My favorite collaboration record in 2013 came from Susanna and Ensemble neoN… who sound (moniker and in aesthetic) like they should’ve been together from the start. Oslo-based Susanna Wallumrød has spent the past decade singing and songwriting, primarily in Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, but also under a few different aliases, in addition to contributing to friends’ sounds. Ensemble neoN is a Norwegian collective of musicians whose goal is to push the boundaries of contemporary musical trends, expanding the music world’s sonic pallet to its maximum limits. The two entities came together on The Forester, which dropped this September on Susanna’s SusannaSonata label. Sometimes when I listen to the album it sounds surprisingly vast and other times it sounds surprisingly minimal. The album is just over 33-minutes long, yet the opening title track hits the 15-minute mark. Their sounds don’t overstay their welcome, but they’re certainly not in any kind of a hurry. They embody a beautifully bold delicacy, and not a boringness or pretentiousness, that only the most poignant composers and performers could pull off with work of this nature. The album’s title might be able to sum up its sound better than anything else. It is whimsically woodsy and very soundtrack-to-a-postmodern-fable-y. It is a bit reminiscent of some of the 20th Century’s greatest singer/songwriters, but it feels far more nuanced and [high]artful than I would consider most great folk music. It strikes me as a bit like if Bjork were slightly saner or if Nico had a “good” twin. The collaborators don’t currently have anything in the works together, but Susanna’s SusannaSonata promises to have its web store open soon and Ensemble neoN have a small handful of live performances in Europe in early 2014, which you can read about here.