Hanne Hukkelberg Rykestrasse 68 Review

Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Chandelier, kettle, typewriter, bicycle wheel and assorted kitchen utensils are all...

Martin Longley 2007

Hanne Hukkelberg grew up in Kongsberg, in Norway, but eventually ended up in Oslo. Her second album maintains a steadfast individuality, expanding and developing the line that began with 2005's Little Things.

Hukkelberg releases the charms inside her toybox, her delicate voice alighting on a complementarily delicate instrumental latticework. Space is used wisely. In fact, given the massive multi-instrumentalist nature of all the players involved, the album's final sound remains surprisingly minimalist. On the opening "Berlin", Hukkelberg's waif-like vocals are heard solely against a chiming glockenspiel and a diligent bass plod. She enjoys using percussion cycles crafted out of sampled trinkets, much in the manner of Matthew Herbert. Chandelier, kettle, typewriter, bicycle wheel and assorted kitchen utensils are all fodder for sonic manipulation. More predictably, she plays the accordion, guitar, piano, flute, banjo and celeste. Hukkelberg's extended ensemble also features players from Jaga Jazzist and Shining.

On "Berlin", Hanne's voice cuts to a completely a capella interlude; it’s a courageously stark track to use as an opener. The album's titled after an avenue where Hukkelberg lived for six months, and Berlin was indeed its location. Curiously, though, in reality Rykestraße has no number 68. "Fourteen" is a dramatic playlet, full of criss-crossing voices and theremin sound effects, like a quaint 1940s bewitchment. "The Northwind" might begin with the emptiness of typewriter clicking, but it soon builds into a grandiose release of bombastic sound and emotion.

Other highlights include "Break My Body", by The Pixies, sharply followed by "Ticking Bomb", which deals with the final moments of a suicidal terrorist, incongruously developing into a Parisian cafe stomp. Throughout the whole album faint fragments of jazz are discernible, and Hanne's early years did actually involve experience with such syncopated ensembles. Yet all this, combined with the Norwegians tendency to adopt a curious variation on the North American accent, makes Rykestraße 68 all rather sweet.

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