- Space disco and black metal; it tends to be a two horse race when it comes to chasing down the overseas press snippets about Norwegian music. But if you read between the lines, you'd quickly find that the house bug has long infected a considerable amount of Norwegians, and well before outsiders added the cosmic prefix to the word disco.
This scene has been particularly vibrant in Oslo and Bergen, and has run almost completely in sync with Glasgow Underground, one of the most respected labels in European house music history. The imprint was among the first to celebrate what was going on in Oslo with a 2001 mix CD entitled Skansen Music. Skansen was a former public lavatory turned underground house mecca with excellent guest DJ selections (Maurice Fulton, Idjut Boys, Kenny Hawkes and many more) being made by then music coordinator, DJ G-Ha, now a resident at Sunkissed. (For lack of a better word and as to better compete in the bizarre genre naming stakes, this four-four Scando movement has often been referred to as "Skranglehouse," which more or less translates as a bit of everything, from dub to disco, jammed within a resonant floor-friendly house pulse.)
Picking up on this vibrant underground house scene towards the end of the '90s was one DJ Olanski, a familiar name not only in his home city of Oslo but also in the UK as an organizer with the notoriously hip London venue Notting Hill Arts Club. Olanski found plenty to like about G-Ha's choices, and the duo soon set about building Sunkissed, an event that is not only known as Norway's finest house music night but also one that can compete with the best Europe has to offer in regard to atmosphere, attendance (almost 1,000 every party) and big name acts. Coming up on ten years in 2010, Sunkissed has seen the likes of Richie Hawtin, Ricardo Vilalobos, Andrew Weatherall, Carl Craig and many more grace the decks.
Sunkissed nights don't just allow the big name acts to mop up all the fervor of the main room space at its usual home Blå, though. A large part of the night's success has been due to the shape of the club—it was one of the first club nights to favor a DJ booth in the middle of the dance floor—and a fine squad of Norwegian spinners who have often produced epic back room or front room warm-up sets. Some of these homemade Sunkissed highlights have come courtesy of house don Vinny Villbass, the leftfield disco producer Diskjokke and DJ Strangefruit, perhaps better known outside of Norway for his exotic and highly acclaimed Mungolian Jet Set project.
The last Sunkissed of 2009 belonged, though, to the distinctly tribal, and occasionally percussive, techy sounding live show of Reboot with resident DJs Olanski and G-Ha in the main room, while Vinny Villbass, Diskjokke and Strangefruit tried to keep the specially prepared second room warm. A solid and seamless build up in the main room from G-Ha followed by Olanski had an already near-to-full club moving while the second room seemed to be just waiting to go. The latter was draped with potential, but legal restrictions denied revelers the option to carry drinks across the open street from the main club room to the temporary second room space, cutting the flow that the space so deserved. This room hit dips and peaks throughout the night as people left and re-entered, while the main room stayed steady with a more solid, robust and powerful build up.
By the time that DJ Strangefruit had hit a note with the dance floor through a melange of disco and Mungolian FX, Reboot had grabbed the rammed main room with a tribal tech house groove. As the latter sound has flooded the Juno charts and many German and Spanish clubs the past two years, it could be argued that Reboot is simply riding a wave of hype. Tell that to the hordes dancing to the last half-hour of his epic live set, though. The packed dance floor, the lighting and Reboot were all reading from the same script on this night, and as the lights went up, there was a panorama view that would have seemed all the more familiar in the big clubbing days of the '90s and early '00s in the UK. Hands in the air and wailing for more, the crowd eventually left calmly with a sense of great satisfaction. And who could blame them? After all, next month they'd be back at it again at one of Europe's premiere club nights.