Anja Garbarek contributes to new Luc Besson Movie

Norwegian pop chanteuse inspires legendary French filmmaker Luc Besson to return to directing. Besson’s latest motion picture, Angel-A, is heavily inspired by the film’s soundtrack composed by Anja Garbarek.

Anja Garbarek - Punkt 06 (Foto: Jan-Olav Glette)

Renowned French director Luc Besson has worked closely with Anja Garbarek on his latest motion picture Angel-A which is the director’s first outing since 1999’s Jeanne d’Arc. Anja was approached by Luc Besson in early 2005 to write the music for his latest, and possibly last, directorial release. The film is shot in black and white and staring Jamel Debouze (Amélie) with Paris as a backdrop. Music from Anja's last 3 albums features heavily as well as a number of new pieces written specially for the film. Luc picked Anja to write the music as he had been listening to her early CDs when he initially wrote the script and gained inspiration from "Smiling and Waving".

Says Head of Export at EMI Norway Gyro Leira to domestic music industry publication Faro Journalen: “Luc Besson is a huge fan of both ‘Smiling & Waving’ and ‘Balloon Mood’ and according to statements he has made, it was Anja’s music that inspired him to go back to film directing again. This is clearly a major compliment to Anja. The soundtrack features six tunes from Anja Garbarek’s earlier albums and eight new tracks composed specially for the motion picture.”

Angel-A and Anja Garbarek’s complimentary soundtrack bearing the film’s name will be released in September in France, UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Poland and Japan. A US premiere for the film and its soundtrack is planned later this autumn or winter.

Born in 1970, Anja Garbarek grew up in Oslo as the only child of composer/saxophonist Jan Garbarek, one of the acknowledged geniuses of contemporary European jazz. As a child she was surrounded by musicians, but although she always loved music she never learnt to play an instrument. Instead at age 16 she went to drama college and imagined a life in theatre and film. But music was clearly in her blood. At college she sang in a stage musical which brought her to the attention of the Norwegian record industry and she was offered a deal. The result was her debut album, 1992’s ‘Velkommen Inn’ (Come On In). Her second album, ‘Balloon Mood’, appeared in 1996, a more ambitious work recorded with Massive Attack/Björk/Madonna producer Marius De Vries. One year later she moved to London and signed to Virgin Records. Her debut for the label ‘Smiling & Waving’, was released in 2001 with contributions from Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis and Robert Wyatt among others. The album garnered rave reviews for its bold combination of electronic samples and acoustic instruments and her ethereal, other-worldly voice. Finally, four years came the much-anticipated follow up ‘Briefly Shaking’ (Mute 2006) which has also garnered strong reviews at home and abroad.

Says Uncut’s Nigel Williamson in his 4/5 review of ‘Briefly Shaking’: “Sung in sugar-sweet tones to an accompaniment of electronic bleeps and beats, the juxtaposition is eerie and hugely effective.”

Writes The Times’ John Bungey in the paper’s 4/5 review of the same album: “Like Björk and Stina Nordenstam, this Nordic singer wraps dark, eerie lyrics around deceptively innocent tunes. Can I Keep Him? is surely the prettiest song written about Dennis Nielsen. Elsewhere, classical strings, rock guitar and electronica surround her little-girl-lost vocals on this elaborate studio confection (aided by her sax-playing dad, Jan). From the winsome The Last Trick to the moody Shock Activities, Garbarek can disturb and beguile.”

Strong Punkt Festival review visited Kristiansand’s Punkt Festival in late August this year and awarded Anja Garbarek a glowing review for her appearance at the vibrant festival: “…returning to the theater, singer/songwriter Anja Garbarek—the daughter of legendary ECM saxophonist Jan Garbarek—put on the most structured show of the day. Garbarek's voice is bigger than her diminutive size would suggest, and like many of her influences—Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel in particular—she has a cultivated stage presence. Hers is highly produced music in a rock/pop vein, but with a deeper sense of feeling and construction than much of the disposable pop of today—especially in North America. Structured? Yes. Accessible? Yes. But Garbarek is a significant voice on the Scandinavian avant-pop scene, and the fact that she’s had little exposure in North America is criminal.”

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