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Unsongs (2016)

June Fourth 1989: From the Shattered Pieces of a Stone it Begins written by the Chinese poet and activist Liu Xiaobo, in commemoration of the Tiananmen massacre on June Fourth 1989. Music by Pål Moddi Knutsen. Based on the translation from Jeffrey Yang. Opening words spoken at Tiananmen Square on 19 May 1989 by Zhao Ziyang, then general secretary of the Communist Party. It was his last public appearance.

A Matter of Habit written by the Israeli author Alona Kimhi and musician Izhar Ashdot. Lyrics based on the official translation by Udi Henis. The army radio station Galatz cancelled a live performance of the song in 2012, later stating that “we should avoid celebrating a song that demonizes our soldiers.”

Punk Prayer written by the Russian activist collective Pussy Riot. The melody is based on Rachmaninov’s “Ave Maria” from 1915. New arrangement by Pål Moddi Knutsen. In 2012, Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”.

Open Letter written by the Kabyle singer, poet and secularist Lounès Matoub. The song is a parody of the Algerian national anthem. Matoub was assassinated in a roadside attack in 1998.

Army Dreamers words and music by Kate Bush. After widespread airplay, the song disappeared from BBC playlists during the Gulf War.

Our Worker words and music by Chilean singer and theatre director Víctor Jara. Jara was killed during the Chilean coup d’état in 1973.

Parrot, Goat & Rooster written by Mexican group Los Tucanes de Tijuana. Drug ballads like this are enormously popular in Mexico, but also banned in certain states. New melody by Pål Moddi Knutsen.

The Shaman and the Thief. Sami trad., (app. 1830). English lyrics by Maren Skolem, based on a translation from Harald Gaski. Music by Pål Moddi Knutsen. The Sami have for centuries been subject to discrimination from cultures claiming possession of their lands. Such treatment continues to this day.

Eli Geva written by Richard Burgess in 1982. The Norwegian songstress Birgitte Grimstad was persuaded to refrain from performing the song on her Israel tour the same year. New melody by Pål Moddi Knutsen.

Strange Fruit written by Abel Meeropol in 1937 in protest of public lynchings in the USA. Billie Holiday’s record label refused to release her version of the song because they feared reactions from record retailers and radio networks. It eventually became her most famous song.

Where is my Vietnam? words and music by the Vietnamese musician and activist Viet Khang. In 2012, Khang was sentenced to four years in prison for anti-state propaganda. He is currently under house arrest.

Oh My Father, I Am Joseph written by the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. Music by Pål Moddi Knutsen. Lebanese singer Marcel Khalife was charged of blasphemy for performing the poem, as it contains two lines vaguely cited from the Quran.

UNSONGS
Producer, musical director and engineer Hasse Rosbach. Recorded at Isitart and Propeller Music Division between August 2014 and February 2016. Strings recorded at Øra by […]. Mixed by Mike Hartung at Propeller Music Division. Mastered by […] at […]. Translations by Pål Moddi Knutsen and Maren Skolem. Orchestral arrangements by Hasse Rosbach. Prepared for Trondheimsolistene by K.A.V. Cover artwork by Maryam T. Photo by Jørgen Nordby.

PERFORMED BY
Pål Moddi Knutsen: vocals, guitar, accordion, pump organ (3), trumpet and horn (7). Hasse Rosbach: bass, electric guitar, choir, melodic percussion, percussion, mellotron, piano (12). Peder Kjellsby: drums, percussion. Katrine Schiøtt: cello, vocals.[…]: piano, würlitzer, organ (10). Mari Boine: vocals and joik (12). Strings performed by TrondheimsolisteneJørgen Nordby Henriksen: shakers (2, 4) and handclaps (6). Erik Normann Sannes Aanonsen: double bass (8, 12). Jacob Dobewall: handclaps (12).

Thank you
Sigbjørn, Lars, Eli and Liora, Birgitte and Richard, Zofia, Norsk viseforum, Huong and Arve, Benedicte, Adrian and Ramon, Kristoffer, Bjørneblæs, Elisa, MJ, Camila, Åsta, Halvor and Maria, Lise, Sean, Tucker, Noura, Tony and Sabrina, Mormor, Nur, Eirik, Varvara, Michael, [ … ], Linda and Harald, Peder and Sjur, Kåre, Andreas, Kristoffer and Jacob, Einar, Frithjof, Asbjørn, Anne Marit, Tom, Jodie Jodie Jodie, Jules, James, Glenn, Geir, friends and family, helpers and critics, and to you for listening. Released with support from FFUK & FFLB.

[ … ] with respect and thanks to contributors who could not / did not wish to be named.