latest articles

Kantarell - SPUNK - review from 

kantarellAs challenging as free improvisation can be, the truth is that while it may appear to be an aimless mixture of sounds found or otherwise, in the right hands it is something that—best absorbed as a whole rather than a collection of individual parts—can be as beautiful as it sometimes is jarring and off-putting. Spunk pushes the limits of acoustic and electronic instrumentation, as well as voice; but with an injection of humorous absurdity that may, perhaps, be best experienced live as it was at the 2008 Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville. This all-female Norwegian collective's ability to create sound collages with a purpose has never been stronger than on Kantarell.

Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje may be the best-known of the bunch, a serious new music composer who has contributed to ECM recordings by accordionist Frode Haltli including 2007's Passing Images, and whose own River Mouth Echoes (Tzadik, 2008) was a compelling blend of tough composition and curious spontaneity. But here she's just one member of an egalitarian collective who, much like her bandmates, occasionally comes to the front of the mix, but is more often found as part of the overall sonic collage. Jazz may be distanced from the music Spunk makes—its reference points leaning more towards contemporary classicism—but on "Quadralogue," Ratkje delivers a brief passage of scatting that suggests it may not be as far away as some might think.

Cellist Lene Grenager pushes through the opening electronics of "Mosegrodd," a piece that indirectly references Ligeti, but also an idiosyncratic kind of Nordic cool, as it evokes skewed images of jagged landscapes. She creates angular harmonics that act as a bed for trumpeter Kristin Andersen and French hornist Hild Sofie Tafjord's long tones. "Ankomst," on the other hand, pushes the limits of sound in a brief two minutes, combining sawed strings, deeply processed horns and a theremin that reaches up into the stratosphere; while "Ute," another miniature, builds on percussive sounds, with cello and recorder creating strangely appealing sonics in a curiously traditional-sounding piece.

"Tremble" is an appropriately named opener, with percussion and electronics creating an undulating sound that's at the foundation of a piece that gradually densifies, while "The Lake," with its long periods of near silence, is Spunk at its calmest and most spatially reverent. The 10-minute "Bipolarity" is, however, Kantarell's strongest piece, where seeming stasis shifts almost imperceptibly, until greater percussiveness takes over, with Ratkje looping a brief vocal fragment as the piece becomes even more jagged, while Spunk approaches greater extremes both sonically and dynamically.

Spunk is never for the faint-at-heart; but for those who can take its music as the evocative (and provocative) soundtrack to an imagined alien landscape, Kantarell yields plenty of dividends.

Track listing: Tremble; The Lake; Bipolarity; Quadralogue; Antisolar Point; Mosegrodd; Ankomst; Ute; Eaten.

Personnel: Kristin Andersen: trumpet, violin, flutes, recorder; Lene Grenager: cello; Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje: vocals, theremin, electronics; Hild Sofie Tafjord: French horn, flutes, electronics.

spunks 10 year anniversary memorial volume 

krumelur"Fine, lille krumelur, hjelp meg så jeg ei blir stur!" - SPUNKs 10 year anniversary memorial volume is ready. Designed by Lasse Marhaug, it's very beautiful with a wide range of texts about SPUNK. There's also a lot of photos and newspaper clips from SPUNKs archive.

different browsers 

If you are using Opera browser on a Mac, make sure Opera identifies itself as Opera. Check this with the menu "Opera" => "Quick preferences" ("Hurtiginnstillinger" in Norwegian), choose "identify as Opera". If Opera identifies itself as f.ex. Internet Explorer, you will not get a good view of these pages.

about spunk 

spunkWhereas much has been said about the eclectic nature of SPUNK, there is something seamless and holistic about their music. SPUNK's albums are not a hotchpotch of borrowed musical references, disjointed arrangements and incongruous contrasts. Any ruminations on blurring the boundaries between composition and improvisation or high and low art make no sense. This is music from a new generation for a new generation. Listening to SPUNK, one is flushed down the plughole of time into a dark dank drain to be eventually washed-up on some new musical shore. The contribution and combination of Kristin Andersen, Lene Grenager, Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje, and Hild Sofie Tafjord is in no way contrived. SPUNK are musicians who are part of a zeitgeist who, in their very essence, are pluralistic, in and out of certain traditions, and belong only where they have arrived. Some strange and strong cultural phenomenon is abound and SPUNK are part of it.

en aldeles forferdelig sykdom 

RCD2010 "en aldeles forferdelig sykdom" was SPUNKs first album made with an external producer, Jørgen Træen. Cover design by Kim Hiorthøy.

latest news

SPUNK's website March 13. 2010

SPUNK's website is being redesigned and will soon be updated with our current plans and activites.

SPUNK with Joelle Leandre June 15. 2008

March 3 2008 SPUNK played together with double bass player Joelle Leandre at Belleville, Oslo. We are hoping to play together again soon!

SPUNK reviewed by John Kelman May 22. 2008

...But the best music, as in the best lives, is all about confluence and contrast; pain and pleasure; harsh and beautiful. Spunk manages to bring together all these elements, making their performance one of the highlights of FIMAV 2008 and, quite possibly, the best show of the festival. Read the whole article. at

Reviews from FIMAV! May 20. 2008

"...on ne pouvait que se laisser bercer par les sentiments inspires par cette suite musicale etrange, intuitive et audacieuse." "Norway's all-female Spunk breaks the gender barrier when it comes to free improv with their combination of boldness and sensitivity and non-competitive spirit." (Montreal Gazette.

SPUNK to FIMAV, Canada May 13. 2008

On Norway's national day, May 17, SPUNK will be playing in Victoriaville, Canada, in the programme of the wonderful festival Festival International de Musique Actuelle Victoriaville (FIMAV). Hurra!

upcoming performances

webmaster and design: kristin at top photo by ann iren ødeby