Fan! B*A*M*! Thank you, ma’am!
Yes, that’s me. I’ve been a fan of the band Annuluk since they sent me their last album to review. Then I tried to see them in concert for about two years, but there was always somewhere else I had to be. Friday, June 24th is the release party for their new album B*A*M* (Beautiful And Massive) at die naTo – and I’m going to be there come hell or high water!
The band was founded around 4 years ago by Michaela Holubova (DE) and Roberto Fratta (IT). Naturally, like with any organic evolutionary entity, there have been many changes in direction. Other members of the band have been there when they were motivated by the exploration process. The current configuration includes Alex Cerb (IT) and Dave Sills Toprak (AUS). Last week I got to spend some time with them in their rehearsal space. It was a bit like a Derridian utopia with all the various languages and accents.
Of course my first question was why they are called Annuluk.
The word comes from an old Inuit story. There are women who live in the water. Sometimes they emerge and temporarily remove their skin. A man stumbled upon one such creature and heard her singing. He fell in love with her and knew he could not live without her, so he hid her skin. Eventually she grew to love him and they had a son. After a while she started growing weak. She could only go without her skin for seven years. The man didn’t want to let her go and would not tell her where to find her skin. She was in so much pain. Her son could not bear seeing his mom this way and, though he knew this would mean never seeing her again, he searched for her skin. Luckily he found it just in time and she was able to put it back on and was saved.
This story was one of many stories handed down by ancient cultures that Michaela Holubova (Miša) discovered in the book Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. The book and this story in particular had deeper meaning to her because she was in a relationship that was draining her. She was able to gather the strength to get out and take her son with her. During that process of empowerment, she was able to return to music.
Thus “Annuluk” the band was born.
Roberto was totally on board in naming the band after a positive mystical character. It made perfect sense in that the songs they produce have no actual words. This allows Miša to vocalise freely in a mystical language. I asked how this works. There are many writers who use life experience to write lyrics. Miša works the same way, but the utterances go beyond language to an emotional core.
The music has many influences from all over the world. Their debut album Ushna did very well in the world music genre, but it’s not what you expect from that labelling. It plays on contrasts and tension, employing the shrill buzz of Indian Shruti box, electronic sampling, West African polyrhythms, flamenco, jazz, throbbing distorted dub beats and voice.
Annuluk won the 2014 VIA VUT INDIE Best Newcomer Award. Part of the prize was a new synth with lots of samples. This has enabled them to get deep dark bass, and that’s the direction the B*A*M* has moved in. Their shamanistic sound just got heavy, very heavy. I love the sound. It feels right. There are so many little complexities and things to discover within it. I can’t wait for the show!