jenny hval – blood bitch

– featured image courtesy of jenny berger myhre –

“album of the fortnight” is a new bi-weekly feature that digs into a recent release of note.  the articles will run roughly during the middle and at the end of each month, always on a friday; the album or body of work in question will have been released at some point during that two-week span.  this column focuses on art that resonates deeply, on pieces that necessitate more than just a knee-jerk reaction.  next up: jenny hval.

there’s something inherently autumnal about jenny hval’s newest album, blood bitch.  not autumnal in the sense that it conjures up cliché imagery and feelings associated with the waning months of the calendar year, but rather in the sense that it seems, at times, to be teetering on the edge of a desolate landscape, grasping at motifs of warmth and familiarity before slipping into a period of hibernation and eventual rebirth.

hval’s airy vocals drift in and out of the foreground throughout blood bitch, often allowing her muted production to take precedence.  there’s the four-on-the-floor pulse of “the great undressing,” the duple-meter lilt of “period piece,” the esoteric thrum of “female vampire” – a smattering of directions that, together, would feel utterly directionless in another artist’s hands.  yet hval commands these avenues with the dexterity and nuance of the seasoned veteran she is, stringing together these at-times disparate compositions with the recurring theme of feeling.


pencil scratches frantically against paper on “untamed religion,” its anxious state countered by ambient static possessing great poise and restraint, a soliloquy on powerlessness superimposed over the top.  these juxtapositions sound messy and convoluted in description, but aurally, they’re exquisite, a dichotomous matrimony whose soothing attributes somehow manage to reign supreme.  elsewhere, hval is more overtly vulnerable (see “the plague,” “ritual awakening”) and her reliance on her own voice to convey these shortcomings renders their accompaniment decidedly more eerie: murky, with an occasional ominous dash of malice.

if blood bitch isn’t hval’s most ambitious effort to date, it certainly feels like her most immediate. “it’s about vampires,” she says amidst laughter from her conversational partner while discussing the central thesis of the album; anyone tuned into the nuances of blood bitch realizes that this generality would warrant admonition, and hval quickly doubles down to assert that the album is about more than just her horror movie influences.

and it is; blood bitch is a fairly transparent exploration of hval’s feminism, and that transparency aids in its potency.  if the contents of blood bitch cause discomfort, good.  if they create solace, even better; this is a manifesto that is equal parts unapologetic and gorgeous, a multi-faceted work of art that can be consumed and digested in myriad ways, depending on the date, time, and general state of being.  indulge.


most anticipated albums of fall 2016

– featured image courtesy of minimally minimal –

the home stretch of each year always provides a plethora of new albums vying for contention in year-end best-of reviews.  invariably, at least one heavy-hitter holds onto a project until the quarter is almost over before unleashing it and messing with the internet’s ballots by proxy (here’s looking at you, the weeknd and lorde).  the full list for this fall is exhausting; google searches and metacritic are good tools to keep yourself in the know, but we’ve also compiled a handful of albums we’re especially itching to dig into.  read on for more detailed explanations.

mick-jenkins-the-healing-componentmick jenkins – the healing component
september 23rd (free nation)

after years of building anticipation, mick jenkins will finally release his long-awaited debut album, the healing component, tomorrow.  if early looks like “spread love,” “drowning,” and “fall through” are indicatives of the album’s tenor, then the healing component should more than clear the high bar jenkins has imposed on himself.

jenny-hval-blood-bitchjenny hval – blood bitch
september 30th (sacred bones)

only a little more than a year has passed since jenny hval released her excellent apocalypse, girl, but the norwegian composer and songwriter has already completed a follow-up album, blood bitch.  hval’s new effort is billed as an about-face from its predecessor and has been bolstered by the strengths of lead single “female vampire” and “period piece,” a standout component of this year’s adult swim singles series.

unnamed-1moses sumney – lamentations
september 30th (self-released)

moses sumney’s live performances are a wonder to behold, and his recorded music is nearly emotive.  after thriving off of a handful of singles and his debut ep, mid-city island, sumney will self-release his latest extended play at the end of this month, but be on the lookout for his much-anticipated debut album sometime soon after.

takuya-kuroda-zigzaggertakuya kuroda – zigzagger
october 7th (concord records)

those not familiar with japanese bandleader and trumpeter takuya kuroda would do well to pick up his 2014 album, rising son, a perfect union of jazz, hip-hop, and r&b.  kuroda and his band continue to hone that aesthetic on zigzagger, his fifth studio album and first for concord records.  for a primer, start with the album’s lead-off single, “r.s.b.d.”

ricky eat acid talk to you soon.pngricky eat acid – talk to you soon
october 28th (terrible records)

sam ray will return to his ricky eat acid moniker at the end of next month to release the project’s first full-length in over two years.  2014’s three love songs is a timeless masterpiece, and ray’s divergence from its ambient magnetic pull on subsequent singles, mixtapes, and eps suggest that talk to you soon may be broader in scope and ambition, but almost certainly as uniquely emotive as its predecessor.

– other notable releases –

bon iver – 22, a million (september 30th)
danny brown – atrocity exhibition (september 30th)
s u r v i v e – rr7349 (september 30th)
ahem – just wanna be (october 7th)
jagwar ma – every now & then (october 14th)
american football – american football (october 21st)
the radio dept. – running out of love (october 21st)
forth wanderers – slop (november 11th)
the weeknd – starboy (november 25th)
childish gambino – pharos (tba)
chromatics – dear tommy (tba)
vancouver sleep clinic – tba (tba)