‘Spillin’ The Beans – “Trust” by Hanne Hukkelberg

After a week’s sabbatical, Spillin’ The Beans is back and in fine listening fettle. I am looking at a forthcoming album by Norwegian experimental musician Hanne Hukkelberg called “Trust” which is due for release on the 20th October. As this is not yet available, I cannot post any links to the music, apart from one track, IRL which is on YouTube, but The ‘Spill does have a review-only preview.

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The press release says that “the new album explores the duality of human life in the digital age – largely inspired by writers, scientists and philosophers including George Orwell, Zygmunt Bauman, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Yuval Noah Harari and Simon Sinek, alongside the more pop-cultured forecasts of sci-fi series Westworld and Black Mirror.”, which is all well and good, but for me the question is always “What does it actually sound like?”. This is Ms Hukkelberg’s first album in five years, so she has clearly had a lot of time to ponder these bigs questions. let’s see how she treats them in musical terms.

On a first listening, the first point of reference is R ‘n’ B-influenced electronica, which I have to admit isn’t my first choice as Go To listening. However, the music is a lot more than that. It has a quirky, insistent quality that takes it away from the mundane. I suppose it (sort of) occupies a similar space as the likes of Lorde, Little Boots, FKA Twigs and others working with dance and electronica. In the past, Hukkelberg has sounded pretty different to this, experimental in different ways. I think that this music is most interesting when it moves away from the more “poppy” sound and goes to less definable places, which is what happens as the album progresses. I think that from the sixth track, Raindrops, onwards, the music becomes very interesting and unpredictable. I especially like the following track, Silverhaired, which introduces a male voice to good effect. Having said that, none of the music is dull or predictable.

On subsequent hearings, I found more things to listen to that were adding interesting and sometimes unsettling textures to the music, like the sound of howling wolves or dogs in IRL. In fact, the more you listen, the less like electronic pop the music becomes. You end up concentrating on the weird, which is not to suggest that the music is dominated by weirdness, because it isn’t. It is more the case that your ears stop holding on to the familiar and start finding what is the essentially eccentric and imaginative core of the songs. There are themes of alienation here, but also, I think of spurned love and a fear and distrust of the way that technology swamps us and divides us from human contact. She sings “I don’t wanna be perfect, I wanna be me” in The Whip, which in many ways is a curse of the digital age, where perfection is served up everywhere and us mortals are made to feel inferior. The monetisation of the internet and the howling mobs of armchair warriors on social media are deeply alienating aspects of modern life and I think that this is a major concern for Hanne. It is certainly what I am taking away from this music.

Musically, I suppose that some people might try and make Björk comparisons, but they would be wide of the mark, because she doesn’t really sound like her at all.

Anyway, if you are intrigued by the album, or are a fan from her previous four releases, it is available for pre-order here. Hanne is also available on Facebook, Soundcloud and Spotify.

PopPopPop – CheeseCheeseCheese?

Well here’s a thing. Pop music has its place; it’s a good pick-me-up when you don’t want anything too heavy or cerebral. Here’s a YouTube list of things that have caught my ear recently. Is it fun? Is it awful? Have you any songs you’d like to add? Should I be struck off The ‘Spill? Discuss.

‘Spillin’ The Beans – “Daybreak” by The Divisionists

This week I am ‘Spillin’ The Beans on the new album by London band The Divisionists. The album is entitled “Daybreak” and is available here on Bandcamp.

Divisionists - Daybreak (cover)

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‘Spillin’ The Beans – “allbut6ix – Like A River”

This week, I am listening to the latest release from allbut6ix, which is the musical brainchild of Canadian Dwight Druick. “Like A River” is the band’s second album and is available to listen here. In Dwight’s own words;

As a musical project, allbut6ix was an idea that was born in the hearts and arms of those that love me, and was brought to fruition with a ‘little king-sized’ help from some of my closest musical friends.

like-a-river-cover

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Young Marble Giants and The XX – Discuss

I remember the exact moment I first heard Young Marble Giants.  I was listening to Marc Riley (one of the many former members of The Fall) on his BBC 6 Music radio show back in 2014.  He played this track called Brand New Life.  My ears pricked and I marvelled at it, thinking how fresh and modern it sounded – who could this new beat combo be?  Was I about to stumble upon the next big thing?  I was totally gobsmacked when I looked them up and found they have only ever released one album called Colossal Youth in 1980.  1980!!!!  Colossal Youth is a minimal masterpiece.  It’s so pared back yet Alison’s sweet vocals seem to lift it.  The music itself feels quite fresh, there are plenty of bands now working with that kind of under-production feel where less seems to be more (think; Sleaford Mods), so it was no wonder I thought it was a new release.

The other week, I stumbled across a comment somewhere comparing Young Marble Giants to The XX and I was like “YOU WHAT??! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??”  I don’t mind The XX, in fact I sort of quite like them, but really?  They are not even on the same level in my opinion, despite their Mercury Prize win.

It did get me thinking though.  Who can you compare Young Marble Giants to?  Maybe Bauhaus?  Possibly Joy Division to a certain extent.  Perhaps those suggestions are too obvious and tells you everything about the lack of depth to my musical knowledge.  And what do we really think of this Young Marble Giants/The XX comparison?  Is it fair?

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge.  What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?