Norwegian artist Susanna is back with a new album, Garden of Earthly Delights, set for release February 22 via her SusannaSonata label. To create this record, Susanna has gathered a new team of musicians, called The Brotherhood of Our Lady. Largely inspired by the works of medieval Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, the first single from the record ‘City of Hope’ is streaming online now. Speaking about the track, Susanna said "'City of Hope' is a manic chant for guiding in love and life, with hints of ecstasy in the horizon even though something's lurking in the undertow."
The incredible, ahead-of-its-time art of medieval Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch bears strong comparison with the music of Norwegian artist Susanna. Visionary, disturbing, spiritual; vivid images of darkness and light, good and evil, heaven and hell and the folly of mankind. Like her songs, Bosch’s iconic images range from the panoramic to the intimate, and express bliss, torment and tortuous inner conflicts.
On her 13th album, Susanna takes a selection of Bosch’s paintings as starting points for a fervent, poetic rosary of fantastical songs and stories. Tracks like ‘Gluttony and Lust’, ‘Death and the Miser’ and ‘Ship of Fools’, reflect Bosch’s depictions of sin and human weakness, while ‘Wayfarer’, ‘Ecstasy’ and ‘Beautiful Life’ suggest the transcendent search for spiritual rewards.
"While this is not a soundtrack to his paintings," she says, "I feel a resemblance between the absurdity in his pictures and today’s existence. Humanity has never been more enlightened and competent to make sustainable solutions for everyone, but we still close our eyes to poverty, environmental issues and lack of equality."
Originally a commissioned work for the Vossajazz Festival 2017, 'Garden of Earthly Delights' ranges from soul searching balladry to sonorous electronic expanses. Some listeners might catch echoes of the melodic range of Joni Mitchell, the confessional darkness of Nina Simone and the traumatised intensity of Diamanda Galas, filtered through a medieval folk and modern experimental sensibility. But there’s no mistaking the powerful, questing clarity of Susanna’s distinctive voice, and the core of symbolic imagery she draws on from ancient mythology via medieval mysticism to present-day consumer society.
'Garden of Earthly Delights' track list:
1. Garden of Earthly Delights
3. Ecstasy X
4. Death and the Miser
5. Ship of Fools
8. Wayfarer II
9. Gluttony and Lust
10. Beautiful Life
11. By Earth and Starry Heaven
12. City of Hope
13. River to Hell
14. Gathering of Birds