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SHINING

RIO/Avant-Prog • Norway


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Shining picture
Shining biography
Founded in Oslo, Norway in 1999

Background:
"First period"
Shining was formed in 1999 by Jørgen Munkeby (guitar, sax and various instruments) when he moved from his hometown of Tønsberg to Oslo to study in the Norwegian State Academy of Music. As he has been playing in bands ever since he was ten years old, he wished to form a new one in Oslo. In this new school there was a good opportunity for him to choose musicians for this project of his and he chose three he thought to be the best. This new band started playing Jørgen's music he wrote for the band and also performed in several shows as a support band, in which Jørgen says the band gave highly energetic shows, playing loud and fast. In 2001 the band released their first album, Where The Ragged People Go on "bp Records", and in 2003 after a tour in China, they released Sweet Shanghai Devil on "Jazzland Records". These two albums are strictly acoustic jazz music, with much improvisation and with a hardcore feeling which is due to the way they were recorded - "Ragged was recorded with only two microphones, S S Devil with three". Jørgen say that they set themselves rules of how they should and should not play. However by the time they released those two albums, they felt those rules are too restricting for them, preventing them to do something else, more varied.

Photo by Christoffer Krook

"Second period"
Since the band members were playing and composing in other bands as well (for instance, Jørgen and Morten playing in Jaga Jazzist) they were exposed and experienced in playing other types of music. For their next album they used as many instruments as they could, and took advantage of everything they could in studios to get the mixed genre result that is In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster, which was released through Rune Grammofon in 2005. Shining's lineup was reinforced after that album with a new bassist and keyboards player (Andreas Schei from Jaga Jazzist). 2007 sees the release of Grindstone which continues Kingdom's sound and progresses from it as well.

Music:
In their two albums, In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster and Grindstone, once you get passed the aggressiveness and noisy parts, and give the album a proper listen, you will realize there is a lot that is missed on initial listening. Additional layers of music reveal themselves, more instruments ar...
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SHINING discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SHINING top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.13 | 12 ratings
Where The Ragged People Go
2001
3.03 | 13 ratings
Sweet Shanghai Devil
2003
3.70 | 37 ratings
In The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster
2005
4.18 | 70 ratings
Grindstone
2007
3.84 | 104 ratings
Blackjazz
2010
3.51 | 24 ratings
One One One
2013
3.19 | 13 ratings
International Blackjazz Society
2015
2.02 | 9 ratings
Animal
2018

SHINING Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.25 | 8 ratings
Live Blackjazz
2011

SHINING Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.14 | 7 ratings
Live Blackjazz
2011

SHINING Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SHINING Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.16 | 6 ratings
Fisheye
2010

SHINING Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Animal by SHINING album cover Studio Album, 2018
2.02 | 9 ratings

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Animal
Shining RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

1 stars After "Blackjazz," SHINING got increasingly more commercial by jettisoning its prog and jazz complexities after adopting a heavier extreme metal style with vocals but after that high note that caught the world's avant-garde metal and prog communities by storm, this Norwegian band led by Jørgen Munkeby seemed to be going for a crossover appeal that would hopefully thrill alternative metalheads and hard rockers worldwide. By the time we get to the band's eighth studio album ANIMAL everything progressive and jazz had been totally abandoned and even the metal was tamped down in order to make a watered down form of alternative heavy rock that sounded more like heavier versions of the Stone Temple Pilots or Foo Fighters than anything that came before.

ANIMAL was recorded by the same lineup as "International Blackjazz Society" except that it added bassist Ole Vistnes who replaced Tor Egil Kreken. Most surprisingly of all is that the famous saxophone squawking that had been one of the few common denominators starting with the early post-bop albums and through the experimental King Crimson inspired prog era had been completely dropped for the first time leaving a completely jazz-free album that was focused on the more commercial side of alternative and industrial rock. Gone too are Munkeby's frenetic Marilyn Manson vocals (for the most part) and replaced by cleaner bad boy band style parts. It goes without saying that SHINING was not interested in pleasing prog and avant-garde crowds any longer and wanted to make some ca$H.

Some tracks like "Fight Song" sound a bit like if Soundgarden hooked up with Muse but ultimately comes off as a cheap imitation rather than something either original or interesting even as pop rock. The album features nine tracks and plays for 38 minutes while featuring one of the least diverse albums of the band's career although there are a few slow numbers amongst the rather by the numbers hard-hitting alternative rock guitar riff fueled tunes. For anyone who thought that SHINING's inspiration was limitless, ANIMAL will prove that even a once highly creative and fertile wellspring of ideas can suddenly dry up when hair brained ideas of commercial crossover potential creeps into the picture.

