Posted on Aug 9th 2007 01:28 pm
Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos
Rune Grammofon 2007
12 Tracks. 48mins10secs
Three years ago, Susanna Wallumrrød, sister of jazz pianist Christian Wallumrrød, and In The Country pianist Morten Qvenild teamed up on the superb Maps Of Lights And Buoys, their debut album as Susanna And The Magical Orchestra. Their impeccably restrained and pure pop, with Wallumrrød’s crystalline voice set against a stark backdrop of soft electric piano. Two years on, the pair returned with Melody Mountain, an entire album of covers on which they applied their highly sensitive atmospheres to songs by artists as diverse as AC/DC, Prince, Depeche Mode and Scott Walker.
Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos is Susanna’s solo debut. If the mood doesn’t immediately seem to depart or differ greatly from previous recordings, the soundscapes applied behind the voice are discreetly more elaborate and ornate. For this album, Susanna has surrounded herself with brother Christian (piano), Magical Orchestra partner Morten Qvenild (piano, synths), In The Country drummer Pål Hausken, Helge Sten (guitar, mellotron), Øystein Greni (guitar), Ola Fløttum (guitar), Barbara Buchholz (Theremin), Giovanna Pessi (harp) and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (bass). It is however Wallumrrød’s voice and her songwriting, concerned with human behaviours and emotions, that shine all the way through. The deeply moving melodies that lifted Maps… are once again spread across the twelve pieces collected here, developing in gentle undulations and flourishing unexpectedly as a harp drizzles over a delicate chorus or a piano underlines a particular phrase with melancholic overtones.
As Intruder unfolds, Christian Wallumrrød’s piano and Helge Sten’s bowed and slide guitars come together to form a dense mesh over which Susanna’s fragile yet assured voice instantaneously captures the attention, and when Barbara Buchholz adds gentle brushes of Theremin in the background, the effect is simply breathtaking. Christian also appears on the stunning Travelling, on which he draws elegant earthy arabesques around his sister’s celestial vocal tones.
On Stay and Better Days, Susanna is framed by rushes of tension from White Birch’s Ola Fløttum and Big Band’s Øystein Greni respectively, each using electric guitars to create dense drapes upon which Helge adds barely audible textures. Guitars also form the backbone of Home Recording, but this time it is Susanna herself who weaves threads of acoustic guitar into an earthy folk-infused melody. Hangout and Lily see Wallumrrød and Morten Qvenild reconvene, Qvenild providing gentle droplets of celesta on the former and more substantial grand piano and Memorymoog on the latter.
While this solo debut from Susanna Wallumrrød will undoubtedly please Magical Orchestra fans, it reveals much richer subtexts. Although the orchestrations remain extremely nuanced, the resulting mood gives these songs a much fuller and more vibrant body.
Explore: Susanna And The Magical Orchestra | Rune Grammofon
Further readings: Susanna And The Magical Orchestra: Melody Mountain
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