mandag den 31. december 2012

New website / PAGE MOVED


Thank you very much to everyone who has visited this blog over the last few years. I have decided to move my work to my new website and hope you'll find the time to stop by and say hello. Please feel free to check out : 

fredag den 23. november 2012

Alaska warms the cold Danish night

Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk
**** (4 stars out of 6); November 20 at Lille Vega
On his own or with a band, Jonas Alaska is the man (Photo: NRK P3)
From time to time I must admit that I get bored of the heavy melancholic mood that hangs over most singer/songwriter gigs in the middle of the dark and downright depressing Danish winter.  I approached Tuesday's concert at Lille Vega expecting an evening of cheesy songs about lost loves and failed ambitions only to be pleasantly surprised by a dexterous assemblage of touching songs in the songwriter tradition fused with jolly spells of rich instrumental rock. 
Faroese-Canadian songbird Lena Anderssen was on the warm-up duties for Jonas Alaska as part of her promotional tour for her latest albumLetters from The Faroes. Anderssen played a short, albeit entertaining, set that included tracks such as ‘Stones in My Pocket’ off her award-winning album, Let Your Scars Dance, exiting the stage as she'd come onto it, humbly and with a smile on her face. 
The night's main act, Jonas Alaska, stepped onto the scene armed with his guitar and sporting his recognisable gentlemanly hat and proceeded to break the ice with a short solo performance before his backing band swarmed around him and lifted the venue’s mood.  Alaska's backing, which included his brother on the drums, were the perfect merry antidote to some of the more melancholic solo tracks of the evening and the contrast between both moods made for pleasant listening. 
At one moment, I found myself dancing and swaying to heavily instrumental Bluegrass boogies and at another, stood completely still in a contemplative mood, numbed by solos of songs such as ‘October’, a track about losing a friend at a young age. The evening peaked with Alaska's performance of the up-tempo ‘In the Backseat’ – a tune off his eponymous 2012 album that sounds even better live.  
It's difficult to say whether Alaska is best as a solo performer or backed by a band, though in both capacities his vocal range, charisma and the ease with which he plays are very impressive. He also sounds strangely similar to Coner Oberst of the American indie band Bright Eyes, which can only be a good thing.  The audience at Vega were certainly spellbound by his musicianship on Tuesday evening, so much so that he re-appeared not once but twice after the curtain call, first with a cover of Neil Young and thereafter with a take on ‘Swine Flue Blues’, a spoof of Bob Dylan's ‘Tombstone Blues’. 

mandag den 19. november 2012

Orbital at Vega

Orbital: As good today as they were two decades ago

Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk
***** (5 stars out of 6); November 14 at Store Vega
With this kind of press photo, you can't see that the brothers have aged in the past two decades – and neither has their sound
Rewind the clock to the late 80s/early 90s in the UK. Practically every major news tabloid is crammed with one headline after another documenting the cultural phenomenon that has become known as 'Acid house'.  The rave scene is at its primordial best, propelled by a nation of discontented citizens who are changing England's reputation as a nation of hooligans to that of one nation under a groove.  Bands like Tangerine Dream, 808 State and Orbital are at the forefront of the musical and cultural revolution, playing a blend of space-age electronic music that's heavy on the use of short, often-looped samples and squelchy synthesiser inputs. 
Now, fast forward a good few years to Wednesday night at Store Vega. Orbital are on stage performing to a venue that's far from sold out.  Phil and Paul Hartnoll, the two brothers who make up the band, seem as energetic as ever as they step onto the pitch black stage with their characteristic bright torches on either side of their heads. A few white flashes later, and the brothers have tucked themselves behind a massive array of analogue instruments, flanked by an elaborate series of light devices and smoke canisters that form the colossal spacecraft-like stage on which they will perform.   
‘Time Becomes,’ the opening track of their eponymous 1993 album is the first of many good tunes on the evening as the looped sample of a Michael Doorn line from Star Trek shatters the silence. This is followed by a series of short tracks in quick succession during which samples from Belinda Carlisle's 'Heaven is a Place on Earth' and Bon Jovi's 'You Give Love a Bad Name' do their bit to woo the commercial-music appetite of the Danish crowd. 
Midway through the show and Orbital are in fifth gear. The songs are longer and more driven and the light show that accompanying them is out of this world. The stage is aflame in a kaleidoscope of clashing colours and neon beams that criss-cross the fog-filled haze. Down below, the crowd, most of whom are in their 30s and 40s are awestruck, much like this reviewer. The last time the floor reverberated as it did on Thursday night had to be back when dubstep mammoths Skream and Benga performed in 2010, so credit is due for the brilliant acoustics on the evening. 
The show ends as it started, with the Hartnoll brothers exiting the pitch black stage after the curtain call, their faces alight with the content of two seasoned veterans of the electronic music scene. If Orbital are as good as they were in Vega on Wednesday, I can only wonder what they must have been like when they first burst onto the scene at the start of the 90s.  

