Finn Coren
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Finn Coren

Oslo, Oslo County, Norway | INDIE

Oslo, Oslo County, Norway | INDIE
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter


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"Finn Coren The Blake Project 1 & 2"

Finn Coren
Spring - The Blake Project, Part 1 & 2
Bard Records

Finn Coren is a serious artist.

You can see that from the pictures of him on the cover of this CD. Hearing this album only strengthens that impression, and - note which musicians are participating. Then of course, Finn Coren is the only Norwegian musician who has the courage to do a project like this; putting contemporary (rock) music to William Blake's poetry.

This is Coren's third LP (his first release was a single - My Life Is My Art (!) - in 1987), and apart from one track on a Rock Furore (Norwegian magazine - editor's note) CD four years ago, this is his first output since 1990's Love's Loneliness by A Full Moon In March. This isn't the first time Coren puts music to poetry, as he partly did that on his first solo LP, The Echoing Green (1989) while A Full Moon In March was "Coren and Trøst (Trond Tornes) on William Butler Yeats".

I have always regarded Finn Coren as a true visionary, a man with the belief and guts to make music that stands out from what most Norwegian contemporaries manage. Listening to his previous records still gives me pleasure, but I can now hear that those records are not as faultless as I once considered them to be. Spring - The Blake Project proves Coren's talent, and I am glad to say he has matured considerably (as have I as a listener, I guess). As usual, he collaborates with producer Ulf W. Ø. Holand and guitarist Nils-Arne Øvergård, and I feel that their strong partnership is one of the main reasons for this record's artistical success. Some of the music was written as long ago as 1983 (does anyone remember Hambi And The Dance?), but Coren regarded himself not experienced enough to record them at that time. But here it is, Spring - The Blake Project, recorded in the 1990's with some lyrics more than 200 years old:

I was a little bit scared the first time I heard the record; the opening track immediately got me thinking of Songs From The Wood (!) by Jethro Tull (!!) - what is Finn Coren up to? But already on the next song, The Garden Of Love, I knew he was on the right track, and that this was going to be a good record. Spring, with it's acoustic guitars, cello and mello(w)tron (aah!!!) is a typical Coren song, a ballad as soft as you can get it, so beautiful it nearly hurts. One of his best songs ever. The Voice Of The Ancient Bard brings memories of Cat Stevens (...), or rather, Roy Harper on a good day, an acoustic song with impeccable Fender Rhodes by Jon Willy Rydningen. More electric piano follows on Holy Thursday Two, this time a jumping Wurlitzer which nearly makes me wanna dance. This song closes part 1, Spring, and as this album contains more than 70 minutes of music, I prefer to take a break here (I recommend a quick spin of one of the two EP's by Bronson Comet Lighter in this intermission).

The opening title track of part two, Silent Melancholy, is Coren again as we have learned to know him from earlier. Some people with no sense of history would scream Suede!, but I will calm them down and tell them that this is a tune Coren could have recorded already on his first album. Many of the songs which follows, show him as an adult, sophisticated artist with a lot on offer. I must add that the quality of the songs on the second part of the album is higher, so I feel that this is the better of the two parts.

I prefer the more relaxed moments on the album (check To Tirzah with it's divine trumpet), and I feel that Coren has a problem with the up-tempo rockier songs (they are in minority). Gone is the Bowie hang-up that overshadowed some of his earlier work, here he has found a more distinct personal style. Spring - The Blake Project is a long record (yes, I know this is 2 records on 1 CD) that needs time to grow on you, and a record that I will come back to many, many times. It is certainly one of the albums that will be on my Best of 1997-list. I wonder what he would come up with if someone told him to write a song for Robert Wyatt? I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be a new Shipbuilding. He can be that good. In the meantime, what about releasing material from the rumoured 2-3 albums recorded between 1990 and 1996?
- Luna Kafé

"Finn Coren "Lovecloud""

Finn Coren
Bard Records

Two years ago, I raved in these pages about Finn Coren's 'comeback' album, The Blake Project: Spring. Last year he released a new collection of songs where he put music to William Blake's poetry, called The Blake Project; Spring, The Appendix. In 1997, he had not released anything for about seven years, but now he is back again with another full length Release.

