"Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait" -Longfellow

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review: iamamiwhoami "Kin"

Released June 12, 2012 on To Whom it May Concern/Cooperative Music

Speaking to a group of writer's at the university I attended, poet Barbara Ras once said "poetry is not about meaning, it's about mystery." Through that lens, iamamiwhoami is as poetic as it comes. Originating in 2009 with two anonymous youtube uploads, which circulated quickly among music journalists/bloggers, the iamamiwhoami buzz centered first around an unknown artist or artists. By mid-2010, the mystery about the artist's identity was lifted - at least in part - when it became clear that the woman singing in these otherworldly videos is Swedish singer-songwriter Jonna Lee. The light shed on this one most mysterious factor only seemed to magnify other mysterious elements like the surreal imagery in the videos that go with every song and the cryptic lyrics. Knowing, finally, who was behind these wonderfully organic electronic compositions turned out to be something of an anti-climax. Who else is involved in this multimedia affair? What artistic purpose does all of this secrecy serve and how should we contextualize these dope songs within that purpose? At the end of the mystery: the mystery.
A few years of anticipation in, Kin was released this summer to somewhat - considering the quality of the music and the once magnitude of the buzz surrounding Lee's frustratingly-named project - absent fanfare. Belying it's tepid reception, this is an expansive, dark and fully-realized album of warm electronic music - filled with philosophical musings about the value of love and relationships, the things that chase us through our nightmares and domestic ennui. The arrangement on these throbbing, slinky and surprisingly earthy songs is such that you could be tempted to dismiss Kin as over-blown pop (as if pop is a dirty word!), significantly less interesting when divorced from the video element of the project... but consider the outrageous patience and driving force of "Sever" (above), consider the powerful and sparse lyrics that refer to social anxiety with a deep sense of longing and separation, consider how "Play" (directly below) can be so jarringly peaceful and sassily mystical, consider the clubby yet dream-pop menace of "In Due Order" (at bottom), consider the value of the the other-ness that iamamiwhoami plumb with such earnestness. The moody electro-trip-pop make-up of the songs on this album is not terribly experimental, but it need not be. In simplicity of form, iamamiwhoami find plenty to explore.

Feverish and dreamy, eloquent and blunt, vastly dark and blindingly shining, violently serene... this album challenges assumptions about electronic music, the avant garde, and the depth to which you can explore your own nightmare publicly without becoming an objectified and commodified symbol of yourself. The nine tracks on Kin, and the videos that accompany them on the audio-visual release, are perfect for the deliriously slow, fan-blade watching moments of summer and they'll be perfect for watching the winds of winter gather. You can compare this project to The Knife, Bjork, Portishead or whoever you want- but none of them (and not many folks at all) are making music like this, with this stony and stubborn neuroticism (eroticism too for that matter). And when you add in the consideration of the videos which are at once alien and filled with nostalgic and familiar symbols and moods...

There will be times to dance and there will be times to think and over-think dancing and thinking. All in all there's a time for everything... and now is iamamiwhoami's time.

if you're digging further for the rush
- out of touch -
mind the descent: profound, grainy and harrowing.
it's always only a chase through
your head
when slowness ends up in frightened speed.

if you won't follow yourself through the woods
there's always a darkness that will.

you're gonna have to get used to this.
you've made the decision to marry the night
because he looks so much like your father;
asleep beneath his beanstalk, 
cuddling a revolver
with bullets carved from original stone.

For more bewildering tingle and info see THIS informative webplace.
Dig THIS "interview" with Bullett Media.

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