Who's to say why Munkeby steered the band in this direction. There are many reasons artists go for a more commercial direction and some of them may be quite legit but when it comes to actual execution on ANIMAL, all i can is that this is a very hard one to sit through as it's completely devoid of inspiration and about as canned as it gets. It reminds me of some of the prog bands of the late 70s that grasped for straws to see if they could fit in with the pop hits of the day but even Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "Love Beach" sounds like a classic masterpiece in comparison to this limp biscuit. This is one to be avoided at all costs even if you happen to love commercial leaning alternative rock. This is just shamefully bad in about every possible way. Will Munkeby pull off another inventive move to revive SHINING's sagging career? It's anyone's guess but if ANIMAL is any indication, SHINING's moment has long expired.

 International Blackjazz Society by SHINING album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.19 | 13 ratings

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International Blackjazz Society
Shining RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars Having scored with the their international breakthrough "Blackjazz" in 2010, SHINING had hit upon an ever evolving formula that focuses on caustic extreme metal as the main driving force of their once jazz and prog fueled escapes that dominated the first four albums but despite this cementing of sounds into a more cohesive whole still wriggled around a bit from album to album as "One One One" tried to tighten things up even further in order to create a more accessibly although equal brutal listening experience.

It seems that after "Blackjazz" bandleader and main creative force Jørgen Munkeby tasted a bit of success and pondered the possibilities of the much desired crossover success that many less complex bands consistently enjoy. The result was in yet another simplification in the industrial metal approach that "One One One" refined yet still had elements of extremity beyond the comfort zone of all but the most hardcore extremophiles. Having adopted the "Blackjazz" album title as sort of a musical ethos of sort, SHINING attempted to capitalize on its notoriety and titled its seventh studio INTERNATIONAL BLACKJAZZ SOCIETY.

As was a given at this point, this album features another lineup change only this time with the departure of longtime original drummer Torstein Lofthus whose technical drumming prowess was becoming less relevant as Munkeby strived for a greater crossover appeal. Taking his place was Tobias Ørnes Andersen whose simpler approach took SHINING's industrial metal sound out the more frenetic world and more in the direction of mainstream artists like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. Despite the simplification the band once again became a quintet with the addition of keyboardist Eirik Tovsrud Knutsen.

Despite the "Blackjazz" title appearing in INTERNATIONAL BLACKJAZZ SOCIETY, there is not much on this one to bring back all those extreme adventures into prog complexity laced with jazz and avant-garde Western classical compositional fortitude. Instead this one is more of a simplified form of alternative metal with easy to follow song structures that adds a bit of industrial heft as well as the occasional saxophone squawks that have become less and less significant after "Blackjazz" to the point where Munkeby dropped the sax altogether on the following album "Animal."
 While the guitars have that ballsy bluesy alternative metal sound that was common in the 90s, the drumming styles often mimic industrial metal bands like Ministry, Marilyn Manson and other late 90s / early 2000s similarly minded artists. Once again Munkeby's vocal style mimics Marilyn Manson with those scream as loud as you can from beneath the swells of distorted din affect and still maintains an eccentric edge despite the music being tamped down for broader acceptance to the point where tracks like "House Of Warship" are more hard rock than metal however these less frenetic tracks also feature more saxophone squawks. On slower parts his screams are replaced by a more generic alternative rock style of vocals.

Overall this one is a major step down in SHINING's quality control and clearly geared towards crossover appeal but unfortunately the result is a rather boring album for those on the prog side of the fence and not melodic or interesting enough for a straight on industrial metal type of albums. The melodic hooks aren't memorable, the tracks while somewhat diverse aren't as interesting and the overall effect is fairly weak not only compared to SHINING's previous canon but in the context of both alternative metal and industrial rock. It's not a bad album by any means and decent enough but unlike everything that came before comes off as a bit hollow.

 One One One by SHINING album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.51 | 24 ratings

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One One One
Shining RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Anyone who has kept up with the Norwegian band SHINING can only come to the inevitable conclusion that the mastermind and band leader Jørgen Munkeby is one of those restless creative types who can't sit still for too long and with the exception of the band's two debut albums which focused on a retro style of avant-garde post-bop jazz in the spirit of 60s John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, SHINING has practically reinvented itself every step of the way but somehow retained a bit of what came before only teased things out in unexpected directions that the fans could hardly see coming.

After 2010's breakthrough album "Blackjazz," SHINING latched onto a heavier extreme metal sound that caught on with a fanbase no doubt inspired by a lengthy tour with fellow Norwegiains Enslaved but that album still retained those extreme journeys through myriad musical genera that not only adopted the more extreme sounds of black industrial metal but retained the reverie of a classic King Crimson album as it equally reveled in dark psychedelic atmospheres laced with psycho-jazz interludes and over the top progressive rock workouts with the compositional fortitude of 20th century classical avant-gardists.

