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Oslo’s Oya Festival

Held annually in August on the ruins of a medieval castle, Oslo’s Oya Festival is probably one of the most manageable, relaxing, and organized major music fests anywhere. While Nine Inch Nails, Tool, and Justice were among the top draws at this year’s edition, Oya’s main thrust is showcasing a mixed bag of local Norwegian acts. Here’s a look at some of the good ones.

Kim Hiorthøy
He might not be as well known as Lindstrøm or 120 Days but Kim Hiorthøy is definitely Smalltown Supersound’s MVP. Not only is the Trondheim-bred, Berlin-based Hiorthøy one of the Oslo label’s most prolific musicmakers (his excellent new LP, My Last Day, drops this month), but the accomplished illustrator (his resume includes several children’s books and international exhibitions) also designed its logo and many of its album covers. Joined onstage by renowned free jazz drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, Hiorthøy’s Oya set evoked Silver Apples’ combination of pulsating electronic rhythms and discordant drums.

Skatebård
The man behind Bergen party Digitalo, Skatebård (a.k.a. Bård Aasen Lødemel) brought his icy, distinctly Scandinavian take on Italo-disco to local nightspot Dattera til Hagen during the festival’s opening club night. With a great new album (Midnight Magic) on his own Kompakt-distributed Digital Enterprises imprint, and recent remix commissions from Sally Shapiro and Simian Mobile Disco, expect to hear big things.

Arabrot
This heavy-as-fuck trio’s set at DIY jazz venue Bla was an unexpected highlight. While their crustpunk-pleasing grindcore freakouts were not for everybody, the group displayed enough tight musicianship (and strange tics) to keep any open-minded listener entertained. Signed to the curiously named Norway Rat Records, Arabrot is currently in the studio creating the follow-up to last year’s Rep.Rep.

Hanne Hukkelberg
Hanne Hukkelberg is a bit like Norway’s Björk. Her 2006 album, Rykestrasse 68, features spooky, moody indie rock made with the panache of a jazz diva. At Oya, her backing band of multi-instrumentalists elicited sounds from various knickknacks, and Hukkelberg herself took a turn playing the spokes of an upside-down bicycle.

To see more photos from Oslo's Oya Festival, visit XLR8R's Photo Blog.

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