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Bel Canto

The members of Bel Canto were in their late teens when they recorded their debut album "White Out Conditions". The scene is set: gorgeous melodies sung by  Anneli Marian Drecker's marvelous voice, wide Arctic spaces, ethnic influences, electronics and acoustic instruments.

Bel Canto went on to become the vortex of a new Norwegian scene which has spawned acts such as Biosphere, the Chilluminati, YBU, Röyksopp & more. They went on to record four more albums, including “Birds of Passage”  (90) and “Shimmering, Warm & Bright” (92).

Bel Canto by Push

Bel Canto hail from an all-year snowbound town some 600 miles north of the arctic circle. That here, there is perpetual sunlight in the summer is of questionable benefit: it's never strong enough to push the thermometer into the red, and it makes the surrounding icy wastes intolerably, blindingly bright. "White-Out Conditions" is the perfect title for Bel Canto's debut LP. They are very much the product of their environment. Their music is produced by synthesizers and computers. It's a celebration of the archaic, natural order through the use and abuse of modern technology. Notes fall in flurries and sudden, sharp showers, a flute whistles in furious competition with the wind, there's the tinkling of iron bells, the tapping of woodblocks and distant rumblings. Kloeberdanz and Upland are enticingly pure, the former an instrumental, the latter with Anneli's voice wrapped in the rise and rise of quasi-classical motions. It's given a similar treatment elsewhere, but in the title track it's less fragile, calling for the relief of darkness, for moonlight and the accompanying roses and love, yet only finding footprints in the snow. With Baltic Ice-Breaker she scratches, screams and whines as nature again triumphs over man. With Capio it sounds like a celestial choir, as though a host of Ibsen's ghosts are in the machine. "W-O. C." is not the stuff of movies and dreams. It's a direct translation of a daily reality. A frozen exotica.

This piece appeared in the Melody Maker in 1988
 

Bel Canto in the press

"Complete this list: Sinead O'Connor, Cocteau Twins, Sara Maclachlan, Talk Talk, Laurie Anderson and (fill the blank). If you said Bel Canto, you win ! If you buy their album, you really win ! The trio from Norway have created a masterpiece incorporating superb female vocals with cello, flute, mandolins and computers... a rich, warm and sensual blending of Oriental, Middle Eastern, European, North American musical styles in a modern pop format" (Streetsounds, USA)

"This isn't 'world' music so much as 'another World', a transglobal span... Like Elizabeth Frazer's or Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard's, Drecker's voice is so chaste and pure it becomes shamanistic" (Melody Maker, UK)

"Astonishing harmonic and melodic qualities, astonishing osmosis between wind instruments, mandolin and electronic textures... and Anneli Drecker's voice is simply amazing, pure as a stream of clear water." (Les Inrockuptibles, France)

"Bel Canto's isolation from mainstream music has wrought strange and original musical themes, as their music shivers like icicles in the brittle air of winter. (...) Freed from the crippling weight of constant musical bombardment Bel Canto have drifted into their environment and returned with sounds, textures and atmospheres of ice breaking, glaciers creaking and cold wind howling" (New Musical Express, UK)

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