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Kim Myhr & Jenny Hval / Trondheim Jazz Orchestra: In The End His Voice Will Be The Sound Of Paper


 
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Norwegian release date: 26.02.2016.
 
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.
 
Together, Kim and Jenny have created the music that became the work “In the End His Voice Will Be the Sound of Paper” – a title that materialised during a conversation about Bob Dylan’s aging voice. The work premiered at the Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival in 2012, and was then described as a musical combination of improvisation, contemporary Feldmanian music, pop and the spoken word. The form of the music is fascinating – like a wind that suddenly arises and builds up a song before vanishing again just as swiftly and naturally. The album version was recorded at Rainbow Studio in Oslo in August 2014, and was later mixed at Amper Tone Studio with technician Jonny Skalleberg. This is powerful music that has the necessary backbone and is eloquently moving at the same time. This is music that richly rewards the listener who can focus keenly on it.
 
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.”
 
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.
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Reviews:

  1. Der norwegische Gitarrist, Improvisator und Komponist Kim Myhr (Mural, Silencers, Muringa) hat für seinen zweite Zusammenarbeit mit dem Trondheim Jazz Orchestra zusätzlich die Sängerin, Komponistin und Autorin Jenny Hval beteiligt. Das 13-köpfige Ensemble ist mit Bläsern, Streichern und Perkussionisten breit instrumentiert und erarbeitet auf »In The End His Voice Will Be The Sound Of Paper« gemeinsam die melancholisch ätherischen Kompositionen von Kim Myhr und Jenny Hval irgendwo zwischen Improvisation, zeitgenössischer Morton Feldman-Musik, Pop und Spoken Word. Kim Myhr beschränkt sich hier auf seine akustische Gitarre, sodass ausschließlich unverstärktes und nicht-elektronisches Instrumentarium zum Einsatz kommt. Die improvisierten Kompositionen wurden rasch und intuitiv erstellt, was der Musik trotz aller Abstraktheit stets eine gewisse schwebende Leichtigkeit verleiht. Nicht nur durch die romantischen Texte und den zerbrechlich klaren Gesang Jenny Hvals besticht die Musik zudem durch eine stets im Vordergrund stehende Emotionalität und Wärme mal zart und knapp über der Hörschwelle und dann wieder kraftvoll, disharmonisch und präsent.
    - HHV Mag (DE) 7/10

  2. The album opens with a delicate lullaby, “Seed.” With its tingling percussion, whispered vocals, vamping background instrumentation (synth, accordion), and no-hurry-no-worry method, “Seed” prepares you for the world of Paper with little more than a short breath of sound. “Me, You, Me, You,” begins with the sounds of non-committal pipes blowing over briskly plucked strings, and eventually, a high-pitched whistle is introduced as Hval’s voice peaks, conspicuously traveling with adept skill through the grand highs and lows of her range. The song finally climaxes in a sweep of classical guitar flourishes and ultimately falls apart into small murmurs from each contributing instrument. “The Beak” is the perfect mixture between the intimate acoustic sounds of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago and the purposefully dissonant singing of Yoko Ono’s early avant-garde work; it’s quite easily my favorite track. If there is a single song that is built solely on its ability to transform and surprise, it is “Mass.” In adherence to its religiously leaned title, “Mass” features monastery chanting and an overall reverent tone until a frantic strumming and ecstatic vamping begin, turning the song on its head to form a black mass right before the listener. The frenzy lasts nearly eight minutes, each moment testing the fortitude of the common listener and rewarding the adept. The album closes with “Silence a Beat,” a song not entirely dissimilar to “Seed.” In relation to one another, they act as polite bookends to a rather rambunctious book. What better way to say hello and goodbye than in a whisper? All in all, Paper is not an album for the lighthearted—but the best albums never are. It is a work for the jaded wanderer, for rainy skies, for the late nights of uncertainty, for the disconnected and alone. In skill and scope, it is masterful. The recording is intimate and alluring, haunting and fearsome—a grotesquely beautiful paradox of sound, pleasing to the last.
    - Slug Magazine, Z. Smith (US)

  3. There’s nothing particularly jazzy about Trondheim Jazz Orchestra’s new album with Kim Myhr and Jenny Hval, but it’s an arresting piece of work, setting the latter’s eerie and sensual vocals against chilly strings and the creepy spindles of Rhodri Davies’ harp. On ‘The Beak’ a single-note piano figures pecks its way out of a bass absyss and holds its nerve through folk song fragments and thickets of metal percussion. ‘Mass’ builds powerfully over a minimalist 12-string guitar loop, Hval’s soprano a tiny human presence holding out against a looming terror that is never fully revealed.
    - The Quietus, Stewart Smith (UK)

