The Austin Chronicle

Phases & Stages

Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, July 3, 2009, Music

Hanne Hukkelberg

Blood From a Stone (Nettwerk)

Where 2004 debut Little Things was prismatic and experimental, this third time around finds Norwegian minimalist Hanne Hukkelberg tuning up her machine with muted colors. The slow-building songs boast impressive payoffs ("Crack," "Seventeen"), and when they have a pulse, they're propellant and poised ("Bandy Riddles," the 1980s whiff of the title track). In between, however, lays a dense, half-baked haze that makes Blood From a Stone frustrating. Hukkelberg's voice is the centerpiece amid blurry shifts of guitar and ominous organ, leaving it up to her to remedy the midtempo stasis, but it's almost like she's teasing listeners, withholding that big note in favor of sleeping aids like "No Mascara Tears" and "Salt of the Earth." Icy seven-minute closer "Bygd Til By," sung by Hukkelberg in her native tongue, spews the clean frost that marks her Scandinavian birthright. Here, the singer finally gets some color in her cheeks.


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