Never content to simply repeat a formula, for their next act SHINING reinvented its sound once again with that same tightrope act of keeping just enough of what came before to make it obvious it's the same band (first two albums excepted) and thrown onto the work table to craft an entirely new Frankenstein. As evidenced by the stark contrast of the album cover art of "Blackjazz," with the band's following sixth studio album ONE ONE ONE sported a glowing neon orange packaging and so too did the musical style shift gears and take a complete 180 into a more direct extreme metal experience that focuses on quick streamlined molten attacks rather than sprawling prog fueled eccentricities.

Another album, another lineup change with the two members Even Helte Hermansen (guitar) and Bernt Moen (keyboards) leaving the band and the addition of newbie guitarist Håkon Sagen thus making the band a quartet once again with absolutely no guest musicians to be found. This new streamlined attack of jazzified industrial metal featured an incessant barrage of guitar and bass riffs and hefty percussive workouts in conjunct with Munkeby's eccentric vocal screams that in this case sound a bit like Marilyn Manson in his 90s heyday although the keyboards still exist as supplemental atmospheric generators despite not appearing in the credits. Another unique feature about ONE ONE ONE is the tamping down of the jazz elements with Munkeby's sizzling sax squawks only making a rare appearance now and again.

ONE ONE ONE for all its wild and rambunctious metal mania sounds more based compositionally speaking in good old-fashioned rock and roll with a boogie-woogie swagger but dressed up in extreme metal regalia with extremely fast tempos and dissonant guitar distortion. This is one incessant noisefest from beginning to end with only brief moments of contrast such as the solo saxophone intro of "How Your Story Ends." Other than that it's high octane guitar, bass and drum rampage for the album's run which at 36 minutes of playing time is significantly shorter than the band's sprawling escapades into the avant-garde universe and beyond of its previous three albums.

As with all SHINING albums, this one is certainly an acquired taste but compared to everything that came before also the most accessible with instant gratification as far as melodic hooks getting under your skin however it wouldn't be SHINING if there wasn't some sort of barrage of elements that make its products difficult listening music. As far as the prog goes, ONE ONE ONE seems more early Yes than King Crimson with riffs that resemble that intro part of "Heart Of The Sunrise" ramped up in both speed and volume but ultimately ONE ONE ONE is much more interested in fleshing out pop hooks nurtured in the context of caustic industrial metal bombast. It's true that SHINING will find few who stick around for long but for hardcore extremophiles, ONE ONE ONE is another interesting twist in this unique band's alternate reality.

 Blackjazz by SHINING album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.84 | 104 ratings

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Blackjazz
Shining RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars After two albums of classic 60s avant-garde tinged post-bop jazz and two more of dark experimental progressive rock laced with auxiliary reserves of tripped out electronica and partitioned metal music bombast, SHINING led by the eccentric composer and band leader Jørgen Munkeby decided to delve into the heavier world of extreme metal that trimmed down the musical instruments even more and focused on a caustic rambunctious style of guitar driven metal with crazy jazz flair ups courtesy of Munkeby's frenetic saxophone squawking.

Another sound shift also signified yet another change in the lineup. Out was keyboardist Andreas Hessen Schei replaced by synthesizer wizard Bernt Moen and gone was basset Morten Strøm who found a replacement in Tor Egil Kreken. Torstein Lofthus stuck around for this third wave of stylistic shifts as drumming powerhouse extraordinary and the band added one extra member in the form of Even Helte Hermansesn as a second guitarist thus making the new version of SHINING a provocative and quixotic quartet. While the previous albums were primarily instrumental, SHINING's fourth album BLACKJAZZ was their breakthrough and featured a frenetic fast-tempo paced style of industrialized metal with Munkeby taking on the newfound duties as lead vocalist.

One of the major inspirations behind this sudden shift into extreme metal was the band's 2007 tour with Enslaved and also due to the fact that the previous two ridiculously complex albums didn't translate so well live therefore BLACKJAZZ was designed to represent how the band performed in a live setting with the album title referring to this new bizarre amalgamation of black metal, industrial rock and of course jazz! The album exists in the same league as fellow Norwegian band Dødheimsgard and in many ways Munkeby's frantic vocal style reminds me of Devin Townsend especially from his earlier years on Steve Vai's "Sex & Religion" album as well as with Strapping Young Lad.

BLACKJAZZ doesn't waste any time slapping you in the face with caustic swells of guitar riffs, bantering bass lines and spastic drum rolls but for all its direct assault on the senses, the musical flow is much simpler with less detours into psychedelic atmospheric journeys into another universe. The second track "Fisheye" dates back to the 2008 when SHINING performed with Enslaved at the 90-minute "Armageddon Concerto" and was mined to create the studio version of the first movement. It seems that this decision was the impetus to switching to the avant-garde industrial metal style on BLACKJAZZ and for those hoping for another dark prog journey in the vein of King Crimson's debut, they must have been as disappointed as the jazz purists who first heard SHINING's third album "In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster."

