Shining is a Genre-Busting band from Norway that has had several distinct shifts in style through its history. The band is a Spin-Off of Jaga Jazzist started by saxophonist, guitarist, vocalist, flautist, clarinetist, etc. Jørgen Munkeby, who has been the only consistent member. They should not be confused with the identically named band from Sweden, as they often are. They are sometimes referred to as "Shining (Nor)" or "Shining (Norway)" to avert this (similarly, the Swedes would be referred to as "Shining (Swe)" or "Shining (Sweden)").
Shining started out performing fairly traditional acoustic jazz on their first album, 2001's Where the Ragged People Go (named after a line from Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer"). Their second album, Sweet Shanghai Devil (2003), was also acoustic, but incorporated more influence from avant-garde jazz musicians like Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane.
The band's first major transformation came with 2005's In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster (named after a line from Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, later reused for a song title on their next album). On this album, they introduced vocals, electric guitars and, on some songs, heavy metal riffs. The style and instrumentation between songs varied widely, and the album is generally categorised as jazz fusion, Progressive Rock, and/or Avant Garde Music. It is their last album with their original lineup before they became a Revolving Door Band, and it is considered their commerical and artistic breakthrough. Its successor Grindstone (2007) continued in a similar style, but it is usually considered an Even Better Sequel and something of a refinement of this style (despite also being even more avant-garde than its predecessor).
Around this time, Shining and their compatriots in the legendary progressive black metal band Enslaved were commissioned to compose and perform a work that was ultimately entitled The Armageddon Concerto. It has not been officially released in its entirety, though it was broadcast on the Internet, and some of its movements were later rearranged for Shining's next album, 2010's Blackjazz (the seventh movement became "Fisheye", and the opening served as the vinyl bonus track "RMGDN").
Blackjazz served to introduce the band to even wider audiences, and it saw the band incorporate Industrial Metal and Black Metal influence into its sound without (as its title implied) losing the jazz influence. Jørgen Munkeby attributed the shift in sound partially to the Armageddon Concerto, partially to his work with compatriots In Lingua Mortua (also progressive black metal), and partially due to pragmatism: the complexity of the earlier albums' arrangements made many songs impractical to reproduce live, necessitating radical rearrangements. The band's new style, by contrast, could be reproduced live more or less note-for-note. There was something of a Broken Base as some listeners found the new sound too abrasive to stomach, but many more came in, some from Munkeby's frequent collaborations with other artists (Ihsahn was another) and some from the widespread praise the album received throughout the rock, metal, and jazz presses.
Live Blackjazz (2011) showed off the band's live sound and received similar acclaim. One One One (2013) demonstrated a move to more concise songwriting, but otherwise maintained the instrumental complexity of the band's earlier material. International Blackjazz Society (2015) is somewhere between the styles of Blackjazz and One One One.
Shining continues to evolve as a band, remaining one of the most unpredictable and innovative bands in whatever genre they choose to work.
- 2001 - Where the Ragged People Go
- 2003 - Sweet Shanghai Devil
- 2005 - In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster
- 2007 - Grindstone
- 2010 - Blackjazz
- 2011 - Live Blackjazz
- 2013 - One One One
- 2015 - International Blackjazz Society
- 2018 - Animal
In the Kingdom of Tropes You Will Be a Monster
- Album Intro Track:
- Despite being thirteen minutes long, "RMGDN" has the feeling of one of these, and in fact was the first movement of the Armageddon Concerto, but it's a subverted example: it is used as the final track on both albums where it appears (the vinyl version of Blackjazz and the DVD of Live Blackjazz). It's also gotten a digital release as a single.
- "Admittance" from International Blackjazz Society is a straight example.
- Breather Episode: Songs like "To Be Proud of Crystal Colors Is to Live Again" serve this purpose on many of their albums.
- Creator Thumbprint: Pointedly and conspicuously repeating material at multiple points of an album or even between albums. Several albums have at least one pair of songs with the same title (Where the Ragged People Go, Grindstone, Blackjazz - the latter has two of them). At least one reviewer has speculated that this may be to compensate for the lack of conventional repetition in their music.
