Release Date: May 12, 2009
Record label: Nettwerk
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Considering just how eclectic Hanne Hukkelberg’s music can be, it’s not much of a surprise that the Norwegian singer-songwriter benefits greatly from changing her environment when it’s time to start composing the next record. After her wondrous 2004 debut Little Things, she relocated to Berlin, and it was there where her accomplished follow-up Rykestrasse 68 took shape, gracefully evolving from idiosyncratic little Jon Brion-esque pastiches to more well-rounded blends of jazz, folk, pop, and even some Kurt Weill-esque cabaret thrown in. For her third full-length, Hukkelberg decided to head north instead of south.
The thought first occurred to me on an escalator rising out of a D.C. Metro station: Norwegian musician Hanne Hukkelberg's arrangements are so dense and unusual they suck in sound. Listening to the title track of her third full-length, Blood from a Stone, I assumed the off-tempo clacks and the loud blasts of distortion I was hearing were all part of the music, the gradual ascension of the escalator heightening the song's steady crescendo.
Brooding and layered, this Norwegian songstress' third album plumbs familiar but dramatic territory Inevitably the elfin shadow of Björkis something that most female Scandinavian vocalists are forced to grapple with. On her last album, Hanne Hukkelberg attacked the issue head on with a Pixies cover and a moodier tone laced with found sounds and got a Norwegian Grammy and international acclaim for her efforts. Here, Hukkelberg’s impish charm is more contained, even if her ear for texture remains characteristically elegant.
Is Blood from a Stone Hanne Hukkelberg's difficult third album? Actually, on the surface it may be her most direct work so far, slotting more neatly and readily into a recognizable genre type -- call it dark, shoegazey, post-punk-derived art rock -- than either of her previous albums, and making prominent and comparatively conventional use of electric guitars, without abandoning her distinctive found-object approach to orchestration. Hukkelberg's music has always been difficult, requiring repeated and attentive listening for the nuances of its elliptical melodies and intimate sound-worlds to seep through. She's always been an artist who works in shades of gray.
In 2007, Norwegian singer/songwriter Hanne Hukkelberg released her sophomore album, Rykestraße 68. Developing on the established themes of her lighthearted debut, the album featured an affable marriage between playful Jon Brion-style atmospherics performed on a series of found objects and Hukkelberg’s haunting off-kilter voice—glittering with a simple and pleasing whimsy. .
Where 2004 debut Little Things was prismatic and experimental, this third time around finds Norwegian minimalist Hanne Hukkelberg tuning up her machine with muted colors. The slow-building songs boast impressive payoffs ("Crack," "Seventeen"), and when they have a pulse, they're propellant and poised ("Bandy Riddles," the 1980s whiff of the title track). In between, however, lays a dense, half-baked haze that makes Blood From a Stone frustrating.