Ubiquitous caustic bombast aside, BLACKJAZZ is filled with creepy and oft eerie atmospheric backdrops that keep the incessant high octane metal rampages into the world of darkened progressive rock with highbrow time signature workouts, intricately designed atmospheric generators and brilliant execution through highly energetic but adventurous virtuosity. While saxophone jazz mixed with metal has become a bit cliche some ten years after this release, nobody has pulled it off quite as well as SHINING did when such a concept was still a novelty. All those King Crimson attacks are still quite present to the trained ear with the most striking example coming on "Exit Sun" which mimics parts of "21st Century Schizoid Man" which also happens to appear as a more metal cover version as the album's closer.

As the album entered mid-point with the crazed "Healter Skelter," the jazz and metal parts become ever more entwined with the saxophone parts dueling in a death match with the rampaging guitar and bass lines. This particular score is daunting in its virtuosic delivery. For those who appreciated the less bombastic approach of the previous two albums, BLACKJAZZ does deliver some darkened prog goods in the form of Anekdoten or Morte Macabre on tracks like "The Madness and the Damage Done" and most importantly "Omen" although do be warned that the quickened pace fo the drums, vocals and guitar parts which contrast quite starkly with the chilled out atmospheric backdrop offers a stunning contrast of stylistic approaches somehow woven together seamlessly as only true seasoned composers can master but it's probably the excesses of "Blackjazz Deathtrance" that i find most memorable here.

After a more extreme version of "21st Century Schizoid Man," the classic King Crimson song from 1969 that pretty much was the firing canon of the entire prog explosion that followed, the album ends and leaves you with the initial perception that you're not entirely sure what you just experienced. BLACKJAZZ performed an incredible mastery of fusing completely disparate musical styles into a seamless whole. The caustic metal mixes with jazz and what sounds like symphonic classical music is uncanny in how well it all gels together. Sure this isn't black metal and it isn't jazz but elements of both are here hanging out on the same playground along with their buddies prog rock, electronica, industrial rock, 20th century Western classical and moments of psychedelia.

This is not an easy listen for sure and will take some time for it to unleash its magic but once those sonic spores have hatched in your head, you cannot unhear it! In my world this is the second masterpiece in a row from the Norwegian band SHINING and although they wouldn't keep the world's attention very long after this lauded breakthrough, for a brief moment in time they were actually one of Norway's most promising bands. Warning: not to be listened to if you have severe reactions to extreme stimuli! Symptoms may include sanity loss, ringing ears, excessive desires to bang head against wall and possible sudden outbursts that could leave hotel rooms in shambles. However if you have all those uncontrollable impulses firmly under lock and key, this album may provide that exhilarating excitement that extremophiles crave but rarely find in such abundance.

 Grindstone by SHINING album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.18 | 70 ratings

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Grindstone
Shining RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars Traversing the soundscapes like a majestic bird soaring over ever changing terrains of the land, the Norwegian band SHINING started off as a pure acoustic jazz tribute to the 1960s biggest post-bop avant-gardists including the legendary John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman but after two albums of excellent altar worshipping decided to add a bit more of experimental conviction to the mix as bandleader Jørgen Munkeby bravely plunged into a strange new world of sonic possibilities which equally dazzled critics and fans of unhinged experimental music. With the eccentrically designed "In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster," Munkeby deftly crafted the intricacies of classical composer Olivier Messiaen and freeform jazz with the sonic textures of electronica and progressive rock and caught the world's attention with this bizarre new agglutination of disparate musical genera.

The transition may have been necessary but came at a cost. Two of the original members jumped ship and wanted no part of this pioneering pilgrimage to the altar of some bizarre musical chimera as Munkeby cast his intent on following in the more esoteric sounds of early King Crimson. Out was pianist Morten Qvenild who was replaced with Andreas Hessen Schei and quickly following his exit strategy, bassist Aslak Hartberg was replaced by Morten Strøm. Having updated the band into a modern 21st century powerhouse of musical mojo, SHINING now gleamed like a shiny diamond and released its lauded followup GRINDSTONE which found a much more focused and oft direct stylistic approach after the airy abstract improvisational sounds of its predecessor. Instrumentation was tamped down from the excesses of "In The Kingdom" and found the simpler rock setup of keyboards, bass guitar and drums accompanied by Munkeby's usual jazz standard of saxophone, flute and clarinet with his extra guitar contributions finding greater roles. Likewise the guest musicians were limited to a gong, extra organ touches and backing vocals.

