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Velvet Belly


Country of origin:

Norway

Type of music generally:

Ethereal alternative rock

Status:

Most recent (possibly final?) release, Velvet Belly + Lost Songs and Mixed Blessings (2 CDs, album + rarities compilation, 2003)

See also:

Wikipedia's entry on Velvet Belly

The Ectophiles' Guide page for Anne Marie Almedal's other work

Comparisons:

Like Cocteau Twins with a dash of Cranes and Mazzy Star. (onealien@mo.himolde.no)

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

My all-time favorite band. If I was going to describe their sound I would say the vocals are very important and Anne Marie has a voice that really fits the music. I highly recommend all their albums. At the moment they're the best band in Norway for sure. What I like the most is that they've released 5 albums where only the 2 first are alike in style. (onealien@mo.himolde.no)

Theirs is pretty traditional indie style music, I guess, mushy jingling guitars and a female voice floating in the sky, in the vein of Lush and Curve, but gentler. (kjetilho@ifi.uio.no)

I wish they sounded more like they came from Norway instead of Omaha, Nebraska (in that, if I'd never heard of them, and I didn't have the CD booklet, I'd swear they were Americans, *maybe* Canadian). I hear no accents and no nationalistic influences at all. But they're still very good! Don't think I'm implying otherwise. (vickie@enteract.com)

I like the wide, open sound of their music—it reminds me of the beautiful Norwegian landscape. Anne Marie Almedal's voice is beautiful and clear, and seems to grow stronger and better, and their songs are melodic, catchy and yet original. Wonderful band. I'd like to hear more of them, it's a pity their albums seem to be hard to find in the Netherlands. (Marion)

Comments about live performance:

If you have a chance to see them live then do so, cause I've yet to see anyone top them. In live performance, Velvet Belly makes the audience just stay there moving without a noise, just letting the music run through their bodies. no need to feedback to the stage. (onealien@mo.himolde.no)

Recommended first album:

Window Tree or The Landing. (Neile)

What Velvet Belly album to get first? Lucia of course, but I think The Landing is easier to get at least at the moment. They should be available in Europe and the USA, but I've heard that they are hard to get most places. (onealien@mo.himolde.no)

Recordings:


Colours

Release info:

1992—dbUT recordings, Box 9415 Valerenga, 0610 Oslo Norway—dBUT 007

Availability:

Norway

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Anne Marie Almedal—vocal
Kay R. Rasmussen—drums
Henning Sundgot—guitar
Pal Aanensen—bass

Guest artists:

Erik Honoré—piano, keyboards

Produced by:

Velvet Belly & Erik Honoré

Comments:

This is a pleasant album that shows the band's promise. It seems just a little uncertain compared to their later work but is certainly an enjoyable listen. (Neile)

My favorite album of their is probably their first—it has a raw and unfinished sound that makes the music alive. It was recorded during a few sessions as well so they sort of didn't have the time to experiment very much with the sound. (onealien@mo.himolde.no)


Little Lies

Release info:

1993—dbUT recordings, Box 9415 Valerenga, 0610 Oslo Norway—dBUT 012

Availability:

Norway

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Anne Marie Almedal—vocals, mellotron
Kay Rune Rasmussen—drums, percussion, piano
Tor Henning Sundgot—guitars, e-bow, radionoize
Pal Aanensen—bass, percussion

Guest artists:

Erik Honoré—treatments & keyboards
Eysterin Hopland—acoustic guitar

Produced by:

Erik Honoré & Velvet Belly

Comments:

This is a lot more finished and experimental. The sound is softer which is both good and not so good (in my opinion). (onealien@mo.himolde.no)

Their style didn't change much from their first one with this, but Little Lies is more produced, and I think the vocals are better on that as well. To be fair, Little Lies is a very good album. (kjetilho@ifi.uio.no)

this norwegian band is right up the alley of most ectophiles: ethereal, swirling guitars and synths with vocals by one Anne Marie Almedal. i really enjoy this album—very interesting textures which remind me of lots of other bands in this vein while staking out a feed that's all their own. (woj@smoe.org)


Window Tree

Release info:

1995—RCA Norway—74321265582

Availability:

