Rare or Unreleased 13: Kim Hiorthøy

Ah, Norwegian culture! From the '90s onward it's been a battle of naïvety vs. irony—both sides of the escapist coin, united by their equally cowardly strategies to avert one's eyes from ugly truth, and to avoid the potential embarrassments bound up with things actually relevant to human experience. And while pop culture hipster nerds with too much cool (read: self-consciousness) to ever feel comfortable in their own trendily covered skin used distant sarcasm to flee from any kind of expression that could ever touch a nerve, another answer to the problem of reality was proposed…

In 1996, Norwegian author and film industry big wig, Erlend Loe, came out with what would amount to the Naïvist manifesto—had only Naïvists not been too childlike to ever formulate anything as grownup as a manifesto—viz. Naïve. Super, a novel in which the protagonist responds to a personal crisis by retreating into a jejune perspective on the world, from where he can passively, distantly (and so safely) behold his immediate surroundings. Loe doesn't seem to be advancing a critical view of his main character, hence the Naïvism (as opposed to satirical irony) of the book. Instead, Loe celebrates along with his protagonist the return to the simple mode of experience and thought that adults, in their bouts of nostalgia, seem to think that children enjoy. The Naïvists revel in the comfort of childlike wonderment, choosing to see in it a kind of magic, rather than the questionable escapism one could choose to see in it…

Anyway, the sleeve of this (admittedly amusing) novel was designed by one Kim Hiorthøy, who'd previously illustrated some of Loe's books, as well as local rock album covers. Hiorthøy's style celebrated style over substance, and had certain doodling, childlike qualities to it. If Loe provided the naïve substance (words), Hiorthøy provided the naïve style (colours!).

Since then, Hiorthøy—a Jack-of-all-media if ever there was one, dabbled as he has in painting and drawing, computer graphics, video, film—has gone on to become an acclaimed DJ, warming many a Scandinavian art girl's fragile heart with his unassuming, non-threatening and perfectly cute electronica—instrumentals with titles like «Forskjellige gode ting» («Various Good Things»), «Den fula skogen bakom köket» («The Ugly Forest Behind the Kitchen»), «Det skulle vara fint att se dig, tänkte jag» («I Thought It'd Be Nice to See You»), «Nu kommer Cathrine inn, hon lutar sig mot dörrposten» («Now Cathrine Comes In, She Leans Up Against the Door Frame») and, of course, «Han brydde sig inte om att stiga upp, hela dagen lät han nya bilder och funderingar komma och gå som de ville, sov lite ibland och vaknade igen och visste inte alls vem han var. Det var en fridfull och mycket spännande dag» («He Didn't Care to Get Up, All Day He Let New Images and Ruminations Come and Go as They Pleased, Occasionally Slept a Little and Awoke Again and Had No Idea Who He Was. It Was a Peaceful and Very Exciting Day»)—mostly in Swedish (to give it that extra air of whimsy, no doubt) and often embellished with some young totty's gentle, almost virginal recital of a quaint list of inconsequential wonderments. Example:
Things that work:
- To run as it rains…
- To get on the first train to arrive and go where you will.
- To go to a high place and look out.
- To taste candy you've never seen before.
- To read comic books in the park.
- To lay the table before breakfast and then eat for a long time.
- To go to the library to do some smelling.
- To call Nana.
- To visit someone you haven't seen for a long time.
- To have a coffee in the middle of the day while reading the paper.
- To go into record stores to listen to an album with a pretty sleeve, or maybe one by someone you may have heard of, or something you're wondering what's like.
Rock'n'roll it ain't.

But who am I to pooh-pooh someone else's expression of innocent joy? So what, if Hiorthøy's art is an amalgamation of minimalism and irrelevance—sometimes you need background music, too.

And so, dug up from the bottom of a closet in my old room over at my parents' house, comes this rarity—22 highlights out of the 38 tracks on a CD released with the book (limited to 300 copies) that Hiorthøy submitted for his graduation from the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art, back in 1996. As far as I know, it's Hiorthøy's first foray into music, and bears the stamp of the collagist tendencies of his early visual work.

I didn't much care for the CD when my brother first gave it to me back when I was a teenager fawning over Pop Art, but now I think it has a lot more edge than Hiorthøy's subsequent, more accomplished recordings. There are even some nasty soundbites that aren't naïve at all (even if the context Hiorthøy puts them in still is, the childlike gaze robbing it slightly of its edge). And I salute the randomness of the recordings! It's like listening to a restlessly seeking radio possessed of its own mind…

Kim Hiorthøy: Excerpts from Fake CD [.zip file]
  1. If You Died Tonight in a Car Crash, Where Would You Go?
  2. August
  3. In Good Pain
  4. Speed of Life
  5. Not Sleeping
  6. Dōshitemo
  7. Oi—Slight Return
  8. Worry & Die (feat. Stom Sogo)
  9. Marcel
  10. Porno
  11. Weights/Bridges
  12. Work
  13. Doing Nothing
  14. Doing Everything
  15. Things I Don't Really Care About but Pretend that I Do
  16. Un vie simple
  17. What/Where Am I (feat. Daniel Ferdman)
  18. Mustard (feat. Vegar Moen)
  19. Four-thirty
  20. Spring
  21. The Real Thing
  22. Pomegrenade


  1. HI!
    Wondering if you have the rest of this record? Am dying to hear it!

  2. Hi!

    Unfortunately, due to a computer crash my mp3s were all deleted. I own the CD, but it's in another country. Remind me in October and I'll try to fish it out of my belongings in storage to upload it for you.

  3. any chance of putting this back up? perhaps with the rest of the cd?