bergen, hordaland, Norway
Harlequins Enigma is a Bergen, Norway-based band created in 2008 by synth musician, composer, and video producer, Åge Riisnes. During the startupdays Sara Jensen is included as member upon the creation of the name Harlequins Enigma. Harlequins Enigma is mostly a one-man-band, but Elin Berge, Katie Leung, and Sara Jensen serve as co-members with several album appearances over the years. The primary musical creations revolve around chip-tune, electronica, techno, experimental, video game soundtracks, space, ambient, and new age genres & has a soft spot for jazz. Åge began experimenting with synth-based music in the early 1990’s. Throughout the years, collaborations with Tangerine Dream, Jean Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze, Vangelis, Kitaro, Kate Bush, Dave Weckl, Chick Corea, Jan Gabarek, and others have spawned rich, creative, and mature developmental compositional achievements. The name origin of Harlequins Enigma revolves around a “hope for something better, as an eternal flame.” It is based upon expectation. Åge describes the circumstances around the creation of the name: “I once had a lighter with a girl on [it], showing a little of her face with a yellow rose & two identical females as guardians at each side of her [with a] picture [depicting] a walking creature that looks like a walking mouse [that is] pregnant.” Riding the electronic waves of sound, Harlequins Enigma bridges the gap between fantasy and reality with a good dose of futuristic embellishments that have been stewing, brooding, and morphing since the early 1990’s. The instrumental prowess glimmers with spacey illusions, ambient washes, and metallic or industrial elements throughout the early years, as well as the present.
Harlequins Enigma is a zany name for seemingly sane compositions that draw upon multiple genres. Åge identifies at least ten different styles of music. The otherwise kaleidoscopic array of styles and influences skirt the outer echelon of human existence in the intergalactic abyss of space, as well as cyberspace. The somewhat dark, electronica is permeated with instances of lighter noise that is upbeat and energetic. The music has been shaped by various life situations and various collaborations that shine through brilliantly on synth. Though, the darker, instrumental side is also explored, which is likely due to Åge’s sensitivity to sunlight. Yet, there are brighter moments, too. Harlequins Enigma encapsulates music that contains many emotions that are happy, sad, and everything in between. In his spare time, Åge enjoys gaming, poetry, hi-fi, music video production, and music in general. Åge’s favorite musicians in the electronic genre are Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Schulze, and Kitaro.
Harlequins Enigma has released twelve full-length albums since 2011. The first three albums released in 2011 include The Journey of Harlequins Enigma 1, 2, and 3. The electronic series was followed by Octagon Vol. 2 – Night Pulse & The Silhouette of Dr. Voodoo, and Octagon Vol. 3 – Battle Without Dishonour. Two singles were also released: “Time Dance” (Liberty Mix) and “Battle Without Dishonor”. In 2012, Harlequins Enigma released Ophidians: Caricature Personalities, Neighbour Tribe, The Long Road, and Octagon Vol. 4: Loom. The latest few albums released in 2013, include Ophidians – Big Chiefs, TD Sound 1 (feat. Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream), and Discord (feat. Jean Michel Jarre).
The musical diversity of Harlequins Enigma is partly due to the innate skills and foresight of Åge Riisnes and the incredible variety of talented guest musicians and band co-members that appear on numerous albums. Åge Riisnes is focused on human rights, equality, positive technology, and an affinity for natural world. The musical goals of Harlequins Enigma “are not to stand on stage.” In fact, “no concerts have been played, or will.” Consequently, fans will have to experience the music via downloads or albums. Back in sixth grade, Åge wrote a note in a memoir book about the choosing of a future profession. The question was: “What do you want to become when you grow up?” I answered: rock star.” Though not a rock star in a true sense, Harlequins Enigma traverses the electronic world of music with such mastery of everything the genre entails. Harlequins Enigma joins the accomplished ranks of Edgar Froese, Tangerine Dream, Jean Michel Jarre, and Kitaro as an innovative musician and “reverse supporter of forced schizophrenia politics.” As a thinker and philanthropist, Åge wholeheartedly supports Dyrebeskyttelsen Norway and Amnesty International. Harlequins Enigma’s albums and downloads can be purchased on CD Baby , google play, bandcamp, 7 digital , audiosparx and Amazon.
