amusingmusings on Jenny Hval’s ‘The Practice of Love’

amusingmusings is a feature from Counterzine contributor, Secat, that riffs and digresses on recent, exciting releases in music, games, television, movies, and more. Today’s amusingmusings covers the latest album from Jenny Hval, ‘The Practice of Love,’ released on September 13th.

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*a small PIG comes ambling down the road.

pig: dum dee dum dee dum

pig: *trot* *trot* *trot*

pig: what a nice day it is, to be an animal without much in the way of concerns or living expenses

*the PIG oinks in surprise as it comes across a LONE FIGURE sitting crosslegged in the middle of the road.

pig: oh goodness! You gave me a fright!

*the LONE FIGURE chuckles.

???: he heh…. The only Frightening thing here.. is how Frighteningly good.. the latest album from JENNY HVAL is..

*the LONE FIGURE raises their head: it’s SECAT!!

>APPLAUSE<

*the PIG’s teeth [author’s note: do pigs have teeth??] begin to chatter violently.

pig: are you that frightening monster I’ve heard about?.. The one who snatches up poor little woodland creatures like me and forces them to listen to their opinions on music and games?…

secat: the very same, heheh.. >:3

pig: oh dear.. I’m going to be late for teatime with Mr. Owl and Mrs. Badger…

secat: ugh! how TWEE

secat: what I have to say is FAR more interesting than THAT.

secat: look. Why don’t you listen to me talk about “The Practice of Love” by Jenny Hval for a minute or three, and then you can go to tea.

pig: y..you won’t eat me, then..?

secat: yuck! Of course not. Goodness sakes

[author’s note: after some very cursory googling I have found that pigs have something called NEEDLE TEETH. That’s a little spooky sounding..]

secat: so anyways about the album. The album by Jenny Hval. “The Practice of Love” by Jenny Hval. It came out on the very same day as (Sandy) Alex G’s “House of Sugar” [read my thoughts on that here] and I think it has had much more staying power for me; and, conversely, is a little tougher to write about, because I think it means a lot more to me and has sunk deeper into my soul.

pig: what exactly is a “SOUL”?

secat: easy! A soul is the little warm spot at the center of your chest that you can feel late at night when you’re the only one awake

pig: oh! Of course..

secat: a soul is one of the best organs with which to appreciate music, next to the ears. Jenny Hval’s is very finely tuned and resonant, I believe. Her work is saturated with the kind of affecting, genuine artistry that is only developed through patience and deep intentionality.

pig: mm.. I’m very sorry, but I don’t know a lot of those words..

secat: oh! well, what I’m trying to say is that the music is good. Do you listen to music, little pig?

pig: of course! Sometimes Mr. Tomcat plays the fiddle while all us woodland creatures dance and sing in the field under the light of the full moon.. Mrs. Badger serves everyone warm milk.. Just a nice little get together

secat: argh your life is the most impossibly “Wind in the Willows”-ass shit my GOD

secat: can I hang out with you guys sometime

pig: no humans allowed! Sorry

secat: ah.. that’s fair…

pig: don’t look so sad! Tell me more about the music thing please

secat: of course..

secat: The songs on “The Practice of Love” are made up of pure trance throwback four-on-the-floor starlight, pulsating with deep cavernous thwobby synths, with jenny hval’s wonderfully versatile, shimmering voice floating calmly over top, singing about love, life, death, sorrow, forgetting, remembering (“Lions”)..

pig: what does “thwobby” mean?

secat: oh! That it THWOBS.. Like this.

*SECAT makes a nice bassy croaking noise with their mouth.

pig: OK!

*The PIG smiles.

secat: What a nice pig you are.

secat: The record is constantly playing with the transcendental; its beauty edges me toward a place out of time and fear..

secat: in particular, on my first listen, I was absolutely hypnotized by the title track, a fascinating collage of vulnerable, intimate dialogue; you could certainly argue that a spoken-word interlude like this affects the replay value of the work as a whole, but, personally, I haven’t grown tired of it yet; and I don’t think I will anytime soon.

secat: and consider, pig, the song “Ashes to Ashes”; one of my absolute favorite songs of the year. Music’s effect is so difficult to communicate sometimes; how do you turn the sound into words? A strange kind of alchemy, little pig..

secat: But when I hear “Ashes to Ashes,” I think of the saddest thing in the world.

pig: ohh 🙁 what would that be?..

secat: My mother really enjoys this song: it was playing on the stereo at my parents’ house, and her eyes were closed, and she was singing along:

Ashes to ashes,

Dust to dust..

secat: her eyes were closed, and she was fully in the moment, her head was swaying; and then my father called her name from the kitchen. and her eyes flashed open and I saw a kind of light leaving them. She was ripped right out of a moment of such bliss. Isn’t that sad?

pig: it makes me think of the moon.

secat: hmm?

pig: well! The moon is new, and then it’s full: and how beautiful that fullness is; but the fullness has to disappear, right? It has to pass on. Because that’s how things have to be. Every state is a phase; transition defines existence..

secat: goodness!

pig: and I think that’s part of what your album is talking about.. right? Love and its.. ehm.. qualities of .. transitioning.. what’s a word..

secat: its ephemerality. The ephemerality of everything. Dust to dust.

pig: there it is!

secat: oh! you woodland creatures and your pithy little quotes! How come you all talk like Winnie the pooh

pig: oh.. sorry.. it’s just how animals learn to communicate.. you know?

secat: yeah.. I get it. Here. I have a wonderful thing I want us both to listen to. Will you listen to it with me?

pig: ah, well.. but, I’m already late for teatime..

secat: please?

pig: yes, yes.. for a little while, I’ll listen.

*In the waning afternoon sky there echo the sounds of oinking and “The Practice of Love” and tears and laughter.

***

Secat is a musician and writer based in Houston, Texas. To see more of their work, you can follow them on Twitter (@secatsecat) or check out their personal blog at secatsecat.home.blog.

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