Ironically GRINDSTONE opens with a track that bears the title of the previous album. "In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster" actually refers to a reference in the novel "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" but puts an extra emphasis on the "monster" part as the title which signifies a newfound love for the bombast of metal music with crunchy distorted guitar riffs chugging away in a caustic bravado worthy of scoring that role as opening act with extreme metal stalwarts Enslaved which the band opened for at the end of 2007. During these concerts SHINING would end their show with a cover of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" further cementing comparisons to the great KC. GRINDSTONE certainly comes off as a 21st century counterpart to KC's classic debut "In The Court of the Crimson King" with an ineffable trans-genera journey through myriad stylistic approaches that incorporate everything form the metal bombast experienced at the beginning of the album to the more fluid avant-garde classical and jazz experiments that meander unexpectedly throughout GRINDSTONE's 44 minute running time.

After the slap in the face chug-fest of the opening track, "Winterreise" follows the energetic delivery but adds an interesting mix of Baroque piano runs, atmospheric gloominess in movie soundtrack form and special detail to mixing heavier prog guitar heft with more symphonic escapades. "Stalemate Longan Runner" delves deeper into the Crimson court with angular guitar riffs coinciding with avant-jazz motifs and more heavenly atmospheric constructs. This trilogy of heavy rock bombast is separated from the rest of the album with the short "To Be Proud of Crystal Colors Is to Live Again" which evokes a music box and sets the stage for Act II which beings with another Crimsonian allusion in the title of "Moonchild Mindgames" which takes an avant-garde journey into the bizarr-o-sphere much like KC's 69 classic "Moonchild" as it meanders from classical light as a feather motifs to the heavy jazz rock bombast "The Red Room" which takes a jazzier approach on KC's "Red" only with hyperactive sax squawks that would make John Zorn proud.

"Asa Nisi Masa" in its brevity delivers the bombastic heft of metal guitar punctuated with off-kilter time signatures with a unique atmospheric dread and processed vocals followed by the second coming of "Crystal Colors" in full music box form. "Psalm" gets even weirder with the same processed vocal parts, a dramatic horror flick melody and the female soprano parts of Ashild Sikiri Refsdal which collectively sounds like the diva dance otherworldliness out of the movie "The Fifth Element" as it lollygags through rich percussive drives, manipulated electronic effects and a series of production techniques. The tracks followed by the clever 10th track which is morse code for Bach and is indeed a short devotion to period Baroque classical sounds. As the album wraps up, it unleashes the noisy fuzz-fueled "1:4:9" that would make a good alternative soundtrack clip for horror flicks like "The Exorcist." The closing "Flight Dusk With Dawn" continues the melody and mixes the guitar heft of KC's "Red" with avant-garde creepiness of Univers Zero's "Heresie" thus ending the album on a very noisy yet surreal unnerving effect.

Despite the extreme guitar elements which guarantee a slot in metal databases, GRINDSTONE will appeal much more to aficionados of darkened heavy prog in the vein of not only classic King Crimson but Anekdoten, Morte Macabre and even a bit of Univers Zero and Art Zoyd. The album is exquisitely crafted and i find to be one fo the best dark progressive rock albums of the 21st century with its incessant zigzagging through myriad musical motifs that take on the sonic dexterity of bands like Goblin but evoke more of a creepy reverie of some of the more out there avant-classical composers of the 20th century such as the Transylvanian born György Ligeti. The music is dynamic and crafts a menagerie of stylistic shifts throughout it's normal album playing time and straddles its tightrope act through various layers of heavy prog, atmospheric electronica and avant-garde jazz. It would've been impossible to comprehend such wild and innovative music coming from SHINING just a few years back when they were very much focused on early 60s jazz but somehow Munkeby channeled the zeitgeist of the aforementioned artists and crafted a veritable and often frightening compilation of sound effects that resulted in GRINDSTONE. This is one of those unsung masterpieces that will hopefully resonate more with others.

 In The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster by SHINING album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.70 | 37 ratings

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In The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster
Shining RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars After two albums of pure acoustic jazz that in reality resulted in competent tribute sessions to early 1960s John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, SHINING's mastermind Jørgen Munkeby decided to radically change the band's musical style on the third album IN THE KINGDOM OF KITSCH YOU WILL BE A MONSTER. The musical style was inspired by fellow Norwegian band Motorpsycho who itself had transmogrified from a typical stoner rock band to a unique classically infused progressive rock band. While this stylistic shift saw the same quartet that performed on the first two albums, there was a great shakeup of instrumentation as well as including a few guest musicians that added touches of French horn, trombone, trumpet and even tubular bells.

