Song of the day: MIDNIGHT CHOIR – Long Time Ago (2003)

The Midnight Choir were a Norwegian trio comprised of Paal Flaata and brothers Al Deloner (Olsen) and Ronny Olsen. They recorded five albums between 1994 and 2003 before splitting up. Their métier was a stately, orchestrated, ballad-rich Americana dominated by Flaata’s sonorous voice which existed somewhere in between Morten Harket and Roy Orbison. Musically, think Tindersticks and you’re in the right ball-park. Their final album, Waiting For The Bricks To Fall, saw the band dipping a tentative toe into rockier waters. It is certainly the group’s most varied and ambitious work. Sadly, they never really achieved much recognition outside of Norway. The Walkabouts’ Chris Eckman was a fan (his band covered “Death’s Threshold Step #2” on their Train Leaves At Eight record), and did extensive production work for them.

“Long Time Ago” is a nine and a half minute epic that incorporates a choir and organ – usually a bad sign, but in this case it works. It’s ponderous, elegiac and has a kind of bruised defiance about it. There is only one verse, but it’s repeated three times.

It just don’t hurt no more
Every tear is gone
But I still feel within
When something is wrong
The rage won’t pound like nails to my soul
I’ve moved away from that a long time ago

It expresses perfectly that occasional sadness that sometimes surfaces over the end of a relationship, long after the hurt and heartbreak has healed.

The Midnight Choir had an experimental side to them too. The aforementioned “Death’s Threshold Step”, for example, is sung a capella with just the sound of a railway train as (almost overwhelming) backing. Glitterhouse issued a double compilation CD called All Tomorrow’s Tears in 2005 which is a pretty comprehensive selection of the group’s work.

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