Over the past few months, I’ve spilled a quite a bit of virtual ink writing about this site’s latest mainstay, Eivind Øygarden, an acclaimed Telemark, Norway-born, Oslo-Norway-based emcee, best known as Ivan Ave. The acclaimed, Norwegian emcee’s third album Double Goodbyes was released earlier this year through Playground Music/Mutual Intentions.
Deriving its title from a Seinfeld references, Double Goodbyes finds the acclaimed emcee leaving the sample-heavy behind sound of his previously released work and moving towards a broader — and at times more soul influenced — sonic palette. The album also marks the first time that Øygarden took up production duties, producing the majority of the album’s material himself.
Recorded last year in Los Angeles and Oslo, and featuring guest spots from Sasac, Bryon The Aquarius, Joyce Wrice, and others, the album was recorded during a period of personal struggle for the JOVM mainstay, where the work became both the focus and the therapy. “I needed to start from scratch in my life and rebuild it step by step, the music was part of the healing process.” Interestingly, some of the aesthetics of the Home Shopping Network and late ’80s and early ’90s new age influence some of the album’s material. ‘“It’s easy to mock, due to some of its pompous cheesiness,” Ivan Ave says in press notes. “But as I’m getting older, experiencing life’s ups and downs, the essence of it feels genuine.” (It shouldn’t be surprising that A Tribe Called Quest’s and The Midnight Hour’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad once described the acclaimed Norwegian emcee’s work as “deeply therapeutic” on his podcast.)
“Double Goodbyes is a product of just making music that moved me, in a phase of my life where I was building from scratch emotionally,” the acclaimed Norwegian emcee explains in press notes. “I found healing in producing and singing these songs, without necessarily putting my usual rappety-rap hat on. But as the album title suggests, a lot of times we find ourselves bumping into the exact things, people and habits that we thought we had left behind. So my hip-hop roots shine through once again, in this weird blend of RnB, AOR and synth sounds. Sasac was my main co-creator on the record, along with some dope music friends such as Kiefer, Mndsgn, Byron The Aquarius, Devin Morrison and more.”
I’ve written about a handful of the album’s singles, including “Triple Double Love,” “Phone Won’t Charge” and “Guest List Etiquette.” And while sonically, the material is a silky smooth and slick synthesis of 80s and 90s synth-led R&B J. Dilla-era hip-hop, the songs themselves reveal a wizened self-awareness that comes from hard-fought personal experience, through narrators, who have come to recognize that they’ve been unintentionally and unwittingly repeating patterns that have made them miserable — and/or unfulfilled. But it ain’t all serious. There’s a playful self-deprecating humor throughout, especially on “Guest List Etiquette.” a track that focuses on a common dilemma for artists across the globe: everyone hitting them up to get on the guest list for their show.
The album’s fourth and latest single the Thundercat-like “Hope/Nope” is a dreamy song centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitars and atmospheric synths and an infectious hook. But unlike the album’s previously released material, the song finds its narrator vacillating between hope and despair. Can one hold onto hope when things seem so bleak, uncertain and dystopian? Shit, sometimes it’s just so fucking hard to be human.
“This is the daydreamer’s anthem on the record, part escapism, part war cry. The rap verse came out sweet but dystopian,” Ivan Ave explains in press notes. “Sasac saves the day on the last verse, with a medieval guitar solo that makes me hopeful again. Hope seems to be the most important overarching theme of the album when I listen back to it. I’ve learned to respect cognitive dissonance as a weapon, a survival instinct maybe, in Darwinian terms. Double edged sword though.”
Directed by Mats Christian Rude Halvorsen, the recently released video for “Hope/Nope” is a contemplative and eerie fever dream — centered around a dream-like logic while evoking the eerie sensation of someone, who’s been in isolation for some extended period of time, walking out into the world. “The video for Hope/Nope came about right after the initial phase of self isolation here in Oslo,” Øygarden explains in press notes. “Mats, Thomas and I really wanted to get out of the house and create something, but we of course had to wait until restrictions were softened up enough. I think we brought that energy into the execution of Mats’ ideas. I think the song is a good fit with that energy. That restlessness combined with a dreamy slumber.”