On the one-year anniversary of Danish “diva” Irma Victoria’s death (November 10, 2001) Martin Hall and MNW released the album Memorial – Finest Moments and Famous Last Words. The double-cd is a mix of her best recordings as well as a few at the time unreleased tracks. The release also includes a bonus disc, a Danish National Radio programme commemorating the life and art of Irma Victoria, originally broadcasted on the 9th of December 2000.

1. Expo 1: A Hospital Room (1:09)2. Shine The Light on Me (3:33)3. September Song (0:45)4. Heart of Darkness (3:17)5. Expo 2: The World Is Everything that Is the Case (3:13)6. The Devil in the Flesh (0:44)7. River of Light (3:45)8. The Gospel According to Anti-Christ (1:01)9. Expo 3: In Memory of Liberace (1:13)10. The Beauty of Emptiness (4:40)11. Palladium (2) (3:26)12. European Need (2:59)13. Expo 4: The Chatterbox Revisited (1:02)14. Fight It Part 2 (2:21)15. Tears and Morphine (4:06)16. The Voices of the Dead 1:25)17. Expo 5: Worst Case Scenario 0:35)18. Angels and Devils 1:37)19. Silent Rage 1:59)20. Expo 6: In Transit (0:55)21. Itsi-Bitsi (4:44)22. Life Is but a Dream (3:03)23. Expo 7: Famous Last Words (1:04)24. Memorial (3:53) 25. Irma Victoria til Minde (14:55)

Aud Wilken: Backing vocals
Christian Skeel: Keyboards
Henrik Marstal: Bass
Jens Brygmann: Drums
Lars Top-Galia: Guitar
Martin Hall: Instruments
Ole A. Laursen: Backing vocals
Ole Hansen: Trumpet
Peter Westh: Backing vocals
Sharin Foo: Backing vocals
Torben Engberg: Organ

Design: Kenneth Schultz
Photo: Henrik Möll/Casper Sejersen

Born on the 2nd of September 1923, Irma Victoria made her debut at the age of 66 with the song “Memorial” on the Martin Hall production The Hall of Mirrors released in September 1989. The track instantly became a cult classic and mystique subsequently rose as to who this new Martin Hall finding was. In September 1990 she performed on the ep Palladium and in November 1990 she released her debut album The Rainbow Theatre – an album that quite surprisingly earned her a Danish Grammy nomination in the category “best female singer” in February 1991. Competing with the Danish multi-platinum act Hanne Boel and legendary Savage Rose lead vocalist Annisette, Irma Victoria unfortunately didn’t win the award.

Having received The Medal for Meritorious Service, a distinction handed to her personally by The Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II, for loyal service in the Danish Department of Defence, in the autumn of 1993, Irma Victoria released her second and highly anticipated album Phantasmagoria – The Second Coming in October 1994. The record contains contributions from several prominent musicians on the Danish independent music scene (such as members from the original punk and post-punk bands Sort Sol and The Poets) and the release received massive media coverage … all helped along very nicely by a widespread poster campaign sponsored by Carlsberg.

Phantasmagoria received a line of great reviews in both Denmark and abroad and was exported to France, Germany and England. At the time of the release several tracks wound up in heavy rotation on the French radio station Scandal and a few years later the British neofolk group Death in June used the album as lounge music on their 1997 European tour.

In the autumn of 1995 Irma Victoria performed on the controversial tribute album to the legendary Danish sixties band Steppeulvene, Hip, where she interpreted the group’s signature song “Itsi Bitsi” (the track was singled out as one of the highlights of the album by the press, although several journalists found her version to be an outright desecration of the original song). In the spring of 1997 she furthermore appeared on the ep Hallmark 1–4 performing the title “Tears and Morphine”, a new version of “Tears in the Rain” from Phantasmagoria.

By invitation of the Danish record label Addiction Martin Hall and Irma Victoria discussed the possibility of recording a newly written narrative by Hall shortly before Irma Victoria’s death. Due to the singer’s deteriorating health the idea was never realized, but the titles “Expo 1–6” on the Memorial compilation album are based on the test recordings made towards this end at Holbæk County Hospital.

Irma Victoria died on the 10th of November 2000.

Memorial was released concurrently with the exhibition A Hospital Room at Ystad’s Konstmuseum (a Swedish art gallery), an audio installation made by Martin Hall about Irma Victoria. The exhibition ran from October 20th until November 25th 2001.

As a special feature on the Memorial album, Sharin Foo – singer and front figure in the world famous Danish indie darling act The Raveonettes – appears as guest singer on the “River of Light” track.

All songs on Memorial are written and produced by Martin Hall except “Itsi Bitsi” which is authored by Eik Skaløe and Stig Møller.

When Irma Victoria died several international artists expressed their grief with her passing. Among names such as Jean Pierre Turmel from the French avant-garde label French Sordide Sentimental and Martyn Jacques from the renowned English cabaret band The Tiger Lillies, the most fierce appraisal of her talent probably came from Douglas P., singer and front figure in Death in June: “Her work was fantastic. May her soul live forever.”

“This voice that seemed to emerge from such depths immediately talked to my unconscious, passing my understanding completely by. This was her quiet strength. Irma Victoria: a true person, complicated and different … not only a human being, but a real individuality!”
Jean-Pierre Turmel, Sordide Sentimental, France

“I have enjoyed so much listening to Irma Victoria. I dislike/do not listen to virtually any contemporary music, so this has been such a pleasant surprise.”
Martyn Jacques, The Tiger Lillies, England

Phantasmagoria is one of the most haunting albums I have ever heard. A desolate, sinister and totally honest work … a broken story that will drive you to tears if you listen carefully! Once it has grabbed you, it will never let you go, it will never leave your heart and soul. It is hard for me to hear that Irma Victoria is dead. A legend already in her own lifetime, she is ready to become real cult now. We already miss her sadly!”
Ecki Stieg, Grenzwellen/Music United, Germany

“Her work was fantastic. May her soul live forever.”
Douglas P., Death in June, England