Adventura Botanica

RCD 2163CD RCD 2163CD

In 1862 Charles Darwin peered between the petals of the Madagascar star orchid and predicted that somewhere there must be an insect that had evolved a snout long enough to reach the nectar inside. He never found one, but 40 years later, in 1903, the hawk moth was discovered, sporting a proboscis exactly the right length. Darwin was speculating on co-evolution, the idea that two species (here, a flower and an insect) might latch onto each other and evolve characteristics that would each benefit the other. And that's just what's going on in this botanical adventure -- or Adventura Botanica -- as Norwegian group SPUNK joins forces with one of Norway's leading modern dance exponents, Odd Johan Fritzøe, to create a sound and movement work celebrating Darwin's legendary, game-changing voyage to Madagascar. Premiered in 2013 at Oslo's trailblazing Ultima Festival of Contemporary Music, Adventura Botanica was the third collaboration between SPUNK and Fritzoe. Inspired by Darwin, this "study of the invisible laws of nature" featured Fritzoe dancing around a three meter high sculpture set among sonic objects illuminated in white, to resemble the star orchid, which were triggered by radio signals. SPUNK provided the accompaniment, feeding off the movements, and allowing their sounds to spontaneously generate in co-evolution with the performance. SPUNK recorded the music on this CD in a studio setting around the same time, as a document of the project, but its lush and ever-mutating jungle of sounds gives a vivid sense of dynamic movement and fertile imaginations as the four musicians extend their sonic probosces into the rich receptacle of the dance amphitheatre. Formed in 1995, SPUNK comprises four of Norway's most innovative musicians: Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje, Hild Sofie Tafjord, Lene Grenager, and Kristin Andersen. The quartet combines talents spanning vocal experiments, instrumental virtuosity, impulsive improvisation, and a witty sense of play. Here, they engage in vertigo-inducing microtonal slides and exotic, tropical textures. Fans of Ratkje's incredible solo vocal works will find plenty to enjoy in her whistling, muttering, or operatic singing. All four work in the indefinable area between modern composition, free jazz, and total improv, a crossover zone increasingly dominated by Norwegian musicians. SPUNK seem to want to surprise each other as much as their audience, and in this piece, the music was also the seed that fertilised Fritzoe's movements, as he took his cue from their intuitive improvisation. Adventura Botanica: it's the natural selection.