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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Occasionally inspired album of covers,
This review is from: Melody Mountain (Audio CD)An album of covers ...boring right? Err well no actually for two reasons 1: For the main part these are interesting often inspired choices of songs to cover and 2: The way they are interpreted is so far removed from the originals as to be almost alien .The originals are from Earth , the versions on "Melody Mountain" are from Mars ...or maybe Venus.
Susanna and the Magical Orchestra is the rather grand title given to this project by Danish singer Susanna Wallumrod in cohorts with studio technical boffin Morton Qvenild. The music is electronica, often so minimalist as to barely register. It unfurls in leisurely fashion around the subtle shifting nuances of Wallumrod, s vocals like a boa constrictor savouring its latest catch prior to devouring. The vocals are wonderful, at times so fragile and devastated you would think she was on the verge of passing out, but on others though yearning with longing or loss they hold a tremulous strength and suppressed power. It's the vocals as much as anything that makes some of these versions so remarkable.
The choice ranges from been done before -"Hallelujah"- and better by both John Cale and Jeff Buckley , to the very apposite "Love Will Tear Us Apart" where the indignation and sepulchral defiance of the original is replaced by pure abject acceptance .Then there are the choices that border the line between bizarre and inspired. "Crazy Nights", originally a hedonistic anthem is boiled down to an essence of intangible melancholy and mournful acquiescence. AC DC,s "It's A Long Way To The Top" is given a superb auto harp arrangement while on "Enjoy The Silence" Wallumrod is at her most fragile and vulnerable. This reminds me of This Mortals Coil's "Song to the Siren" with its quivering instrumentation and ominous atmosphere of extreme anxiety.
The covers of "It's Raining Today" by Scott Walker and "Fotheringay " by Sandy Denny originally are less successful but overall this is an captivating listening experience , revealing once again that cover versions if approached by someone willing to subvert , pervert or infiltrate the essence of the song with something different can produce something fresh and thrilling. And occasionally it is possible to improve on the originals as at least three songs on "Melody Mountain "have been to this reviewers ears.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crazy Crazy Nights will never sound the same again!,
This review is from: Melody Mountain (Audio CD)This is one of those albums that unexpectedly hits you and makes trawling away from the mainstream worthwhile. The choice of covers is both inspired and bizzare. Some are beautifully delivered, like love will tear us apart which shows Susanna's vocal talents to the full. Others like the Kiss track Crazy Crazy Nights, take on an entirely hidden depth with a moody, soulful rebelion replacing the teen energy of the original.
Its not something you would put on at a party (unless you really wanted everyone to calm down) but somehow it connects with you deeply and you keep coming back to it. Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence continues the ambient theme, while Bob Dylan's Dont Think Twice is a little more upbeat but only just. Overall a must for the connoisseur but a treasure for anyone who loves to feel something new when they listen to music!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music straight from the soul,
This review is from: Melody Mountain (Audio CD)This album is truly one of the most beautiful I've ever heard. It is so rich in authenticity and emotional feeling, despite the fact that these songs are actually covers.
Part of the reason the emotion comes through so well is through the simplicity of the arrangements. There's a guy on a synth/piano/harpsichord/keyboard (Morten Qvenild), and there's a beautiful and extremely talented singer (Susanna Karolina Wallumrød). That's it. The production is high quality and allows the music to do all the talking. There is no multi-layered orchestra, there are no backing singers, no layered vocals, no percussion, no beats. Anyone looking for a contemporary pop record, or expecting to find the usual 'cover' treatment will find something unexpected here.
Despite these songs being covers, the duo make each track their own. There are extremely odd choices and interpretations, but each one works brilliantly. Susanna's vocal delivery and Morten's delicate score makes each track feel extremely personal, deep, and emotional. If you've ever heard Johnny Cash's cover of 'Hurt' you will be aware of how a cover can be taken and changed into something completely different, something every bit as powerful and more than the original. Something that resonates at a deeper emotional pitch. Every track here achieves the same effect.
It's a slow burning ember of an album, and I adore it for its simplicity, beauty, and ability to speak directly to my soul.
