In the ten years since the Danish-born, New York-based musical auteur Mikkel Hess began performing and recording as Hessismore, both Hess and his avant-pop / electronica project have grown considerably. While Hessismore was once little more than a moniker for Hess himself—with other musicians making guest appearances and helping to perform Hess’s music live—it has solidified into a band with core personnel who have written songs and performed together regularly, in a wide range of contexts in New York, from the New Museum to the Elizabeth Street Gardens to Nublu. (Other musicians sub in in Denmark, where Hess is a veritable star, and in other countries around the globe.) Hessismore released their new album, Myheadisaballroom / Whoneedsapalaceanyway, August 19.

Mikkel Hess, as a writer of songs and instrumental music defying categorization, has scored films as well as theater and dance productions. He has recently written and recorded the soundtrack for Jonas Arnby’s When Animals Dream, which premiered to acclaim at this year’s Cannes Film Festival; written for, and performed with, the Royal Danish Ballet; and, with Rasmus Bille Bahncke and brother Nikolaj Hess, collaborated with Danish designer and musician Henrik Vibskov at the Kennedy Center last year.

Myheadisaballroom / Whoneedsapalaceanyway arose from yet another collaboration: a concert created by the band and the Icelandic artist Shoplifter at the legendary Tribeca art space the Clocktower Gallery last year. Following the concert, Alanna Heiss, the Clocktower’s founder and director, invited Hess to be an artist-in-residence, and he and the band used the opportunity to flesh out the songs and hone the interplay between the musicians. At the end of the residency, Midnight Magic’s W. Andrew Raposo recorded the band at Midnight Sun Studio; helped Mikkel Hess and Bahncke produce the album; and is co-releasing the LP on his Concierge Records label with This Is Care Of Records, a label that Hess runs with Bille Bähncke and graphic designer Jacob Wildschiødtz.

Hessismore is: Mikkel Hess (vocals, drums, percussion), Michael Hanf (vibraphone, bass, gang vocals), Matt Parker (horns, keys, gang vocals), Pavel Kogan-Liakhov (guitar, gang vocals), David Mason (electric drums, gang vocals), Nikolaj Hess (piano, keys, gang vocals) and Rasmus Bille Bahncke (SH101 bass synth, gang vocals).

Myheadisaballroom / Whoneedsapalaceanyway is the first album to feature the whole band throughout the recording process, and, as such, is the first to capture the energy and interplay of their beloved live show. The music is as playful and stylistically varied as ever, navigating jazz, folk, disco and electronic music.

And it sounds otherworldly. Upon hearing the music, Scott Hull, a veteran mastering engineer who has worked with everyone from Lou Reed and John Zorn to Bruce Springsteen and Edie Brickell, said, “There was just one track that reminded me of something I have worked on before.”

In addition to releasing the album in vinyl, CD and digital formats, Hessismore have released sheet music, remixes, a band jersey collaboration with New York-based clothing brand Isaora, and more.

Last updated: August 21, 2014


Ron Gaskill