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flag coverpic Norway - Full Moon 190 - 03/08/12

Hanne Hukkelberg
Featherbrain
Propeller Recordings

Hanne Hukkelberg received quite a lot of good press for her 2008 album, Rykestraße 68. Personally I enjoyed her quiet and peaceful debut album, Little Things (2005), which also received an indeed good reception. Featherbrain is her 4th album, following Blood From A Stone (2009), and once more we're taken on a journey through her personal world of musical creativity.

The word 'featherbrain' means 'a foolish scatterbrained person', which Hanne Hukkelberg isn't. Hukkelberg could be described as PJ Harvey's [recall her early years] cousin teamed up with Kate Bush's little sister, accompanied by the more experimental Radiohead (with Thom Yorke on a sick leave). The opening "Featherbrain" is almost claustrophobic and feverish, and sounds even a bit scary. Here's where I get the PJ Harvey of the early 90s flashback. "Noah" follows, being a most gentle and fragile tune. Excellent. Hukkelberg's got a distinct and characteristic voice, with a lot of tension and emotion in it, and her song-writing has got a likewise edge: there's an undertow of something spooky in here, but at the same time the songs feel quite comforting and caretaking. "I Sing You" is another fascinating track, about life, love and more. The bigger things around, right. The sound of and the arrangements on Featherbrain leaves a feeling of live recordings. Most things are done sparse, raw, naked, unpolished, which gives the record an authentic expression. "My Devils" is a good example, being yet another great song. That said, the album is also somewhat exotic, and BIG sounding within its minimalist and introvert soundscapes. Dynamics are another grip quite cunningly executed. Take the short and primitive "SMS" and compare it to the wide screened masterpiece "The Time and I and What We Make". Featherbrain closes with "Erik", the only song sung in Norwegian. Being a duet with 88 year old Erik Vister, it's a fine end and a symbolic finale of an album filled with a perfect match of the powerful and the vulnerable.

Featherbrain will probably stand out as one of the most fascinating Norwegian albums of the year. 10 tracks to let under your skin, or wing. Why bother with Iceland having their star Björk, and Sweden their Karin Dreijer Andersson/Fever Ray. Norway have got Hanne Hukkelberg.

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