Munkeby continued to play his usual avant-garde jazz saxophone, flute and clarinet parts but also took on the additional duties of electric and acoustic guitars, electric bass, piano, mellotron, church organ, celestra, harmonium and accordion. He also added the unthinkable sounds of drum programming which gives the album an electronica crossover feel thus bringing SHINING into the world of nu jazz which they had decided to avoid when they started out. Pianist Morten Qvenild continued with an expanded keyboard palette that included Rhodes piano, synthesizers, clavinet, celesta, mellotron and drum machine programming but clearly was not on board with these new experimental sounds and left the band before the album was even released.

Likewise bassist Aslak Hartberg would switch to electric bass and doubling on drum machines and samplers but was also not feeling Munkeby's passion for this new weirder experimental music and left before the next album "Grindstone." The only other member that wasn't significantly affected was drummer Torstein Lofthus who continued to perform his technical percussive prowess and stuck around for the next several albums which experienced the band's most successful period. After existing in the world of jazz for a few years, the band had to reinvent itself and moved to the Rune Grammofon record label which specialized in experimental and improvisational music. From this point on SHINING would never look back at its jazz origins and continue to pioneer some of the most bizarre jazz hybridization in all of the rock universe.

IN THE KINGDOM OF KITSCH YOU WILL BE A MONSTER was strongly influenced by the French classical composer Olivier Messiaen and his complex mode of limited transposition which by definition refers to musical modes or scales that fulfill specific criteria relating to their symmetry and the repetition of their interval groups. Although inspired by the more avant-garde world of Western classical music, IN THE KINGDOM was more of a bizarre mix of progressive rock and experimental jazz that included moments of metal bombast, the latter of which would be fully unleashed on future releases. The album also featured a plethora of electronic noises by means of synthesizers and drum machines and sounds more like something Squarepusher would release than SHINING's early two albums.

While jazz purists who reveled in the band's effort to revisit the early 60s with uncanny purity may have felt betrayed, for those who long for the next prestigious example of art rock that includes an ecstatic orgy of sonic differentials, IN THE KINGDOM OF KITSCH YOU WILL BE A MONSTER is a monster indeed with avant-garde classical underpinnings teasing the sounds of acoustic jazz, industrial noise effects and progressive rock accoutrements into a spell-casting series of dreamy sequences punctuated by random sounds of cathedral organs and accordions which collectively allude to a plethora of cultural references. While this album serves more of a transition album between the jazz beginnings and the prog metal experimentalism that followed, despite existing as a unique entry in the band's canon is an intriguing and oft exhilarating listening experience.

While retro-jazz is a satisfying tool of mastery for up and coming musicians, the wealth of classic jazz negates any true need for modern releases that don't have something new to offer and luckily Munkeby got that memo. The decision to take the plunge into the unknown was a wise one as IN THE KINGDOM was well received by critics and caught the proper attention outside of the confines of Norway and despite tamping down the jazz still won the Alarm Award for best jazz album in 2006. This is indeed one of those extremely complex heady albums that dwells in abstractness and surreality and for those not indoctrinated into the complexities of avant-garde jazz and 20th century classical music dressed up with weird as [%*!#] electronica, this will probably come off as a bunch of random noise for most the album's playing time but for those who relish these rare moments of competency then this album is quite satisfying indeed. While the metal aspects are minimal at this point, the right ingredients had been sowed for a fruitful harvest that would culminate on the band's following release "Grindstone."

 Sweet Shanghai Devil by SHINING album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.03 | 13 ratings

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Sweet Shanghai Devil
Shining RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars SHINING continued its all acoustic avant-garde jazz style on its second album SWEET SHANGHAI DEVIL which featured the exact same lineup as a quartet that included founder Jørgen Munkeby on saxophone, flute and clarinet with Asiak Hartberg on acoustic bass, Torstein Lofthus on drums and Morten Qvenild on piano. While the musical compositions which were almost exclusively created by Munkeby were originals, this album found the track "Sink" composed by Morten Qvenild and a cover of John Coltrane's sizzling "Herbert West - Reanimator / After The Rain" which showcases the band's infatuation with the more avant-garde side of post-bop of the early 1960s.

While the debut "Where The Ragged People Go" was so authentic that it really could've passed as a long lost Coltrane album, the band really stepped things up on this sophomore release and therefore SWEET SHANGHAI DEVIL is chock full of more creative moments that while still sonically sounding like it could've existed on the 60s timeline, infused more avant-garde ideas that never would've been found in the world of jazz during that time and although it's still impossible to predict that the band would change gears into the more caustic world of extreme metal after this release, it is obvious that the band was finding its own voice although still distant behind the barrage of bop-fueled bass runs, jazz drumming workouts and incessant squawks of sax, clarinet and occasional flute.

