Self-styled as “controversial in nature” and recorded in just 12 days without any overdubs, the sparse and harrowing essence at the core of the self-titled début from Surrey-via-Berlin singer Anika succeeds in its gambit of uncomfortable listening. Much like its unorthodox recording methods, the raw sound of Anika is firmly rooted in and unashamedly indebted to a seventies spirit of unbridled creativity and loose restrictions, taking in a clamorous concoction spanning dub, post-punk and avant-garde pop.
Bolstered by BEAK>, the new group headed by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, with only a couple of originals under her belt Anika distills classic and forgotten tracks through her minimalistic dystopian slant. Yoko Ono’s “Yang Yang” swells into a revolutionary call for the modern age with its electro-pop stomp and insistent siren-like synths. The disconcertingly sweet tale of a lover killed in a motorcycle accident, as originally told by sixties girl-pop band Twinkle, takes a more ominous turn, the pulsating bass opening up a desolate wasteland for Anika’s nonchalant chant on “Terry”.
She betrays her maternal Germanic roots with her broad accent and deadpan cool instantly cutting across the compositions, wisely foregoing tackling Nico tracks and avoiding turning homage into mere emulation. For better or worse, her vocals are the protagonist of this record, playing out an aura of disquieting intrigue against a bitter and foreboding backdrop of clanging guitars and hollow drums.
Keeping her past as a political journalist a close influence, Anika is fettered with overt yet ambiguous politicization. On the longer of two versions of “Masters of War”, sound bites from an Iraq war veteran are cut into the mix of heavy echoing dub. Yet like the record’s carefully constructed disarray, the results are too self-conscious to be truly subversive. What remains is an experiment in imperfection, a rare glimpse into the highs and lows that have been so methodically ironed out of many records of today.[audio:http://potholesinmyblog.flywheelsites.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Anika-I-Go-To-Sleep.mp3|titles=Anika – “I Go To Sleep”]