Norwegian artist and writer Jenny Hval has been developing her distinct take on intimate, investigative sound since the release of her debut album on Rune Grammofon in 2006. Her last three solo albums, 2013's Innocence Is Kinky, 2015’s Apocalypse, girl (her debut for Sacred Bones) and 2016’s Blood Bitch have all received widespread international acclaim.
Hval was a vocalist in the Norwegian goth metal band Shellyz Raven until 1999, when she began recording solo work under the name Rockettothesky. After two albums she started using her own name in 2010. Hval studied creative writing and performance at the University of Melbourne in Australia. She made her debut as a writer with the novel Perlebryggeriet in 2009, and the less genre-friendly Inn i ansiktet followed in 2012.
Hval is known for her fascinating voice, singular delivery, and idiosyncratic arrangements incorporating elements of poetry, prose, performance art and film. The New York Times describes her as “taking a scalpel to the subjects of gender politics and sexuality.” Hval has eloquently brought to light issues of both the male and female gaze, which for years had been swept under the rug and/or denied altogether. Her conceptual takes on collective and individual gender identities and sociopolitical constructs landed Apocalypse, girl on dozens of year-end lists and compelled writers everywhere to grapple with the age-old yet previously unspoken question “what is softdick rock?”
As any perfectionist would, following a year-long tour and her second Nordic Prize nomination, Hval immediately went back to the studio to continue her work with acumen noise producer Lasse Marhaug for the album Blood Bitch. This latest release represents a paradigm shift from her last in subject matter, execution, and production. According to Hval, it is the first of her albums to explicitly revisit her roots in Norwegian black metal. It investigates the subject of menstrual blood, “the white and red toilet roll chain which ties together the virgins, the whores, the mothers, the witches, the dreamers, and the lovers.” It also entertains stories of vampires and jet-lagged, black-haired artists, and channels “the smell of warm leaves and winter.” FACT named it the best album of 2016; The Guardian, The Independent, The Wire, Pitchfork and many others also have it at the top of their year-end lists.
For her performance at CTM, Hval will appear with the Norwegian low-frequency duo Skrap. Tuba player Heida Karine Johannesdóttir Mobeck and analogue synth wielder Anja Lauvdal traverse a sonic Ven Diagram comparing and contrasting their two distinct but equally potent instruments and investigating the power they command as a conglomerate.