Rebekka Karijord, Mother Tongue, Control Freak Kitten Records
In her latest release, the multi-talented Norwegian/Swedish artist Rebekka Karijord delivers both intense pain and beauty in an album that explores the traumatic three month early arrival of her first child.Soft, percolating hums lead the listener in via opening track, ‘Morula’. Karijord’s husky, graceful voice murmurs across glistening keys in a subtle delivery that is used to optimum effect. Both lyrics and sound craftsmanship are on equally formidable levels. Themes of hope versus hopelessness are tackled in ‘Waimanalo’. “You say you want to die, but I’ve got life inside of me,” Karijord states. Dramatic percussion paired with lush, yet restrained, keys combined with free form jazz elements break up the structure from a standard to something more ethereal.
Much of Karijord’s pregnancy was spent in Hawaii, surrounded by her husband’s family. The experience of spending time on one of the world’s most remote archipelagos helped to rekindle Karijord’s roots spent growing up in northern Norway, drawing deep connections to the very core of her being. ‘I Will Follow You Into The Wild’ features a recording of Hawaii’s Kekuhi Keali’ikanaka‘oleohaililani who Karijord describes as “a very special kind of holy woman. This chant became a symbol for me.”
Swaying from sacred, sombre chanting to upbeat piano stomper, ‘The Orbit’, feels seamless in a way that few others could pull off. Standing in good company with the likes of My Brightest Diamond, Karijord displays a versatility that is both expertly achieved and keeps the overall feel of the record as far away as possible from repetition and homogeny. Ecstatically euphoric, Karijord channels nervous elation, proclaiming: “ I swing/I swoon,” over arpeggios that are bombastic and joyous, yet zapped with pure static energy to keep the listener on their toes.
The lion’s share of the recording of this very dense, fully realized album was recorded, produced, arranged and edited by Karijord herself. In addition to playing most keys, synths, pianos and electronics – with the aid of Elias Krantz as technician, co-producer and mixer. Her husband Jacob Snavely provided bass and electronics, while a wide array of friends (including Marriam Wallentin of Wildbirds & Peacedrums) helped out with various instrumentals and vocal harmonies.
Title track ‘Mother Tongue’ is a fearless torch song, with stark lyricism and strong vocal delivery that brings to mind fellow Swedish contemporaries Jenny Wilson and Frida Hyvonen. Haunting album closer, ‘Mausoleum’ plays with the use of echo that sounds as if we are joined together in a darkened mausoleum, while a group of female voices echo praise “ for my mothers and my mothers/ everything sacrificed”, offering “a place to remember”. This poignant, haunting and heart-wrenching meditation on maternal sacrifice is especially poignant, coming so soon after the global Women’s March.
‘Mother Tongue’ is a masterful achievement that soars in both crucial craftsmanship as well as in the tackling of complex thematic subjects. Instinctual to its core, it is an astute examination of the instinctual, that which is often ignored, but essential to humanity.
Rebekka Karijord live dates:
18 Feb Sodra Teaterns Stora Scen Stockholm, Sweden
25 Feb Victoriateatern Malmo, Sweden
26 Feb Stora Teatern Gothenburg, Sweden