♫♪  Jessika Kenney - “Her Sword II”

J Kenney

Puspawarna, “flowers of many colors,” written the Javan prince Mangkunegoro IV, was launched into space along with other pieces of humankind in 1977. It is being carried by two spacecrafts. One of the spacecrafts is “presently less than one seventh the distance to aphelion of Sedna, and it has not yet entered the Oort cloud.” It is the music to be performed at the entrance of the prince (and celebrates his favorite wives, which I’m sure the prince thought was a nice gesture).

The sense of royalty associated with “Puspawarna” is immediately dismantled as inspiration in “Her Sword I,” by Jessika Kenney. She presents an eerie gamelan ensemble, over which her voice improvises with acute attention to microtonal details and a sense of unease. Kenney practiced singing in an Indonesian pentatonic (demo) when she was in Java in the 90s. Her artistic oeuvre combines well-studied and precisely executed solo work with vocal contribution to maximalist works of experimental metal and electronic drone. She claims to be interested in the “full spectrum experience of sound,” which is an important region of exploration for many experimental artists casually referred to as “metal.” I feel like this is often overlooked when critics misinterpret groups associated with SIGE, SOMA, Utech, etc. as merely being brilliantly heavy in their pacing, but maybe Kenney’s debut album, out next week on SIGE, will strip away the feedback to reveal the introspective nature of this music. “Her Sword II” takes concepts most listeners would only be familiar with in the most extreme, or foreign, contexts, and enunciates them clearly. It is the final track to her debut album, Atria, and also the only track to be free of the percussive and timbral beats that dominate the rest of the album. “Her Sword II” took me out of the jungle heat and into the clarity that my limited knowledge of Persian and Pacific musics struggled to attain.

• Jessika Kenney: http://jessikakenney.com
• SIGE Records: http://sigerecords.blogspot.co.uk

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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