The album starts off much like the first but the phrasing is much more adventurous and the four musicians have become true jazz masters by finding a completely separate musical role that conspires to become a vital sum of the larger whole. The music is every bit as talented as some of the 60s legends and the production is top notch and due to the fact that there is more creative mojo flowing on SWEET SHANGHAI DEVIL, it makes a more interesting listening experience of the two pure jazz releases. While starting out more traditional, the album really is on fire by the time the sixth track "Misery's Child" cranks out. Lofthus has become a drum playing machine with incessant barrages of complex rolls but the most prominent feature of this one are the excellent piano rolls of Morten Qvenild who has mastered the art of impressionism.

While those seeking the metal part of SHINING's career, you can skip to the next album "In The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster" which begins to adopt new ideas and to "Grindstone" for the full metal approach, SWEET SHANGHAI DEVIL is a decent pure jazz album for sure and much more developed than its predecessor. While much of the album is pure Coltrane and Ornette Coleman worship, the band had clearly honed its chops to the point where it was capable of crafting some excellent experimental rock which would put these guys on the world's stage for a short time. All in all if you are a serious jazz buff this probably won't get you overly excited as the 60s classics will forever dominate that jazz world but it's certainly not a waste of time either. The intricate musical parts is fascinating to follow. A small step up from the debut.

3.5 rounded down

 Where The Ragged People Go by SHINING album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.13 | 12 ratings

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Where The Ragged People Go
Shining RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars Not to be confused with the Swedish depressive black metal band of the same name, the Norwegian band SHINING is the baby of mastermind and primary composer, singer, guitarist and saxophonist Jørgen Munkeby who started this band as an avant-garde freeform jazz band in 1999 but had drastically shifted gears in its two decade existence ranging from extreme avant-garde jazz-fueled metal to industrial rock. In the beginning the band started as an acoustic instrumental jazz quartet that featured Munkeby on saxophone, flute and clarinet with Asiak Hartberg on acoustic bass, Torstein Lofthus on drums and Morten Qvenild on piano.

In the early 2000s Norway was the hotbed for nu jazz artists such as Jaga Jazzist and Bugge Wessesltoft who focused on fusing electronica with jazz and other genres such as soul, funk and free improvisation but SHINING which formed while the members were attending the Norwegian Academy of Music decided to go the route of the avant-garde acoustic expressions forged in the early 1960s by the legendary John Coltrane and pioneering Ornette Coleman. For anyone familiar with albums like "Black Jazz," it may come as quite the surprise that on this debut release WHERE THE RAGGED PEOPLE GO that there is no trace of rock or metal and features a pure post-bop ethos laced with avant-garde freelancing.

All eight of the tracks are original scores by Munkeby and range from disharmonic antics of "Spooks In The Hall" and "Small Steps" to the more placid numbers like "The Fool" and "Randomizer" but the album shows a strong allegiance to the early 60s stylistic approach and seems rather achronistic for an album coming out at the beginning of the 21st century. In fact if you told me this was some long lost Ornette Coleman album that was thrown in the vaults around the time "The Shape Of Jazz To Come" was released in 1959, i can't say that i wouldn't believe it to be so as the attention paid to the authenticity of the era is uncanny and there is little to distinguish SHINING from a huge number of similar jazz acts that have come and gone throughout the decades.

Considering how Munkeby ventured into the caustic cauldrons of extreme metal a few albums later, it is utterly shocking how this album sounds nothing like those future releases and may possibly qualify as the most pure jazz album to appear on metal music databases. Overall the performances on here are top notch although the creativity level is non-existence as this is very much by the books post-bop with avant-garde leanings from the classic era of jazz just before psychedelic rock and prog pushed jazz out as the dominant musical art form once and for all. While metal fans will find nothing noteworthy here and even hardcore jazz fans will not find anything revolutionary, WHERE THE RAGGED PEOPLE GO is a worthy listening experience with all those trademark 60s instrumental roles such as those cool bass runs and sax squawks. A decent jazz album for sure but if you're looking for metal skip the first two albums and go straight to SHINING's third album "In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster."

 In The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster by SHINING album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.70 | 37 ratings

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In The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster
Shining RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars Shining is a band that I find very interesting, starting off as an avant garde jazz band and then gradually adding metal, ambience and a wide variety of other ideas into their musc until it all culminated into a certain furious, aggressive sound that was simply incredible (all before then stripping that stuff away to create some albums that some would consider musical travesties, but eh). In the Kingdom of Kitsch marks the start of the addition of more wild elements into Shining's music, and in many places does feel very much like a transitional album. Many of the songs don't quite feel fully fleshed out, instead causing the album to sound more like a collection of interesting experiments that heavily use atmosphere and tone in order to establish themselves, each song focusing on a certain concept and then running with it, not really breaking too far away from it, but still exploring. This provides the album with a quality in which actively listening to it will likely be incredibly dull after a bit of time, but listening to it as background music makes it quite effective, due to the atmospheric quality the album has, giving it some of the qualities of an album utilising ambience, having decent amounts of listenability when not focusing on it.

