The name alone is mysterious: iamamiwhoami. Who is it? What is it? Where did it come from?
For months, nobody knew. Beginning in December 2009, a series of cryptic YouTube videos appeared, featuring original music in an electropop style and a blonde woman with a blurred-out face. Who was this woman? The videos offered hints in the form of coded messages, but no definite answers. The mystery caused the videos to go viral, and artists such as Lady Gaga, BjÃ¶rk, and The Knife were speculated to be behind the project.
In the video for the song “t”, the woman’s face was finally un-blurred, revealing her as Swedish singer-songwriter Jonna Lee. In an interview with The Guardian, Lee referred to the group as a “multimedia ‘entity’” that encompasses producer Claes BjÃ¶rklund, designers, and film directors. Their first album, kin, is a nine-track LP that doubles as an “audio/visual” experience; the tracks each have their own YouTube videos, which form a narrative if viewed sequentially.
Opener “sever” is a twisted lullaby and a remarkable piece of dark electronica. The initial BjÃ¶rk assumption makes sense; Jonna Lee’s vocals have that voice-as-instrument quality, and she wields a sharp melody when she sings the pre-chorus verse: “Almost forgotten the way we used to live for play/ To be accepted, I must blend into convention’s way.” Lee and BjÃ¶rklund’s production darts stealthily between Portishead-style trip hop and pulsing techno. “drops” and “good worker” exemplify the latter, with vocal textures that exit the speakers in warm swaths. “play” has too many of these textures, which become incessant and annoying. But it’s kin’s only blemish.
The spacefaring “idle talk” highlights the record. It’s a habitable planet in the deep recesses of space, a beacon among the darkness that is kin. Sci-fi synths churn beneath Lee’s saccharine melodies. In love, she sings, “You’re not like anyone I’ve known/ With you, I flourish into greatness.” Hyperbole aside, it’s a beautiful song.
iamamiwhoami have engineered a progression that all rookie artists desire: They used a pseudo-ARG to gain popularity, achieved “viral” status, and now have a captivating debut album to their name. Fans of electronic music take note: iamamiwhoami is a powerhouse, and they have the songs (and videos) to prove it.
Essential Tracks: “sever”, “idle talk”