Record Shopping Oslo, Norway Style

The Life in the Vinyl Lane family are in Oslo, Norway for about four days, our own little pre-funk for Iceland Airwaves 2014.  And of course, that can mean only one thing.  No, not continuous rain… though that has been the case so far.  No, not super expensive everything… though that has also been the case, most clearly evidenced by the fact that a tallboy is $5… at the grocery store… for one can!  Yes, that’s $30 for a sixer.  No, my dear friends, it means that somebody is going record shopping (<- hint, it’s THIS GUY!).

I’d guess musically Norway is known primarily for two things:  A-Ha, and black metal.  Which if you looked them both up in the Music Thesaurus you’d likely find them to be antonyms.  And while we didn’t pick up any A-Ha on this trip (and yes, we did look to see if we could find anything unusual…), we did have some encounters with black metal.  So without further a-do…

Neseblod Records

Neseblod is basically ground zero for Norwegian black metal.  Yes, the store is relatively small… but it’s jam packed with metal so black that even Nigel Tufnel would be impressed with its blackness.  Thrown in tons and tons of shirts, patches, CDs, tapes, and just about anything you can think if, and it’s the metal Mecca.  If there was a Burzum lunchbox, you could probably find it here.

Now, while I like metal, my metal evolution stopped quite some time ago, and I’ve got no experience at all with the truly hard and extreme stuff, including black metal. But I did a little homework in advance of the trip because hey, if you’re in Norway you kind of owe it to yourself to pick up a black metal record.  And I figured since I was probably only going to buy one or two, I may as well do it in style, so I came away with the 2003 limited edition (of 1,000) re-release of Mayhem’s 1987 debut Deathcrush.  Mayhem are legendary not only as one of the early Norwegian black metal bands, but also because of the 1991 suicide of Per Ohlin and 1993 murder of guitarist Euronymous (by former Mayhem member Varg Vikernes).  And if that isn’t black metal (and bad luck, though I suppose luck had nothing to do with it), I don’t know what is.

The selection, as I mentioned, is deep and the prices seem reasonable - just remember, this is Oslo, and everything here is expensive as hell.  My Deathcrush disc ran me roughly $50, so I could have gotten it mail order for a bit cheaper… but hey, when in Oslo.  Plus Neseblod is also home to the Black Metal Museum, which the guy working there offered to unlock for me.  And then led me down a spiral staircase ringed with t-shirts to the basement, past some more inventory, into a space that made me wonder if we weren’t going to find catacombs or those missing kids from the Blair Witch Project or something.  While there were no dead bodies, there was a coffin, a creepy brick fireplace, and a few assorted odds and ends.  Not a whole lot to see as it basically isn’t fully set up at the moment, but I can check that one off the bucket list.

Word to the wise - Neseblod doesn’t take credit cards, so make sure to bring cold hard cash.

Råkk og Rålls

Only a few blocks from our hotel, this was the store I was most interested to see.  And it didn’t disappoint.  Three levels of music and swag.

When I checked my record bag at the front counter, the guy working was pretty stoked to see it was from Trash Palace in Stockholm - he knows the guys there and is a big fan of the shop (as am I).  I spent most of my time downstairs looking through their robust punk section, as well as their Scandinavian records hoping I might find a gem or too.  Metal was down there as well, but mostly more “mainstream” metal and not the black stuff that Norway is so well known for.  But no matter since I’d already bought my Mayhem record at Neseblod, so I focused on the punk and local stuff.  I came away with a two record comp from Krank Records, a 1980 comp called Fix Og Færdig, the recently released collection of early 1980s Oi! by Oppslutning (limited edition of 300), and, the one I’m most excited to play when I get home, Anarki & Kaos:  Norsk Punk ’79-’81.  Overall a pretty solid haul and some good people working there.  Highly recommended.

Big Dipper

I didn’t buy anything at Big Dipper.  That’s not to say it’s not a good record store - in fact it was well laid out, seemed to have a pretty broad selection, and even carried an impressive range of new turntables.  Near as I can tell, though, all the vinyl was new, and while I poked around a bit, punk and metal didn’t seem to be a focus.  They did have a solid selection of local artists, rock, jazz, etc, just not what I was looking for.

Tiger

We almost missed Tiger.  In fact we walked past it yesterday and didn’t even realize it.  It’s a pretty small shop which I believe is both a store and a record label.  The selection of punk and metal is solid, plus they’ve got sections for electronic and such.  While there wasn’t a ton of material in the store, I found some nice nuggets there, including a re-release of the 1980 debut LP of OG Norwegian punks Kjøtt and a comp of 1980-83 punk from northern Norway.  Plus the store must have been having an anniversary or something, because they had cake!

 

We’ve had a good time so far in Oslo.  While we still have a few more days here, I suspect my vinyl buying is over, since I need to save plenty of room in my record bag for our trip to Reykjavik in a few days.  I already have some stuff on hold for me there, plus a few more expensive rarities that I have my eye on, so I can’t overdo it here.  I’m glad to see that the vinyl scene is alive and well here, though, and I’m looking forward to spinning this stuff when I get home - and rest assured I’ll be writing as I listen.

Leave a Reply