HK 119 - Fast, Cheap and out of Control
Matt Haigh 11/09/2008
HK 119 is a bar-code for human-as-product concept artist Heidi Kilpelainen, described by Bjork as “the perfect blond woman.” Indeed, she is a formidable talent, to which this record stands testament. HK draws her influences from a deluge of artists and braids them into a futuristic album which explores the self-destructive nature of celebrity, the unrealistic idea of human perfection, space-travel, and the removal of our civil liberties among other topics. In fact, in order to highlight how one such liberty has already been taken away from us - the freedom to smoke in cinemas and bars etc - a free cigarette is encased within the packaging of the CD.
The music itself is very much electronically-focused, with songs veering from the immediately accessible opener of Mind, to the downbeat, funky sleaze of Celeb (which, one might suspect is a rather grim evaluation of Amy Winehouse). HK's voice seems to simultaneously channel Debbie Harry and Hammer Horror star Ingrid Pitt on most of the songs, while the little outbursts toward the end of C-est La Vie are pure Alison Goldfrapp. The two-parter Space depicts a bleak future of humans adrift without a home planet, while Super Bug gives HK a chance to strut her stuff in camp mode and be silly while still delivering a message.
From the moment this record first ended, I played it again from the beginning, and again countless times over. The more pop-friendly efforts will hit you immediately with their cold cyber glitz, while the more involving tacks can take a while to grow, but are no less worth the effort. It was a welcome surprise to be introduced to an artist of such a concrete vision, a true original. Ms Kilpelainen describes future events in such crystal-clear fashion you almost believe she's been there and come back to warn us all. Had the female Gynoid from Metropolis released an electro-pop record, it would sound something like this.