Noise From Norway
Maja Ratkje/Lasse Marhaug : Music for Shopping (Synesthetic Recordings. SYRE 008)
Fe-mail : Syklubb fra Haelvete (TV5. TV5#2)

The work of Maja Ratkje and her accomplices in the field of noise has begun to intrigue me. Her solo cd ´Voice' must take most of the responsibility for this. Listening to it has become a sort of daily compulsion. I don't know if it's healthy but I love it. Such is the nature of compulsion. Like shopping. And Ratkje, along with Jazzkammer's Marhaug, has constructed a soundtrack that ought to be heard in every emporium or mall where people gather to indulge.

They know what people want so they have created pieces like, ´The Street Parade Massacre' and ´Spunk Rock Goes Total Shock Monster'. Ideal for browsing the racks in your favourite high street store. I think people would appreciate the accompaniment of desiccated samples belching out against trembling theremin as they sip latte in air - conditioned comfort.

You may feel that the world is moving at the wrong speed. Did someone tamper with the escalator ? No, it's just the rampaging ´Femail Popcorn Demon' littering the aisles with an arsenal of analogue effects and muffled explosions. And they treat you to the sight and sound of ´Sweet Music And Lonely Bear With Ghost', the perfect companions for a trip through both designer outlet and bargain basement.

And for serious purchasers this is only available in a limited edition on heavy duty vinyl. That's my kind of shopping.

For a further expedition in sound Ratkje joins fellow Spunk person Hild Sofie Tafjord . This time they are keen to indulge in another leisure pursuit, sewing, as the title says, Sewing Club from Hell. The cover shows them looking like they're all shopped out and are now ready to sew. To sew for Norway, perhaps. And is this music for sewing ? Absolutely. Although it doesn't say on the sleeve what instruments are used it could be the sound of a million needles driven into unyielding fabric, amplified, ripped apart, sampled and reassembled to produce a garment that may well be worn by the incumbents of Stygian sewing circles. The sound could easily incinerate the wallpaper and cause furniture to melt.

At other times you could hear a pin drop, perhaps more like an avalanche of pins or a tempest of small sharp metals. In a couple of places they allow a few moments reflection, no doubt to consider crochet or cross-stitch. For example, ´Water Music' drips and plops and has little chimes surfacing like bubbles through the electronic stream. But they are soon off again on the almost relentless drive for the perfect backdrop to an evening of furious threading and weaving with like-minded seamstresses. And what better way to end than with ´A Merry Day In The Woods' where unfortunately our little club is inexplicably ambushed and massacred as wave after wave of sonic brutality wipes them out.

Again it is a limited edition and vinyl is the medium of choice. Pink vinyl. Lovely.

© 2003 Paul Donnelly