Nordic Music Central Viking Hero

Songs for the end of the Day 22nd February – Rural Tapes and Mark Steiner (both Norway)

Rural Tapes (Norway) – Patchwork (single/track from album Contact)

Rural Tapes (Arne Kjelsrud Mathisen) has visited us a couple of times, most recently just in January with ‘Run Rapid’, what was also a track on his new album ‘Contact’, which is released on 23rd February.

Hopefully, this last single before the album drops, ‘Patchwork’, will act as a taster for the album.

He seems to have a thing about tape machines as his moniker suggests and uses them to gather various sounds which he then mixes into his music. He suggests that ‘Patchwork’ is the track on ‘Contact’ which most explicitly shows the hang up he’s had with old tape machines, effectively using them as musical instruments and feeding/sampling a wide variety of sounds from tracked demos, live content, also private content from reel-to-reel tapes and cassettes.

He describes the process, the sounds and textures as “addictive.”

I have to admit that while I’ve heard music coming from the weirdest of sources in my time this practice takes the biscuit.

It’s a long track, reduced to seven and a half minutes for the single edit here.

Think Krautrock meets Swans, meets Dr Who meets the Teletubbies and all to a repetitive, monotonous beat and bass line and invasive melodies, with poltergeist-like voices off and voiceovers in lieu of lyrics and which might be coming out of a Utility radio in 1944 as Churchill addressed the nation on Operation Overlord.

Rural Tapes is the uncrowned King of the organic analogue swingers, the doyen of the experimentalists, producing work which might go unnoticed by the masses but which will surely hit a chord with the cognoscenti.

On the album which will likely be available by the time you read this, Arne Kjelsrud Mathisen plays organs, synthesisers, mellotron, piano, drums, drum machines, percussion, acoustic guitar, zither, gamelan, tuba, field recordings and tape units. He is joined in parts by Lars Løberg Tofte (bass), Marin Stallemo Bakke (violin), Sigurd Thomassen (acoustic guitar) and Øystein Braut (electric & steel guitar).

Is this the Norwegian ‘Tubular Bells’ I wonder? ‘Square Cassettes’? Decide for yourself.

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Mark Steiner & His Problems (Norway) – Hang On (Twin Flames) (single/track from album Black Hole)

Oh boy, we are well overdue with this one. The album ‘Black Hole’ came out almost a month ago and this single and track from it, ‘Hang On! (Twin Flames)’ right back in October.

I seem to remember I was a little uncertain about Mark Steiner’s status as ‘Norwegian-American’ but upon further examination I find that the ‘Problems’ are an Oslo-based band, which includes members from, inter alia, Swans, Killing Joke and OMD, also Norwegian singer Ingunn Holmen, and guests from Tromsø and Denmark.

So taking all that into account we’ll just say ‘Nordic’ and have done with it.

The LP is the first full-length one Mark Steiner has released since ‘Saudade’ right back in November 2014.

If I was writing solely about this track tonight I would probably list it as a ‘Video of the Week’ on account of this arty, mildly violent one that is straight out of the Tarantino textbook with elements of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels; Texas Chainsaw Massacre; and Papillon thrown in.

If that’s Mark he definitely has problems.

What you’re seeing here was rated in the top 12 music videos of 2023 by Norway’s national music publication, won ‘Best European Music Video’ in the Prague International Music Video Festival, and has also been inducted by the Norwegian National Museum.

Musically, it is moody and disturbing, the tension slowly rising along with the intensity of the guitar and bass and culminating in some crazy guitar work to see it out.

I suppose the video was created in support of the song but if someone told me it was the other way around and that this is in fact a score to the film it wouldn’t surprise me.

Find him/them on:




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