Silje Nergaard: Darkness out of blue

There is something uniquely gleaming about Silje Nergaard; a warm yet clear lustre seems a defining trait of her whole artistic enterprise and indeed of the person too. Her expression is jazz songs, yet with hints of something deeper and more sacred than is perhaps usual for this genre. Her music has a distinct copper tone to it, clean and with panes and timbres that seem to reflect and spectre the light in a way that reminds of sanctity. Darkness out of blue is an enigmatic title, perhaps it bespeaks such sanctity.

Silje Nergaard 2006 (Foto: Mathias Bothor)

Strong songs, melodies like dragonflies; of elegance and lustre and shyness, and words that weave narratives and invoke images of the same soft swirling air: Silje Nergaard’s records have all been distinguishes by a sweep of profundity. -A heart of complexity that has been drawn out into delicate sheets of music and emotion, into phases that flow and swoon like deeply coloured sheets in a gentle breeze. Her music and her voice is something entirely her own; an expression that stands out, cherished and revered by so many, at home and abroad.

Silje stepped into the limelight only 16 years old when she made an appearance at the renowned Molde jazz festival. She soon relocated to London and embarked on a very promising career within suave jazz pop. Her debut “Tell me where you’re going” was released in 1990 to much acclaim. Two more English language –and London based- records ensued. But then Silje Switched to Norwegian and went into partnership with the Norwegian Label Kirkelig Kulturverksted. Their releases are always distinguished by a kind of sanctity of timbre and a resonance of profundity; traits that also feature in Silje Nergaard’s expression.
Not least in the mature phase of her career; in which she stands forth as an artist who manages to merge the suave sophistication of jazz with melodies, timbres and imagery that carry this inward luminosity and nuanced thoughtfulness. The poetry and mood of the words -written by Mike McGurk- is mirrored in the album titles: Port of call, At first light, Night watch, and lastly, Darkness out of blue.

The now classic “Port of Call” from 2000 marked her return to English language and defined her second coming as an artist,. It was met with landslide acclaim and the record set a standard for Silje’s further musical path; sophisticated jazz, distinguished by force of melody and warm, gleaming timbres. Her singing is the main reference point in this respect, always able to give the songs all that character and captivating lure. The last six years have seen three Nergaard releases in addition to a best-of album and with the phase of her career initiated by Port of Call Silje has grown into an artist of international renown, with dedicated audiences throughput Europe and a respected position within jazz- and musical circles.

On Darkness out of blue the producer Pål Svenre, who had not worked with Silje before, found the collaboration challenging -a compliment from a producer- due to the degree of control she exercises and the close scrutiny she pays to every detail. After twenty years as an artist her level of professionalism is extremely high; to the degree that she knew, she says, that for this record she had to leap anew into the subject matter of music and find new challenges and opportunities. So for Darkness out of blue she put together a brand new band, and started over again. “A challenge and a refreshing release form patterns” says Silje on her web site. “Sometimes one must leave behind even constellations that are dear and successful. As an artist with a spectrum of influences I found that I had to involve new people and try out new solutions in order to keep my musical stance open and give the maximum leeway to my songs.

In advance of the new record Nergaard and band have been trying out the new material on live audiences, to excited reception, and they have also been focusing on polishing their performance as an ensemble. This is music that demands the utmost perfection in execution, and Nergaard is also famed for dazzling performances. In Silje’s own words the new band is “exquisite” and she says they are truly forward to the upcoming Norwegian tour. And Darkness out of blue, assures Silje, is not a sinister record; though thoughtful, perhaps more than before, it is interspersed with opposite traits, making it thus complex and, as before, a subtle balance between sophistication and sanctity.

The Norwegian media and critics have already embraced it, released as it was on Feb. 26th. Germany is next, with the date set for April 26th, while the rest of the world will have to wait another three days, until the 30th.

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