Heidi Mortenson: Mørk EP
Rump Recordings

Heidi Mortenson covers a lot of ground in just twenty-one minutes on a five-song EP that, on more than one occasion, lives up to its Mørk (Dark) title. Four vocal songs (sung in Danish) and one instrumental are presented, with all of them distinguished by a radical and eccentric sensibility, especially where arrangement is concerned, and a wilful openness to experimentation. Lyrically, the songs' moods are by turns downtrodden (“Each day / One piece less of you”), reflective, and intimate (“All in all / You in me”), and horns, cello, piano, and pump organ are some of the elements that make up her eclectic sound-world.

In the headily experimental opener “Et Stykke Mindre” (One Piece Less), Mortenson's voice languidly glides o'ertop a stutter-funk electro-pop foundation of bass rumble and flickering electronic fire. Even bolder, “Dele Af Kroppen” (Parts of the Body) gets underway with braying horn fanfares and a dubstep groove clearing a path for a vocal that might remind some of a slightly less cryptic Karin Dreijer (The Knife, Fever Ray). A walking bass line lends “Underkast” (Submission) a rather noir-jazz feel, and with Mortenson's desperate voice added the tune starts to sound like a modernized treatment of something out of the Brecht-Weill canon. That foreboding torch ambiance carries over into “Alt I Alt” (All in All), a dramatic if brief set-piece that merges industrial and ballad elements into some new mutation of electronic song. A dusty old piano forms the centerpiece of “Lyset Eksisterer Endnu,” wherein Mortenson freely indulges her instrumental side with wide-ranging explorations (and even for a few moments burrows into the instrument's innards, by the sound of it). The EP purportedly is sequenced so as to contrast two of Mortenson's sides, but, truth be told, one hears a great deal more than two dimensions in these five songs.

March 2012