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Posted Nov 2nd, 2013 (11:21 am) by Sarah Wilson
Jenny Hval
Image by Sarah L Wilson Photography
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The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh is known for hosting avant-garde, edgy and unique artists. On November 1, they maintained that reputation by hosting the unique Norwegian artist Jenny Hval, touring behind her fourth album, Innocence Is Kinky,

Small, plush, and intimate, the theater at The Warhol was the perfect setting for the show. Hval keeps her stage show simple and uncluttered. With bandmates Håvard Volden and Kyrre Laastad, Hval’s simplistic set up adds to the depth of the performance. While her bandmates are dressed in simple jeans and shirts, Hval dons a shimmering metallic dress over black leggings that draws your eye to her immediately and keeps it there through the show.

There are a million ways to describe the delicate voiced Hval’s set. I like the analogy that if Laurie Anderson and Bjork had a child, it would be Jenny Hval. The delicate notes of her voice, echoing like glass on the verge of shattering, juxtaposed against the harsh and heavy drums and noise of some of the pieces is enthralling. For example, the heartbreaking softness of “Renée Falconetti of Orléans” against the brilliant noise of “Give Me That Sound,” a piece that combines both Hval’s lighter-than-air voice and nearly painful electronic noise and drum in a brilliant, edgy way.

At times, Hval’s voice felt soft and childlike. Other times, it boomed forward or was mixed almost indeterminately with the loops played off a handheld tape recorder. These techniques combined with more rote items such as guitar, keys and drums, were blended in such a way as to make each piece feel fresh, new, and unique. With Hval, the little things can make a piece brilliant, such as simply moving her head from side to side at the microphone to create an echoing fade to her words created a significant moment in sound.

The overall feeling one gets from the show is a burst of energy lurking dangerously behind a somewhat misleadingly simple, demure exterior. One feels as if they are watching something deeply personal but intended for exhibition as well; vaguely kinky. Jenny Hval’s show is the perfect treat for the lover of music, experimentation, and above all...sound.

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