søndag den 28. oktober 2012

Fifteen minutes in the company of Lena Anderssen

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview one of the most endearing singer / songwriters around on a cold October morning. Lena Andressen is a Canadian - Faroese musician with four studio albums out, including her latest, "Letters From The Faroes."  The recently dropped album has been selected as the album of the year in The Faroe islands, and Lena is currently on tour promoting it.  "Letters from The Faroes" is as inventive and as intimate an album as you'll ever find and can be purchased at Lena's website:

Here's most of my brief morning interview with lena:

Your latest album letters From The Faroes, which was released in Denmark yesterday am I right ? It seems like a really interesting album, could you tell us a bit about it ? What's the inspiration behind it ?

Yes it came out yesterday and it's inspired by the feeling of being uprooted, the constant longing for elsewhere that I sometimes tend to feel. I've grown up in Cananda and on The Faroe islands so i've always tended to long for one thing or another and this sense of longing, of uprootedness is reflected in Letters From The Faroes.

The cover design is pretty unique too., as a letter with stamps and love hearts on it Was this your own idea ?

Well it was mine and Niclas, the guy I write most of my stuff with. The idea was to bring back a bit of feeling as far as the art of letters being something that is dying or certainly something that is less common. The CD case feels and looks like a letter, which brings back the idea of feeling being involved in music. Letters from the Faroes, the album title refers to the songs on the CD, which for me are like different letters that capture the state of mind that i'm in at the time I write them.

You're playing quite a few gigs around Denmark to promote the album over the next few weeks. What is like to play here ?

It's always nice to play in Denmark. I think my music is appreciated here. Of course it's different from one venue to another. Some places are really loud, really noisy whilst others can be quiet and cosy and everyone listens to you. Generally it's always a pleasure to play here.

Most Danes don't know much about the Faroe Islands, For me they're this picturesque magical place- that's the image that springs to my mind when I think of them. What are the islands actually like ?

(smiling) It's sad that many Danes don't know much about them- they are a part of Denmark too. Well The Faroes are 18 small islands in the middle of the Atlantic. The weather can be pretty bad - there's a lot of wind and sometimes it feels like there are four seasons in one day, so if you're into weather extremes this is the place to be. There are actually a lot of people from the Faroe islands who play music, and I think this has to do with the fact that they're quite an isolated place, so we're always looking to express ourselves somehow.

Do you also sing in Faroese ?

I haven't recorded any songs in Faroese, no and this is mainly because English is my native language which makes it a lot easier for me in the songwriting process. I speak and write Faroese but for my music it's much easier to do things in English.

What inspires you in the process of writing your music ?

When I write songs I try to convey a state of mind that i'm in at the time so it's very spontaneous. Sometimes I feel happy, or sad, or if I feel like dying or whatever emotion it is that's going through me. Sunsets and sunrises and other natural phenomena are all background inspirations but not part of the main process as such. My songs are sometimes a way for me to overcome certain emotions, they have a bit of a therapeutic effect whilst at the same time telling some story or other.

What music do you listen to when you're not playing your own songs ?

Well anything really. I'm really inspired by songs that trigger an emotion in me, songs that make me do something or want to do something. Of course these songs can be anything really, The Beatles, you name it.

Photo: NJ Photo /

tirsdag den 23. oktober 2012

Tako Lako on the headlines again

Here's yet another article about the Danish band Du Jour, Tako Lako, who're currently promoting their debut album with different concerts around Denmark. Here's a review of their concert at Loppen, Christiania by Copenhagen Post journalist Emily Mclean and a stock photo by myself. 

