Norwegian ambient electronica

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Pjusk - Tools and techniques - A sprinkle of randomness

Added on by Rune Sagevik.

To put it simply, our music is often some repetitive parts built up from some number of layers. These parts usually come from recordings of analog synthesizers, VST instruments or different sources of acoustic and electric instruments like guitars, piano and wind instruments. The parts are organized in an arrangement where we bring in and out different parts over the duration of a tune. We feel that monotony and repetition are an important core of music in the ambient genre regardless of what sub-genre within ambient we are talking about. To make monotonous and repetitive music interesting over time we need something more, and for us that usually means to sprinkle our music with some randomness.

After coming up with the primary parts of a tune we often start looking for that little bit of extra randomness to make a track come alive. Here we will present some of our most used techniques for creating just that.

Since we are using quite a bit of field recordings in our music, why not just find a nice and long recording to mix in to give the track that little extra. Well, yes we do that too..but often we might find a small piece of recording that really suits the mood of the track and we want to use that. How can we then go about using that small piece across a whole track without it ending up sounding too static?

For a long time we have been using three particular tools in Ableton Live to make short recordings become longer interesting pieces.

1. Clip envelopes

Using Live’s clip envelopes set to varying lengths has been a go to for as long as we can remember. This can generate interesting stuff of almost any recording. Load up a clip with a loop or recording of some kind. It could be rhythms, field recordings or whatever. Select and loop the part of the clip that you want to use.

In the envelopes section, set the Loop button to Unliked and adjust the Loop Brace to have a different loop length than the sample section of your clip. Preferably even, a loop length that is a bit off. With a loop length of two bars in the audio section, try with a loop length of e.g 1.4.2 or 1.1.3 in the envelope section and adjust your envelope for interesting effects. All your available envelopes can have different loop lengths so you can give your original sound a pretty extreme makeover, and best of all, you will be able to make your loop sound different all across your track and, with tiny adjustments, even different for each time it is played back.

2. Beat Repeat

Beat Repeat is a great effect to create small bits of random occurrences of sound. But beware of overusing it.

3. Max4Live LFO

The Max4Live LFO is perfect for making changes to different parameters over time. I can be mapped to all sorts of things, and we use it all the time.

4. The combination of all the above tools and techniques

All the three mentioned tools and techniques can give you excellent results on their own. Combine them all and there are really no limits to how you can randomize small snippets of sound.

Take care.

Jostein & Rune

Pjusk - Tools and techniques - Ableton Live

Added on by Rune Sagevik.

We’re starting out this blog series with our favourite DAW. ..or our favourite software we might even say.

When Pjusk started out we were using Acid Pro. An application originally released by Sonic Foundry. Later on Sonic Foundry was merged with Sony to create Sony Creative Software, and today Acid is available from Magix. Acid Pro was really a great application at the time (and most possibly still is). We could run a lot of tracks on fairly modest computers, looping clips and tracks was a breeze and it had great automation features. But we did not use it for long. Only our first ever released track, Flyktig, was written in Acid.

Quite quickly after forming Pjusk we discovered Ableton Live. It was live at first sight. Live version 4. With its equally good automation features and easiness of looping. It had everything that Acid had, and then some. The automation features in Live was even better than in Acid, as we could have automation both on clips as well as tracks.

Where Live really shined for us in the start was in its routing possibilities. Everything could be routed to everything. ..or so it felt, and the all new Session View (not new to Live of course, but new to us) was just terrific.

Since then, Live has been at the center for us. If we look at the individual parts involved in music production, Live might not be the best tool. There are probably DAWs out there that are better in editing and manipulating midi tracks and data, that are better for editing audio, DAWs with better performance, and DAWs that sound better, but for us, Live is the tool that gives us the results we want and like, and the tool that has a workflow we are confident with.

