Anika – Anika

January 01, 1970

(Stones Throw)

 

www.stonesthrow.com

 

Taken at its actual semantic worth, the term “minimal,” when
applied to music, should imply something pretty easy to pull off. The reality,
however, couldn’t be farther from the truth. So many bands try to make
“minimal” music that is actually just uninspired, talentless, or lazy. The new
self-titled album from a singer named Anika, however, manages to be minimal,
exciting, and varied all at the same time.

 

Anika’s success is no doubt helped immensely by the
production from Portishead member Geoff Barrow’s band, Beak>. It’s not hard
to recognize the Portishead aesthetic here, especially on a song like “The End
of the World,” featuring a scattered snare beat and descending bassline that
sounds like something off of Dummy. The overall musical feeling here is
downtown NYC sometime around the late ’70s and early ’80s, or perhaps The
Clash’s experiments in disco and dub, or PIL’s early deconstructed punk rock.
Whatever the case, Anika’s Nico-esque vocals, vaguely foreign accent intact,
are appealing as she intones (you can’t really call what she does singing) over
a bevy of… wait for it… minimal beats.

 

Covering Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” as a simple dub tune,
just reverb-soaked snare hits and a thumping bassline, may not sound like such
a good idea, but it works well for Anika and Beak>. Songs like “Sadness
Hides The Sun” and the opening track, “Terry,” are, at their core, broken down folk songs. Anika’s simple vocal
melody morosely drones over scattered instrumentation, creating something
completely new out of conventions you may recognize. Minimal? Yes. Perhaps a
bit cold? Sure, but the songs on this album are complex in their emotion and
unique in their construction, and that makes this one shine in this nascent new
year.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Yang
Yang,” “Sadness Hides The Sun” JONAH FLICKER

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