Uterus Water •••
As she told Wears The Trousers in an interview last year, Kría Brekkan’s only goals as far as her ‘solo’ career is concerned are simple: “Just to practise more things and educate myself.” Three releases in, totalling just fifteen tracks and barely an hour of music, her self-education is certainly proving to be an intriguing one. Her latest 7″, limited to only 100 copies in Europe, finds the Icelander as wildly experimental, clashing and sometimes frustrating as ever. Standing outside of Brekkan’s own little bubble, it can be difficult to appreciate her work given its extreme insularity. But mere self-indulgence can be transcended into art if it can be mastered, and Uterus Water proves, as the hairs prickle up on the back of your neck, that Brekkan is approaching a kind of auteurship.
Stylistically, this three-song set sits (un)comfortably right between her 2008 ‘album’ Apotropaíosong Armor and the previous year’s Wildering EP. The title track starts things off with an eerie collage of water splashes, clunky distorted bouts of wooden percussion and distant, seemingly improvised plucking of guitars. As Brekkan’s otherworldly cries softly work around the sounds, what instantly grabs you is that, while her work may not be getting any more tuneful, her production skills are finally finding their feet when it comes to making these kind of indefinable sonic sculptures. Whereas Wildering sounded messy, Uterus Water sounds much more precise in its subtle ‘organised chaos’ approach.
‘Place Of You’ comes closest to being an actual ‘song’, with sparse, deep bass guitar pushing a tender piano melody with a wheezing harmonium providing extra atmospherics as Brekkan gently unfolds a lovely lyric with a surprisingly mellow delivery. It’s a grower for sure, the kind that other artists might kill to have as their token sleepy closer. The end-song here though is left to Brekkan’s most bizarre experiment to date. Sitting somewhere between ‘Ancestors’, Björk’s primal throat singing duet with Tanya Tagaq, and one of Meredith Monk’s more higher-pitched a cappella experiments, ‘Ribbon Bow’ defies more explanation other than to say that it’s undeniably atmospheric and unnerving, with lashings of reverb and drones.
It took Yoko Ono the best part of 30 years of wild, ear-splitting art for people to suddenly say, “Actually, she is pretty cool”. While Brekkan is certainly no Ono, her work needs time to settle into some kind of context, even if it is a truly indefinable one. Uterus Water is by no means any more listenable than her previous releases, but Brekkan has created a work you simply have to listen to several times in a row. Not because of its brevity, but because it actually demands it.
UK release date: 11/01/10; www.myspace.com/kriabrekkan
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