Jenny Hval: Apocalypse, Girl

Norway’s artful queen of mischief returns.

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Jenny Hval publishes books, orchestrates installations and, of course, makes music, although quite what she has in mind for her third solo album is anyone’s guess.

Apparently, it’s all about ‘soft dick rock’. Yes, the Norwegian Grammy Award winner has never beaten about the, um, bush when it comes to wordplay, and here she builds on the explicit metaphors of 2013’s shameless Innocence Is Kinky. Kingsize sees her weaving performance poetry over a new stripped-down sound that’s heavy on experimental noises and beats. No two tracks are the same yet everything fits together perfectly, connected by Hval’s delicate voice and direct songwriting. Production comes from noise experimentalist Lasse Marhaug. His impact resonates through tracks such as the jarring White Underground and the slick electro of Heaven, which carries an air of songstress Zola Jesus. A menagerie of special guests, including Swans’ percussionist Thor Harris and improv cellist Okkyung Lee, take the 10-minute finale Holy Land on an unexpected ghostly trip. Apocalypse, Girl is a dynamic and thought-provoking album that wears ambiguity like an elegant cloak.

Natasha Scharf
Deputy Editor, Prog

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.