When guitarist, improviser and composer Kim Myhr had an opportunity to collaborate with the never-stagnant Trondheim Jazz Orchestra for the second time, he invited Jenny Hval to join him. He had known her for several years and had wanted for a long time to work together with her.
Improvisation as method
Kim Myhr works a good deal with improvisation, a working method that also appeals to Jenny. “Kim gave me a lot of sketches and music, I wrote the melody and lyrics, and we improvised. This is a collaborative effort, even if it is mostly Kim’s music. It’s his artistic vision, and it was a great honour for me to be able to take part in it, because you can learn a lot by working with fantastic people,” she said in a recent interview. One goal that they shared was wanting the process to be quick and intuitive. Kim regards Jenny’s vocals and lyrics as an instrument, an element of the sonic texture like those produced by the others in the ensemble. For Kim it was exciting to “boil down” his own style to the bare essentials – only playing acoustic guitar – while Jenny’s expressed ambition was to try to accentuate the emotional aspects of the music. “Sometimes I feel that improvised and abstract music is trying desperately to avoid the emotional elements that can be inherent in the music. This was something I thought a lot about when we were going to work with this recording. That’s why I wanted to write romantic lyrics. There is a sense of longing in these lyrics. I wanted to combine something charming, in both the lyrics and the melody, something that wants to be loved, with this more abstract and fragmentary music. I’m interested in vulnerability; the music must have a kind of vulnerability at some level.”
About the musicians
Kim Myhr has been one of the leading voices on the experimental scene in Norway in recent years, as both a composer and a guitarist. He tours frequently in Europe, Australia, Asia and North and South America. In March 2014 he released the critically acclaimed solo record “All Your Limbs Singing” (SOFA), which was reminiscent of both early Feldman and Ligeti’s sound masses, but which also had an energy and simplicity that could bring American folk music to mind. Myhr is an active composer, and writes for chamber ensembles, electroacoustic settings and various theatrical projects. He is also a member of the trio MURAL along with Jim Denley and Ingar Zach. On this occasion the unique Trondheim Jazz Orchestra is entirely acoustic, and is formed of 11 musicians with backgrounds in jazz, improvisational music and contemporary music who come from Norway, Wales and Australia, all of whom were hand-picked by Kim. Most of them also played on Kim’s previous work with the orchestra and vocalist Sidsel Endresen in 2009: “Stems and Cages”, a work that astounded both audiences and critics at its premiere in Molde Cathedral during the Molde Jazz Festival. A critic from Norwegian radio’s P2 called the concert “surprising, compelling” and “totally ground-breaking” (Jazznytt). In the past few years Jenny Hval has had an international breakthrough with the albums “Apocalypse, girl” (Sacred Bones) in 2015 and “Innocence is Kinky” in 2013 (Rune Grammofon), the latter produced by John Parish. She has collaborated with Jessica Sligter, as well as with Håvard Volden on the project Nude on Sand, with its eponymous album, in 2012 (SOFA). She has also written a commissioned work together with Jessica Sligter. “Meshes of a Voice” (SusannaSonata), which she recorded with Susanna, was awarded a Spellemannspris (Norwegian Grammy) in 2015. In 2009 she published the novel “Perlebryggeriet”. The album is being released as a CD, DL and a 2LP (45 rpm) with printed inner sleeves.