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Our best kept secret: Snorkel presents N.A.O.M.B

We discuss the prevalent appeal of Olav Brekke Mathisen and Sideshow Jøgge’s N.A.O.M.B with Snorkel’s Olefonken and Snorri as the album gets the reissue treatment from the label and an official release party at Jaeger this Friday.

There are albums that live outside of their time. For a multitude of reasons, they never truly get the recognition they deserve. They might even inform a zeitgeist, and still not garner the same kind of distinction that their peers enjoy. It’s almost like they’re designed for obscurity, cultivating a brief dalliance with their audience before disappearing from view. Like a one-night stand at a star-crossed intersection it’s a fleeting encounter destined for wistful nostalgia. 

There are those however that never forget that encounter; hold onto it for a lifetime as a memory of sonic perfection they strive their whole career in an attempt to pay due diligence. Snorkel records’ Olefonken and Snorri are those kinds of people and Olav Brekke Mathisen and Sideshow Jøgge’s NAOMB is one of those albums. 

NAOMB or Nugatti all Ova me Butty came out over twenty years ago. It was a record that made an indelible impact in Oslo’s space race towards a “Nu” era of Disco at the time with artists like Prins Thomas, Lindstrøm and Todd Terje at the helm of the ship. While the aforementioned went on to great heights, Olav and Jøgge broke off at the first stage, making a contribution that was brief, but no less significant. International media outlets like Jockey Slut were quick to sing their praises, but as their one and only LP, and very little else in the form of music to follow from the pair, they kind of slipped into obscurity, at least in the music scene.  

Jøgge would become an actor, and Olav set his sights on writing, neither to ever venture into the world of recorded music ever again. You could argue if they had kept at it, NAOMB would enjoy the same kind of reverent awe as those first Prins Thomas and Lindstrøm records and as an album there is no reason it couldn’t still hold its own alongside some of Oslo’s more revered albums. Analogue synthesisers and grooves made for dancing bounce through 12 tracks, and they’ve hardly aged. The timeless nature of the sounds and their breadth of their musical dialect provide a touchstone from almost every decade of “dance” music; from progressive funk of the 70’s; the post-jazz inclinations of eighties and even right up to the French staccato of late 90’s House, it’s all there and it’s survived remarkably well. 

While the duo’s inactivity in the music scene might have certainly played a role in the album being largely forgotten there are still a few musical diehards like the people behind Snorkel, that will endeavour to shine a light where necessary. After a chance encounter with the pair, NAOMB gets the reissue treatment and what they’ve done is installed it in its rightful place in the Norwegian canon of music. As the label prepares for the official release party at Jaeger and the duo prepare for their accompanying live show, we got in touch with Snorkel and hopefully Olav and Jøgge to find out more about the origins of the record and its significance today. 

How did you meet Olav and Jøgge?

Initially, we were just kids trying to keep up with the cool of what our older brothers and their friends were listening to at that time, and Olav and Jøgge was one of them, so we were lucky to see them play live several times and thought they were cooler than a popsicle! And against all advice, we later took the plunge and actually hung out with our boyhood heroes. Lucky for us, they turned out to be two loveable guys! 

Has N.A.O.M.B always been on the back of your mind as something that you want to re-release, or was it triggered by the chance encounter?

N.A.O.M.B had always been on the back of our minds ever since we heard it at high school. It’s like the plague – you can’t get rid of it even how much you try – the only difference is that you don’t want to get rid of it either. It’s like a black cup of joe on a moonless night! 

That said, Snorkel wasn’t initially conceived with reissues in mind, despite our deep admiration for labels putting in the work to unearth exceptional music. However, two albums left an immense impact on our musical taste: dibidim’s debut album “Riders” and Olav Brekke Mathisen & Sideshow Jøgge’s “N.A.O.M.B.” If you plot these albums on a spectrum, everything in between shapes the Snorkel sound today. This release is the final token atop our totem pole, the foundation for everything else to come.

What was it about the record that endeared you to it in the first place? 

When we first laid ears on the record, it was like the musical equivalent of finding a hidden stash of chocolate in the vegetable drawer – delightfully unexpected and rebellious!

What were Olav and Jøggee’s reaction when you told them you wanted to reissue it?

It seemed like they didn’t believe us at the beginning. It was probably only when we started showing up at their doorstep that it dawned on them that we were serious! Now that it has become a reality, they have showered us with joy and gratitude, something we find peculiar and surreal to grasp, considering that for us, releasing this on our own label is a dream come true!

Did they tell you what was behind that title and the acronym for “Nugatti all Ova me Butty”? 

Oh, we never mustered the courage to ask! Some mysteries are better off remaining unsolved, you know

The record would have come out originally at a time when there was so much focus on Norway and Oslo specifically for what would be coined as Space Disco. Was it as well received as some of the other records coming out of Oslo at that time?

Even though “NAOMB” has been tucked away like a hidden treasure, unlike the more well-known Norwegian Nudisco classics of its time, it managed to catch the ears of influential DJs such as Doc Martin, Gerd Janson, and the late Andrew Weatherall, among others. Ironically, we used to be the secret-keepers, now 20 years later yelling from the rooftops about its triumphant return! 

It’s a timeless sounding record and it’s aged magnificently well. What in your opinion has contributed to its longevity?

Well must be that secret sauce – lubricating nugatti all over your butty!

Was anything changed in terms of music or post-production for the reissue and what were the reasons for those decisions?

The tracks “hasjbox” and “fluffy the vampire” are included on vinyl for the very first time, which they weren’t back in 2003. And also the whole album ends with Olav’s stunner “take to the sky” which is a really nice prick over the I, as we say here in Norway!

The original LP was never released on vinyl I believe and Snorkel is very much all about the analogue. What was the biggest challenge putting this on vinyl, and do you think putting out like this, in a format that it was never intended for, brought something else across on this record?

The biggest challenge was to get the boys to remember anything from 20 years ago. Where are the original projects? Do you have any back up disks etc. But then again the first song is called “hasjbox” so yeah, you see where this is going!

Is this going to be the start of some new music from the duo or is it destined for one-night only?

Going through the old disks uncovered a treasure trove of forgotten gems. As we are working on Snorkel’s new 12” series, who knows? We might just get more from OBM & Jøgge in the near future…