Boomkat Product Review:
Our Lady Susanna of Norway yields a gorgeous, pastoral-toned dream sequence of songs and concrète scenery, aided by Delphine Dora and Stina Stjern, and co-produced by her creative/life partner Deathprod.
Marking just over 10 years of releases on her SusannaSonata label, ‘Elevation’ amplifies the oneiric nature of Susanna’s music after the more plaintive staging of her ‘Baudelaire & Piano’ suite and her ‘Live’ recordings of cover versions with sibling David Wallumrød, in recent years. Dreamy Susanna is our favourite Susanna, and ‘Elevation’ is just the ticket if you feel the same way, seeing her in a “time travelling” pursuit of more esoteric muses in what she terms “an intuitive and collective ceremony of the ethereal and mystical in life.” While there’s a direct connection to ‘Baudelaire & Piano’ in her use of the poet’s lyrics sometimes set to keys, there’s a much more impressionistic play of light/dark tones, textured mise-en-scene and nods to early choral music that place ‘Elevation’ in the top shelf of her work.
Locating a renewed strength in collaboration, the tracks are duly credited as such, with Susanna found solo on a quartet of way markers, from the opening torch song of ‘Alchemy of Suffering’, to the aching title song, and the curtain closing ‘Destruction’, with the rest best defined as duo works. It’s in those parts where the album really takes shape, handing over the performance of Baudelaire’s french writing to Delphine Dora in contrasting highlights such as the haunting, near sepulchral organ bedding and swaying duet of ‘Ciel Brouillé’, and vignette-like passages fringed by babbling brooks and birdsong, as with ‘L’aube Spirituelle’. Likewise Stina Stjern also lends a quietly vital touch of tape-recorded atmosphere following her work on the Hieronymus Bosch project ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’, most enchanting on the BoC-like play of flutes and aleatoric rustle in ‘Rose-Pale Dawn’ and the utterly captivating silhouette of ‘In Shared Ecstasy’.