Blixter Toad reviewed by Gaz-Eta

Gaz-Eta (PL): “Between the noise mongrels [actually one half of all-female quartet Spunk] Maja Ratkje and Hild Sofie Tafjord, there is much subtlety that I’d not noticed until now. For the longest time, I took Fe-Mail to be solely a noise duo – nothing more. Was I in for a shock when I heard their latest effort!Over the course of two hour-long CDs [and a couple of interesting videos] these two musicians entertain not so much solely with noise, but with a barrage of underlying textures. Sure, the first disc is rather warbly – mostly filled with in-studio experiments on their samplers, laptops, theremin, dictaphones, harmonicas. It’s the second disc of the two that explores the boiling, dark side of the duo in a very subdued fashion. “Pretty Song” is almost [well] pretty. With its brooding array of repetitive gurgling noise that is really pleasant to the ear, the duo has shifted away from their all-out noise formula. The biggest shock comes in the form of the 13 minute long “Ballad”. Nearly a non-song, rather this seems to be the duo’s venture into the world of pure ambience. I kid you not. Strangest thing is, I couldn’t care less what they employed to make this piece – their laptops, a bunch of old synths or perhaps a sampler – it just sounds so bloody good. Due to all the processing and messing around with her sampler, Maja’s voice rarely sounds as relaxed as it does here. When it comes out of the woodwork in phases, it’s nearly like a ghost that floats on and then floats away and is gone for good. In fact, I’ve got this piece now on auto-repeat for the last three hours and each time the piece begins again, I find a new shade of grey I didn’t hear before. Hopefully, more of this kind of territory will be mined on future releases. The only drawback to the second disc is the pacing. Just as you’re getting into ambiance, some jagged noise comes along and ruins the mood. Then again, variety is the mother of all invention, so let’s just say, whatever Fe-Mail makes will be eaten up whole by this male.”

-Tom Sekowski

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