“Mythical animals were a big inspiration,” says composer and songwriter Jenny Hval about Meshes Of Voice, a new collaboration between her and Susanna. “We looked at Medusa, Athena and Harpy (a combination of woman and bird) – as examples of depictions of woman – the ugly, the goddess-like, the gruesome,” agrees Susanna. This collaboration – featuring the two strongest Nordic voices around today – started back in 2009 as an exchange of letters, then developed into two live performances, one at Oslo Jazz Festival, the other at the Henie Onstad Art Centre, where this album was recorded. Mixed and mastered by Helge Sten (Deathprod, Supersilent), Meshes Of Voice presents a stunning vocal universe of confessions, whispers and seductions. Tracks like “I Have Walked This Body” seem to rise monstrously and threateningly out of some mythological fog of distorted improvised noise.
A key inspiration was film maker Maya Deren’s surrealist, cyclical Meshes of the Afternoon, a milestone of visionary film from 1943. Deren’s famous image of a cloaked figure with a reflective face recurs on “A Mirror In My Mouth”, creating a complex world of musical fictions akin to those of Julia Holterand Joanna Newsom.
Susanna launched Susanna And The Magical Orchestra in 2000 together with keyboardist Morten Qvenild (Jaga Jazzist, In The Country). The duo’s Rune Grammofon albums List Of Lights And Buoys (2004), Melody Mountain (2006) and 3 (2009) contained a mix of original compositions as well as highly personal interpretations of songs by Leonard Cohen, Scott Walker, Dolly Parton, Prince, Sandy Denny and KISS.
In 2007 Susanna’s songwriting took a major leap with Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos (Rune Grammofon), released under her own name. It included twelve of her self-penned songs, and caught the attention of Will Oldham (Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Palace Brothers), who posted Susanna a handwritten letter professing his admiration for her voice and music, which later led to the pair working together. Susanna has continued to release both her highly personal interpretations of other people’s songs Flower of Evil (2008) and If Grief Could Wait (2011, together with Swiss Giovanna Pessi), and written music to poetry by Norwegian poet Gunvor Hofmo Jeg Vil Hjem Til Menneskene (2011) in addition to her all originals album Wild Dog (2012).
Jenny Hval‘s Rune Grammofon releases Viscera (2011) and Innocence is Kinky (2013) have both earned international acclaim (Pitchfork compared her to Laurie Anderson, Yoko Onoand “pre-Sledgehammer” Peter Gabriel) as well as extensive touring in the US and UK (most recently supporting Swans). Currently based in New York, her first two albums was released under the moniker Rockettothesky and more recently in the duo Nude On Sand. In her native Norway she is also a published novelist and writer.
Meshes Of Voice is released on SusannaSonata, the label launched by Susanna in 2011, a self-operated outlet for her to curate her own back catalogue and develop new music. Last year she released her acclaimed album The Forester (2013), a collaboration with the Norwegian Ensemble neoN combining the antique notes of the Baroque theorbo, woodwinds and strings, and for which Susanna received a Norwegian Grammy (Spellemannsprisen).
This is a meshing of two of the strongest contemporary voices and most independent musical minds active today.
2. Black Lake
3. Milk Pleasures
4. I Have Walked This Body
5. O Sun O Medusa
6. A Mirror In My Mouth
7. Thirst That Resembles Me
8. I Have A Darkness
9. A Sudden Swing
10. Honey Dew
12. Running Down
13. House of Bones
15. The Black Lake Took
Something wicked this way comes. Something dark, menacing, fathomless. Shadows within shadows. Electricity from other planets. This is the heavy weather sound of Minibus Pimps: a perfect storm of crystalline chimes, low end rumbles and slow-blowing galactic hurricanes.
Minibus Pimps is a duo featuring John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin’s legendary multi-instrumentalist), and prolific electronic musician, improviser and producer Helge Sten (Deathprod, Supersilent), which has existed since its first performance in 2011. This unique and unconventional UK/Norwegian collaboration is named after a track discovered on a compilation of Chinese experimental music (a street recording of people who work the crowd to fill taxis in Beijing).
The debut album Cloud To Ground contains seven tracks all recorded live at different venues, from London’s Café Oto to venues in Norway and Denmark. The secret of Minibus Pimps’ colossal sonic gas giants is their use of the Kyma computer system (created by Symbolic Sound). Instruments such as guitar, bass and violin are fed into the system and radically transformed by self-designed digital instruments and processors until their sources are barely recognisable.
‘I would say that the music contains composed and improvisational elements on an equal scale,’ says Helge Sten of the pieces on Cloud To Ground. With titles referencing what scientists call ‘remarkable luminous phenomena in nature’, the tracks are scintillating exercises in bending timbres and refracting sound signals. ‘Black Aurora’ is an electronic suite in four movements, pulsing and hovering like some collapsing dark star. The title track is a monstrous duet for icicles and cathedral organ, and the other pieces are masses of sound and noise explored in different densities.
A prolific session musician in the 1960s, John played, arranged and recorded with artists including Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, The Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck, Françoise Hardy and many others until co-founding Led Zeppelin with Jimmy Page in late 1967.
Following Led Zeppelin’s unparalleled career he has collaborated, produced and arranged for a range of artists including Diamanda Galás, REM, Foo Fighters, Peter Gabriel, Merce Cunningham and many more. In 2009, he formed ‘Them Crooked Vultures’ with Dave Grohl and Josh Homme. He is currently writing an opera based on The Ghost Sonata by August Strindberg.
