Reviews RCD2142

You´ll never hear another album like this again. Norwegian singer-songwriter Jenny Hval approaches music like she approaches music like she approaches her art: with every intention of breaking all the rules. "Innocence Is Kinky" is a masterfully crafted blend of art-rock, spoken word and experimental shoegazing that tips the current trend for off-the-wall female singer-songwriters on its head. Working with PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish has added a new dimension to Hval´s unnerving sound and enhances her ability to move effortlessly between softly spoken whispers and jarring screams, as she weaves her vocals around often controversial lyrics. Her delicate voice makes the occasionally sear word sound all the more shocking, especially on the title track. Experimental artists Björg, Suzanne Vega and Eels inspire songs like "Oslo Oedipus", while the avant-garde rock of "Give Me That Sound" is guaranteed to blow away any cobwebs. Hval crams into four minutes what other bands would need 15 for. She is unique, and this is one of the most exciting albums of 2013 so far.
Prog (UK)

This is Norwegian writer/artist Jenny Hval´s fourth album, though her early records sailed under the name Rockettothesky. "To Sing You Apple Trees", her 2006 debut, got a nod from the Norwegian Grammys, but that album´s experimental pop has since shape-shifted. It arrives fractured and intensified here, and is all the more thrilling for it. "Innocence Is Kinky" draws on similarly carnal themes to 2011´s "Viscera" - sex, desire, anatomy - and is soundtracked by Hval and her band with improvised guitars, organs and viola. They pull deftly between bluesy, wild and delicately hymnal, but it´s Hval´s openthroated vocals and unashamedly intimate lyrics that command here. Disturbingly sensual stuff. 4/5.
Q (UK)

Boldly voyeuristic lyrics and nervy shards of guitar combine to noirishly erotic effect on the title track, Hval variously speaking and singing the words, before the atmosphere changes decisively for the siren-song pastoral of "Mephisto In The Water". Produced by PJ Harvey collaborator, the 11 tracks alternate between abrasive and etheral, and blend a shrugging, improvisational looseness with taut purposefulness. Provided you like your ambient folk-rock served with a helping of art-school experimentalism and auteurish bravura, the effect is rather magical. 4/5.
Metro (UK)

With "Innocence Is Kinky", Jenny Hval assimilates great femme role models Patti Smith, Björk and PJ Harvey and adds her own unique twist. The album from the Norwegian singer brims with strange psych-sexual posturing, and the music is hard and savage to match. Or dreamlike and spellbinding. Or all these at once. "Oslo Oedipus" begins with a burst of cosmic yodelling, as out there as Tim Buckley in "Starsailor", before settling into a disquieting evocation of Oslo after the bombing of 2011. "Evocation" is the word: Hval is as much a poet as a songwriter. Her philosophy suggests that sexual love is an altered state, and the music cranks up appropriately. Conflict comes with lust, and its power is destructive as well as creative. Out of the wreckage come effortlessly beautiful love songs like "Amphibious, Androgynous".
R2 (UK)

Norwegian artist Jenny Hval follows up 2011´s "Viscera" with another playful meditation on sex, desire, gender and the body. An avant-garde affair, it captures her crooning, chanting and whispering "Where Do I End?" over minimal beats, eerie percussion, raucous rock and improvised drone. Quite magical and mysterious.
Diva (UK)

Hval’s close-miked voice is the first thing you hear; it’s loud, clear, and unwavering, as though whispered in your ear, the lines deliv- ered with the touch and timing of an expert storyteller. Hval has never sounded this confident—or this vulnerable. Her words and delivery inspire submission as much as sympathy. She stutters, yelps, whispers, and wails. She uses repetition, sometimes to lull and sometimes to unnerve. She thrillingly accentuates the beat or gracefully weaves around it. Words, for Hval, are tools, weapons, weights: they see like eyes, reflect like mirrors, cut through flesh like scalpels, enter the body like germs, paralyze. She’s disappointed by words, but also freed by them. She stretches them, twists them, chops them up… Innocence Is Kinky was recorded at Toybox Studios, a unique and versatile facility built into a Georgian townhouse in Bristol, England. Harvey’s longtime collaborator, John Parish, produced the album and plays various instruments on several tracks. While Viscera was made mostly of carefully plucked acoustic guitar and Hval’s rich, sensual voice, Innocence adds samples and loops (“Oslo Oedipus”), screeching noise-rock guitar (“I Called”), and off-kilter blues- rock drumming (“I Got No Strings”). The result is much louder, raucous, aggressive music, at once excitingly raw and very well controlled. On her website, Hval explains that she’d been listening to music that exudes a certain violent, male energy. It shows. She specifically cites Swans’ The Seer, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Let Love In, and, perhaps the deepest influence here, Einsturzende Neubauten’s Silence Is Sexy… Innocence Is Kinky is a success: a deeply rewarding work by an artist willing to reveal her dirtiest and most delicate desires and fears.
Stereophile (US)

