Norwegian instrumental tropical funk/pop outfit Orions Belte — Øyind Blomstrøm (guitar), Chris Holm (bass) and Kim Åge Furuhaug (drums) — features members who have spent the bulk of their lives and professional careers as touring musicians. Naturally, they’ve been on the road — a lot. As the story goes, when Blomstrøm’s and Holm’s paths crossed for what seemed like the umpteenth time, they bonded over a mutual desire to create instrumental music, and they then decided to start a band together. The duo then recruited Holm’s Bergen scene pal Kim Åge Furuhaug to complete the band’s lineup.
With the release of 2018’s Mint, the Norwegian trio quickly established a genre-defying, style-mashing sound that draws from a wide and eclectic array of sources including 70s Nigerian rock, postcards from French Riviera, Formula One traces at Monza and 1971’s “Fight of the Century” between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali.
2019’s Slim EP featured inventive reworkings of songs they love by artists they love, including Ghostface Killah‘s “Cherchez La Ghost,” Milton Nascimento‘s Tudo O Que Você Podia Ser”– and an original cut that pays homage to Norwegian beat group The Pussycats and the Mac Miller.
Although the past two years may arguably be some of the most challenging years in recent memory for musicians and other creatives, the Norwegian trio haver remained extremely busy: In 2020, they released a handful of singles including “Bean” and 600m per minute, an EP of experimental compositions that derived its title from an elevator in Tokyo that can transport 40 people at a time a maximum speed of 600 meters per minute. The EP found the trio pushing the boundaries of instrumental music as they possibly could.
Last year’s sophomore album Villa Amorini derived its name from a popular Bergen nightclub; the place in town where everything happened — and where you needed to be, to be a part of it. Originally opened in the 80s as a fine dining spot, the business gradually evolved into an extravagant nightclub, where you’d see artists and DJs in loud t-shirts and oversized sunglasses. The album saw the trio meshing elements of underground pop, psych and world music, while further cementing their reputation for their ability to pull in listeners of diverse genres and styles. And with that understanding in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that the album’s material sets up a particular scene: the energy and vibe of a busy downtown sidewalk with intricately layered arrangements meant to draw you in and leave the listener wondering where it will lead.
A few weeks after Villa Amorini‘s release, the trio followed up with a Lagniappe Session EP in collaboration with Aquarium Drunkard. That June saw the release of their first live album, Scenic Route, which featured recordings from their live-streamed outdoor shows from the previous year.
Continuing their reputation for restless prolificacy, the Norwegian trio will be releasing a 3LP box set consisting of a solo album from each member — just like KISS did in 1978, they’ll gladly mention. The full 3LP box set is slated for November 18, 2022 release through Jansen Records: Chris Holm’s solo, self-titled album, a trippy psych pop-inspired affair was released last November. Øyvind Blomstrøm’s solo self-titled album, a funky mix of psych folk, psych funk, and psych blues was released earlier this year.
Last but not least, the band’s Kim Åge Furuhaug will be releasing his solo, self-titled album on November 18 2022, which coincides with the release of the of the box set. Furuhaug’s solo album is a sonic left-turn from Furuhaug’s work with Orions Belte: The album is a jazz album co-written and co-produced with Matias Tellez that features some of Norway’s finest jazz musicians, including Ole Morten Vågan (upright bass), Andreas Ulvo (piano, keys, organ) and Lars Horntveth (saxophone, clarinet, percussion, guitar).
“Jangle Med,” the first single of Furuhaug’s solo album is a meditative and expansive composition that seems indebted to classic bop jazz — in particular, Kind of Blue-era Miles Davis comes to mind. The arrangement is roomy enough for a warm and dreamy introduction featuring bursts of pedal steel, followed by gorgeous and soulful piano and clarinet solos from Horntveth.