Festival report: By:Larm 2010 (day 1)

It's day two of By:Larm and one of last night's highlights for myself and the other writers I've been speaking to was definitely the set from new band Altaar.

Andreas Tylden (from JR Ewing) and Sten Ove Toft (Utarm, Ryfylke, , etc.) have formed what Andreas describes as "an avant garde metal, post metal band", whose influences include Phillip Glass and John Cage. "We're a brand new band, we've only done five shows," he explains. That might explain why the crowd for the show was small, but everyone present -- include NME reporter Matt Wilkinson, and Edgar Smith of leading British indie mag Loud and Quiet -- instantly became a loyal fan.

Sten tells IAT: "it would be too easy to do nothing but noise, nothing but metal... but at its best, black metal is one of the most carefully composed musical genres, with great melodies, it's just that there's lots of noise around them."

So far, so civilised. They are even sharing their Tuborg with everybody -- nice guys. So Altaar aren't into burning down churches, then? "There are other ways to break down Christianity," muses Andreas. "If we burned down a church the state would have to pay for it and it would cost the tax payer money, so that's why we wouldn't want to do that." Sten adds: "Burning down churches makes the Christians feel stronger and makes them unite. It's better to ignore them." There were certainly enough candles on stage to fill any Catholic crypt, and it took the band some time to personally blow them all out before they left the stage.

Also getting a warm reception in frosty Oslo were Iceland's Seabear, who are playing again tonight. Initially a solo project by Sindri Mar Sigfuson -- who was once described by Rolling Stone as "the Icelandic Beck", the group from Reykjavik now has seven permanent members.

Tonight will see a repeat performance from Bergen's Social Suicide, too, whose set yesterday was arguably the festival's most exciting so far. Any New Yorker who hung out upstairs at Max's Kansas City in 1970s would, I imagine, have felt quite home here last night. The bigger name bands to have played so far include Casiokids and Oh No Ono, but many of us were far more taken by a group of Gothenburg Krautrockers called Fontšn. Member Johan Melin tells IAT "I hope people hear us, like us and like the fact that something is going on in the psychedelic scene. We have a disco thing going on in Scandinavia right now. We're influenced by bands like Can but it's nice to merge different genres. We're trying to do it. I'm into drum and bass and electronic music, and when I was 15 I listened to a lot of British hip-hop like Killer Instinct, but you wouldn't guess that to listen to us... We listen to everything."

I'm going back into the conference now, but if anyone has any tips for bands I should check out while here, please drop me or Avi a line [or post a comment here -ed]. Apologies for my poorly articulated reporting, but I am very hung over.

Over and out for now Scandi-philes.
- Sophy Grimshaw