Hanne Hukkelberg
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Hanne Hukkelberg

Oslo, Oslo County, Norway | INDIE

Oslo, Oslo County, Norway | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock


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"Norwegian singer-songwriter follows her mosaic of intimate jazz and fractured pop miniatures with an album that's both grander and infused with more emotional turbulence."

Hanne Hukkelberg
Rykestrasse 68
[Propeller; 2006]
Rating: 7.6

Little Things, the debut album by Norwegian singer-songwriter Hanne Hukkelberg, was an endearing mosaic of intimate jazz and fractured pop miniatures, its sonic fragments meticulously gathered and assembled over the course of two years. Following the album's release, Hukkelberg relocated for a time to Berlin, where she wrote much of the material that would become her second full-length, Rykestrasse 68. Judging by the results, this was a shrewd artistic move, as here the self-assured Hukkelberg expands her work out onto a grander cinematic scale, casting her new songs with a vivid depth of field worthy of a Nino Rota film score. And though the album is cultivated with the same melodic delicacy as her debut, nearly all of her songs here are undercut by cross-currents of emotional turbulence, their every polished facet barely concealing the music's inward conflicts and hidden turmoil.

This quiet dissonance is immediately evident on the introductory "Berlin". Framed as a romantic street scene, Hukkelberg's narrator soon finds her attention turned to "my neighbor's balcony/ Old bullet holes/ Behind wild botany." As with Little Things, Hukkelberg recorded Rykestrasse 68 with the assistance of veteran producer Kåre Vestrheim. For this opening track they weave ambient street recordings almost invisibly into their subtle mix of strings and woodwinds, making it feel as though the song were simply an organic outgrowth of the city's vibrant and scarred landscape, with Hukkelberg's honeyed voice settled casually inside the din.

On Little Things, Hukkelberg incorporated such stray objects as wire brushes and bicycle spokes into her dense arrangements, but in some instances these found sounds were processed beyond recognition, slipping anonymously into the album's crowded sidewalks. Here, however, she makes more strategic use of these supplemental ingredients, allowing each additional sound effect or exotic instrumental flourish to retain a natural form and figure, ensuring for their maximum dramatic impact. For the existential narrative "The Pirate" ("A dive into infinity/ The rocks pull him down") Hukkelberg's woozy blend of accordion, sing saw, and piano effectively mirror the downcast lyrics with an appropriate seasick lurch, while the atmospheric fable "The North Wind" is deftly augmented by clacking typewriter keys and shimmering wine-glass glissandos.

As a vocalist, Hukkelberg is at her cagey best on the deceptively sunny likes of "A Cheater's Armoury", the album's first single. One can't help but detect the shadow of a bitter smile across her lips as she dresses down the song's seductive villain ("You gamester/ You fool us/ We watch your spinning wheel/ And the longer it takes for us to heal") purposefully leaving it unclear whether she's addressing a failed lover, friend, or political leader. Likewise, her dusky cover of Pixies' "Break My Body" simmers fiercely beneath its cryptic wounds, her deliberate, jazz-inflected enunciation giving new intensity to the song's abstracted violence. Less abstract-- yet even more compelling-- is the album's penultimate track, "Ticking Bomb", which translates a dense code of psychic distress across a shifting canvas of agitated piano, ad-hoc Mule Variations percussion, and smashed beer bottles. It's an astonishing performance, one that might've seemed more likely from someone like PJ Harvey than from the pristine songstress of Little Things. But here, as with all the best pieces from Rykestrasse 68, Hukkelberg proves willing to allow a little discord to into her carefully orchestrated surroundings, and her captivating work is all the richer for it.

-Matthew Murphy, October 26, 2006 - www.pitchforkmedia.com

"Breezy, jazzy electronic pop painstakingly arranged by Hukkelberg and Shining producer Kåre Vestrheim."

Hanne Hukkelberg
Little Things
[Leaf; 2005]
Rating: 7.2

After first glance at a partial list of the instruments and found objects used by Hanne Hukkelberg to create her debut album Little Things-- a catalog that includes banjos, accordions, bottlebrushes, bicycle spokes, fiddles, glockenspiel-- you might find yourself bracing for an unruly, discordant mess. Put to practice, however, this homespun assortment of minute individual sound particles is assembled into an astonishingly seamless mosaic over which Hukkelberg crafts her breezily jazzy electronic pop-- the resulting effect of which is something like watching an artisan build a functional wristwatch out of spun glass and raw sugar cane.
Little Things was painstakingly arranged and recorded over the course of two years by the 26-year-old Hukkelberg and producer Kåre Vestrheim, who also helmed Shining's In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster. But despite its meticulous construction, upon casual listen the album can appear to be almost formlessly wispy. Hukkelberg's sparkling, effortlessly likable vocals evoke those of a carefree Lisa Germano, or perhaps a frostier, more tranquil Solex; and draw immediate (if somewhat predictable) comparison to her fellow Norwegians Susanna and the Magical Orchestra. With each song tightly-fitted with miniature, agile machinery, Little Things is an album that best rewards close, undistracted attention, its every delicate tendril capable of sprouting a blossom.

