Susanna - Triangle
Triangle marks the first solo release in four years from Norwegian songstress Susanna Wallumrød, and is her first fully self-produced album. There’s a huge amount of music to digest here; 70 minutes across 22 tracks. A handful of these are unashamedly poppy, both in melody and production. The instantly catchy ‘Hole’ is one of the album’s more accessible cuts and an early highlight; Wallumrød’s multi-tracked voice underpinned by propulsive electronic drums and stuttering, detuned synths.
Such upbeat material is by far outweighed by much darker, more experimental fare as the album progresses however. First single ‘Burning Sea’ opens with waves of otherworldly, undulating sci-fi sound design and the appropriately titled ‘Fear & Terror’ is all dissonant guitar feedback and unnerving, out-of-place swing time piano. Elsewhere, the plangent ‘Decomposing’ is another highlight; Wallumrød sings at her most emotive and unrestrained here, over a beautifully sparse arrangement for piano and guitar.
Throughout Triangle, the songs are undoubtedly more varied and the vocals are more confidently expressed than on the Norwegian's previous work; both on her solo albums and on collaborative efforts with Morten Qvenild as Susanna & The Magical Orchestra. The album also has a much more produced quality than these past albums – which isn’t to say that it’s in any way too polished or clinical-sounding; more that the arrangements that envelope her voice are often a lot more elaborate than we’ve heard before.
The album is admirably bold in its experimental approach and is often captivating, but it’s hard to get away from the idea that it could have benefited from a more strident editing process. Some of the tracks consist of little more than Wallumrød’s - admittedly never less than beautiful - vocal fed into a variety of distortion effects, and not much else. Atmospheric and interesting on a sonic level certainly, but alongside the more fully realised songs like ‘Hole’ and ‘In Need of A Shepherd’, some of these vignette-like tracks feel like little more than filler. Overall Triangle is somewhat inconsistent, but in an increasingly bland and safe musical landscape it’s great to have such a unique vocalist as Susanna back again.