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Susanna And Ensemble neoN: The Forester

The artist’s first release on her own label is tasteful and charged.

Vocalist Susanna K Wallumrød is most often associated with the Rune Grammofon label, having released a decade’s worth of material through that Scandinavian avant jazz institution. The Forester is the first release on her own label, yet represents a continuation of her aesthetic of measured disquiet. That said, the album may be her most substantial effort to date.

The three-part title track finds our heroine lost in a symbolic forest, striving for self-determination and sense amid a landscape whose familiarity only serves to confound and confuse. Like the ill-fated protagonists of The Blair Witch Project, Susanna is driven in circles by the ‘ever changing same’ of her arboreal surroundings. It’s an apt metaphor for the vagaries of human interaction.

Wallumrød’s performance is emotionally charged throughout, and enhanced by spartan arrangements which make inspired use of brass, woodwind and strings.

The sound palette might be too tasteful, and the pervasive mood of melancholy too polite for some, but Wallumrød’s vision rewards persistence, and her latest offers much to those with a taste for elegant introspection.