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Main albums

Austestad - Venterom
(2022 - Voices of Wonder)

"Venterom" marks Austestad's fourth album, composed during pandemic lockdowns, exploring themes of hope, despair, expectations, and emotions linked to waiting. Most of the album was recorded live at Athletic Sound Studio in Halden, engineered by Dag Erik Johansen. The band had no prior exposure to the material, necessitating on-the-spot learning and performance. Thorough notes and clear arrangements facilitated swift recording sessions, emphasizing presence over excessive rehearsal.

This recording notably marked a return to collaborative work after the previous solo album, followed by the onset of the pandemic. Handling both mixing and mastering personally, I aimed to capture the essence of presence and spontaneity. Magnus Rakeng took charge of the album's cover design.

Austestad - Umogleg Reise
(2020 - Voices of Wonder)

Released as an album on streaming platforms, a collection of music videos on social media, and a livestream with a green screen and background videos during a pandemic-induced cultural shutdown. I also managed a solo concert performance with videos projected on a screen at Riksscenen on February 22, 2020, just weeks before closures began. 
I aimed to create an eclectic pop album addressing environmental issues, using satire on prominent figures in Norwegian politics and incorporating interdisciplinary elements of video and music, made possible with contemporary technology. Additionally, the album/film included a 20-minute track accompanying the classic silent film "Voyage a Travers l'impossible" (The Impossible Voyage) by French filmmaker Georges Méliès from 1904. I aimed to handle all tasks independently. Therefore, I played and arranged predominantly alone, taking cues from Méliès' approach handling everything alone. Apart from mixing and mastering the album, I also edited, animated, and crafted music videos, synchronizing them with the music. In some instances, I initiated video work before completing the music to explore potential impacts on my musical ideas. This extensive three-year process provided insights into novel approaches to creative writing, influencing my songwriting perspective indefinitely.

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Earlybird Stringband - the walls are in your mind...
(2019 - Voices of Wonder)

Following a 5 year hiatus, the band regrouped to create our final album. "The Walls Are in Your Mind..."  consists once again of my compositions and lyrics, continuing the trajectory from the previous album, "Blindsides." Over the years, I've developed a deeper understanding of production, evident in the album's sound compared to earlier work. My songwriting had evolved, aiming for more substance and clarity in each track.

My intention was to steer the band's identity away from rigid bluegrass norms, borrowing from various inspiring acoustic styles. Each song was crafted to tailor its sound to complement the lyrics and mood. Consequently, some tracks were TexMex-inspired, others had an evergreen quality, and some drew inspiration from songwriters like Jimmy Webb and Burt Bacharach. I also had the idea to rearrange a well-known Aerosmith song to sound like an authentic country tune. Additionally, we recorded a traditional rendition of an old Merle Haggard classic. We included an unreleased bluegrass instrumental by our good friend and bluegrass-hall-of-fame mandolinist, David McLaughlin, titled "F-5 Tornado."

The album was recorded live at Newtone Studio in Kalbakken, Oslo. I personally mixed it in my studio in Kongensgate 12 in Oslo city center. Morgan Nicolaysen mastered it at Propeller Mastering, and we had a release concert at Riksscenen in Oslo in March 2019. The album was released on CD, marking the end of Earlybird Stringband's 13-year journey and numerous performances across 7 different countries on two continents.

Austestad - For folk flest
(2017 - Voices of Wonder)

The second Austestad album is also a large hardback book with lyrics, photo and prose. Thematically, it dives into deep questions regarding the human condition of why we are full of prejudice in meeting other cultures, subjected to uphold structural racism, and questioning if there is a way to move on from where we stand today. I worked with every artistic discipline on this release, writing essays and factual prose about my own background as a missionary's son in Hongkong in the early 80s, and about an episode of night time rambling in Oslo in the early 2000s. I did a series of portratis of local newly arrived citizens from Syria and Kongo made up in white-face mime make-up. And a blackface self portrait of myself, followed by an essay problematizing the labels we use to define, fight, or live alongside cultural differences. The book also contains an essay by former aid worker Linda Kjosaas and a powerful self biographic poetic text about living in the midst of war by exiled Syrian author Sanaa Aoun from Damaskus. Additional photos by Johannes Selvaag.