- Cover Version: The band routinely covered King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" live with Enslaved, and this arrangement made it onto Blackjazz as the final track with Enslaved's Grutle Kjellson on vocals. The arrangement also appears on Live Blackjazz (but with Munkeby on vocals this time).
- Darker and Edgier: The trend of their musical trajectory for their first five albums, capped off with a Darker and Edgier take on King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" (which, for its part, was Darker and Edgier than almost all contemporary music, so no matter what detractors may say, Shining's chaotic cover is very much in the spirit of the original). After this, they lightened their sound slightly, but not all that much.
- Drone of Dread: Several of their songs end this way, with "21st Century Schizoid Man" being perhaps the standout example.
- Epic Instrumental Opener: In particular, the vocals in "Blackjazz Deathtrance" don't enter until around halfway through the piece. "Omen" could also be interpreted as one for their cover of "21st Century Schizoid Man", though Grutle Kjellson throws in some wordless screams.
- Epic Rocking: Let's see. *deep breath*
- Where the Ragged People Go: "The Fool" (part 1, 6:18), "Dalton City" (7:06), "Song of a Long Gone Girl" (8:00), "Hell's Bells" (8:09), "The Fool" (part 2, 6:35)
- Sweet Shanghai Devil: "Herbert West - Reanimator / After the Rain" (9:18)
- In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster: "Magazine RWRK" (6:32)
- Grindstone: "Psalm" (7:21), "Fight Dusk With Dawn" (6:53)
- Blackjazz: "Exit Sun" (split into two parts, but they're Siamese Twin Songs; the first part reaches 8:36, and together they're 9:33), "Blackjazz Deathtrance" (10:52), "Omen" (8:46), "21st Century Schizoid Man" (8:41), and the vinyl bonus tracks "Fisheye [extended version]" (6:54) and "RMGDN" (12:36). If you count the two parts of "The Madness and the Damage Done" as one song, they're also 8:44, but they're not continuous like the parts of "Exit Sun".
- Live Blackjazz:
- On the DVD edition, bearing in mind that some songs have stage chatter after them, "The Madness and the Damage Done" (6:01), "Fisheye" (7:47), "In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster" (7:12), "Omen" (8:55), "Winterreise" (6:17), "Exit Sun" (9:35), "Healter Skelter" (6:42), "21st Century Schizoid Man" (15:11), and "RMGDN" (19:55).
- The CD and vinyl editions have different track lengths for several reasons: different track orders, excision of stage chatter, and trimming of "Fisheye" and "21st Century Schizoid Man", though the missing material from the latter was mostly feedback ("RMGDN" is also missing from both editions, and the CD also doesn't have "Omen", despite it being in the middle of a fairly lengthy continuous suite of songs). As a result, the songs that qualify (on either version) are: "Omen" (8:54), "Winterreise" (6:13), "Exit Sun" (9:35), "Healter Skelter" (6:35), "21st Century Schizoid Man" (11:57). It's not clear why "Omen" was left off the CD edition, as it would've fit. (In fact, they could've just removed "RMGDN" from the DVD's playlist and fit the rest of the songs on one CD without any editing at all; it would've come out to 76:24. The maximum capacity of a CD is just under 79:58. It's possible they wanted the excised content to be bonus material for the DVD [and vinyl in the case of "Omen"].) Both these versions also slightly alter the song order (it's "The Madness and the Damage Done", then "Fisheye" on the DVD; they're swapped on the CD/vinyl), again for unknown reasons.
- International Blackjazz Society: "Thousand Eyes" (6:50), "House of Control" (6:51).
- Some of the Fading into the Next Song examples below also have the feeling of being multiple movements of one song rather than separate songs stitched together; the lengths of all these examples are also listed, and many are much longer than six minutes.
- Fading into the Next Song or Siamese Twin Songs: A lot of these too.
