ALBUM: Anika – ‘Change’

Moving beyond the punishing sounds and default to doom-saying that’s often defined her previous work, Berlin-based musician Anika‘s new album Change is a more positive cut, possessing some of her most accessible work yet. Set for release via Sacred Bones & Invada Records on 23rd July, the album is not without its jagged, angsty moments, but on the whole it’s certainly a cleaner offering.

Fans of the musician’s existing output – a 2010 solo debut performed alongside Beak> and a string of releases with Exploded View – will recognise the blueprint of locked drum & bass grooves, noisy synths and Anika’s haunting voice floating above it with a cracked serenity that feels as though it could collapse into tears or hysterical laughter at any moment. The key sonic difference with Change is its polished quality, which lends a new refinement and approachability to Anika’s work. At times it feels a little too neat, lacking that terrifying, paint-stripping howl that makes for the best Exploded View tracks. Having said that, it opens up a new side to Anika, one that many will want to hear more from.

Anika reports that the words on Change were written largely “on the spot”, going some way to explaining the recourse to simple yet enigmatic refrains, felt most urgently on tracks like the thunderous opener ‘Finger Pies’ and the disquieting ‘Rights’. Her willingness to employ a smoother set of sounds allows for some unexpectedly great pop moments. ‘Critical’ is lead by a neat synth line that could have come straight from Jane Weaver’s Modern Cosmology, wonderfully plucking the song from the murk of a driving rhythm section.

‘Change’ is an excellent track, epitomising the huge shift Anika makes as an artist on this record. It offers a guarded optimism in its hedged refrain “I think we can change” and tempers the album’s concerns about the destructive nature of man, articulated on tracks like ‘Never Coming Back’ (inspired by Rachael Carson’s book Silent Spring and our destruction of the natural world), enabling us to find consolation in our agency as individuals to avert future consequences of human activity. It is telling that ‘Change’ is the eponymous track and that its central idea was chosen to be the defining theme of the album, creating room for a more sanguine outlook.

The album closes with ‘Wait for Something’, which, like ‘Change’, plays a crucial role in forging the overall mood of the piece. Emerging out of the claustrophobic terror of ‘Freedom’, we are encouraged to find solace in its vagueness, in the belief that some salvation will come, even if we cannot conceptualise the form it might take. People often draw the obvious and not entirely helpful comparison between Anika and Nico, but as the drums kick in here it feels more like we’re listening to the Velvet Underground’s Loaded, pushing us into the realm of unadulterated pop rock. Sitting on those flying keys and cymbal crashes, listeners can really feel the joyous optimism Anika seeks to leave them with.

Sonically drifting away from brutal electro-terror and thematically more positive than earlier efforts, Anika’s Change is an interesting transitional album in sound and spirit, not entirely comfortable in its optimism, but telling for its willingness to seek it out.

Follow Anika on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Photo Credit: Sven Gutjahr

Lloyd Bolton
@lloyd_bolton

LISTEN: Novaa – ‘Audre’

Unsettling yet somehow sensual, Novaa‘s single ‘Audre’ is a poignant tale of oppression, fatigue and the silencing of black voices. Lifted from her recent album She’s A Rose, the Berlin-based indie singer-songwriter pays homage to American feminist poet and civil rights activist Audre Lorde on her latest track.

Layering placid vocals with lush electronic beats, the rigid strumming of a muted guitar and the serenity of softly played wind instruments, ‘Audre’ is pure poetry. There is something Black Swan-esque about the music video. With a stripped back, grayscale aesthetic and simple, yet jittery dancing movements, Novaa expresses the heavy emotions of the song visually as well as sonically. Like stars, the rhymes stud the underlying darkness of the track with light.

When she sings “It is heavy / to carry these shackles,” Novaa shines a spotlight on the mental and physical exhaustion that comes with fighting an oppressor. The past few years have been somewhat traumatising for many minorities – the Black community in particular – and with the constant bombardment of horrific hate crimes and police brutality on our timelines, it is understandable if people feel beat.

Vaulting off from Audre Lorde’s political message that caring for oneself in troubling times is a radical act of self-preservation, Novaa’s new track powerfully illuminates the painful foundations of activism and reminds us that our fight for equality is far from over.

