|Jenny Hval & Susanna — Meshes of Voice (2014)|
Jenny Hval & Susanna — Meshes of Voice
Λ Meshes of Voice, the product of a collaboration between two of the country’s most distinctive voices, was commissioned for Ladyfest and performed on 8 March 2009. According to Jenny Hval and Susanna, it is a kind of modern–day, surrealistic fable that deals with lust, fear, wondering, and mythical creatures. Grand piano, guitar, electric harmonium, various effects and electronics, and prepared piano and percussion combined with a mesh of voices has resulted in an alternately frugally delicate and solid soundscape. Meshes of Voice is genre–free music set in a modern, mythical landscape. The piece will be revived in a new version during Ultima.
Mixed and mastered by Helge Sten of Deathprod and Supersilent, the duo cite the cloaked figure of Maya Deren’s 1943 surrealist film Meshes Of The Afternoon as an influence, also adding: “Mythical animals were a big inspiration. We looked at Medusa, Athena and Harpy — as examples of depictions of woman — the ugly, the goddess–like, the gruesome.”
Birth name: Jenny Hval
Also known as: Rockettothesky (2006–2008)
Born: 11 July 1980, Oslo, Norway
Location: Oslo, Norway
Album release: August 18, 2014
Record Label: SusannaSonata
01. Droplet 2:15
02. Black Lake 5:28
03. Milk Pleasures 2:17
04. I Have Walked This Body 5:37
05. O Sun O Medusa 2:19
06. A Mirror in My Mouth 3:05
07. Thirst That Resembles Me 4:15
08. I Have a Darkness 4:48
09. A Sudden Swing 2:53
10. Honey Dew 1:20
11. Medusa 3:19
12. Running Down 4:14
13. House of Bones 2:28
14. Dawn 4:05
15. The Black Lake Took 3:23
Λ Jenny Hval: voice, effects, noise, samples, guitar, autoharp, piano;
Λ Susanna: voice, grand piano, effects, noise, samples, electric harmonium;
Λ Anita Kaasbøll: voice, effects, noise, drums;
Λ Jo Berger Myhre: double bass, zither, effects, noise.
Λ Johanna Blom Artwork, Cover Design
Λ Jenny Hval Arranger, Autoharp, Composer, Effects, Guitar, Noise, Piano, Producer, Sampling, Vocals
Λ Anita Kaasbøll Contribution, Drums, Effects, Noise, Vocals
Λ Jo Berger Myhre Contribution, Double Bass, Effects, Noise, Zither
Λ Arne Bendik Sjur Artwork
Λ David Solheim Engineer
Λ Helge Sten Mastering, Mixing
Λ Susanna Arranger, Composer, Effects, Harmonium, Noise, Piano (Grand), Producer, Sampling, Vocals
By JOHN KELMAN, Published: August 17, 2014 | SCORE: ****½
♣ http://www.allaboutjazz.com/jenny-hval-and-susanna-meshes-of-voice-by-john-kelman.php REVIEW
Susanna/Jenny Hval: Meshes of Voice review — an exultant experience
John Fordham | The Guardian, Thursday 14 August 2014 22.30 BST | Score: ****
Λ Norwegian singer/songwriter Susanna Wallumrød doesn’t flinch from raw emotional realities, but she usually traverses them with a seraphic, pure–toned calm. Conversely, Jenny Hval (Susanna’s compatriot, and a poet and novelist as well as one–woman band Rockettothesky) negotiates the same terrain with a fierce, dissonant candour — their meeting was always likely to strike sparks. They jointly wrote Meshes of Voice for Ladyfest in 2009, inspired by Maya Deren’s 1943 surrealist film, Meshes of the Afternoon, and the gothic visions of Antoni Gaudí. It’s a wild,disorientating but exultant experience, using voices, keys, guitar, percussion and electronics to embrace minimalist, quietlyclanging churchbell sounds; typical Susanna incantations that get swept away by crashing waves of noise; call–and–response exchanges between Susanna’s entreaties and Hval’s defiance, occasion–ally mellow, country–music vocal harmonies and pop–song tunes; and rumbles of prayerlike chanting. I Have Walked This Body — a mix of solemnity and abrasiveness reminiscent of Annette Peacock and the most pop–friendly track here — could even end up an underground hit. Fortaken: http://www.theguardian.com/
By Grayson Currin | August 15, 2014 | Score: 8.2
Λ The temptation at the suggestion of a collaboration between Jenny Hval and Susanna Wallumrød is to bristle. Yes, they are both female Norwegian singers — strong leaders and writers with consistently compelling visions for the music they make, too — but that’s where the similarities seemingly cease. Hval is the tempestuous imp to Wallumrød’s version of graceful austerity. Wallumrød has reworked the songs of Henry Purcell with a classical harpist and offered her perfect, patient coo to sublime covers of Thin Lizzy and Black Sabbath, Tom Petty and Will Oldham; last year, she issued a beautiful song cycle with the chamber group Ensemble neoN. Hval, meanwhile, began 2013’s Innocence is Kinky by whispering, “At night/ I watch people fucking on my computer” over a slyly lurid beat. She embraces sonic bedlam and mischief, funneling both into songs with deeply psychological underpinnings. The pairing feels tantamount to asking Chan Marshall link up with with Annie Clark because they’re both critically appreciated American female singers.
