Nordic Music Central Viking Hero

IB (Denmark) – Nordly (sample track from debut album Upserver)

Here’s an unusual one from IB, the musical moniker for Ian Brodersen, out of Buresø, to the northwest of Copenhagen.

I’ve come across numerous homemade musical instruments during the 10 years or so I’ve been doing this, for example the ‘flugabone’ that Kristoffer Lo used to play with Highasakite, a shortened trombone with valves fitted into it, and assorted other knickknacks.

IB’s party piece is bringing life back to old stainless steel bowls and dishes, giving discarded kitchenware the opportunity to serve something they’ve never served before – sound.

His speciality is the Inoxfon or Inoxphone, a kind of percussion instrument made out of multiple stainless steel (‘inox’, en français) on which you can play music and “create anti-waste from waste”.

A bit like steel drums I suppose, but on a stellar scale, acquired from recycling centres and second hand stores, and it took him 20 years to build it and almost as long to tune it. Then there is the gear required to play it, including drumsticks, bamboo sticks, homemade violin bows and fishing lines. He houses it all in a barn. It would be out of place in the living room.

I reckon IB is perfect fodder for those just out of peak viewing time TV programmes where they feature the arcane and the bizarre in a desperate attempt to retain your attention but it’s a deadly serious business to him. He calls it an upcycling or upserving project, hence the album title.

With the project, IB hopes to inspire us to become better at seeing and hearing the possibilities in what is given – and in things that initially have low value for many of us. I reckon it might even be considered a fringe version or trait of the Japanese wabi-sabi philosophy. They seem to be obsessed with finding the real value of old or apparently useless items.

His background is in compositions and sound design for film and theatre at places like the Royal Theatre, Aveny-T, and Grønnegårds Teateret. And he lived in London for four years where he played in a band in which they argued more than they played music. About which dish to belt with a ladle, I expect.

His objective is, he says, “to make music that is equal parts minor (key or chords I assume)-based, psychedelic, and cinematic, brimming with associations to oriental street markets, the Middle Ages, sound healing, Western underground grunge, and a future that has called to say it’s having a great time.

He doesn’t lack in ambition. All that from steel bowls.

The sample track I chose from his debut album ‘Upserver’ is ‘Nordly’, simply because I was advised it is “the catchiest.” Well that certainly helped narrow down the options. It translates as ‘North shelter’ in Mr Google but I’m none the wiser. I noticed that other tracks are called ‘Waste Opening’, which sounds like he might be using a drainpipe or a toilet seat as an instrument and ‘Inner Tube’. Surely not?

I don’t know how many people it took to play it but there must have been many unless he’s multi-tracked it numerous times. It sounds like the collective output of the Notting Hill Carnival.

About a third of the way through it picks up a Middle Eastern rhythm as the bow comes into play and thereafter it gets proggy, with a solid bass line (is a bass guitar allowed in this set-up?) and what sounds like a synthesised mouth organ.

Then it plays out with a dish version of a cinematic score, with the closest we get to an actual tune in what could be the background music to one of those 1970s TV crime/cop dramas like Man in a Suitcase.

In all seriousness I didn’t think I was going to like it but to be fair IB is very adept at what he does. He isn’t fooling around here; he is creating very real and very unusual music. An entirely new genre one might say.

Alt Dish-Rock, anyone?

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