Maja S.K. Ratkje, Jon Wesseltoft, Camille Norment, Per Gisle Galåen - Celadon
A record of slowly evolving beauty that gradually unravels its meditative design. Recorded in Norwegian sculptor and painter Emanuel Vigeland's (1875 -1948) mausoleum in Oslo in 2013 - a recording space that is famous for its acoustics and its long and full-sounding reverb. These three tracks utilize both the delicacy and the power of acoustic instruments and human voice in relation to the unique recording space. This is a record that is otherworldly and eerie, but also with a great primal expressive force. Performed by four artists from different backgrounds coming together to create this singular set of music.
Maja S.K. Ratkje - Voice and Bells
Jon Wesseltoft - Accordion Organ and Harmonium
Camille Norment - Glass Armonica
Per Gisle Galåen - Zither and Harmonium
Recorded at Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum by Thomas Hukkelberg, May 2013. Mixed and mastered by Maja S.K. Ratkje. All music by Ratkje, Wesseltoft, Norment, Galåen (TONO).
Artwork by John Brien
1. Beneath the Bough (13:03)
2. The Green Flood (18:57)
3. Afterglow (30:31)
"Celadon is chameleonic, sinuous and sinewy, teeming with drones that glisten like fresh spiderwebs at daybreak. Cut in the mausoleum of the late Norwegian sculptor and painter Emanuel Vigeland, it's that most unusual of quartet LPs: the players sacrificing their respective individuality in service of a whole that feels telepathic. Reverberating rivulets of harmonium, bells, organ, and other instruments stream together to form a holistic stew that is by turns glassine (Beneath the Bough), broiling (The Green Flood), and regally outre (Afterglow). The ideal hostess for this avant-garde soiree, Maja S.K. Ratkje comports her voice to accentuate Celadon's shifting intensities, her sharp ululations mimicking the massed sine waves or operatically surfing them." ~ Spin
"Where does Celadon start and when does it stop? The simple answer is once the third of the disc's three works ends, but that's not really a good enough answer, for the album feels circular in its slow and developing methods of exploring timbre and acoustic space. Like the green-blue glazed ceramics that its title references, Celadon provides a hard-edged, aesthetically polished surface on which sounds can work out their strange fricative energies.
"Perhaps a clue lies in the nature of the album's recording space - artist Camille Norment and musicians Maja SK Ratkje, Jon Wesseltoft and Per Gisle Galaen recorded it in 2013 in Oslo's famous Emanuel Vigeland mausoleum. Its frescoed interior is known for its reverberant properties - Diamanda Galas took full advantage of them in a memorable concert in 2012 - and Ratkje, who mixed and mastered the album, and Thomas Hukkelberg, who recorded it, have done a fine job in bringing these resonances and reverbs to CD so well.
"The music benefits from the skillsets of its artists: Ratkje, whose extended vocals can both quiet and disquieten; Norment, the American Oslo based artist whose audiospacial installation Rapture is part of the current Venice Biennale; drone master Wesseltoft; and zither/harmonium player Galaen. The quartet employ all-acoustic instruments, the strangest of which has to be Norment's glass armonica, an 18th centure invention by Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States and a man with an insatiable interest in natural philosophy - why else build a machine with a series of spinning crystal bowls around a spindle? Norment has described its sound as something akin to the pure tones of a sinewave, and here the rise and fall of the armonica's sounds (in a greater range than you might think) add new layers to the drones produced by Wesseltoft and Galaen. There's a hint of Terry Riley's early work in all the sonic shimmer. It's left to Norment's armonica and Ratkje's vocalising to send out the probes that really explore this building, and they do so in a genuinely inquiring manner. Bouncing back and forth across the walls of its sanctuary, Celadon is about composition as much as it is sonic architecture, and it's an excercise that puts the listening experience at its heart." ~ Louise Gray, Wire Magazine
"The four-way collaboration Celadon, between Maja S.K. Ratkje, Jon Wesseltoft, Camille Norment & Per Gisle Galåen was recorded in the Oslo mausoleum of artist Emanuel Vigeland, chosen for its famed acoustics and rich reverb. The cohorts utilise these aspects excellently as they craft three blissful pieces of gentle ambience, slow-moving explorations in sound texture that are as relaxing as they are beautiful. It is not surprising given the location that a certain darkness infuses the music, though it is one that is contemplative rather than nefarious, a study in death rather than a fear of it." ~ The Digital Fix
"A a bold, striking, and deceptively ferocious artistic statement that is like absolutely nothing else that I have heard." ~ Brainwashed
"Celadon captures a one-off performance from these four, highly-respected Oslo-based artists who came together in May 2013 to effectively collaborate with a space, an interior that comes across very much as the 'producer' of the hour-long, minimal yet intense performance. The mausoleum of Emanuel Vigeland was chosen for its acoustic properties and is a work of art in its own right - with walls and ceilings that would house the painter's body when he died in 1948, decorated with his erotic paintings as a dedication to life.
"Both fertile and reverential, the sounds the players sent out into this tomb become anointed with particularly long and rich reverb trails that float, linger and layer in the space. For the first two pieces Maja Ratkje's cool, controlled voice is born aloft on gentle suspensions from Wesseltoft's accordion, organ and harmonium, Norment's glass armonica and Galåen's zither, instruments seemingly chosen for their sumptuous long tones. The confluence of their extending chords resonate and writhe to remind of some of the Indian raga-inspired works of the West Coast's Terry Riley, Henry Flynt and particularly the more recent performances from Catherine Christer Hennix, also released by Important Records.
"The last half of of the disk is taken up by the half-hour piece, 'Afterglow', in one simple word perfectly describing the magical effect the venue had on the sounds. Distorting perceptions of time, the lengthy, droning tones go beyond their hitherto mysterious, cool charm to become unnervingly fervent, while Ratkje sounds at her most possessed to conclude an astonishing, transformative work that manages to be both foreboding and joyful." ~ Quietus