Jenny Hval, Briana Marela | Constellation | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Jenny Hval, Briana Marela 18+ Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Thu., Sept. 3, 8:30 p.m. 2015

On her strong third solo album, Apocalypse, Girl (Sacred Bones), Norwegian artist Jenny Hval unleashes the experimental side of her music—a side we might have seen coming on her excellent 2012 album with guitarist Håvard Volden, Nude on Sand. Her lyrics—part poetry, part theoretical analysis—have always undercut the pop structures of her work, but here she completely pulls the rug out from under any sort of hooky melody. Apocalypse, Girl’s epic closer, “Holy Land,” is a delirious ten-minute excursion into droning tones, electronic smears, and cryptic lines about how the U.S. provokes feelings of displacement. The equally free-form opener, “Kingsize,” also muses about America while critiquing the male-dominated rock world and making larger feminist observations (“What is soft-dick rock?” Hval asks with a sense of timing that rivals Laurie Anderson). Produced by Norwegian sound artist Lasse Marhaug, a master at loosening heavy ideas from rigid musical structures, the record also features instrumental contributions from cellist Okkyung Lee, harpist Rhodri Davies, and Swans percussionist Thor Harris, among others. The music veers majestically between abstract electronic music and hypnotic pop, with Hval’s sweet voice commanding the spotlight—her honeyed presence makes some of the most pointed lines go down smooth. There’s a lot to digest in her work, never before more than here, but she makes the exercise pleasurable. She performs live with Volden.

Peter Margasak

Price: $15, $12 in advance

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