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

PLAYLIST: July 2019

Whilst we’re still in the midst of a mind-melting heatwave here in the UK, we’ve thrown together some fresh new music on our July playlist that promises to soothe your sunburned ears. Take some time to scroll through our track choices and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist link at the bottom of the page…

BEA1991 – ‘Loser Wins’
Amsterdam-based artist and musical polymath BEA1991 has swept me away with this track, taken from her debut album Brand New Adult which is out now. I love her subtle, soaring vocals and there’s a beautiful accompanying video to this track that I recommend you check out. Bliss. (Kate Crudgington)

Grawl!x – ‘Epicene’
The new single from Derby-based artist James Machin – aka Grawl!x – ‘Epicene’ is a collaboration with Umbilica’s Jo Lewis, A soaring, cinematic soundscape that sends shivers down the spine, it explores discussions of gender, sexuality, feminism and the role of allies. Identifying as non binary themselves, Machin explains: “… [gender] is an issue I’ve wanted to explore in a musical dialogue for quite some time. It’s quite alarming when you realise how great the gender disparity is and how our culture is divided in binary terms.(Mari Lane)

Noga Erez & ECHO – ‘Chin Chin’
A dizzy, laid-back take on the links between sex and money; Noga Erez’s latest collaboration with Israeli MC and producer ECHO brims with off-kilter beats and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Erez combines intimidatingly cool vocals with her trademark defiant flair on this new release. (KC)

King Hannah – ‘Crème Brûlée’
The impressive debut single from King Hannah, ‘Crème Brûlée’ is as utterly moreish as the dessert it’s named after. With its sweeping ethereal power, majestic twinkling musicality, and the longing, impassioned vocals of front woman Hannah Merrick, it’s a stunning introduction to a band who I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from very soon. (ML)

Elliot Lee – ‘Dirt’
‘Dirt’ is the latest single from Brooklyn based Elliot Lee – a big slice of dirty pop which narrates the frustration towards those who don’t understand how much music means to people. (Tash Walker)

Kitzl – ‘Wizard Girls’
‘Wizard Girls’ is the latest release from Canadian producer and composer Kitzl, described as a shining offering, combining elements of ambient-electronic-pop, art-pop and experimental shoe-gaze. I’m into it. (TW)

Jenny Hval – ‘Ashes To Ashes’
Sacred Bones signee Jenny Hval’s new single is an enchanting, uplifting electronic affair. The track is taken from her upcoming album, The Practice of Love, which is set for release on 13th September and I can’t wait to listen to the record in full.(KC)

Sui Zhen – ‘Perfect Place’
Inspired by how we exist in the digital age, ‘Perfect Place’ flows with glitchy beats and twinkling, ‘80s-inspired hooks alongside Sui Zhen’s quirky, honey-sweet vocals. An instantly infectious slice of sparkling alt-pop. Zhen recently contributed a Five Favourites feature for the website, and because she couldn’t narrow it down to five, we also put together a banger-filled playlist of all her favourites – check it out! Sui Zhen’s upcoming new album, Losing, Linda, is out 27th September. (ML)

Arthur Moon – ‘Reverse Conversion Therapy’ 
Fronted by Lora-Faye Åshuvud, Brooklyn avant-pop group Arthur Moon are set to release their self-titled debut album on 2nd August via Vinyl Me, Please. ‘Reverse Conversion Therapy’ is another example of Lora-Faye’s “deconstructed pop music” which celebrates the queer impulse, and takes ownership when it comes to “breaking the rules” and doing things wrong – something we should all embrace a little more. (KC)

ZAMILSKA – ‘Hollow’
Polish Producer ZAMILSKA released her third album Uncovered this month, and it’s a densely hypnotic record permeated by her fascination with levitation. The result is thirteen richly textured tracks that seethe with “the anxiety of what we want vs what we get”. If you’re a fan of industrial or electronic music I recommend a listen. She’s my new music obsession. (KC)