Follow Novaa on Spotify, Instagram, Twitter & Facebook

Photo Credit: Rebecca Kraemer

Jay Mitra
@punkofcolour

FIVE FAVOURITES: Das Beat

Formed during lockdown in 2020 to counteract chronic boredom and reignite their creative spark, Berlin-based duo Das Beat craft quirky electronic tunes with an indie disco edge. Together, German actress & vocalist Eddie Rabenberger and Canadian musician Agor (Blue Hawaii) blend elements of new wave, synth pop and disco to create their playful and provocative tunes, which culminated in the release of their debut EP, Identität, earlier this year.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Eddie to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to Das Beat’s single ‘Jackie’ at the end of this post.

 

1. John Cale – ‘Dying on the Vine’ (Accoustic Version)
This song has been one of my favourites for many years. I can’t help but to default to it when I am with a group of friends and everyone starts playing songs for each other. The version I love is from a live concert Cale plays with Nick Cave, only piano and vocals. It’s a great concert but especially this song sticks out to me. I love the rhythm of the voice and the lyrics. It just makes me happy and a little sad and that’s the way I love it.

2. Luis Ake – ‘Liebe’
I must mention this amazing German contemporary artist. He writes beautiful lyrics and songs. Especially in the new song ‘Liebe’ it all comes beautifully together to me. This song is about falling out of love with someone but instead when you listen you just have to fall in love with the music. There is also a great music video made from Tereza Mundilova, it’s super and I definitely recommend watching and letting yourself be carried away by the beautiful tunes of Luis Ake.

3. Brutalismus 3000 – ‘Good Girl’
A new band from the Berlin underground scene. But I am sure soon they will be known internationally. You listen to the music and you wanna dance – this is what being in a club should sound like. Amazing beats by Theo Zeitner joined by the incredible vocalist Victoria Daldas. When I listen to their songs it makes me feel powerful and strong and on top of the world. This song is about how impossible it is to be a “good girl” and that as a woman you can not do anything right, you’re always blamed for the actions of others. It is simple but genius and I hope soon everyone will party to this gorgeous music.

4. Gina X Performance – ‘Be a Boy’
Such an icon. Gina Kikoin is such a wonderful queer figure from the German 80`s scene. The song gave me strength as a little girl, not having to be the classical girl that society wanted. Helping to break out of gender conformity. Now I feel more secure with my self and also my “femininity”, but Gina X Performance definitely helped me on the way to define myself on my own terms, not others. It was a little hard here to choose one song, because to be honest all her albums are great.

5. Grace Jones – ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before’
Every time this song comes on it gives me the goosebumps, it’s so mystical and elegant. My fantasy immediately goes wild and then Grace’s beautiful voice comes in and I am gone. I can connect with the feeling and the lyrics. I love Grace Jones and it would be crazy not to mention her here.

Thanks to Eddie for sharing her favourites with us!

Follow Das Beat on Spotify & Instagram for more updates.

Photo Credit: Peter Zeitner

LISTEN: GIHE on Soho Radio with Bitch Hunt 30.06.21

Tash, Kate & Mari were back on the NYC & Culture channel on Soho Radio for their third GIHE new music show! They played a mix of golden oldies and new tunes from some of their favourite women, non-binary and LGBTQ+ artists.

London-based non-binary band Bitch Hunt joined them to talk about First Timers Fest, their recent EP Shapeshifter, working with their ultra supportive label Reckless Yes and their enduring love for Dave Grohl…

Listen below:

 

Tracklist
Kelis – Good Stuff
Lolawolf – Whole House
Täpp – Aquaria
Witch Prophet – Makda
HAVVK – Automatic
Lingua Ignota – PENNSYLVANIA FURNACE
WheelUP ft. Tiawa – Take Me Higher
Desire Marea – Tavern Kween
Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen – Like I Used To
Wet Leg – Chaise Longue
Varley – The Pressure
Girl Ray – Give Me Your Love
CMAT – 2 Wrecked 2 Care
Bitch Hunt – Eau Claire
**Interview with Bitch Hunt**
Th’Sheridans – I Don’t Wanna Be Dismembered
The Linda Lindas – Racist, Sexist Boy
BLAB – Eton Mess
Trouble Wanted – Lonely Cowgirl
All Day Breakfast Cafe – Old School Struggling
Cherym – Listening To My Head
Alice Hubble – Power Play
Blonde Maze x Attom – I Think About
HARD FEELINGS – Holding On Too Long
Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo Remix)
Joni Mitchell – All I Want