battle without dishonour single 2011, time dance single 2011, octagon vol. 2 2011, the journey of harlequins engima 1 2011, the journey of harlqeuins enigma 2 2011, the journey of harlequins enigma 3 2011, octagon vol. 3 2011, ophidians caricature personalities 2012, ophidians neighbour tribe 2012, octagon vol. 4 2012, the long road 2012, ophidians big chiefs 2013, discord 2013, td sound 1 2013,
after much material from 2008 may till feb 2010 the above album were compiled.
many releases were added in Our comeback period from april 2013 to today june 2019. this was after a break from april 2010. that ended the debut years.
my first debut though came in 1991 through 1997 on the Amiga platform. Harlequins enigma was formed in 2008 by me & sara jensen.
mau tracks was Our last release before doing some smallworx in steamy Kitchen & moral game in june 2019. in 2013 through 2019 riisnes compiled a range of genre only based albums, as well as New best of compilations & other compilations. réso underground city & Girls from India has been added in july 2019 as New singles.
New compilation full albums in 2019 are: crossing the Ocean, a diary, air palette (re-release), raw tangent k
Harlequins enigma, an electronica band hailing from Norway, showcased a near-psychedelic music video for its single, “Moon phase”, off of their fourth album, Stargazer. Trippy, and intentionally offbeat, the video takes you on a journey across the universe.The MV for “moon phase” is extremely simple and straightforward. Pictures of constellations, galaxies, comets, and other celestial bodies are show. The editing is rather rough, but this forces the viewer into the endless space depicted in the video and evoked in the band’s music. Each picture is more astounding than the last, leaving viewers awed at the universe’s unrivaled beauty.With exaggerated synth chords and distortions, the single itself reflects the universe’s mysterious allure. The single’s hallowing sounds are doubled by the haunting echoes. When the listener closes his or her eyes, he or she is truly no longer in this world.Founded in 2008, harlequins enigma is from Bergen in Norway. Since 1991, the members have experimented with music using amiga 500 & tracking software. Their music are mainly based on 8-bit 16-bit values. – mi2n.com – eric de fontenay
Hailing all the way from Norway, Harlequin’s Enigma will surely take you by surprise. The brainchild of Age Riisnes features Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze amongst others, on his newest release, TD Sound 1, out in February 2013. Filled with 16 tracks, this hour long masterpiece will amaze you with what Harlequin Enigma’s sound has to offer.Opening the album is the space track titled “Exegeomai.” From the very beginning it is obvious to the listener that they are truly in for a unique listening experience. “Angel,” is filled with dreamy lo-fi tones with harmonizing synths that resonate throughout the track. Featuring Wendy Carlos, Katie Leung and Tangerine Dream, “Angel” is a musical masterpiece. Up next is “Mother Bird,” which is the perfect blend of synthesizers and what appears to be a hypnotic sounding xylophone type instrument. If this doesn’t intrigue you, I’m not sure what will. “Crystal Gazing,” proves to be a spacey track, with the slight inclusion of eerie bird sounds in the background that will peak your interest. The use of sound effects and the overall composition are something to be admired. “TD Sound 1,” the title song of the album, picks up the pace with a slight jazzy feel, mixed in with perky beats, which are a bit reminiscent of Chillwave acts such as Toro y Moi. “Terracota,” is a personal favorite off of TD Sound 1. Haunting yet gorgeous, this is a standout piece that is sonically crafted to perfection. “Magnetic Poles,” races into the scene with resonating tones that nearly sound like a 1980s computer composing data as fast as it can. As odd as that may sound, with one listen, you will surely hear these influences for yourself. “Choral Reeves,” is a sultry and seductive track that features slight whistles, and a smooth, saxophone like instrument. This is one you will be putting on repeat frequently, making sure not to miss the slightest note as it draws you in more and more every time.