Something About the Future
With all the weird things that regularly stream out of the Nordic region, you’d think there must be something in the water over there. I theorize that it has more to do with climate and lack of sunshine, but that’s neither here nor there. iamamiwhoami’s bounty comes to us from Sweden, one of the many great northern European wells of weird music, and it lives up to its motherland’s reputation.
Let it be known from the start that iamamiwhoami is not exactly a band. It’s not really an artist either. It’s more of a running collaborative mixed-media project headed by Swedish singer-songwriter Jonna Lee. This creative entity got its start a few years ago with a cryptic series of online music videos that gradually coalesced into a full-fledged film/album, and now it has released its second album to universally confused and largely impressed audiences.
Intentionally cryptic and unpredictable, iamamiwhoami is kind of a viral band– the kind of thing that’s been attempted before, but could only exist in the contemporary age of social media and file sharing. Musically, bounty is a fine piece of work. Lee’s vocals layer up into a ghostly choir and her songwriting holds its own even against the weirdest of backdrops. Tracks range from ambient fuzz to abrasive electropop, with sufficient variety to stay fresh and enough common thread to tie it all together. However, you have to wonder if an album release like this is really necessary. iamamiwhoami was not a strictly musical project to begin with; it was a fusion of music, video and electronic mystery made possible by modern technology. It’s a very creative and impressive example of using technology to take music to new places, but the album release just seems so conventional.
In their first incarnations, these songs were accompanied by both video and a playful sense of urgent mystery that made them something more than just songs. This is not to say that the music doesn’t stand up on its own merit– it was never really meant to do so. bounty isn’t new, as you can see for yourself on iamamiwhoami’s YouTube channel, where every song is readily available with its corresponding video. This is the transference of an already completed work into a different medium. It should be great for iamamiwhoami fans who can’t stand streaming audio file compression, but it has a kind of dissolving effect on the mystique that makes it special.