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Jan Bang with Benedikte Kløw Askedalen (Norway) – Delia (single)

A quick read through of Jan Bang’s résumé online will tell you…absolutely nothing about this song.

Jan Bang is a Norwegian musician and record producer who has worked with a plethora of Norwegian musicians over decades, far too many to list here, and who co-founded the Punkt festival in 2005, which presents experimental music from all over the world; a sort of Nordic Peter Gabriel. He also writes film scores.

He is regarded as one of Norway’s most accomplished and influential producers and the handle ‘electronics guru’ has stuck with him for a long time and with good reason. He coined the term ‘live sampling’ in 1996.

On top of all that he is a professor of electronic music at the University of Agder, Norway.

Bang’s forte is playing his equipment with the same kind of intuitive knowledge that one expects from artists of repute who play more ‘conventional’ instruments and incorporating subtle pulses, loops and ‘sonic washes’.

Another is his ability to balance progressive thinking with popular appeal.

Much of this caused me some surprise that he was being promoted by the Jazzland Recordings label, a jazz specialist and one which you wouldn’t usually associate with electronic music until I remembered that we have featured at least one electronic experimentalist on that label in the past.

A bigger surprise was the construction and arrangement of the song, ‘Delia’, performed here by Jan Bang and Benedikte Kløw Askedalen, and a cover version of the 1954 classic by Harry Belafonte about a lost love. “Delia, everything I had is gone.” Neither electronics nor experimentation plays a significant part in the proceedings.

The rather jauntily plucked acoustic guitar melody of the original ballad has been both slowed and toned down and plays second fiddle to some daunting percussion (timpani?), a gong, a bell and a hushed vocal that is somewhat Gabriel-like, which collectively hint at Delia not only having gone on her way but having passed somewhere over the rainbow and far, far away. It could be a section taken from a funeral oration. Alas, poor Delia…

That isn’t to criticise it in any way and I’m certain Harry (who only died last April at the age of 96 so I reckon this stands as a tribute cover to an artist who set a benchmark for black artists, or singers of colour if you prefer) wouldn’t do. At this level it’s all in the interpretation and Jan and Benedikte’s is an intriguing one for sure. A perfect example of “balancing progressive thinking with popular appeal.”

‘Delia’ is the first single taken from Jan Bang’s forthcoming album ‘Reading the Air‘, his first vocal-based solo album since 1998 and which will be released on 19th January, 2024.

Vocals: Jan Bang and Benedikte Kløw Askedalen
Guitar: Eivind Aarset
Bass: Audun Erllien
Drums: Anders Engen
Produced by Jan Bang / Erik Honoré

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