“Gloom,” takes center stage, which would make a stellar song for an action film with its subtle racing beats that echo a pounding heart. “Dungeon Dew,” is one of the most ambient tracks on TD Sound 1, as well as being the most abstract. Sounds fill every inch of the room as they find their place within the piece. “Stargazer 1 – Moon Phase,” and “Quaking Earth,” sound as if they could be in an old school video game, which is actually very flattering, as “Sorceress Animated,” and “Sparrow” take on more of a dreamier tone and subtle attitude within the record. “Red Ribbon in the Wind,” and “Stargazer 12 – Stars,” close out the album with strategically placed synthesizer sounds that will take you down a musical path with a surprise at every corner, as it makes a lovely way to close out the record.Harlequins’s Enigma’s TD Sound 1, is not for those who do not have an open mind. One does not only listen to this record, but they experience it as well. The sounds create an overall feeling that is almost like watching a painter create art on a canvas. This is Age Riisnes’ masterpiece that should be admired and appreciated for years to come. This is a stunning collection of songs that are truly heartfelt, and must be approached with care. Hopefully this is only the beginning of what Harlequin’s Enigma as to show the world. Harlequin’s EnigmaTD Sound 1 – By Melissa Nastasi 5 Out of 5 Stars – ariel publicity – melissa nastasi
Easily one of the most alternative and experimental tracks to cross our path in recent months. harlequins enigma takes listeners through a multi-layered, complex and colourful tunnel of audio with this release, the steamy kitchen at hand being one overflowing with fragments of ideas and dashes of melody.What’s interesting about this style of music is not so much the multiple layers that come into play – there proceeds to be a sense of familiarity to many of these riffs and drum-hits – it’s the overall finish, the production quality, the crispness and clarity. Part of the experience feels decidedly retro, but nothing about the production quality itself leans in that direction. Instead, the whole thing proves surprisingly cinematic – particularly during the latter half. Familiarity kicks in fully and there emerges a certain smoothness and connected aura between every element. Things get haunting, they speed up, they envelop you – resulting in a composition that you can’t help but pay attention to.By the end, steamy kitchen proves incredibly likable, freely creative yet notably intentional once you’ve made it right through the five-minute-plus journey. Creative artists Sara Jensen and åge riisnes, have crafted this out of a fine balance between experimentation and a clear love for electronic music. Things even veer off into a jazz-like arena during the final minute, and still your attention is held, captivated by these changing moments as they swirl and collide around you.It’s quite fascinating how enjoyable this composition is, so much so that when it ends there appears an overwhelmingly dull silence. Absolutely worth letting play more than a few times. As you let your mind and body succumb to the experience, it becomes quite meditative, and strangely calming. Brilliantly creative and consistently professional sound design. I look forward to hearing more. – rebecca cullen – stereo stickman
the following interview is taken from neufutur Magazine back in 2014 circa.. (by James McQuiston)
Introduce yourself to our readers.
hello neufutur staff & readers.. i am åge riisnes, owner of harlequins enigma. i have been running
since the band`s origin in 2008. i am weaker then since i started & have taken some beating & bruises in
profession.. i am male, hetero & have reached the age of 43. i live in bergen in norway a city in the west
by the coast.
when you look down at your brothers grave at the funeral the other day & ask yourself why, i could only
listen to the
priest who seemed to be a robed man on god`s side searching for an explanation of this robbery. my
brother had been ill for
a long while & is dearly missed. my weakness is a weird one which seems to be death chewing on my
flesh & filling the holes
up with sement, just to bother me one last time before i depart also. i will never understand death the
reaper i guess, only
that he can be a pain in the arse.
Given one sentence, how would you define yourself as a performer?
i don`t perform very well, i have always looked at myself as a composer. i am not happy with my daw &
lack of midi functions,
but i guess in time it will be straightened out via new vst plugins like dune 2, which sits the modulation
wheel in locked
positions – something that non grand performers will benefit from.
Can you describe your creative process to us? How does a song go from an initial germ of a thought to
a finished song?
back in 2008, 2009 the process was mainly sessions that lasted for 30 minutes till 3 hours. after i
purchased some gear in
my comeback in 2013 my tracks got a lot of extra saves & got more polished, something that can be
easily identified in
comparison. a track never or seldom has a recipe, but is modeled based on my destiny selections via
presets. some presets
are tweaked upon to suit the track better, but i have always loved the fast process of presets, which
means you have to have
a large selections of sound which i more or less got these days. all summed up it is very much destiny
based material in
impulsive form that reigns harlequins enigma`s sound.
