts by indicating an ambiguous chord (C and Bb over Bb bass) that establishes a lydian tonality – probably the first trope you come across when you start dealing with Norwegian folk music. Though the rhythmic profile of the section doesn’t really evoke halling in itself, it blended with folk-derived ideas elsewhere in the piece because of this tonality. On nylon strings the above section came out sounding like this:

The last idea to emerge was an improvised section (played twice) where I operate from an implied chord progression and try to create displacements that I recover from and land on the first beat of the measure again. It’s a relief when I succeed in tricking the ear while landing safely on the melody – as my smile shows at 03:00 in the final video for “Eon”:



This is the longest tune on the “Eon” album. I allowed it to keep evolving in my inner ear, adding sections over several days and weeks coming up to the recording. As in all the other cases, it starts off with a phrase inspired by folk music that tended to present itself during warmup and/or soundchecks – the fingers eventually found this material on their own. For the next section of the tune, I used a slightly slowed-down version of something I wrote for a jazz/rock-fusion quartet in the late 1980s:

A stronger connection to traditional music appears later in the tune. The title “Roll” alludes to a distant synonym for “vortex” or “spiral”, to portray the anticipatory “adlib” twirls done by dancers of the Norwegian halling before the tune and dance explodes into an acrobatic burst. The rolling, static figure that opens this next clip is a direct loan from the kind of music they dance to, as is the case with the triplet feel of the succeeding bars (this is newly written material):

The music: Orphans



The first example from my process is a synthesizer motif I came up with in the late 1980s. I recall the numb feeling of being stuck in my hometown, unsure of my future, out of ideas for things to do and all my friends away on vacation, when one night I saw an Italian youth theatre troupe on TV performing a semaphore-like choreography in a multi-level stage environment, accompanied by staccato, street-organ-like music. The train tracks out into the larger world ran at the foot of the suburban hill where our family lived – and suddenly the world seemed to beckon, anywhere had to be more real and alive than the place I was in, and the twenty-second TV snippet of young Italians artfully collaborating as one big clockwork hit a nerve in the center of my restlessness – I should be part of something like that! I ran to the piano and tried to create an echo or an answer to what I had just seen and felt. Later, I tried to explain the impulse of that moment to my songwriting partner at the time, and she came up with an evocative and intriguing lyric that captured the same, innocent and abstract itch of aimless longing. The keyboard motif I’d written ended up as an introduction, interlude and fadeout for the song we came up with – aptly titled “Italians” - and it was dressed up in the synthesizer pop aesthetic of the day (think a poor man’s Thomas Dolby or David Gamson for sound references):

All of this material is presented inside the first 85 seconds of the tune “Fure” – a title that translates as “furrow”, referring to longevity, fertile soil, aging, and rediscovered permanence of identity:

Its recorded form is AABBAB, but in the following version from Tyko Runesson’s luthier workshop in Switzerland I settled for just AB – you still get all the components it contains:

Since that time, my musical curiosity has shifted towards renewing and expanding Scandinavian traditional music, late though I was to the field (again). My main interest as an adult is to create guitar music that evokes Scandinavian-ness, but in an environment open to influences from a wider range than just traditional music. Consequently, I changed the “Italians” theme from a 2/4-time theatrical synthesizer tango/march into a folk-compatible 9/8, or pols, rhythm, and suddenly I had the first building block for the “Eon” record:

Another idea from my younger self was influenced by the energetic, clave-based strumming of American guitarist Pat Metheny. No archived versions of my own little Metheny-esque tune proved presentable here, but this is a current home studio reconstruction – including a rare revisit to the kind of electric guitar sound I would have used around, say, the time of the Tienanmen Square protests:

I initially discarded this idea for the “Eon” old-meets-new project because I wasn’t able to hear it in any other rhythm than this, but I found resolution in the trance-like state of walking as I crossed England on foot with my family in the summer of 2018: half-dreaming, gradually, and without noticing, I nudged the tune over to the 9/8 rhythm discussed above, at the same time as I introduced the characteristically muted first beat from the specific regional strand of Røros pols:



The title track of the album is named for the three huge time periods that geologists use to divide history – I use the word here as a big, big metaphorical version of how I perceive the years that have passed since I was young. The tune started out as an attempt to write in the Swedish polska rhythm, with a tonal palette expanded outside the usual definitions of folk music, and with some rhythmic displacements that in themselves are typical of this tradition. I first tried this out in the context of melody + bassline + drum loop (I play electric tenor guitar here, which was an experiment that only lasted a few months):

After a few adjustments of the phrase lengths so the line fitted in ¾ polska time, and the addition of a loose bass string to create a drone figure, I ended up with this:

I’ve been restless, and I’ve disliked my own work from the past. Whenever I become interested in a new instrument, writing technique or genre, I want to transition into the new sphere as quickly and totally as possible. I tend to feel like the material I’ve just discovered is what I should have been working with all along, and suddenly I’m pressed for time to catch up with it and learn everything about it (which I then proceed to not do). Over the three and a half decades that I’ve been playing and writing music, a lot of ideas have been left behind as bands and projects were abandoned one by one. Eventually I’ve come to realize that a lot of these ideas were left floating around in a muted and half-forgotten sphere – like musical orphans.  


A couple of years ago I decided to track down old cassette recordings with various bands I’ve been involved with, going back as far as 1986. I’d kept nothing, so I had to pillage the archives and cardboard boxes kept in the attics and basements of old friends to find my lost musical children. As I started adapting the old material for the acoustic tenor guitar, I found that melodies and chord changes that I’d originally written for the pop and jazz idioms of the 1980s eventually proved compatible with my Scandinavian-sounding neo-folk ideas from recent years. It meant forcing a part of the process, deliberately trying to splice together many new and old ideas through conscious experiments with time signatures (for example) – sometimes aided by memory notes like these, though I’d be hard pressed to remember what this jumble means today:

Finally, I pinned down a defined version of a “soundcheck phrase” I’d been playing around with in recent months, a 12/8-time idea that emerged as a result of my work with rhythmical displacement and tonal expansions of folk-like ideas (Aase, 2015/2):

Abandoning the composed bass line, but keeping the main direction of the melody, I ended up with the following verse section:

I thought the tune needed a little more air, something calmer to contrast with the quite busy melody section above, and I eventually reached back to a 1986 demo I recorded with a band I had in high school – the romantic instrumental pop/jazz music of Swedish composer Björn J:son Lindh was an important influence, I remember:

(Cell phone video by Marianne K. Berglöf and Tyko Runesson, audio by Tyko)

(My own photo)

(Video by Martin Kristoffersen and Ola Lorentzen Rød for NTNU)

(Video by Camtimul student enterprise, Nord University)

(Screenshot from video: Camtimul)