Norway's Shining specialize in a genre-hopping prog-jazz style that is equal parts avant-garde jazz, experimental composition, power electronics, progressive rock, and extreme metal. Founded in Oslo by saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, and only constant member Jørgen Munkeby, the band's music and wild theatrical live show evolved toward a genre of the band's own definition: "Blackjazz," named for the title of its 2010 breakthrough album.
The band morphed out of the ten-piece Jaga Jazzist ensemble, which Munkeby joined when he was only 16 years old. He also enlisted former Jaga keyboardist Morten Qvenild, drummer Torstein Lofthus and bassist Aslak Hartberg.
Shining recorded Sweet Shanghai Devil, its debut long player for Jazzland/Universal, and Where the Ragged People Go for bp Records, before moving to Norway's then-newly formed (and now iconic) Rune Grammophon for 2005's In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster. Shortly after its release, Qvenild left the group, largely to concentrate on new projects with Susanna & the Magical Orchestra, as did Hartberg. Another former Jaga Jazzist keyboardist, Andreas Hessen Schei, and bassist Morten Strøm were recruited for 2007's Grindstone, their second and last offering on Rune Grammophon. In the wake of the set's release, Shining was invited by Enslaved, Norway's legendary prog black metal outfit, to open shows on their tour. The bands played King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" together to close each gig. After witnessing a video of that performance, The Molde International Jazz Festival (Moldejazz) commissioned an original 90-minute collaboration. In 2008, "Nine Nights in Nothingness: Glimpses of Downfall" (aka "The Armageddon Concerto") was performed at the festival, signaling a profound change in direction for Shining. But there were major personnel changes, too. Schei left and was briefly replaced by Andreas Ulvo before Bernt Moen came aboard; he was replaced by Knut Løchsen in 2008. Strøm also departed and Tor Egil Kreken took over the bass chair.
The band signed to Indie Recordings and in 2010, co-headlined the Roadburn Festival with Enslaved (the latter were artists in residence that year). They added guitarist Even Helte Hermansen to free up Munkeby on-stage and became a quintet. Soon afterward, they delivered their studio album Blackjazz, which was heralded internationally and charted all over Europe. With its harsh vocals and extreme guitar and drums wedded to the angular avant-jazz and noise, the band took inspiration from Lars Fredrik Frøislie's unit, In Lingua Morta -- a prog rock-cum-black metal band Munkeby had briefly been a member of during and after his time with Jaga Jazzist -- as well as Enslaved. The set's first single, "Fisheye," was a new take on a piece from "The Armageddon Concerto," but the album was defined by a studio version of "21st Century Schizoid Man" with Enslaved's Grutle Kjellson guesting on lead vocals.
The band toured in support with new guitarist Håkon Sagen in place of Hermansen. 2011's live offering, Live: Blackjazz, refiltered their back catalog through their new, more aggressive sound. It was issued as an audio and video package, and was the last album to feature Løchsen.
The band issued One One One in 2013. Building on Blackjazz's approach, One One One--mixed by Sean Bevan (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson)-- was also warmly received by international critics and did well commercially in the band's home country: it placed in Norway's Top 20. This was the last album for Indie Recordings, and for Lofthus and Kreken. Tobias Ørnes Andersen claimed the drum kit, while Eirik Tovsrud Knutsen became the band's fifth keyboardist and Ole Vistnes its bassist.
The band recorded a new studio album for Spinefarm and prepped its release with festival tours across Europe. They took it one step further by using helicopters to haul over 4,000 pounds of amplification gear to a Norwegian cliff (with a 700-foot drop) to play a concert for 300 fans. International Blackjazz Society, again mixed by Bevan and mastered in Los Angeles by Tom Baker, was issued in the fall of 2013 during Shining's extended European tour. ~ Thom Jurek