Hval is a strange wonder. One of those who inhabits her own little universe. Tender and spooky might be how you would describe the cover and there is a sense of those feelings when listening to this music. The dark and moody, thick atmospherics encapsulate Hval’s aura immediately. As her voice drifts into the dense graffiti of sound there is no denying it demands attention.
‘Female Vampire’ was an early single from the album. It’s a stunner. Dreamlike, noisy and peaceful all at once it snakes its way around the senses, devouring the ears and crawling inside. It’s Hval at her majestic best, an impossible spell to resist. The deep breathing, panting of ‘In The Red’ will either suffocate or arouse or generally mystify the listener. This is Hval challenging us, testing our patience and our level of comfort with her music. It’s certainly a fascinating listen as electronic sounds accompany her until the track hits a wall and ends quite abruptly. ‘Conceptual Romance’ is in equal measures scary, sweet and imaginative. It feels like a cimeatic experience, a planet unfolding before us. What we realise by now is the unique spin on this kind of music that Hval brings to the table.
‘Untamed Region’ begins with what sounds like chalk writing on a board. It’s impossible not to want to know what is being written and it’s a masterful segue into the track. The bizarre spoken words suit the music well. It feels reminiscent of some Tom Waits tracks that do that, but with her very own background, always in her unique style. There is little chance to settle comfortably into your chair afterwards either, as snippets of conversations and general quirky behaviour keeps us on our toes. ‘The Plague’ is total avant garde madness and by now Hval has freaked you out or completely corrupted you.
This isn’t music for the faint hearted, it’s the challenge mentioned above, but if you can sit through a whole serving you may live to ponder how important she actually is to modern music. Here is someone who actually has ‘something’ to say. Give it a chance at the very least, it’s worth that even if you decide not to return. A deeply compelling album indeed.