Deep Deep Water – ‘Something In The Water’
Having recently wowed crowds at Glastonbury, London-based four piece Deep Deep Water have now shared blissful new single ‘Something In The Water’, and we can’t get enough of it. Flowing with whirring soundscapes and soaring, harmonising vocals, it’s an utterly euphoric creation, twinkling with a majestic splendour. Of the track, the band explain: “‘Something in the Water’ is about change… Something is making you act differently, strangely, in a way you can’t explain. It is change out of your control, you are rendered powerless.” (ML)

Daniella Mason – ‘Deepest of Wells’
Deep, synth-based melodies from Nashville-based Daniella Mason, taken from her EP Mental State – it’s so hauntingly addictive, once you’ve heard there is no going back. (TW)

Greentea Peng – ‘Downers’
The new single from South-East London’s Greentea Peng, described as “A disillusioned confession to self, my London city blues. A tune for us hedonistic youths searching to feel nothing, but who actually feel everything. Instead of getting you to sleep – I’m tryna wake ya up.” (TW)

Anna Wiebe – ‘I Felt It In The Wind’
‘I Felt In In The Wind’ is the latest release from Anna Wiebe taken from her recently released album All I Do Is Move, and I can’t stop listening to this emotionally evocative track. (TW)

Salad – ‘Under The Wrapping Paper’
Taken from their upcoming new album, Salad’s ‘Under The Wrapper’ is about exposing what we are sticking in the sand, and shoving under the carpet. With its gritty, post-punk energy and tongue-in-cheek deadpan vocals, it’s a unique euphonic delight, proving that the ‘90s band have still got it and are still capable of pushing boundaries with a distinct, vibrant spirit. Salad’s upcoming new album, The Salad Way, is out 30th August on Three Bean Records. (ML)

Track Of The Day: Jenny Hval – ‘Ashes To Ashes’

Sacred Bones signee Jenny Hval has shared her new single ‘Ashes To Ashes’ and it’s an uplifting electronic affair. The track is taken from her upcoming album, The Practice of Love, which is set for release on 13th September.

The Norwegian multidisciplinary artist blends gentle vocals, startling lyrics, and deceptively catchy beats to communicate issues of morality on her new record. It sits in stark contrast to her 2016 album Blood Bitch, and features the voices of collaborators Vivian Wang, Laura Jean Englert, and Félicia Atkinson.

Speaking about her new album and the themes it encompasses, Hval explains: “This all sounds very clichéd, like a standard greeting card expression, but for me love, and the practice of love, has been deeply tied to the feeling of otherness. Love as a theme in art has been the domain of the canonized, big artists, and I have always seen myself as a minor character, a voice that speaks of other things. But in the last few years I have wanted to take a closer look at the practice of otherness, this fragile performance, and how it can express love, intimacy, empathy and desire. I have wanted to ask bigger, wider, kind of idiotic questions like: What is our job as a member of the human race? Do we have to accept this job, and if we don’t, does the pressure to be normal ever stop?”

She may be humble about the impact of her voice in the wider industry, but we believe in the power of Jenny Hval’s vision and we’re excited to join her on her journey through love and otherness. Listen to ‘Ashes To Ashes’ below and follow Jenny Hval on Facebook for more updates.

Pre-order Jenny Hval’s upcoming album The Practice of Love here.

Photo credit: Lasse Marhaug

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

INTERVIEW: Hilary Woods

When news reached our ears that Dublin-based artist Hilary Woods had signed to Sacred Bones – a label which hosts our favourites Zola Jesus, Jenny Hval and The Soft Moon – our excitement for her debut album, Colt, gave us palpitations. Both Woods (formerly a member of JJ72) and Sacred Bones have a reputation for releasing altruistic sounds, so the pairing felt like a divine meeting of musical talent and opportunity.

Hyperbole aside, it’s clear from singles ‘Inhaler’ and ‘Prodigal Dog’ that Hilary Woods’ debut LP is going to be an exquisite, but painful listen. Soaked in stark, minimalist, ambient electronic sounds that explore feelings surrounding grief & abandonment, her melancholic music is the perfect fit for venues like St. Pancras Old Church, which she headlines on 11th June (tickets available here).

We caught up with the artist to talk about her anticipations for this show, her multi-disciplinary creativity, and what went in to the making of her debut album…

Hello Hilary! You’ve released your latest single ‘Prodigal Dog’ from your upcoming album Colt. Can you tell us a little bit about what went in to the making of this track, and why you chose to release it as a single?

