Maja S.K. Ratkje & Stian Westerhus

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Maja S.K. Ratkje – voice, pump organ, fiddle
Stian Westerhus – voice, acoustic guitar

photo by Voldseth

Westerhus and Ratkje are usually associated with effect pedals, samplers, amplifiers and computers at three digit decibel levels. At this concert, they perform their music acoustically. 

Armed with only a 19th century pump organ, fiddle, acoustic guitar, a hammer and their voices,  their expression provokes associations to both the old Kristiania in the 1890’s, as well as emigrated Norwegians in the Midwest reciting Shakespeare whilst loading their guns underneath the table of the saloon. 

In the few occasions the duo has performed live the response has been nothing short of overwhelming. Critics have used terms such as “One of the decidedly strongest musical moments of the year”.

Ratkje & Westerhus summon a captivating sound world that sounds like nothing else. 

Album to be released on Crispin Glover records in 2023
Listen to the pre-release demo.
Watch a special registration by Norwegian national tv


Maja Ratkje and Stian Westerhus’ concert was an overwhelming experience of beauty. The two musicians are known for their electronics and music that might be cool in the unpleasant way. This was the complete opposite, with just their voices, harmonium and acoustic guitar, so profoundly beautiful I could feel it in my chest. (…)
Westerhus has an enourmous voice. Soulful, deep and very emotional. He has something Bowie’esque about him, and the way he plays meant everybodys eyes were glued to him most of the night.
Ratkje is an educated singer who knows how to utilize the voice in all good ways. (…)
This is a concert that is definitely the festivals highlight, and a concert that should be heard by many more. 
(S.Iversen about Molde int. jazzfest 2020 in Jazz i Norge)

Maybe the most surprising appearance was the bond of composer/multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Maja S.K. Ratkje and guitarist Stian Westerhus. (…) 
It could clearly be felt that the music was permeating epochs creating a specific atmosphere of a past time re-imagined. It felt not so much as a genre-defying work but rather as a time transient work. 
(Henning Bolte about Oslo Jazz Festival 2019 in All About Jazz

The music of Maja Ratkje and Stian Westerhus (…) penetrated me like Cupid’s arrow. And obviously not just me. There was an almost spellbound tension. Not a word was heard, not a rustle, not a clink of glasses. (…) The sacred majesty of the harmonium, the bitterly tender melting of the violin, the lyrical airiness of the guitar. In addition, the two voices, each individually and above all together, effortlessly manage to do what is not self-evident, to form art singing and at the same time remain archaically human. (…) Then it’s over and turns into the realization that you’ve witnessed something really big.(Thomas Melzer –