Yesterday, Cooperative Music Company posted an update to their Facebook page stating that multimedia pioneers Iamamiwhoami are set to release their debut album Kin on June 8th, 2012. In their true forward-thinking fashion, the album looks as if it will slowly be digitally released in chapters with visuals up until the summer release. In fact, a track called “Drops” (which we’re already anticipating) is scheduled a close February 29th release date on Amazon.fr!
It’s been six months since the release of “Clump” but our little hope has brought us to all of these extravagant announcements and more! To kick it all off, the poor tormented mandrake/Tree Licker descended from the sky on the day after Valentine’s Day. And in all of her blonde hair, risque & theatrical movements, she delivered a new song of fire: “Sever.”
Before we continue, please allow us to jump for joy in celebration that “Sever” is not only available through major market powerhouses Amazon and iTunes, but a lossless version of the file can be purchased through Junodownload.com. While it’s a bit pricey, this marks the first lossless download from the project..a request we put in on May of last year on our article on the 2020k #1 song of 2011, “; John”. Between this unexpected twist and a confirmation of a physical album, we’re beaming with full hi-fidelity excitement.
The greatest thing about “Sever” is all of it, but more specifically it’s the work in equalization. There is a great bottom end buildup that holds the track together by boosting the kick around 100Hz and a snare drum boost at 200Hz. The majority of the synth work falls within the mid-range bridge between the previously mentioned instruments and Jonna Lee’s vocals. In fact, if you place a simple hi-pass filter on the song, you’ll find that almost the entire high-frequency range is dedicated to the vocals of the track. At a basic listen, the only other instrumentation you hear passed 6kHz are small bits of sytnth layers and the thin, top end of the snare drum.
Depth has always played a huge role on Iamamiwhoami tracks, but it’s more apparent on the simpler tracks such as “Clump” (see our review here) and “Sever”. Noise floor and what sounds like vinyl scratching, rain, or field recordings also take over a small bit of the top end. However, these aspects of the track are mostly included for playing a more accented role in the song. The light percussive field recorded loops have a panned delay on the right channel, which causes the stereo image to subtly broaden. These effects play such a large part in depth that without them and the reverb on Jonna’s vocals, the mix wouldn’t have as much space as it is perceived to have despite there being less tracks in the song itself.
Panning also plays into the melodic synth layers of the song. In the same way a piano’s notes are laid out flowing left to right, high to low – the melodic synths are smartly panned so that the lower notes are heard more through the left channel of the stereo mix. The higher octave notes obviously play more prominently through the right. It’s a pretty standard mixing technique, and in this case causes the listener to be able to distinguish between the two melodies that are playing simultaneously with one another and diminishes any sort of clash between melodic content.
Although the synth work and equalization are both great in their own right, it’s the signature vocal effects are what take up the forefront of “Sever”. In fact, the vocals seem to be at the front of the mix more in this track than a lot of the tracks featured through their previous earlier releases such as “U-2” or “B”. Perhaps it’s a part of the story? An extention of seeing Iamamiwhoami blossoming from having no voice, to being one of the mysterious acts in the music industry. Or maybe it’s an attempt at toning down the obscure tones, but whatever the reason may be, it’s not a horrible decision. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. An example of how this song benefits from this technique lies within the first phrase of the second verse. It starts A Capella and without Jonna’s vocal being as represented in the mix as it is, it would lack power and consistency. It would instead drown amongst the instrumentation of the track. Higher vocals = good move.
Even though the recent Iam songs seem to be settling down and drifting away from the heavy experimentation; the reverberation, atmospherics, and top notch vocal sound from the project remains consistent.
Also, amidst the heavy amount of reverb on the main melodic line, there is a lower registered vocal which is hidden to provide an even thicker sonic atmosphere.
Small supportive “ba-dum” bits come into play toward the end of “Sever” and are equalized to sound as if they’re coming from an old radio. The effect is paired with reverberation and is placed a bit lower in the mix, giving a far away feeling. Looking deeply into this, it could represent the loss between reality and imagination. The adlibs are hopeful sounding (fantasy), but are placed at a lower level than the rest of the vocals (reality). The video seems to be hinting greatly at the theme, so it’s not surprising that sonics of the track itself provide subconscious emotion.
For more information on the video and it’s theme, we ask that you check out ForsakenOrder.com’s fantastic write-up. It can be viewed by clicking here.
Consciously? The lyrics are simple. Two lines for each verse and four for the chorus. The absence of lyrics against the eight measure section provided for verses adds a unique and sparse feel to the track and works well against the overall open feel of the track. The chorus gives an eerie look into reality vs fantasy by confessing “I won’t be fooled by its touch or emotional supply. In scent of a fail, in heavy love we dry. The cold in the bare grass, so delicate by one’s eye.It’s why we can’t rely and elope tonight.” Phrasing and lyrics seem to be a bit reminiscent of an early Bjork as well.
Interestingly enough, though Iamamiwhoami seem to be exploring the folklore of a mandrake through themes in their music, it’s impossible to ignore the beautiful songwriting style that leaves enough open interpretation for the listener to draw and relate his or her own experience and meaning to. A sense of a toxic lover (“my looks so grand from the distance that you need to touch“) or a general look at an outcast in society refusing to budge (“To be accepted, I must blend into convention’s way and same universal ways“) are verbally flirted with. Take it as you may, but “Sever” is a fine songcraft in it’s own right.
With a CD release and lossless files for the songs from Kin finally coming to fruition, it looks as though Iamamiwhoami are carving a path using new technology and extensive research to give listeners exactly what they want. The best part about this? They’re doing it while releasing some of the most intellectual Electronic music of current age and without compromising artistic integrity.
Track rating: 5/5