Fredrik Saroea and BIT20 Ensemble have released their live album ‘Rona Diaries: The Chamber Versions Live At The Grieg Hall, Bergen’ via YAP Records.
Somewhat festive at times, which it is, or it should be. Because it is a celebration. This is a celebration for the persistence of life itself. With everything we’ve lost from this pandemic from personal freedoms to, much much worse, loved ones, we can listen to ‘Rona Diaries’ and take solace that life is continuing and that, by listening to this, we are still a part of life, and that magic ride that this live album represents. Beautiful.
Recorded at the infamous Grieg Hall during Norway’s 69th annual Bergen International Festival (which took place on May 28, 2021), “Heaven Knows Those Songs Weren’t Heaven Sent” along with prior singles, “A Matter of Dying,” “Bulletproof Vest,” “Bergheim” and “Understatement Lovesong” as well as all the other tracks from Rona Diaries were premiered to an unsuspecting public who were more familiar with his former band’s rhythmic brand of dance music.
“The chamber version of ‘Heaven Knows Those Songs Weren’t Heaven Sent’ took a very different direction – heaven sent by orchestrator Bjørn Morten Christophersen and the amazing quartet from the BIT20 Ensemble,” says Saroea to BlackBook. “Now the song is so much more than an excuse, and you can almost hear that I don’t mean it anymore when I sing that last sentence ‘heaven knows those songs weren’t heaven sent’, so I guess the ‘cathartic masochism’ wasn’t such a terrible idea after all.”
As COVID-19 shut down live music in 2020, Saroea started recording solo material that became his first solo album Rona Diaries at YAP Records’ studio in Bergen, Norway with the help of DATAROCK drummer Øyvind Solheim engineering, mixing and co-producing. The 12 songs were then mastered by UK’s GRAMMY®-nominated Mike Marsh (Björk, Massive Attack, Basement Jaxx, Depeche Mode) and released May 28, 2021.
Rona Diaries: The Chamber Versions Live At The Grieg Hall, Bergen includes chamber versions of the Rona Diaries tracks plus two bonus DATAROCK tracks. It was mixed in Los Angeles by the two-time GRAMMY® winner Mark Rankin (Adele, Weezer, Florence and the Machine, Harry Styles) and mastered by Mike Marsh in the UK. The album artwork was created by renowned artist Magnus Voll Mathiassen who worked on Rihanna’s Unapologetic and 2021’s Oscars.
Featured image by Thor Brødreskift.