Norway’s perhaps most versatile, prolific and idiosyncratic young artist has just released a new album and played an explosive masterclass/masterclash concert with Paal Nilssen-Love at Oslo’s Øya festival.
Very few artists achieve in a lifetime what Hiorthøy has already done at the age of 35. His art, which includes drawing, film, literature and music, is of such eccentric and unpredictable yet always recognizable character that his name has come to represent a descriptive adjective; the term “Hiorthøyian” has come to signify something uniquely innovative, illusionary and naïve, with a probing quality of direct wonder.
First known for his album covers, which have given to numerous Norwegian releases a tinge of conundrum, he surprised many when he turned to music and instantly made it obvious that his take on this language and his artistic visions were to add something truly novel and magnificent to the realm of electronica. His 2001 debut “Hei” (Smalltown Supersound) soon reached out far beyond Norway’s borders with its cut-and-paste, category despising and restless small-scale wonder. Seven more releases, four of them albums, have followed in a consistent flow from this elusive but remarkably prolific mind. And now his latest record, “My last day”, has just been released, once again by the label of ever impressive artistic “fingerspitzengefühl” Smalltown Supersound.
Norwegian critics hail it as a masterpiece manifesting a weird, almost quantum mechanical ability to be “far out” and utterly “in”, i.e. intimate and profound, at the same time.
That it’s unpredictable is almost a matter of course, and further descriptions emphasize on the illusionary properties; a complex of gestalt switches that take the listener in and out of an intricate weave of moods: naïve to the point of annoying non-music –in some ears- but simultaneously strangely insisting and careening down paths of great beauty and unassuming illumination. The record, available in Norway and on the web now, will see its international release in November (6th.)
Last night Hiorthøy played a special concert at the Øya festival in a sort of showdown/collaboration with renowned impro/free- jazz drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. For the fans of truly challenging rythm-driven and whimsical music it was an event subject to great expectations, and the festival had advertised it, rightfully, as the meeting of two artistic masterminds.
The daily Aftenposten's critic calls the concert a terrific battle of organic and electronic beats, with Hiorthøy's simple-great songs as the battleground.