(Sacred Bones, out Fri 25 May 2018)
It has almost been two years since Jenny Hval released the album Blood Bitch. This record was a bold statement on gender identity, menstrual taboos and horror movies. Recently she has released a new EP with her band Lost Girls and has followed this up with brand new solo material. The Long Sleep is a four track EP that was created in collaboration with musician Håvard Volden (who works with Hval in Lost Girls) and producer Lasse Marhaug (producer on Blood Bitch). The EP is out on Sacred Bones Records and features a variety of jazz musicians that bring an array of influences together in a haunting and exhilarating style.
The opening track Spells sets the laidback and ambient tone for the EP. Jenny Hval has a distinctive and airy voice that transcends over the beats and jazz instrumentation. The dreamlike refrain “You will not be awake for long, We’ll meet in the smallest great unknown” adds to the unreal and elusive nature of the song. Second track The Dreamer is Everyone in Her Dream draws on the same chorus of the previous track except with an even more gentle and subtle delivery. That is until the pace picks up and Hval breaks the slow rhythm by repeatedly shouting “This is the long sleep”. This is a powerful and pulsating song infused with passion and rhythm.
The Long Sleep is the penultimate track and the longest at nearly eleven minutes. With this EP you really get the feeling that Jenny Hval is finding space for new ideas and looking at different methods for presenting an array of transcendent themes. She is happy to take the listener down avenues of discovery where soundscapes are overdrawn and hushed vocals add to the confusing and pensive tone. With the title track the listener is challenged to stay on the journey and drift away into their own personal fantasy whilst the music washes over them.
The final track I Want To Tell You Something is a short spoken word piece at only 1 minute and 21 seconds in length. Here the artist is talking directly to the listener. If the previous tracks were investigating dreamscapes and giving the listener the agency, then here we are wide awake and being clearly and frankly addressed. The track begins with the words “What am I doing here? We are almost done now” and ends with “I just want to say, thank you, I love you”. It is a short statement on communication and draws the brief EP to a touching conclusion. Overall, The Long Sleep EP has an otherworldly nature. It is like a the moment when you can feel yourself drifting from a daydream into a deep sleep and try as hard as you might, you cannot hold yourself back from just drifting away.