We here at Norman love Jenny Hval, so this new album is a happy occasion for us. Blood Bitch engages with black metal, 70’s horror films and menstruation, ending up in a typically fantastic experimental song-suite. Oh, and Norwegian noise heavyweight Lasse Marhaug is on production duties too! On Sacred Bones.
Vinyl LP £19.49 SBR161LP
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- Blood Bitch by Jenny Hval
Some use prolificacy for evil. You know what I’m talking about. Buckethead will make thirty records in October in the build-up to Halloween; Robert Pollard can make ten awful songs in ten awful minutes; Mark Kozelek exists. Thank God Jenny Hval does too. Her steady artistic approach has led to four albums in as many years, each a fascinating rumination on a different imposition of politics on personal and physical. Never asking “where to now?” and instead just going there, she’s now given us ‘Blood Bitch’, an homage to horror soundtracks that builds its own world of vampirism and blood.
To be specific, she describes this record as one about “The purest and most powerful, yet most trivial, and most terrifying blood. Menstruation.” From an artist whose work has investigated social conditioning of the body and the dismissal of modern feminism, this work comes as less of a surprise, the record hitting full force on its theme, whether with incredibly transparent tunes such as “Period Piece”, or abstract, cut-up, b-movie collage “The Plague”. At times, the record dilutes the rawer edge of Hval’s noise-making side for a synth-beamed pop odyssey -- “Conceptual Romance” is one of the most accessible songs she’s made, the muted sonics even closing the usually powerful spectrum of her vocal intensity. It feels entirely deliberate, this record attempting to tread the most straightforward through a Hval narrative yet.
It suits that the horror inspiration leads to a record that’s more around the corner than in your face: the largely suppressive use of electronics, and the surprisingly short runtime, makes this record feel full of tension construed from waiting: “Female Vampire” and its coalescing mix of voices, flaring synth and sickly pulsating beatwork never reaches a tipping point, instead pushing a sound more about the undercurrents than anything. As always, it’s a triumph for Hval, who always find space in treatises to straight-up confront assumptions: "Don't be afraid, it's only blood".
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