- In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster: "Perdurabo" → "Aleister Explains Everything" (6:26), "31=300=20 (It Is by Will Alone I Set My Mind in Motion)" → "Where Death Comes to Cry" (6:48)
- Grindstone: "In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster" → "Winterreise" → "Stalemate Longan Runner" (13:28); "The Red Room" → "Asa Nisi Masa" (4:09); "1:4:9" → "Fight Dusk with Dawn" (11:57)
- Blackjazz: "The Madness and the Damage Done" (part 1) → "Fisheye" (10:28); the two parts of "Exit Sun" (9:33)
- Live Blackjazz: On the DVD, "The Red Room" → "Omen" → "Goretex Weather Report" → "Winterreise" → "Exit Sun" (33:30), and "Healter Skelter" → "21st Century Schizoid Man" (21:53). Both the CD and LP editions don't feature the first of these sequences unbroken; "Omen" is missing on the CD, and there's a necessary side break between "Goretex Weather Report" and "Winterreise" for the LP. Additionally, "21st Century Schizoid Man" is trimmed somewhat for both versions (though it's mostly feedback that gets cut out).
- International Blackjazz Society: The first five songs (21:38); "House of Warship" → "House of Control" (11:23); "Church of Endurance" → "Need" (5:08).
- Genre-Busting: Their sound has been almost entirely impossible to categorise ever since In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster, even though they've shifted styles several times since then. (This is practically the sole constant of their music, apart from the saxophone.) The title of Blackjazz is actually the band's own description of their sound, which is part of why it reappears in later song and album titles.
- I Am the Band: Munkeby is the only remaining original member and writes nearly all the material (though bassist Tor Egil Kreken appeared on all the band's studio albums through International Blackjazz Society).
- Instrumental: The band's first two albums plus quite a few songs on the third and fourth. Later albums still have some, though most songs by this point have vocals. The longest instrumental is "RMGDN", which is twelve and a half minutes long in its studio arrangement and almost twenty on Live Blackjazz.
- Limited Lyrics Song: In particular, "21st Century Schizoid Man", which runs for nine minutes with only three verses, each four lines long (and all ending with the title). Live, it's even more extreme, running for fifteen minutes and without the final verse.
- Literary Allusion Title: Seemingly half their song titles on some of their albums are references to books or films (and the other half are references to other music). Their band name itself is an example, taken from Stephen King's The Shining. They also have a song, "REDRUM", named after a recurring phrase from both the novel and the Stanley Kubrick film (it's "murder" backwards), and the song title "The Red Room" is also a pun on this. Other examples:
- "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" is named after a novel of the same name by Richard Bach.
- "Herbert West - Reanimator" is named after a novella by H. P. Lovecraft.
- In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster is named after a line from Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
- "The Smoking Dog" is named after a poem by Aleister Crowley in The Book of Lies. "Perdurabo" was his magical pseudonym in the Hermetic Older of the Golden Dawn, and the title "Aleister Explains Everything" is also a reference to him.
- "31=300=20 (It Is by Will Alone I Set My Mind in Motion)" is named after a Mentat mantra from David Lynch's film of Frank Herbert's Dune (contrary to popular belief, the mantra did not actually appear in Herbert's novels, though it is somewhat similar to the popular "Fear is the mind-killer" speech - which also appears in the film).
- "1:4:9" references the proportions of the black monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey (in addition to being the first three square numbers, which is exactly what inspired the proportions in the film).
- "Asa Nisi Masa" is a gibberish phrase from the film 8½. A fellow orphan tells the main character as a child that uttering this phrase will bring a certain portrait to life and reveal a secret treasure hidden in the orphanage. (In a strange coincidence, the Swedish Shining also has a possible reference to the film via their album title 8 ½ - Feberdrömmar i vaket tillstånd.)
- Long Title: They have quite a few of these. "Where Do You Go Christmas Eve?", "Herbert West - Reanimator / After the Rain", In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster, "31=300=20 (It Is by Will Alone I Set My Mind in Motion)", and "To Be Proud of Crystal Colors Is to Live Again" particularly stand out.
- Loudness War: They started to participate in this with Kingdom of Kitsch (though a lot of songs on Kingdom of Kitsch and Grindstone still have great dynamic range), really cranked it up to a headache-inducing level with Blackjazz (DR5, with several tracks at DR4), and mostly haven't looked back since (there are still a few quiet passages on some of these albums, but that doesn't necessarily help much). It's a shame, because the production on their albums is otherwise immaculate. Even the LPs still have clipping problems. A more detailed overview:
- In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster: DR9 overall. Tracks range from DR6 to DR11. Clipping on the loudest passages, but overall not difficult to listen to.
