Beautifuly moody album.
William D. Milsten | Jacksonville, Florida | 11/18/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bel Canto, from Tromso Norway (above the Artic Circle), is making beautiful music, and no body in America has seemed to notice. Combining ethnic beats and instruments from around the world, with Anneli Drecker's haunting and whispy vocals, Bel Canto delivers "icy-cold" moods and "wintery days" to us through their music. This is a great album."
The Music of Icy Dreamworlds
Starlette | Canada | 06/05/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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. Definetely buy this if you like Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance; maybe get it if you like Delerium and Siouxsie; avoid it if you're adverse to arty European music."
An impressive debut from a unique group.
Lord Chimp | Monkey World | 07/31/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hailing from Norway, Bel Canto is a group with a unique blend of musical ideas that creates something fresh and wonderful. For a debut, White-Out Conditions reveals a remarkably strong songwriting affinity within the Drecker-Jenssen-Johansen unit of Bel Canto. Anneli Drecker is the band's most distinctive quality...she's a lovely, ethereal vocalist who develops quite a unique sound on later albums. Geir Jenssen and Nils Johansen create serene tapestries of electronics along with flutes, mandolins, and dashes of eclectic ethnicity for variety. (More diverse instrumentation would also come on later albums.) Over the layers of synthesizers, Drecker creates melodies with her singing, and the cool gentleness of the overall musical effect is absolutely enchanting. The lyrics are simple, but conveyed through Drecker's voice they gain an unusual dimension of feeling, like on "Without You" where the solemnity of the song is powerfully expressed by Drecker's sweeping vocal style. The big highlight for me is "Upland," a brilliant work of electronics with striking melodic progressions and haunting vocals. The playful "Agassiz" evokes a folk-dance, with Drecker's feisty vocals cooing with infectious liveliness. The wonderful vocal melodies in "Blank Sheets" and the dramatic "White-Out Conditions" also make for great music."