(Original article at:

Gypsy beats casts a strong spell

Emily McLean

****** (6 stars out of 6); Oct 19 at Loppen
While they may look laid back here, Tako Lako put on a wild performance at Loppen (Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk)
While it’s hard to put words to the experience that was Tako Lako (which means ‘that easy’ in Serbian) here goes: wild, haunting, innovative and captivating.
Classifying themselves in the genre of ‘psychedelic gypsy’, their unique sound and their thematic party performances make it easy to see why this band is a rising star on the European scene.
Performing at Loppen on Friday night, the venue provided the dark raw backdrop this band craves while the crowd (consisting of die-hard fans and a few intrigued first timers) gave it one heck of a party atmosphere.
Opening with 'Tako je Lako'Loppen heaved with the energy of this band that effortlessly cast a spell over the audience. It felt as if we were at friend’s birthday party, with seven of our best friends performing rather than just some talented strangers.
Unlike so many bands that have great sound but lack energy onstage, these guys were the whole package. Lead singer Ognjen Curcic gave 130 percent, narrating the night with his infamous Eastern European accent that had us feeling like we had stumbled into Count Dracula’s castle.
The crowd really began to move, jump and let go when 'Overdose' was belted out and it was uphill from there with 'Regards from Serbia', 'Silicone Buzz' and 'The Rest of Us'.
Each band member had their moment to shine. Violinist Søren Stensby Hansen was a stand-out, taking the meaning of ‘rock star violinist’ to a new level, while bassist Philip Zubin Køppen proved that with exceptional skill and a few crazy roof climbs the bass isn’t just a background instrument.
By the time 'GrimyBoy' and 'The Fate' were performed, the crowd was drunk with Balkan beats and let go − literally. Die hard fans ripped their shirts off while the most reserved of dancers flung their limbs around, and the band’s energy went to a whole new level.
The set list ended with 'Eastern Delights'by which time both musicians and fans were spent.
Tako Lako wasn’t ready to end the party there though, emerging for another three numbers including the epic 'Rupa je Rupa 3.0'. The party reluctantly came to a close after 'Kickstart' and in heroic fashion, Curcic was carried off the stage by a few of his half-naked fans.

onsdag den 17. oktober 2012

Young Believers' performance matched the weather

Original article available at: 

Or in today's version of The Copenhagen Post 

Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk
*** (3 stars out of 6); October 13 at Store Vega
The Choir of Young Believers didn't bring their A-game Saturday night (PR photo)
Choir of Young Believers returned to Store Vega for their second concert of the year at the venue on Saturday.  Led by frontman Jannis Noya Makrigiannis, the believers managed to brighten up the damp, dark evening with a solid show that featured some of the band’s revered hits along with a few songs off their latest album Rhine Gold. Ultimately though, the evening failed to truly take off despite the best efforts of the internationally-acclaimed Danish indie pop band.
Makrigiannis and company took the stage as the last act of the evening, following performances by 4 Guys from the Future and One Year from Home. A combination of technical glitches and sound problems resulted in poor opening sets, which weren't made any shorter by a stiff audience in a venue that was far from its usual capacity. It was clear from the start that this was going to be an uphill struggle for Choir of Young Believers, who went on almost a good half an hour later than they should have. This notwithstanding, the indie pop band were sharp, if not witty, during the entirety of their performance as they did their best to rescue what had been a disappointing couple of hours.
The musical career of Choir of Young Believers received a shot in the arm back in February when they dropped their highly revered second album Rhine Gold, an album that saw the band cultivate the heavily acoustic sound fused with dark, contemplative lyrics that they have become associated with.  Saturday's show featured several tracks off the album, but the live versions failed to match the band’s studio work.  
The confident Makrigianni's sharply inclined vocals plucked away at a rigid backdrop of emphatic synthesiser stabs and wistful guitar combinations that created a dreamy, progressive atmosphere in the concert hall right from the word go. As the show progressed, however, an overwhelming sense of repetitiveness descended on the venue, as many of the songs began to sound a lot like each other. This, coupled with paltry crowd, dampened the otherwise dextrous musicianship by the Believers, and cemented the final brick in what was ultimately a lukewarm concert.

tirsdag den 16. oktober 2012

Meet Dan Thatsme

Promo shots of my mate Dan Presencer, of Dan Thatsme: 

Check his music out at :