Savoy — Mountains of Time
(Apollon Records APR012LP, 1999/2017, LP)
by Jon Davis, Published 2017-09-13
Here I find myself doing something I never thought I’d do — reference a-ha in an Exposé review. Savoy is a band well-known in certain circles, namely those centered around that Norwegian band who made the international big time with “Take on Me” back in 1985 and have carried on intermittently since without another international hit, though many devoted fans stuck with them after the spotlight moved on. That group was a trio consisting of Morten Harket (vocals), Magne Furuholmen (keyboards), and Pål “Paul” Waaktaar Gamst (guitar); in the mid-90s, during a period of inactivity for the band, Waaktaar Gamst (using the name Paul Waaktaar-Savoy since his marriage to American singer Lauren Waaktaar-Savoy) formed Savoy with his wife and drummer Frode Unneland. Mountains of Time was their third album, originally released in 1999, and is being reissued by Apollon Records along with its predecessors. The music is superbly polished melodic pop-rock fronted by appealing male and female voices, though some may be put off by Lauren’s tone, which many Youtube comments describe as “nasal” (I don’t find her singing unpleasant at all). While the music is impeccably produced, it doesn’t feel artificial in the way that much contemporary pop does, with quantized beats and autotuned vocals. Guitars and bass dominate the arrangements, with keyboards and backing vocals providing support, along with occasional orchestral touches from strings and brass. One aspect I particularly like is the aggressive, slightly distorted tone the bass often has. The songs have varying degrees of electronic sounds, mostly percussion. The lyrics are intelligent even when dealing with standard topics such as relationships. For listeners who enjoy smart pop-rock along the lines of Crowded House, Teenage Fanclub, The Posies, and the like, Savoy provides another strong choice.
Related artist(s): Savoy
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.