All Around The World: Our Far-Out Trip To Far-Flung Prog

Percussionist Mikkel Reher-Langberg leads the band beyond the barriers of folk, prog, free jazz and improv.

Mikkel Reher-Langberg is the sort of person whose life philosophy is most likely to be ‘anything goes’. So asking him whether being Danish has played a significant part in shaping his ever-shifting band Shiggajon feels like it’ll be met with just a shrug.

Back in 2005, it was just him and his high school friend Nikolai Brix Vartenberg, both aged 17 at the time. “I had been experimenting with noise and Vartenberg with free jazz so it was obvious we needed to do something drawing on both… but there was no scene for this kind of music in the first place.”

Inspired by Coil, British weird folkies Nature And Organisation, “as well as all sorts of folk music and outré system of thoughts like magical tradition, Platonism and early Christian thought”, the duo settled on the name Shiggajon, from the Book Of Psalms.

Reher-Langberg agrees that Shiggajon feels more like a concept than an actual band. That’s why during the first four years it was just the two of them, putting out lo-fi releases of “collage pieces with a jazz vibe cut up from loose jams with occasional collaborators”. It’s only when they got invited to play in the UK in 2009 that they gathered “the people we’ve now steadily been working and recording with since”. That number can vary between eight and 13 musicians.

Since each recording is fully improvised on the spot with whoever is present that day, they’ve been quite prolific – Reher-Langberg sent Prog 10 albums from just the last five years. Their latest LP Sila is packed with “multi-layered, cacophonous” pieces that have been conceived in much the same way. However, the co-founding musician agrees it has more of a “rock thing to it” that might appeal to “some traditional prog-heads” with its strident strings, ethereal female vocals and overall very ritualistic vibe.

The album has been issued through El Paraiso Records, the Copenhagen-based imprint set up by the members of psych-rock instrumental masters Causa Sui. Reher-Langberg hopes the move of “planting our music in a new audience will redefine what we are.”

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