Norwegian songstress Hanne Kolsto is releasing her fourth album in as many years, the mesmerizing Forever Maybe. The 10 song collection of glacial synth pop finds the musical trapeze artist again swinging high above the musical world performing various vocal twirls and spins. Kolsto has been compared to Lykke Li and Nicki and the Dove, but with more underlying uneasiness. Hanne is a confident musician who has two prior Norwegian Grammy nominations to her credit, a hyperactive songwriter whose goal is to release five albums in five years. Her last album Stillness and Panic received excellent reviews and much deserved notice. She is scheduled to play SXSW in 2015.
Forever Maybe was produced by Oyvind Rosrud Gundersen and Kolsto. Morton Martens collaborated with Hanne as a backup musician and producer. He is best know for his work with Thelma and Clyde, and produced Love:Fi and POST with Kolsto. The songs on Forever Maybe are ambitious and come across like she is working with a musical army. The intuitive sense of melodies lures you into her world of dark personal lyrics and flourishes of creativity.
The first track BlankO provides an enervating soundscape with Kolsto’s icy vocal floating over top. It is a fusion of both techno and pop, and reminds me of Portishead and Ultraista. The lyrics create this feeling of numbness, “I don’t want to feel anything, I don’t want to think anything.” The song is certainly anything but boring. Synnecrosis takes a twist on the word’s meaning, by definition an interaction that is so mutually detrimental that it results in death. Kolsto likens a dying relationship to the process of Synnecrosis, with each party fatally killing off the relationship. The song is very organic sounding; overdubs and voiceovers abound but never overwhelm the track.
We Don’t See Ourselves An introspective song about how we never will see ourselves as others see us. The song suggests that trying to get an impression of ourselves is never easy if it can be done at all. This introspection plays out over a bouncy accompaniment. Nothing to Talk About is a great Alternative Rock Chanteuse song. The bass line is a feature and gives a catchy and engaging backbone to the song. The song Urge to Repeat has a more punk feeling than any other track on the album. The lyrics deal with making the same mistakes over and over while desperately trying not to repeat those mistakes.
Forever Maybe the title track has an ethereal feeling, with a definite European flavor. The wide soundscape allows Kolsto’s voice to float in the ether. “Forever Maybe” is a song that will stick with you, and the most addictive track on the release. All is Contagious is my favorite on the disc. The lyrics of the song are dark and moody, but you would never catch on unless you listen carefully to the lyrics. “At least I figured out that all is contagious, nothing can save us.” The general feeling of the song is numbness from being overwhelmed by the world that surrounds us.
The songs True Story and Rooftop both showcase Hanne’s wide vocal range. She pulls out all the stops in her bag of musical tricks. The songs are both eclectic and engaging. The final song What is this Meant to Mean is a long song with a lot going on, from vocal loops to Vox Humana. There are glorious tonal vocals that soar over the accompaniment. Just when you think the song is over there is this funky duet that closes the song.
Performer and poet are just two words to describe this multi talented artist. The amazing thing that Kolsto accomplishes with this release is her ability to go in many different directions both in tempo and style. That being said she never seems to flail or make it seem chaotic. It is to be seen if she can break into the UK/American music markets. Here is hoping her creative and engaging work will gain a broader audience. She certainly has the chops to earn a further listen.
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