Format proudly presents Puzzler, the debut album by Norwegian psych pop valkyrie Hilma Nikolaisen,out on December 2.
Hilma Nikolaisen is known for her role as bass player in her brother Emil’s internationally acclaimed
psychedelic noisepop outfit SerenaManeesh (4AD) – one of the most influential Norwegian bands of
the last decade. Not only did she contribute significantly to the expression of Emil’s musical vision, her
valkyric stage presence also made her an iconic part of the band’s visual identity. Comparisons to Nico
were frequently drawn.
Hilma Nikolaisen’s sound and lyrics set out to honour and celebrate the diversity and complexity of what
it means to be human. In our times, simplicity is put on a pedestal and worshipped, but through her
music, Hilma Nikolaisen points out that human nature is intrinsically chaotic and eclectic and should be
celebrated as such! The idea of myriads of pieces that come together in a larger, complex puzzle is the
unifying theme of the album. Written over a long period of time, the nine tracks of Puzzler reach from
classic pop (traditions) on tracks like Cloud Nine Rewind and Home Straight Sorries, through the soulful
funk of On and On and On, to a more rough edged postpunk nerve present in the first single Word.
All of Hilma’s experience and musical background has gone into this album. An upbringing filled with
music and spirituality on the sturdy Norwegian west coast has made its mark in the peculiar melodic
modes, her years in punk bands left an urgent pulse, and last but not least, the years in Serena
Maneesh have added the high level of ambition and sense of details. All of this gives the album an edge
of refinement and chaos all at once, rounded out by a unique, androgynous voice.
Puzzler is recorded together with Mads Johansen at Folkets Hus Lilleaker and Hilma’s brother Emil
Nikolaisen at Malabar studio in Oslo. Besides doing the songwriting and arrangements, Hilma has
produced the album herself and gathered the long list of great people that has contributed with mixing
on the different tracks: Ådne Meisfjord (120 days), Marcus Forsgren (Lionheart Brothers, Bror Forsgren),
Jay Andrews, Aaron Lex Leckenby, Nick Terry og Peter Holmström (Dandy Warhols). Contributing
musicians on this record are Hilma’s more or less steady band: Egil Arntzen, Andreas Frøland, Kristofer
Staxrud and a long list of guests. The cover is photographed by Julia Naglestad, with graphic design by
Peder Bernhardt and an excerpt by Vanessa Baird on the innersleeve.
Puzzler is release number 100 on Fysisk Format with catalogue number FY100.
Pre-order Puzzler here