Quietly lapping water and gentle strains of Hawaiian pedal steel accompany "Cast Anchor", while Hukkelberg celebrates "not the urge to go somewhere else/ not the urge to blow away/ but the urge for stand still." On "Little Girl" she incorporates playful carnival textures, with jaunty banjo and tuba dovetailing-- perhaps even a bit too pristinely-- into dreamy meadows of ambient electronics.

Featuring contributions from various members of Norwegian acts like Shining, Jaga Jazzist, and Kaada, the jazz-inflected playing on Little Things is stellar throughout; although you may wish Hukkelberg and Vestrheim had occasionally allowed things to become more unbuttoned. The woozy Dixieland touches on "Displaced" are about as raucous as the album ever gets, though tracks like "True Love" and "Koeft" do contain some pleasantly chewy bits of languid woodwinds, jazzy guitar and diced Monkish piano.

As a songwriter Hukkelberg proves unafraid to do a little strenuous legwork, typically bypassing the easy chorus or turn of phrase in favor of thornier, gradually unwinding melodicism. In so doing, it might seem that she leaves some tantalizingly ripe hooks on the vine on such tracks as the Joni Mitchell-like "Do Not as I Do" or the blissful, strolling-accordion closer "Boble". Instead she has chosen to gather a harvest more distinctively and peculiarly her own, a decision that sounds more sensible with each subsequent listen.

-Matthew Murphy, June 28, 2005

- www.pitchforkmedia.com

"Praise for Little Things"

Praise for Little Things

“Little Things demands to be heard and cherished for its audacious beauty.” ***** (five stars) - The Sunday Times

“Enchanting debut... equal parts Stina Nordenstam and Nina Simone. Fans of CocoRosie take note.” **** (four stars) - Uncut

“Hukkelberg's soothing and emotive voice… threads into a universe that we defy you to label. Gloriously leftfield and strangely intimate.” **** (four stars) - DJ

“The best instrument of all is Hanne's voice... a Northern light shining bright.” **** (four stars) - The Sun

“Staggeringly original and brimming with unusual charm.” 8/10 - Rock Sound

“Alternately as big as a dream and as intimate as a whisper.” **** (four stars) - iDJ

“Warm whispers seem to dance in the air and the meaning of music is revealed….subtle and moving.” *** (three stars) - Observer Music Monthly

“Makes you think of Björk's little sister, stoned and let loose in the Early Learning Centre.” - N.M.E.

"It's a perfect accompaniment for hamsters to fall in love to, or for little boys to look up the skirts of happy little girls" - Plan B

“Altogether a wonderful debut album.” - Straight No Chaser

"'windswept eccentric pop meets dusty jazz' doesn't do its weirdly bubbling delights justice" - The Telegraph

“Very clever and very pretty - moments of real loveliness" - Word

"Little Things is rooted in the strength of an extraordinary ordinariness and that's what makes Hukkelberg's album so compelling.” - The Wire
- various

"Rykestrasse 68"

Hanne Hukkelberg, Rykestrasse 68

John L Walters Friday March 30, 2007 The Guardian

ITunes classifies this album as "unclassifiable", but that's not fair to potential listeners, or to Hukkelberg. Rykestrasse 68, inspired by Berlin (where the Norwegian singer-songwriter lived for a while), is a very accessible collection of finely crafted pop songs. True, the unpredictable treatments cover a broad range of styles, from the sparse fragments of the title track to the banjo-Bach of Ticking Bomb; from the jazzy, catchy A Cheater's Armoury to the lush sweep of the Pixies' Break My Body, the album's sole cover. The instrumental credits include an amplified egg slicer, Remington 20 typewriter (on The North Wind - wonderful), trash can and "tea strainer guitar". All the carefully recorded clicks, ticks and sprongs enhance Hukkelberg's enchanted sound world. And as for her beautifully judged vocals, ignore those comparisons to Joanna Newsom or Björk. Rykestrasse 68 puts Hukkelberg way ahead of both. - http://www.guardian.co.uk

"The Guardian - Rykestrasse 68"

“All the carefully recorded clicks, ticks and sprongs enhance Hukkelberg’s enchanted sound world. And as for her beautifully judged vocals, ignore those comparisons to Joanna Newsome or Björk. Rykestrasse 68 puts Hukkelberg way ahead of both.”
**** - The Guardian

