Although it's under a slightly different name (simply Susanna, instead of Susanna And The Magic Orchestra), the oddly-titled Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos is the newest album from Susanna Wallumrød. It's not really different in that she is still joined by band-mate Morten Qvenild, as well as a slew of other artists (including her brother Christian Wallumrød, White Birch singer Ola Fløttum, In The Country drummer Pal Hausken, Helge Sten (aka Deathprod), and several others. If you've heard past work from Susanna And The Magic Orchestra, you probably know what to expect here, and it's quite possible that this twelve song release is even more sparse than past work.
As with all her releases, the space between the notes is often just as important as the melodies themselves, and the production (by Sten) on the release only emphasizes these spaces, with little sounds like piano benches creaking becoming part of the songs themselves. In a world full of immediate and in-your-face music, it literally takes a slight mind adjustment when listening to the super slow and subtle songs on this album. "Intruder" opens the release with a quiet piano melody accented by wisps of analogue synths and pedal steel, while Wallumrød adds her milky-soft vocals.
On songs like the quiet "People Living" and "Born In The Desert," those aforementioned piano noises and background creeks creep up. The production of the tracks is so immediate that they sound like the group is setting up shop in your living room. Because it's so sparse, it also takes a few listens (and again, a proper listening environment) to really sink in. On most tracks, there's usually a maximum of two instruments playing at one time, and there's never really a rhythm to speak of (other than the super-quiet drums in "We Offer"). The slow pace takes a bit of a toll over time, and even though "Demon Dance" picks things up a bit with a nice double bass/piano combination, this is definitely one of those albums that works best late at night after everything is shutting down.
Having relied a fair amount on covers on her past two releases, a full album of original compositions finds Wallumrød a bit lackluster at times. Her voice is gorgeous and the instrumentation is all very tasteful and warm, but in many places the album lacks the real grabbing quality that her work with Qvenild under Susanna And The Magic Orchestra has. If you like the work of that group, you're probably not going to go wrong here, just don't put it on the stereo when it has to compete for your attention with anything else.