The music was recorded at Oslo Klang studios with engineer Bjarne Stenslie and hand full of great musicians. I mixed the album myself, Morgan Nicolaysen did the master at Propeller Mastering. I did the book design, and also created animated videos for some of the tracks.

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(2016 - Lektor records)

An album of family friendly music dressed in a rootsy bluegrassy package. Løkki was originally a group assembled to accompany the story of the award winning Norwegian movie "Happy Happy" (2010). 

Following the movie, the group did a series of tours for 8 years, playing in Norwegian schools all over the country. This album is made up from tunes that was meticulously written and tweaked in purpose of bringing great harmony vocals and live stringband sound to all of these performances. It was recorded in Parachute- and "Is it art"-studio during the summer of 2016 with engineer Roar Nilsen. Morgan Nicolaysen did the mastering at Propeller Mastering. Nils Christian Fossdal designed the cover, and the artwork is by painter and artist Hilde Thomsen.

Austestad - med rentersrente
(2015 - Voices of Wonder)

 My first solo effort was in my mother tongue of new Norwegian, and I've stuck by it ever since in this project. A written language only used by roughly half a million people, it has lots of unexplored musical territory. The album has a large ensemble for some of the tracks, including a wind quartet and string quartet. It was recorded in Parachute studio in Oslo, Norway by engineers Øystein Frantzvåg and Roar Nilsen. Mixed by the amazing British expat audio engineer Nick Terry, and I attended the mastering session in Air Studios in London with the legendary mastering engineer Ray Staff.

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Earlybird Stringband - Lassofolk
(2013 - Grappa/Heilo)

LassoFolk" is a conceptual music album that artfully blends Norwegian folk music with American bluegrass and old-time styles. Exploring the connections between American and Norwegian folk music traditions, the album delves into the fusion of these two distinct musical cultures. Embracing rare Norwegian tunes with a Norwegian-American touch, aiming to explore the depth of the connection between the two acoustic folk traditions.

The album's production was an artistic endeavor, consciously avoiding the typical refinement of folk music with classical-inspired arrangements. Instead, the musicians relied on the natural authenticity of the melodies and acoustic style, recording the entire album employing an omni-stereo recording technique and a choreographed mic alignment during the recording, they aimed to capture the natural blend of instruments while maintaining balance and authenticity. Engineered and mixed by Roar Nilsen at Parachute studio, mastered by Chris Sansom at Propeller Mastering.

Earlybird Stringband - Blindsides
(2011 - Voices of Wonder)

The second Earlybird Stringband album, "Blindsides," recorded in stone cold February 2011 at the coastal island studio Ocean Sound Recordings north west in Norway at Giske. The songs drew inspiration from singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. It was recorded live over five days, emphasizing live interaction and intricate arrangements. The music featured rich chord progressions and emphasized vocal harmonies, showcasing the bandmember's backgrounds in folk, jazz and pop music.

Blindsides was recorded by technician Eyvind Magnus Solberg and mixed by Audun Borrmann at Cabin Recorders. The album aimed for a darker, more expansive and ambient sound than the bands debut album. It was mastered by Brad Blackwood at Euphonic Masters in New York. The cover was designed by Magnus Rakeng, with drawn artwork from artist Morten Holmefjord.


Earlybird Stringband
(2010 - Voices of Wonder)

Earlybird Stringband's first album was recorded in layers and mixed at Harry's Gym in Oslo, with audio engineer Bjarne Stensli. We had established the band 4 years prior, playing a bunch of gigs and festivals around Norway. The goal was to write original music and acheive a direct, uncompromising production style, featuring hard compression and an "everything to the front" sound. The tracks were concise, avoiding prolonged build-ups, yet included surprising chord progressions uncommon in traditional bluegrass. The lyrics shifted between country-inspired landscapes and more ambitious, poetic elements akin to folk and singer-songwriter genres.

Production-wise, the focus was on close-miking acoustic instruments to achieve rawness and intensity. The instrumental performances garnered praise for the band members, leading to inquiries for studio work in other projects. Mastering was done by Fridtjof Lindemann at Strype Mastering. Coverart and band logo by Magnus Rakeng.

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