A Renaissance

MAJA RATKJE and HILD SOFIE TAFJORD, aka Fe-Mail, represent one half of the Scandinavian quartet SPUNK (a name that refers to spunk meaning bravery, not the other kind!) and wow does it show because they have guts aplenty in boldly going where no man or woman has gone before into the universe of music. So which law of nature says that music must belong to a recognised genre? Who decided it must have form and tonality? What logical progression leads us to assume that as an art form music has reached it's highest possible point at the beginnings of the 21st Century and that all possible variations have already been tried and found lacking? In the 5th Century it was generally believed that military weaponry had reached the highest plateau and that no further improvement was possible; we now have the horrors of the hydrogen bob and we ain't seen nothing yet. Archimedes, at the risk of his life, argued that, no, the Earth wasn't flat and the universe didn't revolve around it; today we realistically look forward to visiting the planets, tomorrow the stars.

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So has music really gone as far as it can go? If we took that attitude we may as well go back to banging sticks together and blowing conch shells. All true advances in civilisation come along because people with vision and the determination to explore new uncharted regions come along and question the accepted norms and take us another quantum leap into new territory which soon becomes as familiar as an old pair of slippers and we settle back, content that this time, yes, this final time we have pushed the frontiers to their extreme. And then the next innovators arrive.

So it has been with Ratkje and Tafjord. They describe themselves as 'noise musicians' and their music as an electronic improvisation together with the sounds of nature and all the wide variations of pitch, tone and nuance that the human voice can master. Could, perhaps, the accepted form of music have been little different from this at the dawn of human civilisation, before the artificial rules and concepts were applied? If so, sometimes "progress" represents a huge step backwards instead of forwards and it is just as well that we still have people with the 'spunk' to challenge the mores of the day and remind us that there are still other ways.

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