Norwegian musician Susanna Wallumrød — you can call her Susanna — offers a subdued, elegant track of art-pop on her latest single “Hole.” A veteran recording artist of some dozen albums, Susanna sounds remarkably alert on this track to the artistic possibilities of fusing acoustic and electronic into a highly personalized expression. “Hole” hints at the promise of Susanna’s forthcoming album, Triangle, a collection of thoughtful, probing arias for a troubled world.
In this country, Susanna is best known for the Magical Orchestra’s unique version of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” which set her exquisite soprano against an austere musical background. (Anyone remember hearing it on that Grey’s Anatomy episode?) The song’s template — a kind of chamber-goth interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s Blue — informed recordings over the following years, alone and with the Magical Orchestra, that at times found her hypnotized by the power of her undeniably arresting voice, at the cost of sustained emotional impact. Susanna now sounds far more exposed and entangled in the human tragedy on the new album Triangle. Listeners can find those moments of stillness and icy beauty that she’s best known for, but she draws on a wider instrumental and dynamic palate, featured prominently in “In The Need of a Shepherd,” to create perhaps her most adventurous and expressive work. Admittedly a grower of an album, Triangle is worthy of your investigation.
A sociology professor living in upstate New York, Leonard Nevarez is patiently waiting until his kids are old enough for a family roadtrip to Maryland Deathfest. He blogs about the intersection of urban studies and popular music at musicalurbanism.org.