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«All Losses Are Restored»
«Poesi på bristepunktet»

Norwegian guitarist-songwriter-singer Stian Westerhus and vocalist-electronics player Maja S. K. Ratkje are known as experimental composers and sound artists, often associated with effect pedals, samplers, amplifiers and computers at three-digit decibel levels. But in All Losses Are Restored they put aside all things electric and go unplugged, armed with a few acoustic instruments like a 19th-century pump organ, fiddle, acoustic guitar, some metal scrap and their naked and vulnerable voices.

Westehus and Ratkje first performed an acoustic set at the Oslo Jazz Festival in 2019. Since then they gradually composed, developed and expanded their new and unique repertoire, and continued to perform as a duo. All Losses Are Restored, with its unique and timeless instrumentation, finds its inspiration in a like-minded, mystical, brutal and flowery universe of William Shakespeare’s words. And there are no better musicians, with great and irreverent sonic imagination than Westerhus and Ratkje who can transform such a challenging and enticing task and bring the never-ending textual work of Shakespeare into their sonic universes.

All Losses Are Restored consists of only six new intimate songs, all composed by Ratkje and Westerhus, except «Verona» which was released before on Westerhus’s solo album, Redundance (House of Mythology, 2020), and with lyrics solely built upon Shakespeare’s body of work (Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, and the Sonnets 30, 73, 137 and 46), with various contextualizations. It is profoundly beautiful, seductive, mysterious and magical (as the cover artwork of Håvard Winther Gjelseth suggests), not only due to the commanding, expressive and emotional voices of Westerhus and Ratkje and their natural rapport but also because of their imagination and the original manner of breathing new, dramatic life into Shakespeare’s work. All Losses Are Restored is an indispensable gem and clearly one of the best albums of 2024.

Poesi på bristepunktet (Poetry at the Breaking Point) is a unique collaboration of Ratkje, here on vocals, harmonica, bells and live electronics, and trumpeter and recorder player Kristin Andersen (together they are half of the free improvising quartet SPUNK), both responding in real-time to the instant poetry of novelist, librettist, playwright and literature critic Aasne Linnestå (who also did the cover illustration), who sits onstage with Ratkje and Andersen and writes poetry, projected on a large screen visible to the audience. Ratkje composed before music to texts of Linnestå, recorded by mezzo-soprano Marianne Beate Kielland and pianist Sergej Osadchuk («Hvil» in Come Away, Death, 2L, 2010) and Det Norske Jentekor and conducted by Anne Karin Sundal-Ask (The Beauty That Still Remains, 2L, 2020).

This enigmatic, sensual and highly captivating performance was recorded at Kafe Hærverk in Oslo in October 2022. It offers a remarkable way of how instant poetry becomes instant song and instant music and vice versa.

Eyal Hareuveni

Stian Westerhus (vocals, acoustic guitar), Maja S. K. Ratkje (vocals, pump organ, fiddle, metal scrap, harmonica, bells and live electronics), Kristin Andersen Høvin (trumpet, recorders), Aasne Linnestå (words, voice)