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Fe-mail - All Men are Pigs

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Artist: Fe-mail

Album: All Men are Pigs

Label: Gameboy

Review date: Jul. 18, 2004

Feminism in music has taken many different forms in recent years, from the pop sheen of No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” to the harder edged punk rock of Bikni Kill and their sisters in the Pacific Northwest. Fe-Mail’s feminism is of a more humorous, if not facetious, vein than the aforementioned, but that doesn’t stop the Norwegian duo from unleashing some caustic grrrl power of their own. Neither Hild Sofie Tafjord or Maja S.K. Ratkje seem overtly interested in preaching an agenda or using their music as a political platform, but despite (and, most likely, because of) this lack of overt polemics, Fe-Mail are a stark example of the fact that noise isn't just for the boys. Joined by (as the album title’s logic dictates) pig and fellow Norwegian Lasse Marhaug, Fe-Mail cause a stir on All Men are Pigs that renders everything but the ferocity of the music an afterthought.

Dispensing with the traditional Scandanavian austerity, Tafjord, Ratkje, and Marhaug are architects of tumultuous noise explosions, mangling electronics, samples and the human voice into a mess of sound that would be frightening if it weren’t so meticulously crafted. Unlike the artists whose medium is sheer, uncontrolled audio destruction, Fe-Mail seem to craft each cataclysmic moment with care, and their shuddering improvisations move with a definite sense of development and resolution. Obvious beats and more ghostly, underlying rhythms propel the music from its most chillingly placid moments (which are few) to the frenzied zeniths of the group’s noisy constructions. Seeped in static and distorted sound samples, All Men are Pigs seems to operate at near speaker-shredding volume, even at a stereo’s quietest setting, as the three musicians stretch and bend the music in an epic match of tug o’ war, There’s no sense of internal competition here, though, only mutual determination and resolution, and the album is stronger for it. Individual voices are lost among the fray, and the efforts of the trio far outweigh and overshadow any singular contribution. As the disc starts, “Oh, You Gritty Thing” explodes in a near-animal frenzy, as a mechanical snarl is damaged and demolished over the course of over seven minutes, and while “Charmed” and “Here’s that Rainy Day, Sid Hendrix’ Last Grunt” don’t reach such levels of aural bombast, there’s never a lull in the album’s intensity or drive.

There doesn’t seem to be an obvious reason for the recent mini-explosion of noise music exports from Norway. However, Tafjord, Ratkje, and Marhaug, as well as Marhaug’s duo Jazzkammer, Frode Gjerstad, Noxagt, and others are making a noisy name for a country that usually receives notoriety for the black metal of Satyricon, Enslaved, Ulver and their stylistic brethren. All Men are Pigs is another damaged feather in the country’s cap, making a stormy clamor that would even impress that father of Norse thunder himself.

By Adam Strohm

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