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(Anneli Drecker, Nils Johansen)
Anneli Marian Drecker - vocals, keyboards
Nils Johansen - programming, keyboards, guitars
Geir Jenssen - keyboards, programming (1987-1989)
"A chamber-rock trio drawing its members from Tromso, Norway, Bel Canto (Italian for 'beautiful song') play a blend of alternative pop-rock with medieval atmospherics recreated by synthesizers. It can be an effective combination, producing an aural assimilation of the past that is hallmarked by an evocative sense of loss and sadness (similar to the Cocteau Twins). The idea behind the songs was drawn from energy fields, be the female power or the earth's gravitational pull, with vocals delicately etched by the alto of Anneli Marian Drecker. The orchestration by Nils Johansen and Geir Jennsen on the debut combined electronics with traditional instruments, sometimes departing from the pious imagery for upbeat Arabic numbers (Agassiz) or cultured ambient soundscapes (Blank Sheets). Guest musicians for 'Birds Of Passage' added flugelhorn, bouzouki and dozens of other instruments to achieve a bold, decidedly unusual, though not necessarily uncommercial, sound."
1987: White-Out Conditions
"White-Out Conditions is the shiver-inducing debut LP by Bel Canto. Their music at this point has a very cold, electronic feel to it, heightened by lyrics describing the barren landscapes of their Norwegian hometown. The selection of songs is somewhat uneven, ranging from dark ambient electronic to more upbeat new wave tunes. But what makes Bel Canto's sound stand out is their use of medieval-like strings as well as Anneli Drecker's seemingly unlimitless voice."
Starlette, amazon.com customer reviews, 6/00
½ 1990: Birds of Passage
"A huge assortment of acoustic and wind instruments were brought in to support the computer synthesis of Nils and vocal incantations of Anneli. Geir is back with some of the keyboards and programming again and many others join the trio in the studio to bring instruments like the flugelhorn, viola, cello, clarinet and more. Live drums were even used.
(...) The last track I'll mention is the tenth, 'Picnic on the Moon,' a droning, subliminal piece reminiscent of soundscape artists like Zoar or Mara's Torment. Anneli croons her way into your heart - it's time to get away from it all, take a picnic on the moon. Anneli takes us back to her childhood, but only for a moment. "But then I found this book inside a drawer, A girl treasuring thoughts, Here's what I wrote: [That one day, we will fly...We'll take a little picnic on the moon ]" The world sucks, this we know - but at least the moon is out of reach for most of the bastards who raped this world. So let's go there."
-- Marcus Pan, legendsmagazine.net
¾ 1992: Shimmering, Warm & Bright
"Bel Canto is a duo from the northern reaches of Norway, where the climate and landscape help make for picturesque scenes of innocence and tranquility. Not surprisingly, Bel Canto relies on such a glowing world for creating enchanting pop music on the aptly titled Shimmering, Warm & Bright. This, its third album, provides both the warmth of earthly passions and the chill of technology in a manner that complements each, using electronics to augment the strings, woodwinds and mandolin, and vice versa. The orchestral arrangements evoke pictures of ice floes and refined, supple formations. Anneli Marian Drecker's operatic vocals provide the spark behind the passion, her vocals (in English, French and German) breathing life into the diverse musical incantations, which also include hints at middle eastern and oriental rhythms.
Striking: Unicorn, Summer, Waking Will, Spiderdust and Le Temps Degage".
Andy Skibins, CMJ new music report
½ 1996: Magic Box
"'Magic Box' is the fourth album by the unique Norwegian group Bel Canto. There is definitely a change in sound -- gone is Bel Canto's dark, shiver-inducing style that crafted albums like 'Birds of Passage' and 'Shimmering, Warm & Bright'. Here, the group often bases songs more on a trip-hop/techno foundation. Still, surprisingly, 'Magic Box' is musically very organic and the overall sound is unmistakably Bel Canto. It carries on with their instrumental inventiveness, marrying world influences with atmospheric experimentation, and the uniquely lovely vocals of Anneli Drecker."
Lord Shimp, amazon.com customer reviews, 9/02
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Digitally remastered 18 track anthology of the Norwegian duo from 1987 to 2001.
½ 2002: Dorothy's Victory
"Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba feelings, Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba honey... I'm summer hot for your loving...". you've probably never expected lyrics like this from Bel Canto, but now you have to deal with these kinds of simple solutions from Nils Johansen and Anneli Drecker's new hit-factory." (...) On the most shallow parts it's sounds like a hybrid between ABBA and Mike Oldfield - which means good songs, but with little substance".
Øyvind Sætre, Tønsbergs Blad
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