A decade has passed since the unique acoustic vocal quartet “Kvitretten” closed shop. The members back then, Kristin Asbjørnsen, Solveig Slettahjell and Eldbjørg Raknes, have all had pronounced careers, while “big sister” Tone Åse has walked less sparkling paths. Her own band BOL, leading figure in Trondheim Voices, and as of lately recognized for her contribution in Mailyn Mazurs Future Song, can all be regarded as different experiments, that can imply a search for a deeper, personal expression. In that regard the release Voxpheria is nothing short of a milestone for Åse. The electro-acoustic concept in collaboration with the eminent percussionist Thomas Strønen is in many ways timely.
You can trace a line from the 80´s iranian pioner Sussan Deyhim, along with the american Laurie Anderson when it comes to electronic treatment of the voice via diverse filters, interval-modulators and live loops, and the vocal style can be related to both Sidsel Endresen and Jaap Blonk, while the musical universe at times can be associated with Bjørk, Tom Waits and Maja Ratkje.
A laconic piercing phrase from “Problem” (from the poet Rolf Jacobsen) can be viewed as a mantra for the whole concept: ” …whatever we do / the machines / only move the hunger two stairs up;/ now it sits in the heart”.
It´s evident that the heart needs something the head cannot deliver. Too often the electronic elements in music has been objects for cunning effects or intellectual constructions, but the duo Åse/Strønen turns the electronics into a tool and a servant for an organic musical universe, where the human voice is central (voxpheria), but at the same time obligated to find it´s own existence in the modern techno-world. And the duo does indeed succeed in giving musical nourishment for both the soul and our hungry heart. Åse´s capacities, sensitivity and insight as a vocalist together with Strønen´s natural, organic and groovy drum and electronic progressions constitute a living, pulsating unity, that by far drains mystique out of the technology-infused soundscape – but luckily only in part. Because we wouldn´t want to do without the cryptic sensuality of “Mostly” (by Rolf Jacobsen) or the silent, strangely sore “Koloust” or the orchestral sound-tsunami with aftereffects in “Raised, Rave” or the moonshine-poetic ode to life “Dive for Dreams” (by E. E. Cummings).
In truth we wouldn´t want to do without anything on this album, not even the 2-3 redundant minutes on “Grains”, where the fabric seems somewhat thin. Because this is refreshing, new, vital music that in a unusually successful way has taken charge of the electronics (and not the other way around)!
A new artistic breakthrough for Tone Åse.(Strønen already had his)