It was another prolific year for Maja Ratkje, the polymathic Norwegian artist, that saw the release of several albums from And Sing’s matching of her extraordinary vocals with contemporary classical ensembles, through a collaboration with the modern jazz band Poing, to an album commemorating the 20th anniversary of Spunk, the notoriously experimental quartet she forms with Lene Grenager, Kristin Andersen and Hild Sofie Tafjord. But it was, Crepuscular Hour, her composition for three choirs, a church organ and three pairs of “noise musicians” that felt like we were witnessing a contemporary masterpiece.
“This genuinely awe-inspiring work… is designed to surround its audience with dramatically contrasting sound to evoke ‘crepuscular rays’, those shafts of sunlight that strike the earth through gaps in the clouds like the hand of god… But this is no celebration, instead it travels from soft lament through portentous nervousness to a realm of terror. Forget Slayer, forget Orff’s Carmina Burana even – this is evil! The combination of ritualistic choruses of ancient texts and sinister and violent suggestions of machine gun fire, marching, thunder and occult danger initially provoke images of war and terrorism, ‘the evil that men do’ etc. But as the compelling piece drives onward you realise the crepuscular rays are not the hand of god, but the claw of the devil, as it invokes hell on earth in an immense and deliciously dark epic.” Rum Music, June 2016Link to DVD