Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

AMNESTY 2011: Ane Brun – Do You Remember

Always a favourite: more attractive Scando ladies.


Kat Stevens: I am always pleasantly surprised to hear non-electronic techno done well. The drums are propulsive rather than bludgeoning (c/o Florence) with enough texture and variation that I wish this went on for about ten minutes instead of three so it could build up properly. Not having chords means you have more freedom to play around with the instruments you have available!

Anthony Easton: What is the percussion in the first bit of this–is it congos, or bongos, or something that I can never quite figure out? It makes the intimacy — the comfort of being in bed with a lover into the trauma of loss, the reversal of pleasure into loss, of the bodily into memory — rest on the wordless vocals, grooved into that perfectly set drum beat.

Iain Mew: I love the rumbling, complex rhythm that underpins this, love Ane’s commanding presence, love the wordless vocals behind her, love the sensuality of the lyrics and their scars and muscles. What really makes this so amazing, though, is the ending. She’s already sung the exact same words earlier in the song. Yet, when much of the rhythm, the backing singing, the joy, drops out and leaves Ane and “the last time you’d be mine”, there’s a brutal finality to it which gets me every time. 

Jonathan Bogart: Her fluting voice is a marvelous thing; juxtaposed against the shaggy rhythms of the toms, it suggests deep mysteries.

Zach Lyon: Or: Feist for people who don’t only listen to music right before they fall asleep.

Jer Fairall: The African backing-vocal figures suggest what a non-scary version of tUnE-YarDs might sound to those who hear more sonic globetrotting in Merrill Garbus’ music than I seem to,  the martial drums (and the vague setting of the music video) point towards a companion piece to PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake and the vocals are poised, tasteful and dramatic in the vein of Lykke Li or Florence Welch.  A potted compendium of what white female-voiced pop vocal music sounded like in 2011, then, though one whose compression ends up reminding me too little of what is interesting about the former pair and too much of what bores me about the latter two.

Katherine St Asaph: What the hell is this? Ane Brun makes raspy-voiced acoustic music for blankets and firesides, not throaty-voiced, percussive stuff more like Lykke Li’s sophomore stomps, Emiliana Torrini with her “Jungle Drum” or — for an actually legit comparison — a lighter, less brooding version of former collaborator Katharina Nuttall. It suits her well enough, although the song neither takes off nor closes. It’s also an unneeded pivot.

Alfred Soto: Striking? Of course — the ghosts of Siouxsie, Polly Jean Harvey, and tUnE-yArDs tease the Native American chant and percussion. Rare too for a singer of any gender or orientation to confess the rituals of sex. If I’m not as moved as I should, blame its histrionic quality: an Off Broadway piece simulating complexity.

Brad Shoup: Plot the set of breakup songs on an axis. At its head might be the “so sorry” songs: “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5, say. At the foot, we could place any number of Kelly Clarkson “good riddance to foul assholes” tunes. Somewhere around the origin lies “Do You Remember” (in Norwegian: “Hüsker dü”). It’s structurally so simple, which courts two big risks: coming across as gimmicky, and wearing on the ears. But these risks are countered by Brun’s bravura vocal performance: beaming with the clarity of an Anne Briggs or Shirley Collins, filigreed with bent notes, tempered with a Scandinavian flatness that bolds choice words. There’s not much in the way of assigning fault, just recollection and sighs mitigated by the Diddley-bop. Reminiscence can still be its own kind of cruelty, of course, but turning this text over to the rhythm section (the drums, yes, but also that modest bass tapping its toes on the off-beat) whips the past’s fog into a light froth. And Brun’s opening verse is its own reportage, featuring a splendidly oblique treatment of sex: “When we found our first position/and every muscle rested.” The thematic (and rhythmic) DNA of “Do You Remember” is encoded in Paul Simon’s batucada-lite “The Obvious Child”: you participate in events, note their passing, and retain a humor about the whole thing. It’s my favorite sound this year.

4 Responses to “AMNESTY 2011: Ane Brun – Do You Remember”

  1. Is this where I plug Katharina Nuttall’s awesome album? It is.

  2. Amnesty is fun! Thanks, all!

  3. I’d up my grade on this to a [9]. What a wonderful little song. The backing vox make it work.

  4. Argh! I meant c/f Florence of course. Oh, you lot know what I was getting at…