The Vanishing Act
Finally available for streaming 30 June 2023
Looking back, 2003 really seems like a lifetime ago. My then band Dipsomaniacs had just released what was to be our final album, “Praying Winter.” After its release, the group quietly faded into thin air. There was really nothing overly dramatic about it. No fist fights or loud arguments. Actually, we’re still the best of friends. Come to think of it, we never really sat down and decided to break up the band. It just happened. I guess we simply went home from our band rehearsal one night and forgot to book the next one.
During the first half of 2004 I continued writing new songs, like I always did and still do. But this time, as the year progressed, it became obvious to me that I now was writing material for my own album, not for the band.
Fast forward to 2023. I always find projects I’m working on in the present to be the ones that excite me the most. For that reason, I rarely go back and listen to stuff I’ve recorded in the past. Every now and then I’m forced to, because I have to re-learn certain songs for a concert or something like that. But outside of that context, I’ve pretty much left the nostalgia trip alone.
However, a few weeks ago I received a lovely message from an American fan, asking if I had any of my older releases available. I told him I still had a few CD copies of “The Vanishing Act,” and that I would be more than happy to help him out.
Being reminded, almost out of the blue, of the album like that made me curious enough to also stick a copy of the CD into my own CD player. And after nearly twenty years, the music I heard brought a smile to my face. The songs brought back lots of happy memories.
I was immediately struck by the playfulness in many of these arrangements. I remember us working fast, almost on instinct, so there was no time for strict rules or artistic dogmas.
I was reminded of working, back then for the first time, with my pal, Even Granås. First knocking out loose sketches for arrangements on an acoustic guitar, before he ran into the studio to masterfully lay down his drum tracks. I think we recorded them all in two or three nights. Subsequently, I started building my stuff around his drum tracks.
Listening with a fresh perspective and a twenty-year gap between myself and the music, also made me realize that this album includes some of the finest piano playing I’ve ever heard Thomas Henriksen add to any of my songs. And believe me, that says a lot. Just listen to the vaudeville, Kinks-like way his fingers dance across the keyboard on “Wait My Time Away” or the ultra-cool jazz-groove he adds with his solo on “Cut Me Loose,” and maybe the most shocking discovery of all: his playing on the bonus track “The Skeleton Key pt.1.” I don’t recall what went through our heads back then, but in hindsight I truly feel that the version we binned is in every way superior to the one that ended up on the album. That’s a really nice one too, but maybe we got a bit too focused on creating something fit for radio play to see the greatness of the first one.
“The Vanishing Act” also gave me the opportunity to write with Bent Sæther for the first time. We didn’t know each other all that well back then, so we kept sending little snippets and demos back and forth to each other by email. The title track and the lead-off single, “Salt-Mutated Summer Breeze” are the fruits of this collaboration. Of course, years later we got to collaborate again, when we put Sugarfoot together.
So, what I’m really trying to say here, is that listening back to these songs left me thinking that it is kind of sad that all that’s available of "The Vanishing Act” is a box of CDs collecting dust in my basement. It therefore gives me great pleasure to finally have the album available for streaming. This completes my digital solo discography on streaming platforms out there, and hopefully it will give you a little something to explore and enjoy while waiting for the new album to appear later this year.
The ultimate dream is, of course, to have it out on vinyl someday. But that’s another story.