Release Date: Aug 19, 2016
Record label: Sacred Bones
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Over the course of her small but impressive body of work, Anika moved from one bleeding-edge label to another: she was the closest thing Invada Records had to a pop star, covering well-known and obscure songs with an aloof delivery that added layers of commentary and mystique. On Exploded View, her band's self-titled Sacred Bones debut, she trades this crafted, deliberate approach for a more freewheeling one. Anika first joined forces with Crocodiles producer Martin Thulin, Robota keyboardist Hugo Quezada, and Jessy Bulbo instrumentalist Hector Melgarejo when they served as her backing band during a Mexican tour, and the impact of performing live together can be heard in their music: while the foundations of Exploded View's sound -- dub, Krautrock, post-punk, and avant-garde electronics -- are similar to Anika's earlier work, the band's largely improvised songs have a spontaneity that only comes from heading into uncharted territory.
Singer Anika arrived in 2010 with the auspicious association of Geoff Barrow and the backing of his band BEAK>, which immediately set an unusually high expectation for an unknown singer. The self-titled album released mostly featured covers of classics, and was a nice introduction to a new talent - but it's been a number of years since that album and its follow-up EP. This has given time for Anika to step back and find another path to carry her musical abilities.
Exploded View was born from pure happenstance. It also began in Mexico City, when singer-songwriter Anika Henderson met a trio of musicians - Martin Thulin, Hugo Quezada, and Amon Melgarejo - who shared a similar musical aesthetic. There’s something of a nomadic streak within Anika, an artist who’s been able to easily incorporate her own ideas alongside projects that attempt to carve her own niche.
Beginning with the premise that anything on Sacred Bones is worth investigating, Exploded View doesn’t disappoint on the esoteric front. Fronted by Anglo-German performer Annika Henderson and recorded straight-to-tape in Mexico City, there’s something distinctly post-categorisation to the band’s debut long player. Messy, discordant, and beholden to the serrated edge, there’s nonetheless a seam of verisimilitude in the execution; it’s the way in which both Disco Glove and No More Parties in the Attic unfurl in a haze of skidpan velocity, One Too Many turning up at 5am the worse for wear.
There is a depression within Exploded View’s self-titled debut that does not hide itself from its audience. The Mexico City/Berlin-based band plays around with a black and white sound through an effortless improvisation. Hysteria is the word that gracefully encapsulates Exploded View. Much like an exploded-view drawing, there are different parts that move the contraption of music.
Annika Henderson is an Anglo- German journalist whose debut studio album, Anika, was recorded in collaboration with Geoff Barrow of Portishead’s other band Beak>. Touring Mexico in 2014, Henderson hit it off with the local musicians who’d been hired to back her and together they formed this new improvisational project. Their album was recorded straight-to-tape, using first takes only, a practice which renders better results with musicians who’ve been playing longer together, having had time to develop that weird psychic connection thing, of which there doesn’t seem to be much evidence here.
Exploded View — Exploded View (Sacred Bones)Annika Henderson’s debut album, as Anika, was one of those quick collaborations where everything gelled. A writer who fell in with Portishead’s Geoff Barrow as he was developing his band Beak, she fit with Beak’s approach: use the basic rock lineup to hit upon simple, cold rhythms, recorded live before anyone could overthink it. They did a bunch of covers — Kinks, Dylan, Ono, Skeeter Davis — excising any good times the originals possessed, leaving awkwardly posed skeletons that fit alongside the dub-punk originals.Henderson sings like the journalist that she is in her daytime gig.
Exploded View have a particularly well-chosen name: according to Wikipedia, an ‘exploded view’ shows an object “as if there had been a small controlled explosion emanating from the middle”. It captures the vibe of their debut album perfectly — a sense of everything having been pulled apart, its guts on display, but somehow holding it together despite the damage done. Initially assembled as a backing band for singer/musician Annika Henderson aka Anika, Exploded View quickly evolved into a creative entity in their own right – the line-up is completed by Martin Thulin, Hugo Quezada and Hector Melgarejo.