Discovering Norwegian ambient music from 1985-2001 with Carmen Villain

By in Features, VF Mixes





A refreshing breeze of zen sonics.

Norwegian-Mexican singer/songwriter Carmen Villain is no stranger to weaving gossamer soundscapes. Villain’s latest album, Both Lines Will Be Blue on Smalltown Supersound, sees her mix hypnotic, dreamy sample loops with vocals and drum patterns.

On the heels of its release, Villain uncovered Norway’s ambient and fourth world-esque scene that inspires her:

“There is so much great ambient/experimental music out there, but I thought it would be interesting to look within the country I’m from. Norway has a long and celebrated tradition of contemporary and experimental music, with Arne Nordheim leading the avant garde, as well as freejazz and various experimental takes on that.

For this mix I looked for music that touches in on what I find inspiring and draws me in – more ambient soundscapes, with touches of fourth world where I could find them. I have long been a fan of Biosphere and Deathprod, but I’ve dug a little deeper to discover some gems from well-known musicians as well as lesser known.”

Listen to the mix above, and find out more about a selection of its sounds, as well as a tracklist, below.

Erik Wøllo
‘The Boat 2’
(Cicada Records, 1985)

Eric Wøllo’s Traces is the first album produced using midi in Norway. Being tagged as new age, he never really got the recognition that he deserved. Traces is one of the best electronic albums made in Norway. It still sounds so modern and fresh. Also check out his album from earlier this year Sources on Smalltown Supersound.

Biosphere / Deathprod
‘Katedra Botaniki’
Nordheim Transformed
(Rune Grammofon, 1998)

Arne Nordheim was the grand old master of the Norwegian avantgarde. An eccentric character and one of the biggest celebrities in Norway in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s despite making some of the strangest and most interesting music ever produced. On this album, you get Nordheim transformed by the new masters Geir “Biosphere” Jenssen and Helge “Deathprod” Sten, to create a fusion of the Norwegian avant garde – past, present and future.

‘Nook & Cranny’
(Biophon, 2000)

Cirque, the album that Biosphere made after his classic Substrata, is one his best. Biosphere’s music is a gift, with the beautiful woozy warmth, deep bass, harmonies and textures. One of my all time favourite artists. I was very honoured to have him remix one of my tracks in 2017.

Arve Henriksen
(Rune Grammofon, 2001)

Arve Henriksen is very central on the Norwegian scene for avant/ambient/fourth world both with his solo albums but also as a member of Supersilent. You can hear him in many places in this mix; with Veslefrekk in 94′ (all Supersilent members sans Helge Sten), in a quartet with Bang, Wallumrød and Honoré, and solo. Sakuteiki is his debut solo album and a good place to start.


1. Ultrafox – Inne I Maridalen & Dyra På Kalde Vinternatten (Only Love From Now On 1, Voices, 1995)
2. Veslefrekk – Flate (Veslefrekk, Nor-CD)
3. Biosphere – Nook & Cranny (Cirque, Biophon, 2000)
3. Erik Wøllo – The Boat 2 (Traces, Cicada Records, 1985)
4. Sidsel Endresen & Bugge Wesseltoft – Pennywhistle Poem (Duplex Ride, Curling Legs, 1998)
5. Biosphere / Deathprod – Katedra Botaniki (Nordheim Transformed, Rune Grammofon, 1998)
6. Information – Timer #4 (Artifacts, Beatservice Records, 1998)
7. Kjetil D Brandsdal – Cubicki (Rogalands Lydigste, Swill Radio, 1999)
8. Christian Wallumrød, Arve Henriksen, Jan Bang, Erik Honoré ‎- Zero Visibility
9. Biosphere – Uva-Ursi (Substrata, Origo Sound (now Biophon), 1997)
10. Arve Henriksen – Shrine (Sakuteiki, Rune Grammofon, 2001)
11. Christian Wallumrød, Arve Henriksen, Jan Bang, Erik Honoré ‎– (Birth Wish, Pan Am Records, 2000)

Carmen Villain’s Both Lines Will Be Blue is out now on Smalltown Supersound.