Far more than Deep Forest, these Scandinavians appropriate world beat sources and use them as the raw ingredients for mainstream pop. "Free Lunch In The Jungle" sounds like the disco-era Bee Gees fronted by Siouxsie Sioux.... more » --Jeff Bateman« less
Far more than Deep Forest, these Scandinavians appropriate world beat sources and use them as the raw ingredients for mainstream pop. "Free Lunch In The Jungle" sounds like the disco-era Bee Gees fronted by Siouxsie Sioux. --Jeff Bateman
"Bel Canto of Norway have developed their own sound, originally commited to arty, etheral synth music, which has developed in a pop direction. This album has many Indian influences, not only on the "Bombay" track - something they have been into at least since "Shimmering, warm and bright". Arctic serenity with a sprinkle of indian hot spice.Anneli Drecker has a great vocal range and her expressive acrobatics on asian sounding melodic minor scales and other stunts leave lot of room for her to display her vocal strenghts here. Her style is a "Kate Bush meets Enya" - not quite as strange an Bush, and not quite as even-pitched as Enya.The album received average critical acclaim in the press, perhaps used to greater original leaps from this band, but the CD grows on listening like most really good albums. It contains everything from silently drifting songs like "Sleepwalker" to flirty uptempo "Freelunch in the jungle" (shame about the comical pronounciation here - she says "ice" instead of "eyes" and "spies" instead of "spice"), and sky-soaring yearning in "in Zenith". If you haven't heard the band before you'd most likely find it refreshingly exotic like an arctic ice chilled cocktail.
If you are familiar with Bel Canto before it's also well worth buying since it's written and performed by the same steady hands as before."
Lord Chimp | Monkey World | 09/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"_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.The songs "Paradise" and "Big Belly Butterflies" (weird name, neurgh) are absolutely comfortable alongside other Bel Canto favorites -- Drecker's voice is gorgeous (almost playful on the latter), the instrumental canvas is rich, and the atmospheres are seductive. A few of the other songs took some warming up to, but I found them endearing before long. "Sleepwalker" is worldly with a dreamy exotic atmosphere. "FreeLunch in the Jungle" has twittering vocal phrasing that I find amusingly strange, plus a compelling layers of percussion, both electronic and acoustic. "Bombay" fuses Punjabi dance music with Drecker's dexterous vocal melodies. "In Zenith" is carries something of an Indian flavor, with hauntingly keyboards and violins. "Kiss of Spring" is a joyful piece lit by chiming steel guitar and scuffling percussion, over which bouncy vocals sing friskily. "Rumour" has an infectious instrumental hook and a catchy chorus too.If you like previous Bel Canto albums, I can't see any reason why would wouldn't like this. If you're new, try and hunt down _Birds of Passage_ or _Shimmering, Warm & Bright_ to start things off."
A Quirky Yet Pleasing Gem
Robert M Briggs III | Lake City, PA | 07/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I found out about Bel Canto from a music magazine that included a sample CD of little-known artists. One particular issue had the track "Rumours" from this CD. I was instantly hooked. Looking back now (I bought this new in 1996), I kind of draw alot of comparisons vocally to The Cocteau Twins. Anneli Dekker has a similar range as Liz Frazier, but you can understand what she's singing (not that that's a bad thing for the Cocteaus!). If you like this group, I recommend checking out Lida Husik, esp. the album "Blue Green Fire"."
Robert M Briggs III | 05/13/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I haven't heard the other albums, but as an outsider found this one truly addictive! Of my 200+ CD's, this one stayed in my CD player on repeat mode the longest. Every song is worth listening to. Reading these reviews makes me with I had it here with me!"