Hilde Marie Kjersem A Killer for That Ache

Given the usual austerity and brinksmanship of this Norwegian label’s roster, it’s a little surprising to hear this fairly normal song cycle. Of course, the "normal” here is in the realm of such squares as Björk, Kate Bush and My Brightest Diamond. Kjersem’s voice has a smoky mystery that is easily thrown into carnival-esque contortions when the need arises. She is flanked by a quartet of multi-instrumentalists from Norway’s melting pot where jazz, electronics and chamber rock ooze together. Each track has a florid patchwork of woodwinds, acoustic strings, squiggling tones and things too exotic to place straight off. This overflow of sounds tends to drown the underlying themes of media critique, making Kjersem’s vocal just another instrument initially. But an album this detail-heavy definitely requires deeper consideration, if only to appreciate the musicianship. (Rune Grammofon)