Of course we have been using systems like Cubase and Logic, but somehow we feel that Live is more straight to the core of music making. In later years, with additions such as Max4Live and the hardware unit Push (now version 2), the overall system is stronger than ever.  Also with support from online-collaboration systems like Splice , the future is bright. If you don´t know Splice, we recommend checking it out. It is a huge help for us and our collaborators around the world.   

Next blog post in this series will be about what tools we use in Live, how we shape our signature sound and our favourite third party plugs.

Take care.

Jostein & Rune

Pjusk to perform in Barcelona in April

Added on by Jostein.

Pjusk will be performing at the 8th Storung Festival on the 17th of April 2013. The festival wants to offer the audience the chance of getting to know in detail different tendencies of the electronic music scene, continuing the work that the multidisciplinary platform Störung has been doing since 2006. Störung Festival 8 is dedicated to the memory of our friend Juan Diego Burillo (1974-2012). We are looking forward to honouring his memory with our music. We are also creating a video featuring Norwegian footage to accompany our performance.

Hoping to see you in Barcelona!

Pjusk in Sopot, Poland

Added on by Jostein.

I have just returned from Sopot, Poland where I had a terrific time playing at the Open Source Art festival. The line up consisted of Deadbeat, Opiate, Deru, Pleq among others. Great artists and a true honour to be part of this inspiring event! Unfortunately Rune couldn't join me but we will back together soon! Please check out our FB-page for photos from the event.

Pjusk in Madrid

Added on by Jostein.

No me pongas los cuernos - the exhibition in Madrid at Casa Encidada is featuring work by Pjusk.  We were invited to perform at the opening, but unfortunately we were unable to attend.  Instead we made sure our Sus video made together with Till Nowak is on display. The theme of the exhibition is Nordic culture set in contrast to a Spanish context. We are deeply honoured to be in the lineup of inspiring artists such as: Maiken Bent ,Louise Bertelsen, Ectoplasm Girls, Anni Holm, Ingen Frygt, Tove Kjellmark, Mette Borup Kristensen, Caroline Mårtensson, Niels Peeraer, Martini Projects and Sogar (a label mate on 12k). NO ME PONGAS LOS CUERNOS—literally, don’t put the horns on me— is an expression that means absolutely nothing when taken out of context and culture. Comprehension is not just a matter of reflecting, of using propositions, but a way of experiencing and understanding a comprehensible reality. Every cultural tradition, our ties to a linguistic community, our aesthetic sensibilities and our reaction to perceptive stimuli are totally conditioned by our western context of meaning.

We wish Sarah and Marta the best of luck!

Pjusk "Tele" - 2012

Added on by Jostein.

A new album is out.  At the moment only the digital release is available, but the actual physical manifestation should be out during the month of March. The album is released on the Italian label Glacial Movements - run by Alessandro Tedeschi.  We think it was a natural progression from Sval on 12k to explore further the themes of elemental forces and unforgiving nature. A few words about the album.  We actually feel the album pushing in two directions.  One being more abstract and perhaps darker, the other being warmer and slightly easier on the ear. This is a conscious experiment and something that automatically leads to a less homogeneous sound.  Nevertheless, hopefully we are not distancing us too much from our origins.

I think it is quite safe to say that our next album (which will be out on 12k) will probably go into the sonic spaces our debut "Sart" ventured in. Kind of a typical reaction after having worked with two releases that have overall similarities in style and expression. Not disclosing too much, we are now keen to further develop the sound of Pjusk. And perhaps throwing in some surprises as well?

If you are curious about the "Tele" release, you could always check it out on iTunes.


Take care!

Jostein & Rune

Glacial Movements album in the works

Added on by Jostein.

Summer and warm weather is upon us in abundance - so this is just a quick update to let you know that we have started working on our album for the Italian label, Glacial Movements.  We anticipate the album to be ready this autumn. Last project out on this label was Scott Morgan (Loscil) with the release "coast/range/arc". We congratulate Scott and Glacial Movements with a terrific release!

Pjusk 2011

Added on by Jostein.