A record that moves between very different genres, styles and formats. At the centre is the voice Jenny Hval, sometimes singing, screaming, declamation, etc. Hval works as writer, journalist, recording artist and sound artist. Hval studied Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne and Literature at the University of Oslo. For Trust Me Records she recorded ‘To sing you apple trees’(2006) and ‘Medea’ (2008) as Rockettothesky. ‘Viscera’ followed in 2011 for Rune Grammofon under her own name. With her band Nude on Sand she released a debut album in 2012. Besides she published books, wrote contributions for magazines, etc. And in 2011 she created the sound installation ENTER/Flesh. A multidisciplinary artist, who with ‘Innocence is Kinky’ releases her fourth album. Some pieces are just plain songs, others are audio plays, sound collages and often bits of both. Her extraordinary voice is always at the center and constantly surprising in her techniques and expression. The songs are sparsely orchestrated with keyboards, guitars, drums in carefully designed textures and arrangements. Lemon Kittens-like weirdness. Folk is in the neighborhood, avant garde gestures as well, etc. Her texts and vocal performance concentrate on poetic evocations of (sexual) desires. With each piece she creates a very own universe from some childlike mentality, like Kate Bush did. Produced by John Parish, known for his work with PJHarvey. ‘Innocence is kinky’ is the provocative title of this excellent album. In combination with the close up of her (?) face on the cover it is clear what she intends with title.
Vital Weekly (NE)

Ganz ehrlich. Das ist ja mal richtig geil. Luftige Elektronik, freundlich pulsierende Instrumente und eine Entertainerin im allerbesten Sinne. Ein bisschen skandinavisches Abendrot, ein bisschen 70er, ein bisschen Rrrt, ein bisschen Hommage-Sound, ein bisschen Fever Ray in hellem Gewand, ein bisschen Club der lebendigen Lichter. Alles gehört Frau Hval. Ihre Vocals steigen direkt in den Hypothalamus ein; mit – im doppelten Sinn – englischem Gesang oder laszivem Spoken Word. Propz an die Mische by the way. Charismatische Selbstironie wird nicht nur in den sehr physischen Texten geboten. Auch die Stimme und die Komposition nehmen Reißaus, wenns mal wieder Zeit ist – und zwar so, dass es eine recht dadaistische Freude ist. Plötzlich krachts, krächzts und hyperfalsettisierts, wo vorher noch himmlische Schwebegefühle und Harmonie vorherrschten. Das ist die Weisheit des Sommers in der Megamoderne. Vorgetragen von einer schuldig Unschuldigen, die macht, was sie will und dabei so ziemich alles richtig. Frontal smart, mutig maskiert & kinky sexy. Wenn das Pop ist, darf mensch wieder Pop hören.
FreiStil (AU)

Stattdessen hören wir eine engagierte Sängerin mit einer ausdrucksstarken und kernigen Stimme, die geheimnisvoll raunen, rezitierend herumstreunen oder auch in selbstbewussten Singpassagen ihre von Mythologien und Genderpolitik durchsetzten Texte proklamieren kann. Jenny Hval, die auch performerisch und literarisch arbeitet, ist eine moderne Singer/Songwriterin, die es drängt, die engen Pop-Pfade zu verlassen und die die Suche nach der eigenen Musik etwas brüsker, waghalsiger und auch expressiver versteht, als viele ihrer romantischen Gitarrenpop-Kolleginnen...
Jazz´N´More (DE)

Der Produzent John Parish punktete mit Arbeiten für Sparklehorse und insbesondere für PJ Harvey. Es passt, dass der ambitionierte Brite nun das neue Album der aberwitzigen und hochgelobten Norwegerin Jenny Hval betreute. Die Künstlerin kombiniert Exzentrik, Abenteuerlust und Leidenschaft zu kunstvollen Songs, die an Björk erinnern.

Ein Album, das verwirrt, veränstigt, verunsichert – aber auch begeistert, bewegt, beeindruckt. Ja, es sind diese Gegensätzlichkeiten, die uns aus der Stimme, der Musik und den Texten der Norwegerin regelrecht erschlagen. Jenny Hval, die auf Fotos ein wenig wie die ”Unschuld vom Lande” erscheint, ballert uns auf ihrem ”abartigen Unschuldsalbum” Texte um die Ohren, die diese feuerrot aufleuchten lassen, wenn sie über solche Themen singt, stöhnt, flüstert, ächzt oder schreit, wie sie am Computer Fremde beim Sex beobachtet oder wie das Zerreißen eines Jungfernhäutchens klingt. Elektronische Klang-Collagen untermalen diese angenehmen Abartigen genauso wie Geigen, Bratschen, Saxofone und singende Sägen. Anne Clarke? Laurie Anderson? Diese beiden Damen gingen in den 80ern ähnliche elektronische Noise-Wege, allerdings bauten sie ihre Sounds bei weitem nicht so ungewöhnlich breit und stimmlich gewagt wie Jenny Hval aus. Musik, die man einfach gehört haben muss. Eine wichtige Warnung aber sollte unbedingt beachtet werden: ”Innocence Is Kinky” ist nichts für prüde, Obrigkeits-treue, gottesgläubige, angepasste oder musikalisch stromlinienförmige Zeitgenossen. 12/15.
Noisy Neighbours (DE)   (interview)   (interview)   (interview)   (interview)