"Uncut - Rykestrasse 68"

“Hanne’s debut was a slow burner that gradually revealed itself as one of the best of the year . Her follow up is more immediate and may be better still: a seductive song suite based around six months in Berlin, all wound around inventive, meandering detailed arrangements and Hukkelberg’s delicately powerful voice, midway between Cat Power and Radka Toneff"
**** - Uncut

"Pop CD of the week"

I was just finishing a sentence saying that Rykestrasse 68 was a good album to fall asleep to – I meant it as a compliment, something about how warm and soothing and restful Hukkelberg’s voice is – when the lyrics of The Pirate finally, after many listens, made themselves clear. It’s a song about a man getting on a boat accompanied only by some alcohol, some little white pills and a firm intention to “dive into infinity, eternity, God’s haven”. So, a good album to fall asleep to, then. Just make sure you wake up. When you do, you can enjoy A Cheater’s Armoury, which swings with the cool sassiness of early Rickie Lee Jones, or Hukkelberg’s masterful, Björk-ish reinterpretation (“cover” hardly does it justice) of the Pixies’ Break My Body. Hukkelberg’s music has toughened up a little since her debut, Little Things, but lost none of its intimate beauty..”
Pop CD of the week
**** - The Sunday Times

"Quotes - Rykestrasse 68"

“Found sounds, typewriters, vintage instruments, yodels, scats and proper songs leap across genres like a pianist trying to keep up wth a Keystone Kops movie. Unusually everything creates the illysion of making pop sense. Wierdly thrilling”
The Independent On Sunday

"'An effortlessly impressive album. A glittering delight"
The Irish Times

“The whole album is nothing short of brilliant.”

“Worthy of soundtracking a movie like Belleville Rendezvous”
Time Out

“A bewitching musical patchwork best experienced after dark”

"Hanne’s vocal is the sweetest, most charming and intimate vocal around. Rykestrasse 68 is experimental, a little bit crazy in parts but absolutely stunning. Perfect springtime listening"
The Crack

“There are certain things that take your breath away - jumping into a frozen lake; a last-gasp equalizer in a cup final; being squeezed around the waist by a sumo wrestler; and listening to Rykestrasse 68 is one of those experiences. alebeit a 45-minute long, gradual jaw drop..”
The Stool Pigeon

Hukkelberg’s luxuriant, lazy vocals are like a seductive siren song, compelling you to delve into her world. Trying to grasp Hukkelberg’s intensly personal songs is like following a mischievous child around in a maze of mirrors: illusory, elusive and lots of fun.”

“The whole album’s great - eerie, stark, pretty and dark.”
Bizarre - The Irish Times, Time Out + +


Blood From a Stone -- 2009
Rykestrasse 68 - 2006 (Europe/Australia 2007 - N.America 2008)
Little Things - 2004 (Europe 2005)
Cast Anchor EP - 2003 (Europe 2005)



Norwegian singer Hanne Hukkelberg's 2005 debut album Little Things was an impression of life in Oslo, notable for its imaginative use of found sounds and eclectic array of instrumentation. Her elfin but idiosyncratic persona coupled with a lazily seductive voice drew comparisons to everyone from Nina Simone, Joanna Newsome, Bjørk and to Radiohead and Billie Holliday.

Her sophomore album Rykestrasse 68, her first since signing to Canadian label Nettwerk, is a tribute to the six months she spent living in Berlin and is far less whimsical, with a moodier, more widescreen production. Like her debut, it was produced by Kåre Vestrheim at Propeller Studios in Oslo and features contributions from the cream of the Norwegian music scene, including members of Jaga Jazzist, Mari Boine band, Dinosau and Shining.

After concluding a successful string of live shows in Europe and USA in the spring of 2008, she got invited by director Andrew Adamson to contribute a song to the Narnia: Prince Caspian soundtrack and DVD. Her song, Lucy, captures the mood and mystery of the C.S. Lewis story.

Hanne’s third album, Blood From a Stone, will be released world wide in April 2009. On this album Hanne takes yet again a big step in a new direction.

2009 will be an active year for Hanne. She will be touring Europe and North America in the spring, and will then be playing various festivals in the summer. In the fall she will again take to the road and cover areas she did not cover in the spring.

Hukkelberg started singing and playing instruments in her home town of Kongsberg, Norway at the age of 3 and later played in various rock, jazz and free jazz bands including a high school doom metal band called Funeral. A graduate of the Norwegian Academy of Music, she has also gained a reputation as a powerful live performer, her shows full of typically Scandinavian absurdist humour.