Norwegian multidisciplinary artist Jenny Hval released her new album, The Practice of Love, via Sacred Bones last Friday. The Practice of Love expresses the connection between life and creating art in a specific way – a spiritual magic about relativity, finding empathy and a common language through collaboration. Her first release from the track was the forlorn Ashes to Ashes, contemplative and reflective, coated in pathos, vastly different to the Bowie song of the same name. Albeit drowned in synth.
The Practice of Love is filled with arpeggiated synth washes and trance noises that have lingered since the 90s decade. Referencing acts like Underword and some flash-in-the-pan nineties music, Hval adds an interesting layer to it with her lyrical content. Hval explores themes of mortality with a kind of humane delight. She sings: “Put two fingers in the earth / I am digging my own grave / in the honeypot / ashes to ashes / dust to dust.”
Her previous 2016 album, Blood Bitch was considered disorientating. The Practice of Love has more of an immortal perspective to it, observatory and astute in it practice. Featuring many others, collaborting with Vivian Wang, Laura Jean Englert, and Félicia Atkinson there is a broad context to this record. The voices are otherworldly, and ethereal in parts, throwing us back to the eighties to the work of Kate Bush.
Lyrically poetic, this is a record of richness. Lions begins, “looks at these trees, look at this grass, look at those clouds” establishing the investigative nature of the album. Intimate and open, The Practice of Love, is anticipated if we consider the title. With tracks suggestively nodding towards Madonna’s more contemporary titles, there’s also a seductive element to her work.
The thirty-five minute record encapsulates love that comes through relationships with others, the existential factors and connectedness to society and other humans. An album of juicy retro head nods, with more contemporary yet spiritial lyrics, The Practice of Love has certainly made my head turn to Jenny Hval and question what is next for her, as I will be watching more intuitively after this most recent release.
The Practice of Love is out now, via Sacred Bones.