HESS IS MORE
Multi-instrumentalist, singer, and provocateur, Mikkel Hess has been hard at work on a new album since 2009’s Hess Is More – Hits was selected as one of Time Out Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of the Year. Having scored for theater, composed for films and collaborated with artists on performance pieces, Mikkel curates a process that resembles something akin to that of a collagist—taking inspiration and integrating references from art, film, music and magic. The resulting, all-encompassing approach has drawn comparisons to everyone from Erlend Oye and Jon Brion, to CAN and the music you might find on Smalltown Supersound. Hess has evolved this genre-defying project, collaborating with local musicians and fellow Dane, co-writer/producer Rasmus Bille Bahncke for the past two years on the exhilarating new album, Creation Keeps the Devil Away, which will be released October 11th, 2011 on Nublu Records. The lead single of the same name, “Creation Keeps the Devil Away” is available now for free download, and the digital single version also includes a bonus track — a solo piano remake by Mikkel’s brother Nikolaj Hess. Check out what NPR affiliate WNYC had to say about Hess Is More, and check out the recent Nublu Records feature in the New York Times as well.
The album was recorded, mixed and produced in New York at This Is Care Of studio, a multi-purpose space shared with Bahncke and creative art director Jacob Wildschiodtz. What they’ve created is a heady concoction of Hess’ blithe vocals, giddy electronics, funky, multi-ethnic horns and percussions, disco beats, and an assortment of bells and whistles that support catchy folk-pop melodies . In a live setting, Hess Is More becomes a powerhouse seven-piece band, balancing the spontaneity of of a Brooklyn warehouse rave with the complex scope of an orchestra. On stage, Mikkel reveals a shamanistic air — conducting, coercing, and pounding out tangible themes of longing, loss, healing and celebration.
The songs feature unpretentious lyrics laced with undercurrents of double meanings and soulful choruses that drive the listener into a sonic trance of ever-changing hues. They flow between buoyant and bouncy selections like “What’s on the Second Floor,” the twisted homage to Talking Heads ‘ “Burning Down the House ” entitled simply “Burn,” and the Bollywood-esque romp “Going Looking for the End of the World,” to the more pensive and melancholic “Go go go go,” the heartfelt elegy to a lover or friend “Wonder Who You’re Singing For,” and the moody, but infinitely uplifting “Call for Change” and “Circling High.” The eponymous final track takes an irony-free stance as Hess growls “hey, hey, hey, creation keeps he devil away” over a plucky bass-line and sticky staccato keyboards. It’s a 21st century anthem that wonderfully captures the ethos of the album — a perfect mix of urban angst and self-help pop.
Along with label-mates like Forro In the Dark, Calibro 35, and Wax Poetic, Hess is More exists in the strange and intoxicating land of Nublu where borders are blurred, boundaries are breached and creativity is king. With humor and bliss Hess Is More’s Creation Keeps the Devil Away proves that nothing could be truer.