I recommend this album to any music fan, but beware those looking for easy-access pop, or expecting to hear music even vaguely similar to the original tracks from which these covers are taken. You'll need an open mind to hear this properly. You won't go far wrong blacking out the room and lighting a candle or two while you listen either.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There seems to be some very good things coming out Scandinavia lately!,
This review is from: Melody Mountain (Audio CD)There seems to be some very good things coming out Scandinavia lately! From this release it would seem Susanna and the Magical Orchestra are no exception. This is an album of covers, and it is rare that an album of covers is ever this good. The reason it's so good is down to its shear simplicity. In the foreground is Susanna Wallumrod's beautiful voice which on occasion captures you, and you find yourself belonging to one of those moments when music seems to stop you in time! You stop and you just listen to this often very fragile voice. But when I talk about the album's simplicity, I talk about the musical arraignment...
Behind `Don't Think Twice, It's All Right' there are keyboards played just one key at a time and because of this, Suzanna's vocals stand out with an honesty and bitterness that it makes this one of the highlights of the album, but it's Joy Division's `Love Will Tear Us Apart' the is the outstanding track, delivered with such beauty and subtle emotion that I skipped the disc back and listened to it three or four times. Other highlights are `It's A Long Way To The Top' and you can only admire the interpretation of this AC/DC cover which has a little more instrumentation compared with other tracks. Kiss's `Crazy, Crazy Nights' and Depeche Mode's `Enjoy The Silence' are also worthy of note for their interpretation, Prince's `Condition of the Heart' is track I found myself listening to more than once, again for it's beautiful delivery. However, the album opens with Cohan's `Hallelujah', which for me was a little disappointing, simply because the song has been covered way, way too many times, but never the less this is an excellent album and I would hearty recommend it to anyone's ears. Open yourself a bottle of your favourite red, settle down and listen to this at volume!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magical Susanna Intimate Covers,
This review is from: Melody Mountain (Audio CD)This is Sweden's Susanna Carolina Wallumrød's second album under the misleading name of Susanna and Her Magical Orchestra. This time she and her orchestra--that basically consists of Morten Qvenild's tasteful playing in a number of instruments besides Susanna's voice--chose to cover not always obvious choices of songs by Prince, Depeche Mode, Dylan, and Kiss among several others. All very established songwriters who as much as they shared wide recognition could not be farther apart in styles.
In an intimate, almost crepuscular mood, Susanna's voice appropriates these songs and turns them into melancholy ballads, a cabaret set, if you will, in the tradition of Nico's dark European Pop but tenderer.
Although not every song has lent itself graciously to this kind of subtle, somewhat minimal arrangements, there are several beauties such as Kiss' "Crazy, Crazy Nights," Scott Walker's "It's Still Raining," and the obscure Dylan track "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right." Also worth of mention is "It's a Long Way to the Top," the AC-DC song, Prince's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and Fairport Convention's "Fotheringay."
More interesting, to my taste, than her compatriot Stina Nordenstam and not quite in the same league with Paula Fraser and Beth Gibbons, Susanna is somewhat to keep tabs on. Play it at night, ideally by a window whatever it might look over, and better if it's cold. It's that kind of a record.
4.0 out of 5 stars Susanna's spell,
This review is from: Melody Mountain (MP3 Download)A lesson in how to 'cover' a song. Nearly all the tracks (with the exception of "Don't think twice...") are an improvement on the originals. With "Love will tear us apart" and especially "Crazy, crazy nights" they have created a gem from rubbish (in my opinion). Beautiful, touching voice and original arrangements but they could perhaps do with more variation in tempo.
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric album, amazing voice!,
This review is from: Melody Mountain (Audio CD)Susanna has such an amazing voice that on first hearing it almost makes you hold your breath. She injects such emotion and reaches notes you just can't belief possible. I experienced 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' in such a different way in Susanna's version that I'd say it's better than the original. The musical accompaniment is simple and subtly performed so it never competes with her voice.
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Melody Mountain by Susanna & the Magical Orchestra (Audio CD - 2006)