  4. On this album, whose title was kinda carved out throughout a conversation about Bob Dylan’s aging voice as a side note, we see the vary-membered orchestra acting out on a fully acoustic tip, rolling out an intimate and folksy – or at least Folk (Not Folk)-related -, relatively fragile and in parts even romantic background on which Jenny Hval’s incredible, natural voice unfolds like a silky sheet of well-being, safety and ancient comfort that even keeps one’s heart protected from imminent threats implied by the dark, danger-announcing sequences of the nervous, climaxing crescendoes of Folk vs. marching drums vs. hammering piano clash to be found in the mid-album song named “The Beak”. The following “Mass” provides a buzzing, lively attitude as well like a swarm of thousand butterflies which is occasionally, than more regularly disturbed by black birds hunting for prey, causing perpetual dissonance throughout the final third of this nearly 8 minute journey whilst tunes like “Even The Vowels” bring back a more comforting atmosphere despite the string section is purposely slightly out of tune, getting down to the absolute stripped core essence of what makes a song based on slowly spreading riverbeds of violas and additional plucked guitar and / or harp strings before the concluding “Silence A Beat” waves the listener goodbye in a most intimate way, that makes you think of wide, storm-battered highlands for a reason. Fragile, possibly even slightly medieval, yet intense music.
    - Liquid Sky Berlin (DE)

  5. Trondheim Jazz Orchestra has existed since 2000, from 2004 onwards releasing about twenty albums, predominantly collaborations with fellow Norwegians as well as distinguished overseas musicians, including Chick Corea and Joshua Redman. With considerably fewer members than Fire! Orchestra, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra does not include as many brass and reeds players and so does not pack the same punch. Instead, it features more instruments such as acoustic guitar, harp, harmonium and percussion that can be deployed to subtly add coloration to the ensemble’s soundscape. Kim Myhr first collaborated with the orchestra in 2009, at the Molde International Jazz Festival, the results being released on Stems and Cages (MNJ Records, 2010). When he had the opportunity to work with the orchestra this second time, he invited vocalist Jenny Hval to join him, having known her for several years. Myhr frequently works with improvisation, as exemplified by his recording Tempo with the trio Mural, one of 2015′s highlights. (Incidentally, Mural’s saxophonist, Jim Denley, is also a member of Trondheim Jazz Orchestra.) For In the End His Voice Will Be the Sound of Paper, Myhr gave Hval a lot of sketches and music. She then wrote the melody and lyrics, and they improvised; they both wanted the process to be quick and intuitive. The end results amply demonstrate the success of their working methods. Across eight tracks, ranging in length from three-and-three-quarter minutes to just under eight minutes, Hval’s delicately expressive voice is perfectly framed by the understated accompaniment of the orchestra. Most importantly, her voice is never overwhelmed or lost, so her every utterance and nuance is heard clearly. The end results make compelling, riveting listening and are a credit to all concerned.
    - Allaboutjazz.com, John Eyles (UK)

  6. With Dad-meets-Burroughs cut-up title, this was never going to be a sparkly pop moment. Hubro Records are a reliably offbeat entity, the cover art here, as so often, a simple snapshot representing the majesty of their native Norway. Jazz and experimental is their thing, and this album, on double vinyl with lyric inner sleeves, veers towards the latter, as improvisational composer Kim Myhr has the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra lay out rustling, off-key, string-led sound beds, with the singer Jenny Hval whisper-singing over the top.
    - The Arts Desk (UK)

  7. Apparently the title of this remarkable, semi-improvised, acoustic disc emerged from a conversation about Bob Dylan´s ageing voice. By contrast, Jenny Hval – the Nordic indie artist responsible for the no less remarkable throbbing, plugged-in art-pop album Innocence Is Kinky (2013) – has a voice that can whisper, shriek and hit all manner of notes that ol´Bob struggles even to dream of these days: she might be Björk on “Me, You, Me, You”. The work, initiated by experimental composer-guitarist Kim Myhr, was premiered at the Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival in 2012, when it was described as a “combination of improvisation, Feldmanian music, pop and spoken word”. The eight songs grow from airy inchoate first promptings, build to a climax, then mysteriously vanish again, like a series of fantastical, sometimes alarming (“Mass”) daydreams. Hval adds words of longing to give emotional depths and resonance to Myhr and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra´s more abstract ruminations.
    - Jazzwise, Robert Shore (UK)

