In November 2011, just two weeks before my 35th birthday, they discovered a tumour during a routine scan. Because the cancer in me was still at such an early stage, I was fortunate enough to avoid any chemotherapy or radiation treatment. The prognosis was positive – but the anxiety that accompanied the diagnosis was incredibly difficult to navigate.

I felt this urge to document what I was experiencing through music. But at the same time, I didn’t want to begin recording before my final hospital examination. Until I knew for sure that I was going to be okay. On October 16th, 2016, after five long years of regular CT scans, x-rays and blood samples, I left department 50 11 for the last time. I was clear.

That winter I began tracking the groundwork for these compositions on vintage analogue synthesizers together with my close friend Claus Norreen. Soon after, multi-instrumentalist Jakob Littauer and I recorded the piano parts on both an old, upright piano in a tiny studio and a Steinway Grand Piano in a concert hall - capturing these unique instruments in two contrasting spaces. The violin, viola and cello were composed and played by another dear friend, Italian composer Davide Rossi. This was the final piece of the puzzle. So, despite the immensely personal background of The Fifty Eleven Project, it’s important for me to mention that it was created in close collaboration with these musicians. I openly shared my story with them, so they would understand what I wanted to generate and express during our recording sessions. Each of their contributions has made this project into one coherent piece of work, and one which I am extremely proud of. I want to acknowledge their role in this, by crediting the album as the efforts of a quartet.
My ambition was always to create a soundtrack that captured the emotional rollercoaster of what I went through during those five years. A time when cancer played a central role in my life. I wanted to document both the darkness and the light, using these long stretched-out instrumental compositions as the narrative and the titles as a guideline. From the discovery of the tumour, to the operation and frequent hospital examinations; from experiencing a beacon of love and light in the birth of my son - in the very same hospital, just a stone throw from where I was in surgery - to finally leaving that waiting room clear. All the while, acknowledging that once you have been diagnosed with cancer, despite being cured, it will somehow always be a part of you.

Landon Metz created the album cover’s unique works specifically for this project. A huge honour for me. Landon´s art has this calm, almost rhythmical visual language - and I feel that together with the music, it creates this whole; in that sense, it has become an important part of the entire project. Looking at Landon´s creations and listening to the music is still a very calming, almost healing, experience for me.

Above all else, the project been a therapeutic way of me processing the cancer diagnosis, the constant fear of relapse and the light in being healed - and it feels like a gift to be able to share it through music as opposed to words. Throughout the process, I have personally used the music to fall asleep to - and as a sonic space to meditate and contemplate my journey. My hope is that others; healthy, ill or next of kin, will be able to use The Fifty Eleven Project in that same way.

Kasper Bjørke

Short film

Coming soon

The Audio Visual Exhibition

With the two hour long ambient epos “The Fifty Eleven Project” by Kasper Bjørke Quartet as the soundtrack, the visual artist and director Justin Tyler Close engages into an audio-visual non verbal dialogue with two narrative layers: One man’s struggle with cancer and anxiety while facing his own mortality versus mankind’s impact on planet Earth.

In a poetic, visually striking and fantastic tale exploring the major themes of mankind: Birth, love, fear, death and rebirth, told through 11 chapters on 11 screens, with the 11 compositions as the soundtrack, the venture covers the spectrum of life through one man’s existential struggle after a cancer diagnosis.

Close explores the significance of time, and when you’re faced with your own mortality, we start to view life through a new lens; whether that’s chasing a 5 year old version of ourselves, or imagining what it would be like to grow old - or the fear of losing everything we love - utilizing the darkly beautiful but ultimately empowering and autobiographical soundtrack of Kasper Bjørke Quartet. Exquisitely recorded, arranged and produced, it twinkles like stars in the cosmos and is expansively infinite, but also vaporous like phosphorescent cosmic dust. In other places it’s dramatic and pensive, like an impending one-way exile into a black hole.

We join our protagonist on his odyssey before, during and after his cancer diagnosis, from the darkness of anxiety and fear of relapse to the healing light from his loved ones and pure relief of being cured, while finally accepting his own mortality and connection with his own destiny and with nature. There’s a transition from tension and anxiety to a elestial release through the soundtrack and the captivating images by Justin Tyler Close and cinematographer Snorre Ruhe.

In a deeper sense, on a surreal, metaphoric level, Close explores a not so unrealistic thought: That mankind is the cancer of planet Earth, that we’re on the brink of destroying our only home, and that to save ourselves we need to reconnect with nature.