Norway - Full Moon 231 - 07/02/15
Sacred Bones Records
Jenny Hval is one of the tougher ladies of Norwegian alternative, experimental pop/rock, swerwing the genre borders opposite jazz and folk. Along with Susanna
Wallumrød (Susanna and Jenny collaborated on last year's spooky and fascinating Meshes of Voice), Hanne Hukkelberg,
Susanne Sundfør, and Hanne Kolstø (to name but a few - musically related, as well as being different),
she's/they're expanding/crossing many borders both in musical and lyrical themes. True visionaries, eminent singers and sound artists.
Apocalypse, girl is Hval's fifth album. She's put out two records under the moniker Rockettothesky, namely To Sing You Apple Trees (2006) and Medea (2008) - both for
the Trust Me Records label. As a 'solo artist' - as Jenny Hval - she's released the acclaimed albums Viscera (2011) and Innocence is Kinky (2013) - both for Rune Grammofon. Her
new album is launched by the Brooklydn based Sacred Bones label. Jenny Hval is a true artist. She's worked with sound installations and visual artists, and she's collaborated with poets. Hval
is also a writer and journalist (she's been studying littearture at the Univeristy in Oslo), and she's published a novel called Perlebryggeriet (2009 - in Engslih, something like 'The
pearl brewey') as well as numerous articles for papers, periodicals and magazines. Apocalypse, girl was presented on-stage at Oslo's Black Box Teater in early June - as a musical-dramatical
performance piece (Well, I couldn't go but I should have been there...). All through June, she's promoted the album throughout Europe, and in August and September she takes on North America.
When she unveiled Apocalypse, girl from the intimate theatre stage, Black Box presented the concert/performance like this: '..."Think big,
girl, like a king, think kingsize." Jenny Hval's new composition opens with a quote from the Danish poet Mette Moestrup, and continues towards the abyss. Apocalypse, Girl is music that
can't quite be performed, but a concert of impossible music unfolds, directed by the American video artist Zia Anger. They dream of a science fiction movie where gospel choir girls are punks
and run the world with auto-erotic impulses. It's a gentle hum from a doomsday cult, a soft desire for collective devotion, an ode to the pure, to the close-up and magnified, unruly desires
of a light gospel girl underground.' Right. Jenny Hval doesn't seem to do nothing wrong. She continues on her quest for/with the intimate, with language as a central part of her music
art. According to Sacred Bones the record opens with the mentioned quote Moestrup, and 'continues towards the abyss. Apocalypse, girl is a
hallucinatory narrative that exists somewhere between fiction and reality, a post-op fever dream, a colourful timelapse of death and rebirth, close-ups of impossible bodies - all told through
the language of transgressive pop music.'
The album was produced by Norwegian noise-slinger Lasse Marhaug (of Jazzkammer, plus numerous other projects - solo as well as collaborations). The whole song-writing/production process
was heavily inspired by movies (sci-fi, horror, occult, etc, I guess). Everything was done sparred with longtime Hval bandmates/players Håvard Volden and Kyrre Laastad, as well as collaborations
with Øystein Moen (of Jaga Jazzist / Puma), Thor Harris (of Swans), plus contribution from improv cellist Okkyung Lee (who's been working with Marhaug earlier on) and harpist Rhodri
Davis. The result is... stunning. Sometimes frighting. Sometimes beautiful. Always engaging. Sacred Bones calls the album a 'visual beast',
with Hval 'always torn between the vulnerable, the explosive and total humiliation'. Apocalypse, girl is beauty and the beast, quite
possibly. And the content is highly dramatic: 'But I found no No Future' ("Kingsize"). However, I recommend a peek'n' listen inside.
PS! There's a limited edition version of the album: 300 hand-numbered copies in deluxe packaging, with alternate screen-printed wrap-around sleeve, and available by mail order only. LPs
are also available in bundles with black "Soft dick rock" t-shirts. (Sacred Bones Records)
Copyright © 2015 Håvard Oppøyen