  8. Som en musikens renässanskonstnär rör sig det löst sammansatta kollektivet Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, TJO, över skiftande kreativa fält. Kompositoriska och arrangörsmässiga uppdrag har givits såväl inhemska musiker som Marius Neset, Christian Wallumrød och Eirik Hegdahl som de internationella stjärnorna Joshua Redman och Chick Corea. Orkestern har skickligt mött upp och levererat vad som krävs och lite till. En möjligheternas oas skulle man kunna kalla det, där större idéer kan bearbetas och genomföras. Inte helt olikt Radiojazzgruppen som vi hade här i Sverige och som hade en sådan stor betydelse för att utveckla jazzmusiken. Det här är andra gången TJO samarbetar med gitarristen Kim Myhr, den här gången bjöd han i sin tur in sångerskan och textmakerskan Jenny Hval. Ett smått genialt beslut. De båda tar med sig olika uttryck som glider in i och befruktar varandra. Jenny Hvals visk- och pratsjungande sång som på något märkligt sätt lyckas binda samman poetisk ömtålighet med attityd samt Kim Myhrs utmärkta blandning av minimalism, americana, glittrande arpeggion och fria improvisationer som sniffar uppskattande på konstmusiken via den tiosträngade gitarren. I denna blandning som känns helt naturlig finns pop som ett avgörande inslag, men den möts av en värld av små abstrakta ljud från den månghövdade orkestern. Droner dyker upp, rytmiska mönster upprepas, melodier med sång kommer fram. Stämningen må vara mörk men man blir upprymd.
    - Orkesterjournalen (SE)

  9. Gerade mal 3 Monate nach Veröffentlichung Ihres letzten Werkes kommt das Trondheim Jazz Orchestra bereits mit der nächsten monumentalen Zusammenarbeit. Dieses Mal hat sich das vielköpfige Unternehmen den Gitaristen Kim Myhr dazu geholt, welcher dann gleich noch die Sängerin Jenny Hval mitgebracht hat. Und das Ergebnis sind 8 Stücke, die sich eigentlich jeder Kategorisierung entziehen. Die Musik, die von den Musikern geboten wird bewegt sich Anfangs (die ersten beiden Stücke) noch nah an Jazz vermischt mit folkigen Klängen. Für den poppigen und auch irgendwie Neofolkigen Touch sorgt auch vor allem die hohe Stimme Hval´s die itgendwo zwischen verträumten Gesang und Sprechgesang wandelt, relative nuancenlos ist und eben so genau die sich ständig wandelnde Musik perfekt ergänzt. Im weiteren Verlauf verwandelt sich die Musik immer mehr in Postjazz und, ja Contemporary Music mit Melodie und Gesang. Sowas gibt es niht? Möglich, doch ab diesem Album gibt es das. Melodien erklingen, dann fallen die Instrumente in typische Contemporary Klänge über denen die Stimme schwebt. Oder die Stimme bleibt mal aus, die Instruemnte ergehen sich in reinem Contemporary Sound und entwickeln sich dann in eine Post Rock / Jazz Richtung und als nächstes folgt ein Stück voll geheimnisvoll melodiösem Gesang, über den akustische Gitarren den immer gleich knarzenden Akkord spielen. Darüber knarzen, knacken, klingen die anderen Instrumente und buen das Stück so immer weiter auf. An einer Stelle erinnert man sich an Talk Talk zu Spirit of Eden Zeiten, im nächsten an Zeitkratzers Soundexperimenten. Und all diesen Sound, diese Experimente bringen die Musiker in wirklichen Songs unter! Kein Stück überschreitet die 7 Minuten Grenze und alle Stücke entwickeln Melodien und Klänge, die nicht nur durch die Wucht des Klanges, sondern tatsächlich als wunderbare Songs überzeugen. Ein trotz aller auftauchender Soundgewalt im innersten und auch über weite Strecken an der Oberfläche zu
    tiefst zerbrechliches Werk.
    - Musik an Sich (DE)

  10. While listening to this lovely release, the result of a collaboration between inventive improviser, performer and guitarist Kim Myhr and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, where Kim himself invited Jenny Hval to borrow her eerie vocals, you could guess they used they made a wrong gender agreement in the use of possessive adjective due to the significant part played by a voice that enchanted many listeners all over the world in critically acclaimed albums such as “Apocalypse, girl” (2015, Sacred Bones) and “Innocence is Kinky” (2013, Rune Grammofon) as well as in many different collaborative projects (particularly the ones with Jessica Sligter and Håvard Volden – Nude on Sand -). In reality the title “In the End His Voice Will Be The Sound of Paper”, which could have no real connection to what you’re going to listen and has no reference to the way of speaking/singing by Jenny, got inspired by a conversation about the aging of Bob Dylan’s voice. Jenny’s voice got astonishingly colour-changing over the wisely crafted atmospheres of the album: the 12 chords of Kim’s guitar and other instrumental elements – Christian Wallumrod’s piano, Tor Haugerud’s drums and Morten Olsen’s percussions above all – sound like rendering the intricate web of tree’s branches of a dense woodland in tracks like the opening “Seed” or the entrancing “The Beak”, where Jenny’s voice sound like flying as a blind bird; she could vaguely resemble the languid and somehow sorrowful intensity by Beth Gibbons over some moments of “Something New”; she sings like an invisible nymph on songs like the gently trembling “Soft As Tongues” or the lovely final elegy of “Silence a Beat”.
    - Chain DLK (IT)