Happy New Year,  dear friends and companions! 2010 is just behind us in a gust of cold wind (extremely cold weather the past weeks here in Norway) and 2011 is fresh and ready to be enjoyed.  The highlight of 2010 was (not surprisingly) the release of our second album "Sval" on 12k. We received a lot of terrific attention and good reviews - we were especially delighted about the review from Although we could have hoped for a slightly better response from various events and festivals around the world, nevertheless, 2011 is so far quite packed when it comes to creating music:

  • Pleq-collaboration.  We have initiated, based on our experiences participating on the "Good Night EP" released on Basses Frequences, a collaboration with the Polish artist Pleq. We are really looking forward to this time of work and are preparing ourselves to venture into new musical territories.
  • Album release on Glacial Movements Records. We were contacted by a nice Italian by the name of Alessandro. He told us enthusiastically about his label and his plans for the future - and we immediately felt a natural belonging to his label (perhaps even more so because of  "Sval" which is quite arctic in style and timbre).  Other releases on this label in 2011 by Thomas Köner, Loscil and Bvdub.

Taylor and 12k are always on our minds.  We feel 12k as a home and will continue to release music on this magnificent label as long as we are welcome to (a big, well-deserved hug to Taylor). We have not started working on a new album yet for 12k, but we know what directions we want to explore.  But enough ramblings and gibberish.  Play, work and contribute to a better life for yourself and others! Enjoy life!

See you soon!


Jostein & Rune

Pjusk in collaboration with Sigrid Moldestad

Added on by Rune.

In an attempt to further enhance and explore our Norwegian identity and sound, we are at the moment looking towards a collaboration with Sigrid Moldestad. Sigrid is a Norwegian fiddleplayer/singer from Breim, Norway. She was awarded the Norwegian Grammy 2007 for the album "Taus". Her new album "Sandkorn" was released spring 2010. She is also member in the groups Spindel and Gamaltnymalt. In her latest project Sigrid has recorded songs by Robert Burns, lyrics of Jakob Sande and her own songs and instrumental tunes. For more information about Sigrid Moldestad, check out her MySpace page:

Sigrid Moldestad at MySpace

More about the Hardanger fiddle

Pjusk "Sval" album out now

Added on by Rune.

Jostein and I are proud to present our new album entitled "Sval" , released today on Taylor Deupree's 12k label. It has been a period of excitement and expectation for us while we waited for the album to be released, and we hope it will be recieved well among those of you who take pleasure in the kind of music we deliver as Pjusk. We are certainly very proud of the results. Big thanks goes out to Strië and Tor Anders Voldsund that helped us create this album, to Andreas Nordenstam for excellent mastering work and to Taylor Deupree for releasing it. Sval is available as both cd and as digital download at 12k

Pjusk "Sval" album out in 6 days

Added on by Jostein.

The countdown has started.  We are now closer than ever to the release of our second album "Sval"  - an album that we feel is more focused and consistent than our debut, "Sart".  In addition we have had the pleasure of working with Strië - and she has worked with us on two tracks - adding her great musicality and intriguing sounds.  We had a great time working with you! Also our good friend and long-time contributor Tor Anders Voldsund has created a track together with us. We thank you both for what you have given us and for the musical quality you have contributed to the album. Strië has recently landed an album deal with the brilliant Norwegian label Soundscaping. Congratulations! We are really looking forward to the release and in the meantime Strië can be enjoyed live on stage performing with Greg Haines.

Brian Eno Interview

Added on by Jostein.

The Pjusk website is about what makes us tick and it is no secret that Brian Eno is a living legend.  I came over a brilliant interview with him (actually found the link on the 12k-forum).  He is also showcasing the plugin Synplant (a plugin we of course is using as well and highly recommend - really a bit of fresh air in the digital sound department) and his iPhone app Bloom. Lots of inspiring thoughts on sound design, music making and life in general. [vimeo id="9091096"]