SHINING - One One One
When Shining were founded by Jørgen Munkeby in 1999, one of his intentions must have been to build a contrast to Jaga Jazzist, of whom he was a member back then. The two first Shining albums apparently were some kind of acoustic jazz music, but I only got to know them with their third album In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster when they switched to the experimental label Rune Grammofon. They had reinvented themselves by adding elements of progressive rock, metal, avant-garde and contemporary classical music. This was even refined on its successor Grindstone. It seems as if Shining always have to try something radically new after two albums, as their next album Blackjazz saw their music stripped down to a much harsher sound. Shortly before that seminal album, the Norwegians were touring and even collaborating with progressive black metal band Enslaved, which left its traces. Also they wanted to come up with a studio sound that was easier to reproduce on stage. After the live album Live Blackjazz, they are now back with One One One, which again works on what they did on the predecessor, but this time the band does completely without the long forms that they performed on Blackjazz, and instead offering nine tracks that are all more or less four minutes long, resulting in an actually rather short sixth studio record.
For all those many people who, just like me, got to know the band at their most colourful sound during their second stage, it was of course hard to stomach their new stylistic orientation which was much closer to metal than anything they did before. And even some more open-minded progressive listeners are now deterred by the even more simplistic approach on One One One. But actually I see the new album as another step forward, and even if on a subjective level, Grindstone will remain forever my favourite Shining CD, I like the idea of a band that never repeats itself.
One One One starts immediately with a blast. The single I Won’t Forget is a raw cut of bloody red meat that shows that the band’s idea of blackjazz, meaning something like a mix between black metal and jazz, can be reduced to the concise length of a song ready to be played on more adventurous radio stations. The songwriting is really great: the chorus is an instant success, the screamed vocals have just the right amount of aggression to convey its message, and the saxophone solo (unfortunately not present on the single edit) is a wonderful tribute to early King Crimson. As a matter of fact, Jørgen Munkeby no longer plays the vast array of instruments as in his past, but concentrates his energies on the guitar, saxophone and of course vocals.
It is obvious that Shining took great care to make the nine songs sound like an entity, and therefore it is hard to pick out any standout tracks, as the musicians constantly act on an incredibly high level. The music may, on the surface, be simpler than what they did before, but the technical skills are still impression and much superior to those of most other bands. Just listen to the whacky synth intro of My Dying Drive, the torturous vocals of Off The Hook, the free jazz sax extravaganza of How Your Story Ends, or any other part of One One One, and you will understand my excitement with Shining.
It’s hard to describe their music, as Shining are one of the few bands that really does its very own thing. Like the Cardiacs hitting it off with Grumpy Cat, Shining make their very own kind of hyperactive noise music, always finding the right balance between free jazz and extreme metal. At times you might feel reminded of industrial bands like Nine Inch Nails or Ministry, but in the end Shining always sound warmer, more organic and definitely more fun.
And thus One One One is another success story for this great Norwegian band, and I am quite convinced that their next studio album will show us once again an entirely new face of this band of chameleons. As for now, they never stuck to their sound for more than two studio albums.