Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

582

Susanna and the Magical Orchestra: 3

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
The ability of musicians on the Norwegian scene to live in a multitude of musical spaces was made clear at Molde Jazz 2009, where trumpeter Arve Henriksen performed in a variety of settings, ranging from the sublime beauty of his Cartography group to more aggressive noise improv with Supersilent. The two members of Susanna and the Magical Orchestra are equally spread out, in particular keyboardist Morten Qvenild, who has worked with groups ranging from indie instrumentalists Jaga Jazzist to more aggro progsters Shining, and whose In the Country trio has released its most ambitious album to date, Whiteout (Rune Grammofon, 2009). Vocalist Susanna Wallumrød has released two intimate singer/songwriter albums on Rune Grammofon—2007's Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos and 2009's Flowers of Evil.

3 represents a logical evolution for this retro-centric but still modernist-edged duo, with a shift from the brighter, covers-only Melody Mountain (Rune Grammofon, 2006) to emphasis on original writing that covers plenty of subject matter, all couched in a darker, more electronic ambience. There's a pulse on tunes like Wallumrød's opening "Recall," a poignant song of lost love; but it's soft, almost subliminal. The thundering drums samples of the more spiritual "Guiding Star" are more visceral, but they're still synched with synth washes and are more programmatic in nature.

Wallumrød and Qvenild split the writing duties, with the keyboardist's music largely more sophisticated harmonically and more direct lyrically. The synth-driven "Game" examines loss from a different perspective, while the more defined electronic groove of "Palpatine's Dream," with Wallumrød's layered voices, is one of 3's brightest, poppiest tracks despite its bleaker subject matter. Like Wallumrød, Qvenild creates miniature orchestral arrangements with layers of keyboards and quirky, orbiting synth lines.

With occasional assistance from friends including Supersilent's Helge Sten and Jaga Jazzist's Andreas Mjås, the duo also covers two diametrically distanced covers, both bearing little resemblance to the originals, yet still curiously recognizable. With Neil Peart's metronomic drumming and Geddy Lee's nails-on-a-chalkboard voice removed—replaced by gentler sonics and Wallumrød's warmer, more inviting voice—Rush's "Subdivisions" may not possess the prog-power of the original, but Susanna and the Magical Orchestra turn it into something far more inherently appealing. It's harder to criticize the source for Roy Harper's melancholy "Another Day," but with treated piano and Wallumrød's clear, unaffected voice, Wallumrød and Qvenild claim it as their own.

It's a testament to their own writing that the covers are barely discernable as coming from other sources. Relying on Wallumrød's pure, direct approach to singing and Qvenild's glorious attention to texture, 3 is another highlight in the careers of both Susanna and the Magical Orchestra the collective, and its two members individually. Stark, beautiful, tender and heartfelt, it's a singer/songwriter's album for the 21st century.

Track Listing: Recall; Guiding Star; Game; Palpatine's Dream; Another Day; Deer Eyed Lady; Lost; Subdivisions; Come On; Someday.

Personnel: Susanna Karolina Wallumrød: vocals, programming; Morten Qvenild: keyboards, programming; Erland Dahlen: drums and percussion (1, 3); Andreas Mjøs: vibraphone (3); Helge Sten: guitars (4, 6), keyboards (10); Mariam Wallentin: additional vocals (4, 6); Fredrik Wallumrdød: additional vocals (4, 6); Morten Barrikmo Engebretsen: bass clarinet (7).

Title: 3 | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Rune Grammofon


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Acknowledgement CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Lessons And Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read The Child in Me CD/LP/Track Review The Child in Me
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: November 23, 2017
Read The Way Home CD/LP/Track Review The Way Home
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Shadow Work CD/LP/Track Review Shadow Work
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Veterans of Jazz CD/LP/Track Review Veterans of Jazz
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read "Varanda" CD/LP/Track Review Varanda
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Air and Light and Time and Space" CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "Carol Morgan Quartet - Post Cool Vol. 1 The Night Shift" CD/LP/Track Review Carol Morgan Quartet - Post Cool Vol. 1 The Night Shift
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "Which Craft?" CD/LP/Track Review Which Craft?
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "The Cheap Ensemble" CD/LP/Track Review The Cheap Ensemble
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 10, 2017
Read "Blue And Lonesome" CD/LP/Track Review Blue And Lonesome
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 9, 2016

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor