Over the course of the last several years, Norwegian singer/songwriter Jenny Hval has released a handful of provocative, enigmatic and often difficult music both under her own name and with Susanna on last year’s breath-taking Meshes of Voice. Having found a home in the US on Sacred Bones, Hval finds herself in good company, crafting tracks of darkly atmospheric beauty a la label mates Marissa Nadler and Zola Jesus.
As revered for her vocals as her often atypical arrangements, Hval has found herself near the leading edge of avant garde singer/songwriters. On “Female Vampire” her first single from the forthcoming Blood Bitch (Sacred Bones) out September 30th, Hval again shows off the quieter, more ephemeral and intimate side of her voice. As with her previous releases, her vocals stand in somewhat sharp contrast to the musical underpinnings. Beginning with a haunting, circuitous synth figure that gradually builds to an insistent, nervous thrum beneath Hval’s ethereally delayed vocals, “Female Vampire” retains a linear quality that functions as something of a narrative.
And yet unlike her previous releases, it features something of a traditional structure in its composition. It’s a noticeable departure in sound and approach that finds her hewing that much closer to the sound of Zola Jesus. This could however function as something of a musical Trojan Horse, affording her a wider audience that might otherwise have been turned off by her previous, more explicit and abstract material.
Continuing her thematic provocation, Hval presents Blood Bitch as “an investigation of blood. Blood that is shed naturally. The purest and most powerful, yet most trivial, and most terrifying blood: Menstruation. The white and red toilet roll chain which ties together the virgins, the whores, the mothers, the witches, the dreamers, and the lovers.” Ultimately, “Female Vampire” is one of Hval’s most accessible composition to date, less sexually explicitly and more traditionally structured to the point of mainstream accessibility.