Jenny Hval has evolved from her origins as the singer of a Norwegian goth metal band in the late ‘90s to become a novelist and creator of arty, experimental and highly acclaimed music. Her new four song EP, The Long Sleep, follows on from her 2016 LP Blood Bitch. It was recorded with Håvard Volden, whom she has worked with before, producer Lasse Marhaug and for the first time a bunch of jazz musicians who add their own unique flavour to the EP. Black or Purple vinyl EP on Sacred Bones.
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Jenny Hval returns from a hiatus, relative to her prolific standards, with a novella, a collab album as Lost Girls, and a new EP of her own solo work. Are you not entertained? Having made two brilliant records that approached pop via polemics, she here wipes the slate clean by approaching the material of ‘The Long Sleep’ with intuitive melodies and meandering thought processes.
Fans of the thought experiments of ‘Apocalypse, Girl’ and the poignant feminist narrative of ‘Blood Bitch’ need not worry: this record is another of mythical rhetoric and unresolved questions, with the same watery, dreamlike musical palette as before. Hval’s music has taken a strange turn from its rawer early iterations -- the woodlands folk of ‘Viscera’ and the harsh noise dissent of ‘Innocence Is Kinky’ felt fantastical and intangible, where newer records have been hook-hinting one-to-ones, Hval to listener. The opener of this record is a gorgeous, second person ballad, spread over two songs: its refrain of “You will not be awake for long” is pushed through synthy washes of sound and sax melodies that recall Destroyer on ‘Kaputt’, before returning in a gorgeous treacling of piano.
It’s perhaps the nicest, most straightforward music Hval’s made, but she sees no point in sitting on it: instead, the record’s continuous and repeated examinations find themselves reverberating through a long, simmering drone on the record’s title track. It’s a piece that embraces Hval’s experimentalism as part of a euphoric progressive lineage, and sees how she’s made her own place in it. This lightly pulsing psych tune sounds like Popul Vuh, through and through -- and then, in “I Want To Tell You Something”, it sounds like nothing but Hval, comfortable in her stream of consciousness realisations and strangely folkloric realism. Whether presenting music as thesis or improvising motions, she remains one of the most uniquely thinking and feeling artists we have.
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- The Long Sleep by Jenny Hval
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