Signe Emmeluth: Banshee

Scandinavian saxophone, trumpet, tuba, electronics and more scream their way through material inspired by the banshee of Irish folklore


Danish saxophonist Signe Emmeluth turns to Irish folklore to inspire her latest album. Its muse is the mythical banshee, a female spirit who screeches to warn of death and grief. The record fuses jazz, techno and noise-music influences to explore this shrieking subject. It brings together seven instrumental musicians who each feature as vocalists too. Simply: they all scream.

Emmeluth’s (high-pitched) call pulled an impressive cast into the Scandinavian studio. Jennifer Torrence provides percussion and vibraphone, while Guoste Tamulynaite plays piano and synth with Guro Skumsnes Moe bringing the bass. Listeners also hear violin from Maja S. K. Ratkje, tuba from Heiða Karine Jóhannesdóttir Mobeck and trumpet from Anne “Efternøler” Andersson.

If you’re looking for wails, dive into the fifth track – called 1.2. This vocal-only piece binds the singers together in unison around an undulating cry. It’s a striking 90-second experience shaped by sweet voicings that carry a note of terror. The album’s concept is most obvious here.

Less obvious concepts but more typical content come on 2.4. It starts with a scream. Stranger voices follow. A shooting star? A ray gun? The TransPennine Express arriving at Rotherham Central? There’s rattling, clicking and clacking. Lots of textures to take in and plenty of fuel for your imagination.

Out of nowhere, noises give way to heavenly harmonies on the final track. 5.3 begins with fairy-folk singing and sighing above a warm, low-voice drone. It’s a clean choral composition of simplicity and prettiness. A balm to soothe the listener’s bumps and bruises.

Signe Emmeluth is gaining a strong reputation for interrogating bold ideas with fearlessness, ferocity and a keen sense of musicality. Banshee is occasionally uncomfortable but always committed to its artistic concept. It might not be a hoot. But it’s an impressive howl.

1; 2; 2.2; 2.3; 1.2; 2.4; 3.1; 3.2; 3.3; 4.3; 5.1; 5.4; 5.3 (41.09)
Anne “Efternøler” Andersson (t, v); Heiða Karine Jóhannesdóttir Mobeck (tu, elec, v); Signe Emmeluth (as, elec, v); Maja S. K. Ratkje (vn, elec, v); Jennifer Torrence (vib, pc, v); Guoste Tamulynaite (p, synth, v); Guro Skumsnes Moe (elb, b, v). Oslo, Norway 2024.
Motvind Records MOT26LP