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Anja Garbarek picture
Anja Garbarek biography
Born July 24, 1970 ( Oslo, Norway)

Norwegian composer and vocalist ANJA GARBAREK is the only child of world-renowned jazz musician and composer Jan Garbarek. Surrounded by music and musicians while growing up, she developed a strong affection for music as an artistic expression, but didn't initially plan to become active in the field herself. Instead, she had planned to try to get a career in the theatre and movie business.

A singing part in a college play in brought her to the attention of the record industry though, and she was offered a record deal. This lead to the release of her debut production Velkommen Inn in 1992, subsequently followed by a tour to support the album.

Four years later a more sophisticated album followed, Balloon Mood. For this sophomore effort Marius DeVries, best known for his production work for Massive Attack, Madonna and Björk was brought in to give the music the right finishing touches.

In 1997 Anja moved to London, and was signed to Virgin Records. Mark Hollis (Talk Talk) and Robert Wyatt (Soft Machine) were important contributors for her third album Smiling & Waving, issued in 2001. Bold and rather innovative blends of electronic samples and acoustic instruments has been described as the most striking features of this venture. For followers of progressive rock, the fact that Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree produced and participated might arguably be more interesting of course.

Motherhood became a reality for Anja not too long after, and she decided to move back to Norway in 2003. And two years later, in 2005, her fourth album Briefly Shaking was released. This time around blending dark lyrical themes with accessible melodies were prominent features, combining the sugar sweet with the macabre as it is described on her homepage.

As she isn't a musician herself, Anja's take on creating music is a somewhat peculiar one. According to her own descriptions she always starts off with the lyrics, as these are the core elements. Her goal is then to create a soundtrack that fits the lyrical contents, where she envisions what sounds she wants to add and what instrument that should provide them - rarely thinking about what limitations there might be for the instrument in question.

ANJA GARBAREK Videos (YouTube and more)

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ANJA GARBAREK discography

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

3.00 | 4 ratings
Velkommen Inn
3.04 | 5 ratings
Balloon Mood
3.81 | 17 ratings
Smiling & Waving
3.13 | 6 ratings
Briefly Shaking
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Road Is Just A Surface

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

ANJA GARBAREK Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Stay Tuned
3.00 | 1 ratings
Can I Keep Him?


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Can I Keep Him? by GARBAREK, ANJA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2006
3.00 | 1 ratings

Can I Keep Him?
Anja Garbarek Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Vocalist Anja Garbarek (b. 1970) is, you guessed it, a daughter of the internationally praised Norwegian jazz composer and saxophonist Jan Garbarek. She has released five albums between 1992 and 2018. In fact I wasn't familiar with her music, so my newcomer review is only about this particular song taken from the fourth album Briefly Shaking (2005). It was featured in Luc Besson's romantic fantasy drama Angel-A which contains music from her albums as well as several new songs composed specifically for the film. The beautiful black & white music video starts with a feather flying (a rip-off from the movie Forrest Gump!) nearby the Eiffel tower where the cute blonde Anja is first seen, posing seductively to the camera and miming the song during her slow walk in Paris.

According to the PA album review "the best songs here are those more pastoral songs. The catchy songs are very commercial, but not that good", so undoubtedly this is among the better ones then. 'Can I Keep Him?' is downright soft and sensitive, concerning both Anja's feather-light vocal delivery and the elegant arrangement that uses strings alongside the usual pop instruments and programming. Pretty, romantic, sugar-sweet, easy on the ears, but not much more than that, and to be honest, not enough evidence to make me form an opinion of Anja Garbarek as a great singer. Two songs I came to think of as stylistic references are TORI AMOS' 'Sleeps With Butterflies' (also from 2005) and JANE SIBERRY's 'Love Is Everything' (1993), but both of them are stronger as compositions -- even if I wouldn't count either of them among the finest songs of the artist in question. However, I believe that on the romantic film (which I haven't seen) 'Can I Keep Him?' succeeds to move the audience.

 Briefly Shaking by GARBAREK, ANJA album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.13 | 6 ratings

Briefly Shaking
Anja Garbarek Crossover Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars Jan's daughter had a good career on her own. She detonated onto the scene with her debut album Velkommen Inn and got the Madonna label stamped on her forehead. More like Kate Bush in my view, but the Norwegian media went for the Madonna label instead.

Anja was a sharp cookie on her four albums and she did it her way. I hope she still does, btw. Briefly Shaking is her fourth and so far last album.

