Boomkat Product Review:
Susanna orchestrally scales up her fascination with Baudelaire’s enduring c.19th poetry with assistance from Helge Sten aka Deathprod and Norway’s renowned KORK, conducted by Christian Eggen.
‘Baudelaire & Orchestra’ is the 3rd and most lavish example of Susanna’s readings of Baudelaire, following the relatively stripped down ‘Baudelaire & Piano’ (2020), and 2022’s album of spoken word, song and tape music co-written with Stina Stjern and Delphine Dora, ‘Elevation’. The timeless drama and appeal of Baudelaire’s work is now suitably amped and rendered by Oslo’s forward-thinking KORK orchestra, known for their performance of challenging contemporary composition of all stripes, and here performing Jarle G. Storløkken’s arrangements of Susanna’s music, including contributions by from innovative composer Jan Martin Smørdal. Faithfully set in place by Deathprod’s production and mastering, the music assumes its ultimate operatic form in an 11 song suite that vividly benefits from the textural richness and space conveyed by the recording’s opulent staging, which brings Susanna’s fantasy-like storytelling style to light in the grandest terms imaginable.
Derived from Susanna’s reading of texts from Baudelaire’s masterwork ‘Flowers of Evil’, this 3rd volume takes his fanatical, sensual, febrile observations on desire and the meaningless of existence from the street to centerstage in a grand tradition also pursued by everyone from Debussy to Celtic Frost, Franco Battiato and Rabit. While making room for experimental touches such as the concrète intro to ‘Sarcophagi’ or Ligeti-esque string on ‘Heavy Sleep’, and field recordings gilded onto ‘The Ghost’ or ‘Elevation’, the album is most beautifully nuanced by KORK and Deathprod, who wreathe and suffuse Susanna’s elegant vox with floral embellishment and vast shifting backdrops, most impressive in the stately procession to ‘Obsession’ and the martial pomp of ‘Burial’, or the bittersweet grandeur palpable in ‘Alchemy of Suffering’.