Jenny Hval rarely abides by musical convention. As a multidisciplinary artist, it’s fair to say you should never have any expectation going into any of her projects. The Long Sleep is, of course, no exception.
The four-track offering is a rather wild journey, in that it refuses to offer anything up easily. Instead, it allows its intricate layers to build up to whatever it is they eventually come to stoke inside of you.
The smooth, saxophone tinged intro of "Spells" lays in front of you a gentle and serene scene. Delicate instrumentation wraps around itself, while Hval's vocal takes charge of proofing the album's title with the repetitive refrain of “we will not be awake for long”. Instead of lending itself to any negative connotations, the euphoric nature of the music brings out nothing but positivity. And who doesn’t love being encouraged to nap?
"The Dreamer Is Everyone In Her Dream" is welcomed in with spoken word, at a cadence that feels like its being whispered directly into your ear. Twee piano leads the charge through this dreamland - that is, until the halfway mark. Entering frantic territory, it’s here that Hval removes any gentle ease, and reminds you that this is her world, all by her design.
And then we reach the title track. Clocking in at just shy of eleven minutes, "The Long Sleep" is an atmospheric, instrumental number that functions as a blank canvas, offering up a DIY adventure that you can manipulate yourself. You can choose to take your experience from the previous two tracks, or you can enter a world of your own. Either way, settle in.
Finally, "I Want To Tell You Something", brings this juxtaposing brief-yet-long adventure to a close. “What am I doing here, we’re almost done now” are the words which greet you, and they feel perfectly apt. The background arrangement swells as the voice continues to declare it’s love for us. This is a record that finds its roots in a declaration of love; as for how you traverse this wondrous journey, well, that's up to you.