- Grindstone: DR8 overall. Tracks range from DR5 to DR13. As with Kingdom of Kitsch, the loudest passages clip but the album has good dynamic range overall. The clipping is slightly more conspicuous, but casual listeners still probably won't notice it.
- Blackjazz: Where they really cranked up the clipping. DR5 overall. "Omen" is the quietest at DR6; the first three tracks and "Healter Skelter" are all DR4. The others are DR5. A major headache on headphones, though some of its passages still have a lot of dynamic range. Other tracks from the same sessions are similar - "RMGDN" is DR5 and "Fisheye (extended version)" comes out to DR4 (and given the evident clipping on the vinyl editions, the vinyl master likely had similar range, though due to the nature of the format, it still comes out less fatiguing to listen to).
However, those scores don't tell the entire story, because there are still passages with dynamics. For instance, "Blackjazz Deathtrance", if split up into separate tracks based on stylistic shifts, yields DR10 for 0:00 to 0:45, DR5 from 0:45 to 3:23, DR9 from 3:23 to 4:32, DR5 from 4:32 to 6:18, DR10 from 6:18 to 7:50, DR3 from 7:50 to 10:00, and DR9 for the final 34 seconds. Similarly, "RMGDN" has DR10 for 0:00 to 1:30, DR8 for 1:30 to 5:21, DR7 from 5:21 to 7:03 (this is the first passage that's actually clipped at all), DR5 for 7:03 to 11:14, and DR9 for 11:14 to 12:52. Apart from the second "The Madness and the Damage Done"note , "Omen"note , and (to a lesser extent) "21st Century Schizoid Man"note , the other songs don't have anywhere near those levels of dynamic range shifts, but by looking at the songs this way, it's easy to see what the production team was trying to do with the mastering; they just took it too far. If they'd used the DR3 level compression sparsely - just for climaxes of songs, say - and left the rest of the album at DR8 levels or higher, it might've even worked.
- Live Blackjazz: The DVD edition comes out to DR5 overall. "RMGDN" is DR6; "Omen", "Goretex Weather Report", "Exit Sun", and "21st Century Schizoid Man" are DR4. The others are DR5. CD may differ. Also a big headache that still has a lot of quiet passages.
- One One One: DR4. "My Dying Drive", "How Your Story Ends", and "Walk Away" are DR5; the rest are DR4. This album also, uniquely among the band's output, contains only one quiet passage of any great length (the first forty-two seconds of "How Your Story Ends"), so there's no rest from the unrelenting noise assault. The only consolation is that it's the band's shortest album at just under thirty-six minutes.
- International Blackjazz Society: DR5. There are breather episodes again, which helps make it less unrelenting. "Church of Endurance" is DR6; "The Last Stand", "Burn It All", "Last Day", and "House of Control" are DR4; the rest of the songs are DR5. This is also one of the band's shorter albums at around thirty-eight minutes.
- Miniscule Rocking: While not as copious as Epic Rocking, there are "Redrum" (1:37), "To Be Proud of Crystal Colors Is to Live Again" (0:50 in its first performance, 1:10 in its second), "Asa Nisi Masa" (1:52), the coda of "Exit Sun" if counted as its own track (0:57), "Admittance" (1:06), and "Church of Endurance" (0:59). A number of these are best understood not as songs but as introductions or conclusions to lengthier compositions, however.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: They have covered everywhere from 1 to 11, with the heaviest parts of "21st Century Schizoid Man" representing one case where they reached 11. Most of Blackjazz is a 10. In the Kingdom of Kitsch and Grindstone cover anywhere from 1 to about a 7 or 8.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: See Genre-Busting above. They incorporate elements of jazz, modern classical music, avant-garde music, progressive rock, industrial metal, black metal, electronic music, alternative metal...
- New Sound Album: Pretty much All of Them.
- Sweet Shanghai Devil increased the avant-garde elements in their music.
- In the Kingdom of Kitsch introduced electric guitars, metal riffs, occasional vocals, and a bunch of strange instruments like the celesta, harmonium, glockenspiel, and about a dozen others.
- Grindstone, while a refinement of its predecessor's sound in many ways, still managed to make it arguably even weirder.