I made the album without thinking of singles, pretty naïve really! But I think when ‘Prodigal Dog’ was suggested as a single, it made sense. This was the first track I recorded in the record making process, bringing it to James we spent a lot of time on drum sounds and enjoyed layering vocals.

Your debut album has been described as “an intensely personal journey through grief, abandonment, and mutating love”. How did you manage to translate these emotions in to lyrics and music? Do you have a particular process when it comes to song-writing that you follow, or is it a more chaotic affair?

I’d say both, usually songs either arise after a lot of playing around and experimenting, or they just appear like a bolt. I think emotions and feeling are translated in any given process whether subconsciously or consciously.

You recently signed to Sacred Bones to release your debut album. What is it about the record label in particular that drew you in? They’re on the ball when it comes to modern electronic music. Zola Jesus, Jenny Hval & The Soft Moon in particular are our favourites (and you of course)…

Thank you! I love their aesthetic, integrity and taste, that’s what drew me in, I’m a fan of many of my label mates.

You were a film, literature and fine-art student back in Dublin. Your music is intensely cinematic and your visuals are highly ornate: did studying a variety of subjects help you to develop your own sound and style easier than if you’d simply chosen to study one specific thing? Would you recommend a multi-disciplinary approach to other creatives?

I don’t know if I’d recommend anything! Everyone is on their own trajectory. In my case I was curious. I liked getting my hands dirty and the physicality of painting. Re studies: I went to college to get out of the house, literally. I needed some structure at that point in my life and I was lucky enough to be awarded some funding to go. It was all a bonus then to be super excited by what I encountered and be inspired by the material I was reading and seeing.

You described Colt as a way to “explore aloneness”, which is particularly poignant as many people use music to escape this feeling. What artists or bands do you listen to when you want to feel less alone?

Gosh, I think a good definition of a good film is one which makes you feel less alone, Music wise: I genuinely don’t have one specific answer to that, anything from Sybille Baier to Jlin to Father John Misty and beyond.

You have two upcoming London shows: St Pancras Old Church on June 11th, and Southbank’s Meltdown Festival with Moon Duo on 20th June. What are you anticipating from these gigs?

I’m looking forward to them, they’ll be intimate and atmospheric.

Finally, you’ll be playing at The Sugar Club in Dublin on 14th September. It’s a hometown show, so are you anticipating something extra special from the night?

It’s always different playing at home, feels more vulnerable if anything. It’s a beautiful space with the best of promoters and a great PA and some good friends helping out. I have some plans for it, it’ll definitely be a special one for me.

Huge thanks to Hilary for answering our questions.
Colt is released via Sacred Bones on 8th June. Pre-order your copy here.

Photo Credit: Joshua Wright

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Jenny Hval – ‘Spells’

Following 2016’s critically acclaimed Blood Bitch, Norwegian multi-disciplinary artist and GIHE fave, Jenny Hval, returns with news of an eagerly awaited new EP, The Long Sleep. Exploring the art of composition, all of the songs on the EP recycle the same compositional motives, but manipulate them into very different shapes that take them further and further out of their original, “life-like” context.

Taken from the EP is new single ‘Spells’. With rich, orchestral layers of sound providing the backdrop to Hval’s sweeping, honey-sweet vocals, it builds to a majestic cinematic anthem, oozing a soaring grandeur that’ll captivate on first listen. Somewhat more melodic and catchy than her previous, more abstract, offerings, ‘Spells’ will indeed cast its spell over you with its obscure, ethereal beauty.

With this latest single, Hval has once again shown herself to be an utterly unique and innovative artist, capable of creating truly spellbinding, epic soundscapes.

Hval recorded The Long Sleep with longtime collaborator Håvard Volden and producer Lasse Marhaug, along with a range of musicians including Kyrre Laastad on percussion, Anja Lauvdal on piano, Espen Reinertsen on saxophone, and Eivind Lønning on trumpet.

The Long Sleep, the upcoming EP from Jenny Hval, is out 25th May via Sacred Bones. And catch Jenny Hval live at St John on Bethnal Green on 5th June. 

Mari Lane
@marimindles