Λ But that stylistic frisson and the shared willingness of Hval and Wallumrød to explore such tension is one of the greatest strengths of Meshes of Voice, the transfixing result of a 2009 live collaboration and one of the best records of either’s career. These 15 interconnected pieces unfold a surrealistic saga where the narrator wakes to find “I have lost my soul” — at the bottom of a black lake, no less. The tale twists through dream states, mythological allusions and impressionistic analogies, which the sounds match through a web of halcyon ballads, harsh–noise expositions and fragmented art–rock. Meshes of Voice mirrors the multimedia ambition of Laurie Anderson and aligns itself with the self–referential complexity of Joanna Newsom and Dan Bejar. It’s a singular world built of two very individual talents, each gifted with the plasticity to turn a mere live collaboration into a true relationship.
Λ As the title implies, the dual stars are the singers’ voices themselves. Wallumrød has the sort of stainless tone that could lead soft jazz outfits toward the tops of adult–contemporary charts. That ease is epitomized by “A Sudden Swing”, where she rises and falls alongside the curves of a piano’s path with classical beauty. Hval is more of a chameleon and jester, though, her voice able to shift from spoken–word scorn to singsong lilt without notice; her imagination and versatility suggest a thornier Björk. During “Running Down”, she funnels the phrase “milk pleasures” through software that makes her sound like a broken automated teller, repeating a meaningless robotic mantra. But by song’s end, she’s purring a blanket–soft lullaby against the horizon.
Λ The voices are only the fixtures, however, the reference points for a trip that races headlong into altogether unexpected territory. There seem to be few risks that either partner is unwilling to take, no set of shocks for which their style is too precious. Hval has tinkered with noise before and even said she likes to write songs over beds of it, but “I Have Walked This Body” is a commitment to cacophony — and a total triumph with it. They sculpt static and feedback with the skill and finesse of Aaron Dilloway or John Wiese. Wallumrød submits to it, her manipulated air slipping inside the mess as if that’s where it has always belonged; elsewhere, Hval adds gorgeous harmonies to “O Sun O Medusa,” her refracted notes trailing Wallumrød like a comet’s tail.
Λ While there are some mostly pretty songs and completely chaotic numbers, Meshes of Voice compels by ignoring such binaries. The soft beauty “A Sudden Swing” ends under sinister threat, droning strings and circling percussion bubbling from beneath the pristine piano like a toxic leak. Hval delivers a childlike chant during “Milk Pleasures,” her voice suggesting a pixie. But she sings of mongrel body parts and milk running down pale legs, as Wallumrød answers with distant, ghastly echoes. Meshes of Voice depends on the reputations of its makers, but it delights most when they let those legacies fall away or, at the very least, bend in new ways.
Λ Meshes of Voice is very much a unified program of music, where songs drift into one another and vestiges and premonitions blur what might otherwise be absolute boundaries. The long industrial exhalation at the end of “I Have Walked This Body”, for instance, creeps beneath the resplendent piano of “O Sun O Medusa”, where it’s picked up and suddenly romanticized by a bowed double bass. Those are mechanical links, though, as the more important bonds are the repeating musical and lyrical motifs and the way that the four–piece ensemble shifts them every time they arrive. “I Have a Darkness” is a glowering monster, with a din of static and stunted signals spilling from disembodied vocals. Toward the end, though, a distant seraphim choir sings the words “honey dew” on repeat — not beating back the noise, but certainly pushing against its shadows. Several minutes later, Wallumrød sings, “Dawn came quiet/dawn came cool/The inside of my eyelid is glazed with honeydew.” Λ The source of that earlier sound is finally revealed; her voice is low and powerful with defiant confidence, overrunning a harmonium drone that crackles beneath her.
Λ Just before album’s end, Wallumrød begins another song with the same stanza and the same strength, Hval’s robotic voice circling behind her in an instant of sudden unity. These moments offer arrows toward a resolution, to the moment in the finale where Hval “pulled out my heart from the seaweed.” The narrative here often feels slippery and unattainable, like a “Kubla Khan” dream that’s been recorded in front of a live audience. But the repetition supplies the signposts, assurances that you too can outlast this nightmare of mirrors and confusion.
Λ That adventurous perseverance has a lot to do with why Meshes of Voice is so successful. Hval and Wallumrød, refined and distinct stylists, committed more to the value of this concept than of their own reputations. They seemed to bristle less at the the idea of being typecast as a popular female Norwegian singer than not being able to turn that expectation into something more than pretty covers of popular songs or abrasive explorations of the psyche. As immersive and deep as the lake around which it revolves, Meshes of Voice adds a new dimension to the output of both its makers. (http://pitchfork.com/)
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|Jenny Hval & Susanna — Meshes of Voice (2014)|