Many have been curious about the material Coren recorded after the Full Moon In March, and Lovecloud consists mostly of older songs, probably intended for a follow-up to his first solo release some time in the early nineties (late 80's ... - editor's note). Different versions of two of the songs here have been released earlier, Shake Up The World was on a CD collection with a Norwegian magazine, and Darling Downs was his second single back in 1988 (Luna Records!!!). These songs has also given name to the two 'sides' on this CD, Poppermost (a line from the song Shake Up The World) and Darling Downs respectively.

So, what can be said about this record then? From the first second, we are met by the same 'sound' we are used to from The Blake Project CDs, wide open and deliciously produced, and played by top musicians as always. Lovecloud is more laid back, poppier even, than its predecessors, and string arrangements have been added to quite a few of the songs. Finn Coren is a bit of a Lennon (and Beatles) buff of course and his way of singing has often been compared to David Bowie. I did an interview with him back in 1989, when his first LP came out. He was talking with engagement about (among other things) Kevin Ayers and the early Soft Machine. These musicians have inspired him, but as always, Coren is first and foremost himself. This time he has done most of the lyrics himself, and as far as I can see, he has done a pretty good job at that, too.

The first track that gets your attention is Smile (also out as a single), probably the most 'commercial' song Coren has ever released, and it has gained a bit airplay as well (another glorious Mellotron, but isn't it a bit too Mantovani on the string arrangement side?). The more introvert side of his music is represented on Poison Girl, complete with two of Coren's long time collaborators, Nils-Arne Øvergård on guitars and Ulf Holand's programming and tape effects.

As mentioned above, Shake Up The World has been out before, and it has been a personal favourite since it appeared on the Rock Furore CD in 1993. This re-recording (based on the original) is as potent as ever with screeching Mellotron (unheard of in 1991!) multi-layers of voices and guitars. It is the most 'rocky' track here, the only small drawback being the mixing of Berit Lohne's backing vocals.

There is no problem finding highlights on this record, I just have to mention the last track where Coren duets with Velvet Belly's Anne Marie Almedal on a gentle, exciting interpretation of John Lennon's Grow Old With Me. The string arrangement here by composer Jon-Øivind Ness is also worth mentioning.

So, another brave, dare I say triumphant, release from Finn Coren, I guess it's time for a concert soon?
- Luna Kafé



FINN COREN "My Life is my Art"/"Cheers to the Wild Boys"
Hinterland 1987

FINN COREN "Darling Downs"/"Catch that Girl"
Luna Music 1989

A FULL MOON IN MARCH "Love's Loneliness"
Kirkelig Kulturverksted 1990

Bard Records 1997

Bard Records 1997

FINN COREN "Riverboatman"/"A Christmas Blessing" EP
Bard Records 1998

FINN COREN "The Smile"
Bard Records 1999

FINN COREN "The Echoing Green"
Luna Music 1989

A FULL MOON IN MARCH "Love's Loneliness"
Kirkelig Kulturverksted 1990

Bard Records 1997

Bard Records 1998

FINN COREN "Lovecloud"
Bard Records 1999

FINN COREN "I draumar fær du" 2008

Discover Norway: "A Ride Into The NorwegianMusic Scene" (promo-not for sale)
A Full Moon in March: "Crazy Jane talks with the Bishop"
Track 9 NMS/Revolution 1991

Rock Furore Magazine # 18 (promo-not for sale)
Finn Coren : Shake up the World ('92-version) Track 1
Rock Furore 1993

Faro Magazine - Quart Special : 1999 M (promo-not for sale)
Finn Coren : "Poison Girl" Track 9
Telenor/Faro Innovation 1999

Norway Now "pop" (promo-not for sale)
Finn Coren "The Smile" Track 5
Norwegian Music Export 2004




