Downbeat Aug. 2014: (…) Two of the most memorable shows at this year’s FIMAV involved musicians who are finding artistically rich ways to combine electronic processing and spontaneous improvisation. In separate sets by veteran artist Parker and Norwegian vocalist-electronic artist Maja Ratkje, the relationship between old and new amounted to a blissful concert-going experience.
Although wildly different aesthetically, Ratkje achieved a similar synthesis with raw musical materials, improvisational fire and processing—armed only with her magnetically nimble voice and enigmatic musical mind. Ratkje, 40, has mellowed with age, and has peeled away the layers of bracing noise to reveal something more refined in her music. Inspired by her recent motherhood, she incorporated into her music the innocent tones of music box tinkles, echoes of a baby’s voice and an eerily elaborate arrangement of a folk song about the mining life. Her compelling, hourlong show ended gently, with the idly whistling music box sparkling. Ratkje’s gift for sculpting with abstract sound, grounded by the pulsing humanity of her voice, resonated beautifully in the quaint setting of Victoriaville.