Being the daughter of the musical giant Jan, she soon staked out her own course far away from her father. Her music is in the sophisticated pop music genre. Briefly Shaking is both sophisticated and catchy at the same time. The music can be labelled a more electronic version of what Rasputina does. Comparissons with Kate Bush is also in order. Madonna ? Not much.

Anja's voice is the main instrument here, supported by a wide variety of other instruments. Her voice is very good so the sound suits her perfectly. The best songs here are those more pastoral songs. The catchy songs are very commercial, but not that good.

Overall, this is a good album. Some really great songs (like on her debut album) are sorely missed though. But it is still a good quirky pop album which may appeal to those of you into female driven pop music. Check it out.

3 stars

 Balloon Mood by GARBAREK, ANJA album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.04 | 5 ratings

Balloon Mood
Anja Garbarek Crossover Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

3 stars Soft artsy jazz. There aren't much similarities between Anja and her father, the Saxophonist Jan Garbarek. She has a good high-pitched voice, not too strong but very well fitting with her songs.

"Beyond My Control" is the kind of song that could be sung by Sade or better, by Rebecka Tornqvist but the arrangement is more jazz. This is the easiest track of the album.

"I.C.U." is opened by sounds that can remind to India but it's just for a while. It soon turns into a song with an unusual instrumental arrangement. The contrast is between the warmth given by voice and minor chords and the coldness of the electronic sounds.

"Just One Of These Days" is another song based on contrasts: here Anja's voice whispers on a very soft melody, but the rhithmic section based on marimba plus the flute add an oriental background.

"Picking Up Pieces" is made of electronic sounds on a disco tempo with overdubbed vocals. The effect on the voice reminds me of Laurie Anderson.

"The Cabinet" is hard to describe. The base is electronic and the voice is whispered until the chorus when Anja uses her most warm tones and the melody is properly jazz. Between Bjork and Rebecka Tornqvist, two nordic girls like her.

After about one minute of radio noises and whispered words "Something Written" starts and becomes one of the most jazz moments of the album. Not much easy also this.

"Strange Noises" is in line with its title, but the noises are rhythmic. Anja speaks over them for one minute then the song becomes heavy to return to the initial low noise. Does anybody remember the Witch on Gong's Angel's Egg?

Some piano now. It's one of the rare times when an instrumet sounds familiar, even if the notes are discordant, then slow drumming and electronic noises start the song. Not very different from the previous one but with some more melody ere and there, lead mainly by flute and voice.

"She Collects (Stuff Like That)" is less serious and the weird sounds make me think to Carla Bley. There's also a bit of swing in the way Anja sings and later in the brasses, but they are just moments of something more complex.

Finally the title track. It takes some time to start. Anja sings very sweetly on a keyboard(violins) base. This is jazz. At least for a couple of minutes. The rest is spacey electronic.

It's not an easy album. Highly experimental, I think it's bread for fans of Laurie Anderson or Carla Bley, so even if I think that it's a very good album, I don't rate it 4 stars because of the word ANY. You need to like this genre to appreciate the album.

 Smiling & Waving by GARBAREK, ANJA album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.81 | 17 ratings

Smiling & Waving
Anja Garbarek Crossover Prog

Review by Slartibartfast
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

4 stars Anja, the Daughter of jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek, with Steven Wilson and Robert Wyatt, and all together on one album should make for something interesting and certainly enough it does. Steven does production for the album and plays various instruments on various tracks but not the track with Robert Wyatt. Robert only provides vocals for one song, The Diver. Robert later did cover a song he wasn't on for this album, Stay Tuned, and Richard Barbieri (another Porcupine Tree conspirator, Wyatt not counting yet as far as I know) puts in an appearance on one song, Stay Tuned, which was the one that Wyatt covered.

The center star is of course Anja. It's her project, not her first album, and the rest of the musicians do serve as supporting artists for her vision. Lyrically and perhaps musically you get a strong woman's perspective on the difficulties of life. A dark and chilling perspective at times.

This album is a bit like some of Angleo Badalamenti's soundtrack work with David Lynch: dark and mellow and jazzy and dreamy. Anja's lyrics and music are a mix of the disturbing with beauty. No-man comes to mind too, but I like Anja's vocal style much better than Tim Bowness'.

"Emerging through water. That's all we know. On hands and knees towards the shore. That's all we know."

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

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