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Ratkje, Maja S.K.: Sult [VINYL _ CD] (Rune Grammofon)

Starting with a pipe organ, adding metal tubes, PVC tubes, a wind machine, guitar strings, a bass string, a resin thread, metal and glass percussion, and a bow, Maja SK Ratjke developed this unusual instrument for a live performance in Jo Stromgren's ballet "Sult" ("Hunger"), taking the instrument to the studio for this extraordinarily interesting album of keys and song.

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product information:

UPC: 7033660032046

Label: Rune Grammofon
Catalog ID: RLP 3204LP
Squidco Product Code: 27234

Format: LP+CD
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: Norway
Packaging: LP
Recorded at the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, in Oslo, Norway, in May, 2018, by Hagen Rormark.


Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje-composer, performer

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Artist Biographies:

"Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje, composer and performer (born Dec. 29th 1973 in Trondheim, Norway), finished composition studies at the Norwegian State Academy of Music in Oslo in 2000. Her music is performed worldwide by performers such as Ensemble Intercontemporain, Klangforum Wien, Oslo Sinfonietta, The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Fretwork, TM+, Cikada, Mivos and Bozzini string quartets, Quatuor Renoir, crashEnsemble, Pearls for Swine Experience, Torben Snekkestad, Marianne Beate Kielland, SPUNK, Frode Haltli, POING and many more. Portrait concerts with her music has been heard in Toronto and Vienna, she has been composer in residence at festivals like Other Minds in San Francisco, Trondheim Chamber Music Festival, Nordland Music Festival in Bodø, Avanti! Summer Festival in Finland, Båstad Chamber Music Festival and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

Ratkje has received awards such as the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris for composers below 30 years of age, the Norwegian Edvard prize (work of the year) twice, second prize at the Russolo Foundation, and in 2001 she was the first composer ever to receive the Norwegian Arne Nordheim prize. Her solo album Voice, made in collaboration with Jazzkammer, got a Distinction Award at Prix Ars Electronica in 2003. In 2013 she was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize for her vocal work.

Ratkje is active as a singer/voice user and electronics performer and engineer, as a soloist or in groups such as SPUNK and BRAK RUG. She has been soloist with orchestras such as The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Klangforum Wien, Avanti! Chamber Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Other collaborations are with Jaap Blonk, Joëlle Léandre, Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins, Stephen O'Malley, Lasse Marhaug, POING and many more. Ratkje has performed her own music for films, dance and theatre, installations, and numerous other projects. Visual art or text material is often a part of her own work, in installations or staged works. She has made large gallery works with SPUNK, she has made music for a radio play by Elfriede Jelinek, and in 2003, she played a part in her own opera, based on the texts from the Nag Hammadi Library.

Her scores are found at the National Library of Norway's publishing service, NB noter, and her records are released on Tzadik, Rune Grammofon, 2L, ECM, Important Records and many other labels."

-Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje Website (

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track listing:


1. Introduksjon - denne forundelige by 5:30

2. Sja, Amioda - og ikke en lyd kom mig fra strupen 4:27

3. Den spraettende bevægelse min fot gjor hver gang pulsen slar 7:34

4. Sayago - en sadan glidende lyd 3:15


1. En traeflis a tygge pa 3:17

2. Oine som rasilke, armer av rav 5:47

3. Et hvitt fyrtarn midt i et grumset menneskehav hvor vrak flot om 4:12

4. Jeg fornemmer mine sko som en sagte susende tone imot mig 3:32

5. Kristiania 3:39
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

Composed, performed, mixed, and produced by Maja S. K. Ratkje, Sult is based upon Ratkje music created for the ballet Sult ("Hunger") by director Jo Stromgren for the Norwegian National Ballet.

This is a departure from the records and live settings normally associated with Ratkje, as we find her placed behind a modified, wiggly and out-of-tune pump organ, singing songs and improvising. Metal tubes, PVC tubes and a wind machine were built into the organ; guitar strings, a bass string, a resin thread, metal and glass percussion and a bow are also utilized. With little or no previous experience, she had to learn to play the thing live, using both hands and feet at the same time as singing.

Maja played live on stage during every performance, but later modified and recorded the music especially for this record, with Frode Haltli co-producing. It's a freestanding document, an entity of its own, but the atmosphere is very much the same as in the play: the dusty city of Kristiania in the 19th century, the street noises and the sounds."-Rune Grammofon

Maja S. K. Ratkje photo by Erik Berg
Photo by Erik Berg

"Norwegian composer Maja SK Ratkje has immersed herself in various eccentric projects over the years - free improv outfits, performance art installations, a concerto for electric guitar, and even a 2002 album entirely comprised of breaths, gasps, squeaks, grunts, growls and tongue clicks that had been digitally manipulated. Her latest project Sult (Norwegian for "hunger") was inspired by Knut Hamsun's 1890 novel of the same name and uses music that she initially composed for a Norwegian National Ballet production. To add a further layer of complexity, the entire album is performed on an instrument that she built herself: Ratkje has taken an old-fashioned pump organ, powered by foot pedals, and added PVC tubes, wind machines, bass strings, resin threads and glass percussion - to the point that it now resembles some crazed Heath Robinson contraption.

But the results are quietly compelling. Using her homemade steampunk synthesiser, she's able to sound like a Bontempi organ, a wheezy accordion, a zither and the percussion section of an orchestra. Her aim was to conjure up the sound of 19th-century Oslo, but the tracks on Sult sometimes nod towards Steve Reich-style organ minimalism (Den spraettende), Ennio Morricone soundtracks (En træflis å tygge på), folksy ballads (Sjå, Åmioda) and breathy, effects-laden folktronica (Et hvitt fyrtårn). Crucially, Ratkje can also write strong, vocal-led songs, such as Sayago and Øine Som Råsilke, that transform this collection from background music into something that stands alone as a compelling album in its own right."-John Lewis, The Guardian, UK

Also available on cD.
Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Piano & Keyboards
Unusual Vocal Forms
Song Based Music
European Improvisation and Experimental Forms
Solo Artist Recordings
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