Norway

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Anne Marie Almedal—vocals, tambourine
Kay Rune Rasmussen—drums, percussion, treated piano
Tor Henning Sundgot—guitars, treated piano
Pal A. Aanensen—bass, bells

Guest artists:

Erik Honoré—keyboards, samples, additional arrangements
Vidar Ersefjord—organ, electric piano
Marit Mo Grimdalen—viola

Produced by:

Erik Honoré and Velvet Belly

Comments:

I've bought this album a couple of times already because I liked it so much that I wanted to share it with other people. (onealien@mo.himolde.no)

I like it a lot. (vickie@enteract.com)


The Landing

Release info:

1996—RCA Norway—74321 34082 2

Availability:

Norway

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Anne Marie Almedal—lead vocals, background vocals, synthesizer, piano, sleigh bells
Kay Rune Rasmussen—drums, drum loops, percussion, percussion loops, dulcimer, ghost drums, tremelo drums
Pal Aanensen—bass, bass loops tremelo bass, e-bow bass, shells
Tor Henning Sundgot—electric guitars, guitar loops, acoustic guitar, guitar drone, guitar samples, tremelo guitars, e-bow

Guest artists:

Erik Honoré—synthesizers, samples, distorted loops, loops, treatments, arrangements, sampled/treated organ, distortion
Vidar Ersfjord—hammond organ, synthesizer, fender rhodes piano, ghost hammond
Hege Rimestad—violin
Svein Holtan—trumpet
Geir Sundstol—steel guitar

Produced by:

Erik Honoré

Comments:

WOW. One could easy hear that they'd had more time doing this one because they've experimented a lot more than on the first 3 albums. The opening song, "Drowning Sun" starts out very quietly with feeling of something ticking until everything gets clear in the opening lines of the text. Anne Marie's voice just gets stronger and stronger every time I hear her. After the first verse the song gets more upbeat—more like they sounded earlier until it slows down again just before the vocals starts again. You expect a lot after this song and you won't be disappointed. "The key" is a more guitar-based song like their earlier stuff, but it has a new feel to it, reminiscent of Cocteau Twins—not only the guitars but also the vocal harmonies. The songs continue to be surprising—the beginning of "He's Packing" resembles something done by Dead Can Dance. "River Slowly Growing" is a typical Velvet Belly song. Still after listening to the disc through nearly 20 times it feels...WOW!! This album is highly recommended!!!!! (onealien@mo.himolde.no)

I bought this album late in December 1997, but apart from the first track which I loved instantly ("The drowning sun") the other songs took a couple of listens to grow on me. After that I had this album on repeat constantly for about 3 months, on a tape in my walkman combined with Velvet Belly's previous album Window tree. (Marion)


Lucia

Release info:

1997—RCA Norway—74321 49414 2; re-released 2000—BMG U.K.

Availability:

Norway

Ecto priority:

Highly, highly recommended

Group members:

Anne Marie Almedal—vocals, tambourine, synthesizer
Vidar Ersfjord—tremelo piano, synthesizer loops, samples, Hammond, synthesizers, Rhodes, Mellotron, loops, low guitar, sonic Rhodes, tapes
Kay Rune Rasmussen—drums, percussion, bells, finger cymbals,treated piano, loops
Tor Henning Sundgot—electric guitars, e-bow, acoustic guitars, guitar loops, tremelo guitars, synthesizer
Pal Aanensen—bass, loops, treated piano, synthesizer

Guest artists:

Erik Honoré—loops, samples, synthesizers, percussion programming
André Ohrvik—violin
Vegard Johnsen—violin
Miko Lampila—cello
Dothe Dreier—viola
Pouline Skoglund Voss—cello

Produced by:

Erik Honoré

Comments:

Note: The 2000 international edition of Lucia adds a Kate Bush cover, "The Man With The Child In His Eyes," and the Boilerhouse Mix of "Easy".