- Blackjazz is the most conspicuous case, being a Genre Shift to a very heavy strain of extreme metal while still keeping progressive and jazz elements.
- One One One keeps the stylistic elements and chaos of Blackjazz, but condenses the songs to three-to-five-minute compositions.
- International Blackjazz is something of an encapsulation of the two previous albums' sounds, with occasional nods to the band's earlier style and at least one honest-to-god Power Ballad ("House of Control", which is rather reminiscent of The Dillinger Escape Plan's stabs at the trope; Munkeby's vocals even sound quite a bit like Greg Puciato's).
- Animal takes things in more of a Hard Rock and pop-oriented direction.
- Premature Encapsulation: The song "In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster" does not appear on the identically titled album; instead, it is the first song on its successor, Grindstone.
- Rearrange the Song: The necessity of doing this for their more complicated compositions in live performances is part of why they switched to a metal sound for Blackjazz (since it was how they'd been performing their songs anyway) and the whole reason they stopped employing instruments like glockenspiels and flutes.
- Recurring Riff:
- Blackjazz has enough of these to feel like a Concept Album, though it isn't really. In addition to the reprises and the recurring musical elements, one particular stanza of lyrics ("You cheat on your own lover", etc.) appears in both "Exit Sun" and "Blackjazz Deathtrance".
- A saxophone riff from "Redrum" is reprised in "The Red Room" and "Healter Skelter".
- Elements from "Asa Nisi Masa" were also incorporated into "Healter Skelter" (both of these and "Redrum" are stylised in all caps in the album track listings, which is probably the band's way of making them into a loose trilogy).
- Revolving Door Band: Munkeby is now the only founding member of the band.
- Sdrawkcab Name: "Redrum", a reference to the band's namesake.
- Shout-Out: In addition to all the music, literature, and film references in their song titles, their logo in the Blackjazz era, with the inverted N, is a visual homage to Nine Inch Nails, a major influence on their sound ever since. (They have also worked with several members of Nine Inch Nails' Production Posse such as Tom Baker [not that Tom Baker] and Sean Beavan.)
- Start My Own: They're a Spin-Off of Jaga Jazzist. They also covered songs from the latter's album Magazine as "Magazine RWRK".
- Titled After the Song: A lot of these also, particularly in the progressive rock era.
- Where the Ragged People Go uses a line from Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer" as its title.
- "Goretex Weather Report" is presumably titled after the band Weather Report.
- "Where Death Comes to Cry" is named for a line from Leonard Cohen's "I'm Your Man".
- "You Can Try the Best You Can" is named after a line from Radiohead's "Optimistic".
- "Winterreise" was originally the title of a composition by Franz Schubert for piano and voice.
- "-... .- -.-. ...." spells out "Bach" in Morse code.
- "The Madness and the Damage Done" is a riff on Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done".
- "Healter Skelter" may be a reference to the song "Helter Skelter" (note the slight spelling discrepancy) from The Beatles' self-titled album (a.k.a. The White Album).
- Uncommon Time: All the time, as befitting a prog band. The most obvious example is probably "Fisheye", whose body is pointedly in 7/4, even to a non-musician. (The instrumental midsection of the extended/live versions, while very precisely mapped out, may not actually have time signatures; if it does have them, it's probably something like "The Dance of Eternity" that provides the trope image. It's truly Mind Screw/Alien Geometries in rhythmic form.)
- Word Purée Title: A couple of song titles are disemvoweled - specifically, "RMGDN" ("Armageddon") and "Magazine RWRK" ("Magazine Rework"). "Asa Nisi Masa" and "Redrum" are examples that double as Literary Allusion Titles. "Healter Skelter" is also an example. For that matter, Blackjazz seems to have been acquired by mashing black metal with jazz, and "Blackjazz Deathtrance" adds Death Metal and Trance to the mix. And "-... .- -.-. ...." sort of qualifies, though it's really Morse code for Bach.
- Word Salad Title: An awful lot of them. Probably only Munkeby knows what "To Be Proud of Crystal Colors Is to Live Again" actually means. Even some of the ones that are allusions to other works still contain word salad - and for that matter, some of them were word salad in the original works.