From her lo-fi origins on HK 119 to the sleek pop turns she took with I Monster on Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, Heidi Kilpeläinen hasn't been afraid of drastically changing her music and truly working with her collaborators. This is especially true of Imaginature, an exploration of nature and spirituality that features production work by Christoffer Berg, who also worked with Karin Dreijer on Fever Ray's debut album. At times, Imaginature's Nordic electro-pop recalls both Fever Ray and the Knife, as well as Goldfrapp on the spacy album closer "White Owl" and the rich alto of Planningtorock on "Snowblind." Yet the album remains distinctive from Kilpeläinen's contemporaries as well as her own body of work, combining a lush, operatic feel with a refreshing sense of wonder. All of this is on display on the seven-minute opening track, "Wild Grass," where she muses "Everyone's tired of the news, living satellite lives" over increasingly lavish synths and backing vocals. From there, Imaginature delves into songs that sound more like landscapes than soundscapes, particularly on "Moss," which boasts gamelan-inspired instrumentation so dense that it's practically verdant. While there are a few poppier moments that recall Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, most notably "Iceberg" and the reggae-tinged "Milky Way," most of Imaginature is about Kilpeläinen stretching creatively. She does this ably on "Adailson," which adds to its mystical vibe with a shaman chanting in Portuguese, and "Whale," which plays like a vision quest that culminates with the realization "Truth is dreaming/Truth is waking up." An album about embracing nature (human and otherwise) might not have mass appeal, but Imaginature is polarizing in the best way possible: these eclectic, theatrical, yet personal songs aren't for everyone, but they'll resonate with listeners willing to take this trip with HK 119.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares