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coverpic flag Norway - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 3 - 01/23/97

Midnight Choir
Olsen's Lot
Mega

Since we've only spent a few weeks of 1997 yet, I've picked another album from last year for this review. Originally from Skien - the hometown of Henrik Ibsen - the threesome of Midnight Choir made their debut in 1994 with a selftitled album that was well recieved. After gaining experience from playing some hundred gigs in small clubs around Oslo, they went across the Atlantic and recorded their first album outside Austin, Texas. This time, as a quartet, they've travelled even further. Olsens' Lot was recorded in Seattle, Washington, supervised by producer Chris Eckman of Walkabouts-fame.

Olsens' Lot was released the 4th of November, and yet again Midnight Choir shows that most of their inspiration comes from "over there"; from waste deserts, endless highways and deserted bars in the middle of nowhere. Midnight Choir plays rootsy country-rock from the dark side of midnight, filled with melancholy and despair, but yet optimistic in some ways. The strength of Midnight Choir lays in the spacious voice of vocalist Paal Flaata; of many compared with artists like Chris Isaak, which is not all wrong. They present "The Big Music", accompanied by rather delicate string arrangements on most of their songs. All the way they're balancing the thin line between the ambitious and the pompous, and they don't always succeed; sometimes they stumble into the oh-so-typical cliché s of this kind of music.

The best songs are found towards the end of the album. We have The Shadow Of The Circus, with it's gloomy, almost filmatic mood. And the epic The Ballad Of Emma deLoner is quite a beauty, with Carla Torgerson (of The Walkabouts) joining Flaata on vocals. On most of the songs producer Chris Eckman contributes by playing synthesizers and organ, or doing some back-up vocals.

All in all; 12 songs, all written by Al deLoner (alias Atle Bystøm), from up-tempo country-rockers to tearstained ballads. Some ups, and maybe a few more downs. Music of dreaming and drifting, moody and atmospheric. As a comparison I'll mention the songwriting of Lee Clayton. I could drop a few more names, but I won't. That's for the listener to find out. (Well, I will: the slower songs on this album reminded me of Simon Bonney's much overlooked and excellent album Forever (Mute 1992) - other editor's note) To quote some hairy South-Americans: Roots, Bloody Roots! But it ain't that bad! By the way; who's this Olsen-lad?

Copyright © 1997 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

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