BJØRN HATTERUD – November 20th

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This scribbler hails from a country that once was the origin of essential art and culture, but nowadays is just a TV-and-smartphone ruled receptacle of crass subnormality. An important issue such as that of transgender individuality is (superficially) tackled by the mainstream media only when renowned political personalities are caught in some “scandal” involving members of that group, or by “regular” folks when discussing YouPorn preferences at the local bar. Thus I’m more than happy to champion Norwegian sound artist Bjørn Hatterud’s reminder – to all of us – that no label can be stuck on a human being without priorly looking ourselves in the mirror to detect traces of unspeakable evil-mindedness. The dedication of the twelve pieces of November 20th – date of the annual Transgender Day Of Remembrance – to an equal number of victims of violence deriving from ignorance and/or sheer cruelty is surely a class act.

That respect is given via a riveting electronica album is definitely a major plus, and – for the listener’s good luck – Hatterud is not one for psychobabble. He sets up an environment for each name, selecting a handful of tones – or drawn-out shards of melody – to be immersed in a thick fog of processing apparatuses. Basically, “physical presence” is turned into “intuition of a shape”. Within the aphotic profundities we literally sense apparitions: now nearly unsettling, then reassuring in composed plangency. The intrinsic motility, or lack thereof, varies from a track to another: you can savor spellbinding droning auras (“Nireah Johnson”, “Victoria Arreleano”), imperative reiteration (“Lili Elbe”), or something in between (“Marsha P. Johnson”). A favorite of mine is “Nizah Morris”, vocal echoes, unspecified instruments and gaseous matters blending strange vibrations in achromatic conditions. Ultimately, the whole release’s implicit strength enhances the edges of a crucial subject while distancing the fruits of Hatterud’s creativity from the “mere product” status.

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