SO WROTE The New York Times when Norwegian Blackjazz band Shining arrived on the international scene wielding the sort of musical ‘weaponry’ that, frankly, hadn’t been seen before – a mighty Nordic hammer comprised of a new and singularly hard alloy: One part aggressive metal, one part stinging free jazz, the whole thing solidified with a fine industrial polish.
Few bands, if any, have traveled as far musically as this band. The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist, vocalist & songwriter Jørgen Munkeby (skilled saxophonist & guitarist, a graduate of the Norwegian Academy of Music), Shining started their unique musical trajectory as a purely acoustic jazz quartet in the vein of the late John Coltrane, releasing the albums ‘Where The Ragged People Go’ and ‘Sweet Shanghai Devil’ in 2001 & 2003 respectively; after this, they turned their hand to more art-rock studio projects, specifically ‘In The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster’ (2005) and ‘Grindstone’ (2007), before truly forging their path with the ‘Blackjazz’ album in 2010; this release was both genre-defying and genre-defining, mixing progressive, technical metal, jazz, avant-garde and experimental sounds with cutting-edge visuals and blazing onstage performances, paving the way for ‘Live Blackjazz’ in 2011 and studio outing ‘One One One’ in 2013, both exploring and empowering this freshly-hewn Blackjazz universe.
Along the way the band have garnered critical acclaim and cult status. In addition to raving reviews from everything from The New York Times, through Pitchfork, to Metal Hammer, the band also have a veritable closet full of awards, among them an award for Best Jazz Soloist Of The Year (Avignon Jazz Festival), Best Jazz Album Of The Year (Alarm Award), Innovators Of The Year (Spellemannprisen), and several metal awards nominations.
NOW, IN 2015, this boundary-breaking group has signed a new worldwide deal with Spinefarm Records, the first release under this fresh alliance being seventh studio album, ‘International Blackjazz Society’, set for worldwide release on October 23rd.
As with the ‘Blackjazz’ & ‘One One One’ albums, this nine-track offering has been mixed by Sean Bevan and mastered in Los Angeles by Tom Baker (Baker Mastering), and according to Munkeby “is one of Shining’s most varied albums, encompassing the whole gamut of what we do, from the sinister ferocity and experimentation of ‘Blackjazz’ to the more focused song-writing of ‘One One One’. It really is the culmination of all the best elements in the Blackjazz world!”
To test their musical mettle against nature at its most daunting, the band recently brought in helicopters to fly over 2,000 kilos of heavy musical equipment up to a remote and precarious Norwegian cliff-top (‘Trolltunga’), with a straight 700-metre drop stretching down below; here, they played a concert where no-one believed a concert could be played! The audience had a five-hour hike up to the mountain summit to witness the musicians in action, and those 300 enthusiastic (and fit!) Blackjazz fans who made it to the very top were treated to the experience of a lifetime!
Post-show, Munkeby said: "This is the craziest thing I've ever been a part of! First of all, I'm happy that we're all still alive! But I'm also happy that we got all the technical aspects of this to work; it's no easy task to plan a full rock and metal concert on top of a freaking mountain!”
It’s clear that Shining are more than prepared to put their money where their mouths are!The ‘Trolltunga’ concert was filmed with one helicopter, a drone, and several cameramen, and a video of this one-off (probably!) performance will be released once the material is gathered and processed.
Adventurous, compelling and constantly developing, Jørgen Munkeby & Shining are, simply, a market-leading force to be reckoned with, as their full-tilt cover of King Crimson’s ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ (a track on the ‘Blackjazz’ album and a regular highlight of the live set) clearly shows. In order to keep themselves at the cutting edge, the band has maintained a constant heavy touring schedule in both Europe and America, playing headline shows and appearing at most of the biggest festivals in Europe; these include Wacken in Germany, Norway’s biggest event The Øya Festival, plus the Temple Stage at Hellfest in France in 2015, where they delivered a headline set, and a full tour of Europe is about to be confirmed for the autumn…