Voluptuous Vultures reviews (in English, German, Spanish, Russian, Swedish)

Blastitude: “I’ve had the pleasure of seeing these Norwegian ladies twice in the US; once in Chicago and most recently in Seattle. The Chicago show was more “delicate,” if you will, with crackles, drones and intermittent gurgles and crashes punctuating their set. The Seattle show, though, was a completely different beast: more like 30,000 cattle prods jammed into a 600 foot wall of flashbulbs while razorwire wrapped anvils were catapulted through flaming cars. This 10″ brings together the best of both of these elements, convincing me that Maja and Hild are determined to kindly raise the dead, but only as a means to strapping the physical remains to railroad tracks and watching them splatter unpleasantly (and amusingly) all about. On Voluptuous Vultures, the ladies are armed with an array of electronics, voices that switch between caterwauling ear shear and glass grinding in the throat of an irate pit bull, and an instrumentation list that (perhaps surprisingly) includes french horn, pan pipes, and harmonica. In short, Maja and Hild spit out a wild array of electronic mayhem: guttural, filth-encrusted gristly drones are sent down the river with shrill sine wave accompaniment; eventually a rockslide jams the river and the water turns to blood and bathes innocent animals with the guilt of the ill prepared. Not only do these ladies decimate, placate, and flagellate, they balance (and blur) the lines between such things beautifully. The apocalypse never had such grace or swiftness. The releasing label aptly describes parts of this record as an “electronics smorgasbord that will leave your pets hiding in a dark corner of the bathroom,” and that’s a pretty solid assessment. Oh yes; and the cover art! Verily, a fine cross-pollination of sassy and tacky: not exactly what you might want but definitely more than you deserve. Grab it now and get on the right side of the charging bull.” (review by B. Edwards)

Record link

Chain D.L.K.: “Somehow I ended up with the vinyl version of Syklubb fra Hælvete a few years ago, probably in trade for something. I remember wondering if it was for real – after all, female noise musicians are pretty rare. Turns out that it was for real and it was pretty good. Fe-Mail is a Norwegian noise duo consisting of Maja Ratkje and Hild Sofie Tafjord. Their website describes their music as «electronic music based on improvisation with live sampling as well as recordings of their own generated sounds and field recordings, however always with focus on their main instruments which are voice (Maja) and French horn (Hild).» This album is pretty good harsh noise, but noisy in a way that soothes you before beating you with a tire iron. The first track on the disc, «Valkyrie Procession,» begins with some low rumbling noise that slowly incorporated higher pitched feedback sounds before coming in full force halfway through with more distorted low end rumblings and voice (Sorry, I don’t speak Norwegian, so I have no idea what she is saying). A nice way to slowly acclimate the listener to the noise that comes later. The next track, «Artbeak,» follows a similar trajectory, with the noise slowly fading in, mixed with vocal loops and staccato noises, and high pitched squalls. At some points, the track seems more an exercise in repetition with the loops, but just when it starts to get tiresome, it changes. Even so, for the most part, this one is far more varied than the previous track. At 3:06, Dunlin Dance is the shortest track on the disc and seems a bit out of place in relation to the previous two tracks. I would describe this as whimsical noise–as if a toy store had created the track. Interesting. The final track, «Voluptuous Vultures,» begins very minimalist, with noises interspersed with silence. They continue the whimsical noise of the previous track, incorporating horns, applause, and other noises. At times, this track becomes a bit too repetitive for my tastes. It never really unloads until about 10 minutes in, when the track is nearing completion. Even then, it never reaches the intensity of the first two tracks. Overall, this is a good disc of noise, for those looking for a bit of variety.” (eskaton)

Boomkat: “Fe-mail, a duo formed by Spunk’s Maja Ratkje and Hild Sofie Tafjord, should by rights be regarded as one of the finest noise acts of our age. Anyone who’s yet to hear their Syklubb Fra Haelvete album would be doing themselves a great service by checking it out, but in the interim their 2006 album Voluptuous vultures is well worth your attention. Across this four-track release the duo set about improvising through an array of noise making bric-a-brac with Maja’s always remarkable vocal at the heart of much of the action. Fe-mail’s music manages to be simultaneously extreme, confrontational, playful and packed with musical invention – the title track makes this abundantly clear, juggling incredible power electronics and concrete sound treatments with wonderful slapstick larynx acrobatics from Ratkje. Highly recommended.”

