"Ballads“ ist the first collaborative album by two key figures of the Norwegian noise, improv, experimental, whatever-you-call-it music scene. Anyone expecting a rackety wall of distorted feedback guitars and voices will be gently surprised though by the sparse and intimate sketches to be found on this wonderful record. Songs are stripped down to their raw bones using only the most essential elements to reveal the soul behind every single sound. Superfluous effects seem to be completely absent, creating an open space for miniscule details, always ready to implode into noisier tracks such as „Private Matter“. The album culminates in „Hammock Moods“, a quietly mesmerizing epic finale with Maja Ratkje humming a beautiful melody over Hegre’s gorgeous near-psychedelic guitar playing. Let’s all hope for a sequel to this album! Maja Ratkje is a member of Spunk (Rune Grammofon) and noise duo Fe-Mail. Her solo album „Voice“ (produced in collaboration with Jazzkammer) got an Award of Distinction at Prix Ars Electronica in 2003. In 2001 she was the first composer ever to receive the Arne Nordheim distinction award. She has collaborated with Jaap Blonk, Ikue Mori, Otomo Yoshihide, Wolf Eyes, Matmos, Lasse Marhaug, Jason Forrest, Kim Hiortoy, Ulver and many others. Her last album was released on John Zorn's Tzadik label. John Hegre is a member of Jazzkammer / Jazkamer (Smalltown Supersound), Kaptein Kaliber, Golden Serenades, New Boiling Near The Fjords (with members of Alog) and others. His first solo 3“CD came out on Dekorder in 2003. Jazkamer will release their aptly titled new album „Metal Music Machine“ in spring 2006 and Hegre is working on an as yet untitled solo album for Dekorder.