Helge Sten has been making electronic music since the early 90s, both under the name Deathprod and, since 1997, as one of the improvising group Supersilent. One of Norway’s most innovative and uncompromising artists, his ‘audio virus’ has spread across the music of many collaborators including Motorpsycho, Susanna, Biosphere and more. Supersilent first teamed up with John Paul Jones at the Punkt festival in Kristiansand in 2010, a fruitful meeting that eventually spawned Minibus Pimps.
Cloud To Ground is a giant step by two fearless sonic cosmonauts.
1. Black Aurora Pt.1-4 (John Paul Jones & Helge Sten)
2. Cloud To Ground (John Paul Jones & Helge Sten)
3. Arc (John Paul Jones & Helge Sten)
4. Superbolt (John Paul Jones & Helge Sten)
Highly acclaimed and recommended album from Susanna.
Susanna’s first soloalbum since 2012, and her eleventh album in total, is a mastodont of a singer/songwriter release. Near 70 minutes of intensely expressive, deeply felt and spiritually probing lyrics, presented and performed in layers of voice, electronics, effects and programming together with instruments as piano, violin and tuba.
The artist known for personal interpretations of songs by Joy Division, Leonard Cohen and AC/DC among others but also her strong originals , has dissected her own musical expression, collaborations and projects, and put the pieces together again creating a unique and diverse world for her songs.
‘Triangle’ is composed, arranged, played, recorded and produced by Susanna. Musicians from Norwegian bands like Supersilent, Broen, Moskus, Splashgirl and Sudan Dudan participated alongside americans Alison Chesley (Helen Money) and Emmett Kelly (The Cairo Gang).
Even in this golden age for female singer-songwriters, Susanna stands out. Her vocal has become ever more versatile and fluid, recalling at times Kate Bush, the Laurel Canyon balladry of Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro, or the acrobatics of the Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser. But it’s always recognisably her own: calm and determined in the face of enormous forces and looming fears.
On the terrifying ‘This / Phenomena’ it’s distorted into a digital mush, while on ‘We Don’t Belong’ it’s multitracked to a lush and enveloping chorus. Muted electro track ‘Hole’ features Anja Lauvdal and Heida Mobeck from rising art pop group Broen besides Skrap, Skadedyr and Moskus – not since Prince in the mid-80s has an existential religious crisis been so beautifully expressed with the tools of electronic pop.
Triangle is soul music for lost souls.
1. Holy / Sacred
2. We Don’t Belong
3. Texture Within
4. Fear And Terror
5. Before The Alter
8. Under Water
9. This / Phenomena
10. For My Sins
11. Burning Sea
12. In The Need Of A Shepherd
13. Born Again
16. Ebb And Flow
18. The Fire
19. Sacred Revolution
21. Death Hanging
22. In My Blood
SusannaSonata releases the first physical item, “Wild Dog” as vinyl.
The vinyl is cut by Paul Gold at Salt Mastering in Brooklyn, the cover is made by Kim Hiorthøy and it is printed at Pallas in Germany. This is a quality product sounding wonderful.
”Wild Dog” is Susanna´s eight album, including three with Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, her ”Norwegian” album ”Jeg Vil Hjem Til Menneskene” and the recent ECM album with Giovanna Pessi.
1. Imagine (Susanna K. Wallumrød)
2. Freeze (Susanna K. Wallumrød)
3. Rolling On Rolling Stone (Susanna K. Wallumrød)
4. Oh, I Am Stuck (Susanna K. Wallumrød)
5. Starving Soul (Susanna K. Wallumrød)
6. Invitation (Susanna K. Wallumrød)
7. Wild Horse Wild Dog (Susanna K. Wallumrød)
8. There Is Nothing Funny About This (Susanna K. Wallumrød)
9. Her Eyes (Susanna K. Wallumrød)
10. Lonely Heart (Susanna K. Wallumrød)
The CD comes with a 8 pages booklet, and the LP is cut from the original 24/96 masters on 180 gr vinyl.
Barely one year after the Rune Grammofon-release of critically acclaimed “Wild Dog”, Susanna returns with a new album. Released on her own label SusannaSonata on CD, vinyl and download in September 2013.
Susanna is known for both her own songwriting, with songs such as ‘Believer’ and her huge range of highly personal interpretations of other people’s songs. She is an intensely arresting performer; holding audiences captive with her hypnotizing vocal timbre and the powerful, all consuming sound of her band, her concerts are truly magical.
Active for more than a decade, through eight albums so far asSusanna and the Magical Orchestra/Susanna/Susanna Wallumrød, the Oslo based artist has recently been taking great steps towards greater independence and autonomy, while increasing the range of her considerable talents as a songwriter, vocal interpreter and producer.
Combining the antique notes of the Baroque theorbo, woodwinds and strings, and Susanna’s sparse piano, ‘The Forester’ – a co-production with the Norwegian Ensemble neoN – features Susanna’s strongest songwriting to date.
‘The Forester’ began to take shape when composers Julian Skar and Jan Martin Smørdal requested some material from her to arrange for the Norwegian contemporary music group Ensemble neoN. Picking from new tracks and several already released songs, the composers made new arrangements suited to the eight-piece group, and extended the title track into a fifteen-minute, three-part suite in which dark woods shroud a wanderer in a symbolic landscape of searching and loss. Being lost, or deliberately straying from the chosen path, are recurring themes on ‘The Forester’, whose subject matter ranges from disturbing natural environments to alien visitors, painted on an eerily exquisite canvas that recalls Mark Hollis, Tim Buckley, Kate Bush and Claude Debussy while remaining uniquely Susanna’s soundworld.
Recorded entirely live in one single, emotionally intense day at Oslo’s legendary Rainbow Studio, produced by Deathprod and Susanna and engineered by Jan Erik Kongshaug.