De:bug: “Sehr abgefahrene 10″, tolles Cover und feinste Elektronik-Field-Recording-Cheap-Instrument-Improvisationen. Maja Ratkje und Hild Sofie Tafjord arbeiten seit zehn Jahren zusammen, waren aber erst 2000 zum ersten Mal live auf der Bühne zu sehen und seitdem scheint ihr Ruhm in Unermeßliche zu wachsen. Nicht zu Unrecht, denn das, was die beiden produzieren, schlägt sich erbarmungslos ins Hirn aller Hörer. Kompromissbereitschaft wird weggeblendet und was einzig zählt, ist das Laute im Geräusch und deren Steigerung bis hin zur nahen Ohnmacht. Wenn Maja dann doch mit Vocals dazwischengeht, gewinnt die Musik um ein Vielfaches. Weder steht hier Text als, ähm, echte Nachricht noch als Ideenüberlieferer. Einzig der harsche Sound, der verzwirbelte Noise aus der Kehle bringt den gewünschten Effekt. Leute, das Ding hier geht mächtig ab und bereitet extrem viel verdorbene Freude! Wer übrigens keine Lust auf Vinyl hat, muß nur a bisserl warten, dann kommen die beiden Tracks mit Bonus auf CD.” (ed)

Ruido Horrible: “Relativamente olvidadas en estos momentos, Fe-Mail arrasaron los lugares por donde pasaron el año pasado y lo mismo con lo desgraciadamente poco que grabaron. ‘Voluptuous Vultures’ es muestra perfecta de que el noise es un lenguaje universal, sin exclusividad genérica y capaz de evolucionar a grados insospechados.”

Machine Radionoise: “Норвежские нойз-дивы Майя и Софи продолжают лавировать между традицией и технологией, скрещивая замшелый белый шум с треском винчестеров. Три пьесы десятидюймового винила так или иначе обыгрывают классическую для дуэта схему создания треков: с вокала Майи Раткье и звучания духовых инструментов всех калибров раз за разом снимают электронную стружку. В итоге остается голый остов – то есть аккуратный, лишённый разнузданности дамский нойз. Назвать продукцию FE-MAIL новаторской сложно. Складывается впечатление, что их музицирование движется не вперёд, а вспять, в дремучие дебри восьмидесятых, когда пуповина, соединяющая импровизационную музыку и первых шумовых артистов, была прочна и осязаема. Нет ни позы, ни застилающего собой всё на свете концепта, ни стремления быть громче, резче и независимее других. Это музыка арт-галерей, музеев современного искусства и прогрессивных джазовых фестивалей, где публика – молода, вменяема и дружелюбна. И “Voluptuous Vultures”, и другие релизы FE-MAIL производят куда более приятное впечатление, чем потуги их коллег преодолеть инертность нойза и снискать благосклонность критики. Взяв в качестве поводыря интуицию, норвежки оставили далеко позади твердолобых рационалистов.”

Soundofmusic: “Mellan ”Syklubb Fra Hælvete” (2002) och dubbelalbumet ”Blixter Toad” gav Fe-Mail bland annat ut en 10”-vinyl med titeln ”Voluptuous Vultures” (2005). Nu har den återutgivits på cd med en extra låt. Det amerikanska bolaget Psychform Records kan knappast anklagas för att ha överarbetat omslaget – å andra sidan spelar skev grafik liten roll när man väl ångvältats av Hild Sofie Tafjords och Maja Ratkjes musik. Det handlar, som tidigare, om noise – rättare sagt Fe-mail-noise. Deras personliga uttryck sitter som en smäck: en improviserad mix av elektroakustiskt och vokalt, skapad av livesamplingar och datorer och elektriska apparater och akustiska instrument och nånstans i röran Tafjords franska horn. Om ”Blixter Toad” är deras hittills mest formfulländade uttryck, kan man beskriva ”Voluptuous Vultures” som en serie eruptioner längs vägen. Här finns dynamik, stillsamma faser och kosmiskt blås, men det framträdande draget är kraften som släpps fri: då låter det stenhårt, som sylvass flinta, hett, djävulskt tätt, både skrämmande och svårsmält. Maja Ratkjes röst är ett precisiöst instrument med enorm spännvidd, hon täcker allt från förförelse till rena dårpippin. Hon skriker så man ryser, det är attack på djupet och under huden, in i benet. Live har jag alltid fått stora upplevelser av Fe-Mail. Det fina är hur de förmänskligar noisemusiken genom att tillföra en för genren ovanlig humor och lek i den kokande svetslågan. Samma lust kan vara svår att fånga på skiva, vilket Voluptuous Vultures bevisar. Det blir aningen endimensionellt, lite för mycket vinkelslip i örat. Den första låten, ”Valyrie Procession”, börjar som luddigt soundscape, går över i orkestrerad kakafoni och klipps av i full explosion. På den följer ”Artbeak”, en opålitlig glitchgrund som cementeras gradvis med elektroniskt mischmasch och Ratkjes maniska röst grovhackad i vråldistad loopmaskin. Skivan avslutas – spiken i huvudet! – med titellåten, ett tolv minuter långt stycke som på sitt sätt summerar det anmärkningsvärda med Fe-Mails musik – blandningen av komposition och fri improvisation. Trots invändningarna är ”Voluptuous Vultures” en intressant platta. Inte lika genomarbetad som ”Blixter Toad”, ändå en favorit på vägen. Knallhårdare EA-musik görs inte.” (Sven Rånlund)

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