ALBUM: Jenny Hval – ‘The Practice Of Love’

A confessional, intimate, emotion-spanning work; Jenny Hval‘s new album The Practice Of Love explores the spectrum of love and relationships through swirling synths and revealing lyrics. It’s a marked departure from the darkness of her 2016 album Blood Bitch, but equally as complex and memorable.

Loosely inspired by Valie Export’s 1985 film of the same name, Hval admits she’s “mostly avoided love as a topic” in her work because she views the intimacy that comes with it as “a lifelong journey”. However, it’s her desire to communicate this truth that’s fueled the creation of her new record.

Opening track ‘Lions’ is brought to life by friend & collaborator Vivian Wang’s measured voice. She guides listeners, instructing them to look across a forest landscape for a holy entity, as Hval’s ethereal vocals overlap her. The duality of the voices form separate parts of the same story, which is simultaneously off-putting and exciting.

A shimmering, textured, surreal take on creativity, second track ‘High Alice’ centers around a re-imagined version of the eponymous character from Alice In Wonderland. Here, Hval plays with the clichés surrounding what it means to be a woman who makes art. Her gentle vocals, looped beats and narrative perspective demonstrate her ability to captivate listeners with her intricate musical storytelling.

‘Accident’ (featuring Laura Jean) is a conversation between two women about birth, life, and an indifference to Motherhood. The oddly poetic line “she found stretch-mark cream in and air b&b” adds a lightness to an otherwise heavy topic. The album’s title track ‘The Practice of Love’ features the voices of Hval, Laura Jean & Vivian Wang, discussing the many strands that make up the web of love. It begs multiple listens so that each voice can be appreciated, but the overlapping of multiple different sentiments makes for a captivating listen. Self love, romantic love, platonic love – all are covered and contemplated on this piece of Hval’s puzzle of intimacy.

‘Ashes To Ashes’ is a strangely uplifting electronic affair. Hval blends gentle vocals, startling lyrics and deceptively catchy beats to communicate issues of morality. Following track ‘Thumbsucker’ (featuring Félicia Atkinson) is a pensive, curious listen that sees Hval “withdrawing word by word, back in to the rabbit hole” for safety. It’s not long before she reemerges with penultimate track ‘Six Red Cannas’ (featuring all three of her collaborators), with its catchy beats inspired by 90s trance music.

Hval closes The Practice Of Love with the humbly titled track ‘Ordinary’. It’s a charming celebration of the desire to share universal feelings, which by default makes us all very ordinary. Except, Hval’s “ordinary” isn’t quite so. Even when she strives for it, her wonderful “otherness” sets her apart from other “ordinary” artists who delve in to the same themes. That is truly worth celebrating, and practicing love for.

Jenny Hval’s new album The Practice Of Love will be released via Sacred Bones on 13th September. Pre-order your copy here.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: Jenny Hval – ‘High Alice’

A swirling, textured, surreal take on creativity; Norwegian artist Jenny Hval has shared her her latest single ‘High Alice’. Taken from her upcoming album The Practice of Love – set for release via Sacred Bones on 13th September – the song centers around a re-imagined version of the eponymous character from Alice In Wonderland.

“For a while, this song felt like my entire album. I had no idea what the rest of it would be, just a feeling like this song and the title, the two words ‘High Alice,’ would get me there” explains Hval. “My guiding stars at the time were Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star and Kylie Minogue’s ‘Confide In Me.’ Maybe ‘High Alice’ is the narrator of this album. I don’t know how I wrote it, it was automatic. But I found it really funny that I mentioned the sea three times. ‘High Alice’ goes to all the places I have taught myself to avoid, like the four Big Themes: Love, death, life, the ocean…”

A departure from the darkness of her 2016 album Blood Bitch, Hval’s new record seems much lighter in feel and theme, but equally as complex and emotive. The gentle vocals, looped beats, and the narrative featured on ‘High Alice’ demonstrate Hval’s ability to captivate listeners with her intimate musical storytelling. She’s able to navigate the difficulties of love and loss via her ‘High Alice’ moniker with enviable simplicity

Listen to the track below and follow Jenny Hval on Facebook for more updates.

Jenny Hval’s new album The Practice of Love is released via Sacred Bones on 13th September. Pre-order your copy here.

Jenny Hval – The Practice of Love 2019 Performances
Fri. Sept. 20 – Sat. Sept. 21 – Oslo, NO @ Ultima Festival
Sun. Sept. 29 – London, UK @ Milton Court
Wed. Oct. 16 – Frankfurt, DE @ Mousonturm
Wed. Oct. 30 – Paris, FR @ Centre Pompidou
Sat. Nov. 9 – Utrecht, NL @ Le Guess Who? Festival
Sat. Nov. 23 – Katowice, PL @ Ars Cameralis Festival

Photo credit: Lasse Marhaug

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: Susanna – ‘Ecstasy X’

A cinematic soundscape haunted by a bewitching vocal: Norwegian artist Susanna‘s latest single ‘Ecstasy X’ is an unusual, beguiling listen. Taken from her upcoming album Garden of Earthly Delights (set for release on 22nd Feb via SusannaSonata) the track features church bells on a cassette, accordion, and heavily processed voices that claim ecstasy is only achievable if we follow the goddess of darkness.

Inspired by the surreal in medieval Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch’s artwork, Susanna has created a selection of experimental songs on her new album with the help of a team of musicians called the Brotherhood of Our Lady. These artists have worked their magic on ‘Ecstasy X’, intoxicating listeners with their subtle and strange sounds and concepts

Susana’s new work is a thought-provoking, considered listen that ensnares the senses and questions the pain and pleasure of being human. Listen to ‘Ecstasy X below and follow Susanna on Facebook for more updates.

Pre-order Susanna’s upcoming album Garden of Earthly Delights here.

Photo credit: Signe Fuglesteg Luksengard

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: Esther Joy – ‘Day 1 (Silipur Leaves Home)’

London-based producer Esther Joy is an intriguing character. Having spent the last year touring with Charli XCX’s band & collaborating with artists like Tourist, she’s re-emerged with new single ‘Day 1 (Silipur Leaves Home)’, taken from her upcoming concept EP, The Acid Caves Vol 1 (set for release April 27th)

The Acid Caves Vol 1 is based on a supernatural universe created in Esther’s mind. Speaking of the album’s concept, and of the character Silipur in her new single, Esther explains:“The Acid Caves is based in a universe in which all planets are connected by an energy system called ‘The Chaos’. The Chaos is the energy that sustains all planets & all life forms. It’s the emotional, the spiritual & the supernatural.

Over the last millennium, all lifebloods (non-humans) developed the ability to physically see and manipulate this energy, leading to huge advancements in better mental health and supernatural power. For humans, however, their overpowered ego and transfixion with technology significantly stunted their natural evolution and are now the only life-form unable to see or understand The Chaos.”

This story will follow Silipur, a lonely, cynical lifeblood who chooses to abandon her planet illegally for Earth. She is one of many who will try to break through the temporary gate in hope of tasting Earth’s purest energy.”

We’re impressed by Esther Joy’s unusual ideas and intense sonic soundscapes. Listen to ‘Day 1 (Silipur Leaves Home)’ below, and follow her on Facebook for more updates.

The Acid Caves Vol 1 is set for release April 27th.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut