donderdag 21 februari 2019

Garden Of Earthly Delights. Susanna & The Brotherhood of Our Lady

There are albums that are easy to endear to and albums that I instantly dislike with no change at repair. And then there is a third category, an album that makes you work for your money. That is where Garden Of Earthly Delights can be found. The kind of album worthy of finding itself on the tracklist of a Kairos show on Concertzender.

On her 13th album, and this is my first, Susanna lays down a mysterious world where her voice is central to all else. And that else easily might mean hardly anything else. If the sounds had not been as modern in sound this record could have been centuries old. The chant of a primitive people in the backwoods of Norway fighting off the winter cold, hardships, angry gods and darkness with their singing.

It is all but. This is the modern world alright where sounds are manipulated, nothing is what it seems, except the voice of Susanna. She purports to live near a magical place, Jheronimus Bosch's garden of earthly delights. She looks over the fence at night. What she sees is determined strongly by the answer to the question on which side of the garden she lives. Light or darkness, joy or peril? I can imagine her standing there for hours on end, watching in awe of all that passes in front of her, safe behind her fence. This masterpiece of Medieval painting by one of the most mysterious painters of all in reality hangs in Madrid's Prado museum where I looked for minutes on end, loosing all sense of time and place, just looking at this marvel with its hundreds of small details.

Promo photo: Signe Fuglesteg Luksengard
For her new album Susanna took her inspiration from Bosch's paintings. This leads to a musical mystery wonder land. Strange electronic noises fill my ears, while in others angelic voices sing together. Although the basis of the song may be just a simple sounding riff or a few chords, they are only the starting point for the electronic treatment the atmosphere of the song undergoes, the work of Helge Sten, who is a regular musical partner of Susanna and herself.

The Brotherhood of Our Lady is a new band accompanying Susanna. Named after the society in St. Jan's cathedral in Den Bosch that supported Jheronimus Bosch, this band supports Susanna. Although it totally unclear to me who plays what on this record, the contributions are listed.

To me it is inconsequential. All in all Garden Of Earthly Delights is as mysterious as the painting is. Nothing is what it seems. Some songs are more straightforward than others. Somewhere there is a folk element like in 'Wilderness'. The song is nothing but a reference point to the more experimental elements constituting the album. There may be a Gothic element in the singing. Above all Garden Of Earthly Delights is an adventure. In listening and in the making, I presume. As soon as conventional song structures are abandoned by Susanna and collaborators, anything is possible. And that goes wide and far. It makes for hard but extremely interesting listening, including quality. And that is not a given where music and experiment goes.


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