Amid the pines and the poplars, the elms and the birches, lies a house. The neighbours stare and wonder. Differently-attired people and their improbable sedans come and go at all hours. In violation of local codes, the snow piles over the mailbox and there are grapefruit rinds on the lawn. In the house, activity goes on unabated. For years this has been the production centre of some of the most beautiful musical pieces I have ever come across. Here Finn Coren creates his art.
The myths of the undiscovered genius have always appeared through history covering all types of art. Even in the music world the odd Van Gogh and Gaughin equivalent can at times appear, although underground magazine journalists have done their best to bring them to the surface. One genius that, despite phenomenal acclaim, loiters still in the shadow is Finn Coren.
Imagine the archaeologist that suddenly stumbled across an undiscovered pyramid. I felt the same way the first time I put Finn Coren's debut album "The Echoing Green" on the record player. The year was 1989, and I knew right away that this was an artist I would follow for many years. It wasn't just the incredible melodic splendour it presented, but also the audacious way he added theatrical elements, something which at the time was almost frowned upon in the music press. The debut single "My Life Is My Art" had a particularly creepy soupcon that only Bowie in his most mysterious moods managed to create - the vision of a character going a bit "off the rails", but still able to thrill the unknowing bystanders.
The following year, he had teamed up with Trøst, a fellow poetry-freak from the north-west of Norway, to make "A Full Moon In March", a project dedicated to put music to William Butler Yeats' poems. The budget this time was larger, allowing Coren to take a rather more symphonic approach in his arrangements, with amazing results. This would have been the album that in a normal music career would take an artist to international heights. Coming from Norway, it unfortunately would mean years of networking if ever to achieve such a feat.
Coren, painfully aware of this, travelled to America, both bringing his 2 albums and demos for a third. People he played it to were enormously impressed. Lenny Kravitz' manager Stephen E. Smith even agreed to help out, presenting it to the A&Rs of several of the multinational labels. Elektra was ready to sign, but last minute staff changes put everything on hold.
After many trips to LA and months of waiting around, Finn Coren returned to Oslo, continuing to fine-tune the follow up, which this time was to be music based on William Blakes' poems. Determined to make this the ultimate masterpiece he twisted, re-recorded and re-mixed it endlessly. And when he finally was satisfied - seven years had passed since the A Full Moon In March release. Finn Coren The Blake Project came out as two albums released in quick succession. "Spring" and "Spring: The Appendix" were music of a kind no Scandinavian artist had previously come up with, managing to find a way of interpreting the old master were the soundscape felt as if made for it. The albums also epitomized a return to the quirkier sides of Coren's debut. "The Fly", particularly, presented a bizarre, folky twist to an otherwise rather modern beat, with Coren's spooky whispering leaving one a bit uncertain where he's heading. The Blake Project received phenomenal acclaim, but still failed to make its deserved impact outside the Norwegian borders.
In Norway "Spring" was nominated for a Grammy (Spellemannsprisen), but apart from having the videos for "The Sick Rose" and "Spring" circulated on MTV-Europe, the albums, due to poor distribution, were not able to reach a broader international audience. They however received standing ovations in Blake circles around the world, and the albums have since been used as an educational tool at several Universities in the US and Canada.
1999 brought another amazing album, this time with Coren returning as a lyricist. "Lovecloud" was a slightly darker affair, almost bringing Tolkien-esque visions of astonishing green fields and slimy creatures, like in the fabulous "Dwarfman". To this date "Lovecloud" remains my favourite.
Thankfully, I've been informed, the story doesn't end there. 2004 has an exciting new release on the agenda, with Coren for the first time taking on the works of a Norwegian poet, Olav H. Hauge. Also in the pipeline, is another Yeats album, picking up where he left off in 1990 with A Full Moon In March. 2004 promises to be a glorious year for those of us that have stumbled across this astonishing pleasant-sounding discovery.

Stig Jakobsen, Fjords Magazine