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The Hunting Room - Her Royal Harness
Buy The Hunting Room


RELEASE INFO

LABEL: Manufacture
RELEASE DATE: June 24, 2013
FORMATS: Digital, Physical

Band Members

Helene Jaeger: Vocals, Guitar, Synth
Dylan Long: Guitars, Synths, Drum Machines, Bass, Drums

BIOGRAPHY

Her Royal Harness is the conception of Norwegian songwriter Helene Jaeger, described as a romanticist, catharsis driven take on genre-synthesist pop.

The project came into being soon after Jaeger encountered London producer-instrumentalist Dylan Long in an internet music forum, a meeting which at the time descended into an argument. However, the two had a lot in common, kept talking and gradually sensed that their two contrasting approaches to making music combined to make something distinctive and emotionally potent.

Having worked out some early songs in collaboration, the two got in touch with US mixer Justin Gerrish (Vampire Weekend, The Strokes ++) via a chance email, and were happy to discover that he was into working with them. Their first, self-released experiment ended up being playlisted on national radio, leading to key festival gigs and a period of being courted by a major label.

By that point, however, the pair had grown disillusioned with their initial songs. Dropping the material and taking a different approach thematically and musically, they retreated from the world for a year to write and record their debut album.

Pushing a variety of influences through their own filter – southern gothic writing, Metroplex techno, Holland-Dozier-Holland, early rock'n'roll, Solid Gold-era Gang of Four, The Doors, Baroque compositions, an obsession with the late 1980s Eventide H3000 effects unit... the two approach making pop music from an anything goes, boundaryless position.

According to Jaeger, The Hunting Room is a record about “someone not quite at home”, chronicling a series of attempts at breaking through restrictions, searching for meaning, trying to get a reaction from an unresponsive environment. On the origin of the moniker "Her Royal Harness" Helene says "From the time you are born, people around you continually attempt to define who you are. That's one way of looking at the harness."

Musically, the album sees a range of expression: pitched down ¾ time techno laments, plucked film score strings played through 90s boom boxes, Mellotron choirs and hip hop bass lines, pummeling rock beats and post punk rhythms all firmly anchored in clear melodic structure and Jaeger’s Quixotic, impassioned delivery.

Part of the rationale behind Her Royal Harness is to channel the deepreaching expressive potential of pop, says Jaeger. “We see it as perhaps the greatest thing about pop music, its ability to move people, and that’s something we aim for – to make something that emotionally, even physically makes you react.”

The Hunting Room is due out June 24th, 2013, produced and recorded by Her Royal Harness in their basement project studio in Bergen, Norway and mixed by Justin Gerrish at DNA Studios NYC.

Reviews

Voulture Hound Magazine

Someone call TK Maxx (or whoever else advertises on TV), cold wave duo Her Royal Harness have put together the music they should be using on the adverts for new collections. The Hunting Room seems designed to be coupled with something, not listened to on its own. From the military drum beat of ‘Mercenary Man’ to the pulsing beat of ‘Factories’, it’s all the perfect background for convincing people they need to be fashionable. While this may seem an odd critique, it is completely understandable. Well, at least it feels like there’s some purpose to it as, while it may be different from what you’d usually hear on the radio, it isn’t a masterpiece.

If track 1 isn’t to your taste, nothing on the album will be, so that’s a nice time saver. With each song, the music feels interchangable, like it wasn’t carefully considered for individual lyrics at all. Perhaps the lyrics weren’t thought out either. Y’know when you’re not sure of the words to a song but you already committed yourself to singing along, so you just mumble along to the rhythm? The Hunting Room suffers a lot from this all the way through. Notably on ‘Mercenary Man’ and ‘Colour Me’,the latter of which sounds too much like ‘”Call me” and it’s like they made no effort for this not to be the case.

‘Unseen’ is a bit of an odd one. At first, it sounds like the theme for a kids’ TV show, then uses a recurring beat that sounds like the machines in hospitals that measure your heart rate. It’s quite an uncomfortable sound, so congratulations to the duo on that…even if if it wasn’t intentional.

‘I Can’t Believe’…how much use drum machines/the drums on music software are. Hilarious jokes aside, there’s a rattle to the beat that makes it sound so fake but it still manages to be the best song of the lot, even with constant repetition of the phrase “I can’t believe” without real clarification on what she can’t believe- probably something about a relationship. And there’s actual/ mumbling/ humming, which somehow justifies a little of the rest.

In some rare cases, vocals that are a little difficult to understand doesn’t get in the way of a band’s success. Heck, Smells Like Teen Spirit is basically just shouting but it still makes it to almost everyone’s music collection. Unfortunately, singer Helene Jaeger’s voice has another problem. It  sounds so autotuned that it’s like it was created by a computer from scratch. Sheer, unrestrained emotion is not exactly abundant.

As a credit to them, there is a hint of diversity. If you were told ‘Bear in a Trap’ was by a different band, you’d probably believe it. When listening again ti double check, be sure not to turn it up too loud, the bass is working overtime and may be too much for some speakers.

Want an example of how good the lyrics are when they’re clear? ‘Submission’ starts with a load of words that rhyme with “submission”. That should be all you need to know.

The more you listen to it, the better it is but you should at least be left wanting to listen to it again. Maybe people with a lot of free time will find themselves praising the album more than those who are always busy and could only dedicate their time to one chance. For all the negativity there is to be found, there is clear potential and, if they build on it, a future in music.

July 8th 2013. By Adam Carroll for seenitheardit.com

There is an audience out there who will appreciate the sounds of Her Royal Harness, but with an album such as The Hunting Room I feel it will be quite difficult to stand out from the rest of the electronic-pop world.

One of the issues for me with this 9 track album is that the voice of lead singer Helene Jaeger just was not my cup of tea. She has a fairly unique tone to her voice that some people will enjoy, but after 2 minutes of the opening track “Mercenary Man”, it started to become quite irritating – the track itself is not that good. It tries to be a catchy up-beat song but the hook in the chorus just doesn’t deliver anything that will stick in your head. Thankfully “Bear in a Trap” is a bigger improvement all round. It offers more of a lift with its beat, pulsing synth, and guitar riff; making it the standout track of the bunch. If only the rest of the album could have kept up that kind of edge with its sections, it might not have all become so tedious.

Musically, there is not a whole lot of exciting stuff going on and the single track “Unseen” is a perfect example of this. If you were to strip away the vocals it would be an extremely boring number, and this was my other issue with The Hunting Room. It’s 9 tracks and just over 30 minutes, but it seems like such a drag. Because it lacks hooks and all the instrumentation pretty much seems to sound the same, it makes the experience dull and slightly forgettable.

 






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