I'm trying to find the words to express what I feel about Lucia. It is just so amazing. It is just like they have taken everything they've done before added something of Björk and made an album that will be one of the best of the 90s. It is quite a lot rougher than The Landing, though it still got the same wonderful feeling to it. Window Tree introduced the loops they used on The Landing, but it has a different feel to it. The vocal harmonies are even better on this album. The music is built around Anne Marie's voice which is more mature. Mostly I like to find out where the voice is in the soundscape, and here the music is woven around the vocals without being muffled or anything. The sound is very complex, but it is far from being overdone. All credits for that to Erik Honoré, who really is a magician, and to the band for trusting his work this much.
     The songs: "Trick" is probably the perfect opening, showing off Anne Marie's voice. Her singing has improved so much the last year, and I've always thought she was good. It is really hard to explain what it feels like listening to this song, it has to be experienced. "Easy" is the second song and also the first single from the album. It continues in the same wonderful way. Here the rough sound from the first track is loosening up, and we sort of travel back in time to The landing, before we again are back with "Oystercatcher" where we are again introduced to the roughness from "Trick". No other band is so good with these slow underlying rhythms with faster ones working on top of them. And all of it built around those gorgeous vocals. "Standstill" shows us another side of the band—they can really do ballads as well. This time the strings play a major part for the first time on any of their albums. I feel the cold work through my spine it is so beautiful. The song moves directly into "Fast & Far Away", bringing the strings with it. This is as close to a pop-song they get before the loops are back with "The Station". This is what makes this album so incredible—the songs are so varied that you never have the chance to get bored. "Our Happiness" closes the album and it is one of those songs that makes you want to listen to the album all over again just like Happy Rhodes is so good at doing. This album hasn't got the melodies that will stay with you quite as well as those on their earlier recordings, but it is an excellent album—technically the best they've ever done. It is very hard to pick one particular song because they are so woven together. (onealien@mo.himolde.no)

Great, smooth vocals. I love this when I listen to it, but somehow doesn't seem quite as memorable to me as their previous two albums Window Tree and The Landing. Still a good album, though, and the lead singer's voice is a delight to listen to. (Neile)

It's fantastic. More mellow than The Landing but superb vocals and sound makes this album a real winner. (erik@designpartner.no)

Good. An album that in my opinion is very listenable. (Alvin.Brattli@phys.uit.no)

Velvet Belly will leave me indebted to the ecto group for introducing me to such a sublime album—how can such a badly named group turn out such lovely tunes? I am SO sorry that I missed their gig in London. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)


Easy (single)

Comments:

It contains the album version of "Easy" and 2 more mixes of that song, but the interesting part is the last song, "Passing Thing" which is a tribute to the late Jeff Buckley. The song is so wonderful in itself, Anne Marie Almedal is really showing the loss of a great musician. At times I would say it reminds me of Innocence Mission. I would say that the EP is worth it just for that song alone. (onealien@mo.himolde.no)

Velvet Belly + Lost Songs and Mixed Blessings

Release info:

2003—Playground Music—PGMCDX 17

Availability:

Norway

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Anne Marie Almedal—vocals
Vidar Ersfjord—cp70, keyboards, cymbals, trombone, pedal bass, sorbyorgan, akai s612, samples, mellotron, emulator2organ, strings, bass, minikorg, harpsichord, ms20, solina, bass, French ambience
Tor Henning Leh—guitars, bass, glockenspiel
Kay Rune Rasmussen—drums, percussionglass, water percussion, samples, voice, harp
Jan Bang—vinylbass, samples, drum programming, strings, programming, noize programming, Insian flute, dictaphone, Hawaii guitar

Guest artists:

Erik Honoré—el piano, synthesizer, programmming, samples
Al Medal—vocal (2, 10)
Pål Aanensen—drum programming, samples, strings (2), bass (6),
Helge Kvam—vibraphone (2)
Nicholas Stilltoe—samples, oscarsynth, programming (2); strings, samples (10)

Produced by:

Erik Honoré

Comments:

This is an album of new material with an additional CD of rarities. Velvet Belly has darker and moodier feel than their earlier work. (Neile)

They lost their bass player before this album, and Anne Marie has basically taken control of the musical direction, but it is very much a Velvet Belly album and a great one at that. (onealien@mo.himolde.no)


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Entry last updated 2012-03-30 23:57:27.
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