A stark, off-kilter, angst-driven, supercharged debut album by British/German political-journalist-turned-singer Annika Henderson, performing as Anika, backed by the experimental electronic rock band BEAK>. The album consists primarily of covers (including Yoko Ono, Bob Dylan, The Kinks, and Skeeter Davis), each with Anika’s distinctive, discordant monotone yet somehow still passionate modern-day-Nico voice.
After studying journalism at university, Anika ventured into the music industry, working with a music promoter, and essentially hating every second of it. It was while in this jaded, angry mindset, frustrated with the music industry, that she met Geoff Barrow of Portishead, who a friend had informed her was looking for a “weird singer” to sing with his new band BEAK> featuring Billy Fuller and Matt Williams. It was interesting timing considering Anika had just given notice at her job, and demoted music’s role in her life from a career to a hobby, wishing only to make music as a personal release. Anika found a kindred spirit in Barrow, who was also interested only in making anti-formulaic, more meaningful music. Anika entered the studio A) not knowing until the third session of Barrow’s Portishead history; and B) not thinking the album would ever be released –– both of which likely freed Anika to fully release and voice her pent up frustration.
BEAK> produced the album, and they recorded nine songs in twelve days with no overdubs, and minimal takes, in an instinctive, liberated, stream of consciousness style. Their process was to listen to the tracks they were covering once and record their spin on it in no more than three takes. The album was more about being a release for Anika than a vehicle to launch her singing career; in fact she didn’t even listen back to the album for a year and a half after recording it. The album was released on Barrow’s own Invada imprint in Europe and Stones Throw Records in the U.S. and Japan. Although not for everyone, and definitely somewhat of an acquired taste, this album is a unique, fearless, empowered, invigorating post-punk explosion worth a listen alone for its charmingly upside-down version of “I Go to Sleep” written and demoed by the Kinks but made popular by the Pretenders.
– Lauren Fay Levy
Recommended – B3 I Go To Sleep, A1 Terry, A2 Yang Yang, A3 End Of The World
Tags: Avant-Garde / Dub / Now Sound / Post-Punk