iamamiwhoami - bounty

iamamiwhoami - bounty
Album Reviews

The theme of Man vs Nature is present, it’s just a lot harder to convey without visual cues.

Label: To Whom It May Concern / Co-operative Music
Released: 3rd June 2013
Reviewer: Tom Watts
Originally released as a set of maddeningly cryptic videos back in 2010, the songs that comprise iamamiwhoami’s ‘bounty’ are finally seeing the light of day as a full studio release. Since ‘bounty’ was originally conceived and released, the stock of Swedish singer-songwriter Jonna Lee (the golden blonde behind the iamamiwhoami moniker) has risen ever higher, culminating in an ‘Innovator of the Year’ award at the Swedish Grammis for the original series.

The record itself is a joyful exploration of synthy soundscapes and haunting vocals, underpinned by strangely industrial-sounding drums. The ambient dream pop ebbs and flows between electronic sub genres like crystal clear waves washing up and down on a tropical beach somewhere, wavering between harmonies blurred into static and shimmery, flaxen synthscapes that flicker like golden sunsets. At times it really is very beautiful.

‘bounty’ possesses an alluring and, at times, alarmingly addictive sunny disposition, one that doesn’t care about the largely indecipherable lyrics, but rather focuses on the eerie, ethereal nature of each track. Lee’s vocals are obtuse and distorted, as she weaves enigmatic, moaning whale song in and out of the instruments, transforming her voice into an instrument in and of itself. The crisp gossamer-like vocals range from crisp and clean through to reverb drenched, the echoes of which waver like an aural mirage, remaining long after they’ve disappeared.

The syncopated beats patter throughout sounding like blacksmiths' hammers ringing in a forge, whilst their metronomic consistency is the one constant throughout the hazy synthesisers and mythic vocals. As the beat echoes through surprisingly ‘natural’ sounding synths, a juxtaposition emerges. Similar to the theme of the ‘bounty’ video series, it accentuates a perceived bifurcation between the natural and the synthetic. The echoes of nature found in the miasma of electronic sounds is held up against the mechanised rhythm holding everything together – and which is superior you may wonder? The answer lies in the music itself– they are in perfect tandem, at once both complimentary and curiously jarring.

‘bounty’ is a record that, whilst great to vibe out to, kind of feels a little stitched together piecemeal. Through the original video series and the acrostic nature of the song titles this is a clearly a project that is grounded in some kind of fundamental unification, and sadly across the nine tracks that unification just doesn’t really emerge. Sure, it bubbles away beneath each song, but at its most visceral, the overarching theme is one of ‘similar sounding electronic soundscapes’ rather than anything altogether deeper. The theme of Man vs Nature is present, it’s just a lot harder to convey without those visual cues.
Rating: 6/10
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