In a similar vein, how has your style evolved and changed over the period since you first started?
my style was changed in 2013 since i was more or less on my own. in 2008 till february 2010 i had
visiting musicians in my
mind that helped me out via telepathy & spiritual contact. the contact is not entirely broken at todays
date. back in 2001
a senior doctor referred to me as a medium at haukeland sykehus, psychiatric division post 4 in bergen. i
more or less agree
since i grew & grew as a musician with the help of vangelis, klaus schulze, tangerine dream, jan
garbarek, dave weckl, kitaro,
kate bush, my family & others in this period, with all our coops. i have much to thank them for. myself in
my baby state forged
my base notes via protracker on the amiga competing in the amiga scene back in the 90`s with names
like boom jinx, atjazz,
jesper kyd, audiomonster (raphael gesqua), jochen hippel, mantronix (martin wall) & others. the tracking
music is recommended for everyone as it forge your music from different perspectives – than via midi.
it can be a spicy experience, & very quick too.
What story or set of stories do your singles tell?
my singles & tracks in general is taken with reality in mind (many from my own life) with a few
exceptions (gotta breath too),
since harlequins enigma was forged in 2008 the name has always stood for the hope of something
better, & the mystery of not
being 100% real. harlequins enigma can also mean destiny & also an ancient demon rider via the oxford
dictionary, which again
makes me think of mr. destiny himself, oberon. there is also the dolls around in adults & children`s
homes which resembles real
people from the past & present, a mystery itself, which grow large if you think of the dolls stretching
into the future as well.
What artists are the greatest influences for you and your music?
maybe atjazz, jochen hippel & maniacs of noise on the amiga platform & in the 16 bit league: vangelis,
jean michel jarre, klaus
schulze, tangerine dream, kitaro, røyksopp, depeche mode, king diamond, ultravox, abba, kiss, mike
oldfield, pink floyd, tori amos,
kate bush, jan garbarek, kitaro, yes, bruce springsteen, rush, metallica, garbage, saint etienne, britney
spears, lady gaga, sade,
yello, yoko kanno, the beatles, john lennon, the doors, michael jackson & many others..
Everyone is on social media these days. How has social media helped your career out?
i felt as when the #egypt situation appeared in egypt, i had a mini-egypt situation here in my home,
where the internet refused
to allow me as a player vs social media. maybe it was poor management, but i do think that something
odd has been going on,
like no likes on facebook & youtube basically all the time. then again our promotion has not been
What are your plans for the rest of 2014?
for 2014 i have planned a re release of td sound 2, & a collection of reverbnation tracks, that has been
reviewed & got a score
6.0 or higher then 6.0 out of 10, in a collection called: “pale justice – natural beauty”. i might start
composing again after
this is done, but right now i feel it is important to review most of my music at reverbnation.com based
on common public meanings.
How do your fans find the latest news and music?
fans may find us on reverbnation.com, our homepage: http://www.harlenia.com — or on facebook
Do you have any other words to say to NeuFutur’s readers?
as limp bizkit once called me.. it is not easy being “chocolate starfish”.. i have gone through hell & i have
wanted death at times
in my pains, but i am still here, though i am weak. a chocolate starfish woven into the truman show is
not exactly a dance on roses.
but my mind has expanded in this period & i am much stronger mentally then before. but my body went
down the drain.. maybe hackers
think of it as luxury. i can offer a non-luxury prison in return :) — as for the limp bizkit album, they just
showed me the way, &
i wish them well. how insane must one become looking at a grim girls green long tongue in the back of
my head all day long? someone
in the psychiatry once said that christian`s on private meetings speaks in tongues, it sounded to me
much like the tongue in my head,
but mine comes with anxiety as well in brutal forms. i myself is an agnostic & think heaven is high tech,
(easily identified via
the sun`s radioactivity). i do not support the jesus stuff, though my dead brother seemed to believe in
it. love you brother, r.i.p.