It's the songs using saxophone that I find to be the most enjoyable here, especially the downright incredible opening track, Goretex Weather Report, which is one of the only tracks on the album that I'd consider a fully fleshed out song, building in intensity, adding distortion to what is originally quite a simple, quirky saxophone line, before a wave of distortion sweeps everything away in a grand display of power, sounding truly epic in the process, especially with the hints of violin that find their way into the song. I also adore the quieter middle section that transforms this power into a lovely little electronic break, having a more melodic edge to it rather than existing for the purpose of a building intensity. The two other songs that I find to stand out are Aleister Explains Everything, which is repetitive, yet quite unsettling in the way the saxophones sound as if they're wailing, and The Smoking Dog. This song is incredibly quirky and definitely one of the most enjoyable songs on the album for me, short, sharp bursts of saxophone play off the strange, unexpected beatboxing that just decided to exist, in an amazing manner, further pushing along the beat in a greatly entertaining way. This song in particular sounds like the band was having quite a bit of fun, although the album has that very loose, experimental feel in general, it's jst stronger here. I also adore Perdurabo, showcasing the guitar element of the band in an amazing way, and having some chilling synth and distortion, creating the effect that the main melodic line present is being sung in a pained way, or simply wildly screamed, in either case, it's really cool.

The issue arises when it comes to the fact that some other tracks I find to be quite underdeveloped, such as Romani, which is structured around a single crescendo on the clarinet that continuously ebbs and flows, but unfortunately builds up to very little, which is problematic considering that literally the entire song seemed to be building up to something. I'm also not too keen on 31=300=20, mostly because despite having really great atmosphere set up, reminiscient of old horror movies, it just doesn't grab me in any particular way, despite the cool electronic intsrumentation and is one of the reasons why I do consider this album better listened to in the background. I have similar issues with Where Death Comes To Cry, as another song that just really does nothing for me.

On the whole, while I do really love certain songs here and also applaud what this album goes for, certain song miss the mark, remaining nothing more than interesting experiments. The album has a sense of immaturity to it, as if the band was still trying to find their feet in creating effective soundscapes and unique avant garde passages. I stand by the fact that this is an interesting album to listen to in the background, but I can't see myself returning to this often bar a few awesome songs, at least nt for an in depth, active listen. I'd definitely recommend this to people looking for some interesting experimentation, but the next two albums that Shining released are definitely far superior.

Best tracks: Goretex Weather Report, Perdurabo, Aleister Explains Everything, The Smoking Dog

Weakest tracks: Romani, 31=300=20, Where Death Comes To Cry

Verdict: A very interesting avant garde album that is quite hit or miss. Really interesting atmosphere throughout its entirety, but it does fall very short in other places with ideas that feel half baked. I'd recommend this album to those looking for some cool experimentation, but I'd recommend listening to Grindstone and Blackjazz first, as I find both of those albums to be far better.

 Animal by SHINING album cover Studio Album, 2018
2.02 | 9 ratings

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Animal
Shining RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars Jørgen Munkeby (saxophonist and guitarist, a graduate of the Norwegian Academy of Music) has long been the driving force between Norway's jazz-metal collective, Shining. Over the years they have broken down musical barriers and have refused to be categorised into any particular style of music, as they mixed progressive, technical metal, jazz, avant-garde and experimental sounds. But now he is back with something different "I was tired of doing the same thing," he explains. "I was done with 'Blackjazz' and wanted to create something new and exciting. I needed a change. I'm finally at the point where I have nothing to lose and everything to win. We had 360 degrees to play with so we could've gone in any direction. This new record is more Muse than Meshuggah, more Ghost than Gojira, and more Biffy Clyro than Burzum!"

It is all over the place as one might expect from the quote, and given Shining are known for having the sax as a key instrument it is somewhat surprising for one not to make any appearance anywhere on this! Devin Townsend has been an obvious influence, as have Linkin Park, and it is when the guys are really pushing the envelope with downtuned guitars and stacks of groove that they really make the listener stand up and take notice. It is mainstream for the most part, and it will be interesting to see how hardcore fans view this, as while it is an okay album, it is never really much more than that, and certainly not one which would be expected from him/them. It is almost a case of treating this as a brand-new band, and while the sound is very modern and powerful, for some reason it feels as if it as all been produced at the same level and consequently there just isn't enough drama for it to be consistently interesting.

Thanks to avestin for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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