HK 119

[HK 119 sleeve]"HK 119" (Album, 2005)

One Little Indian

For reasons I am unable to impart, I've always had something bordering on hatred for anything designated 'fashionable'. Be they things that either actively seek to be fashionable or are unfortunate enough to be marketed as such. One Little Indian has always been something of a fashionable record label. So it comes as no surprise that HK 119, having received public praise from the likes of Björk, Goldfrapp and Boy George, and having been the toast of the style press for, ohh at least a few months, saw her eponymous debut album released by One Little Indian in 2005.

It's easy to see why Heidi Kilpelainen was so lauded by those who pride themselves on being in the know. She has a striking look and distinctive sound - described by the Guardian Guide (see, fashionable) as "A futuristic hybrid of Grace Jones and Debbie Harry". Kilpelainen is also a visual artist, having created videos for the album tracks that doubled up as installation pieces in a variety of global art galleries. But what of the music?

Well, there are 17 tracks here and none run more than 3:30 minutes. So whatever you make of them, HK 119 never outstays her welcome. Stylistically, this is a kinda punky, minimalist version of electroclash but with as much interest in telling short stories as creating a beat you can move your butt to. Limiting herself to just 8 tracks in the recording studio pays dividends and works perfectly with the brief running times. At her most gentle there is, as previously suggested, an distinctly (young) Debbie Harry quality and on songs like the slow ballad Censor Me, and on the final track Taysikuu, a Tango partly sung in Finnish, her strengths win through in spite of such potentially counterproductive comparisons. Much more interesting than all the marketing hype and fashionable press coverage would suggest. 7/10

Rob Dyer (January, 2009)