Willowy, blonde, German (in part, at least) and purveyor of a deep, European warble: Anika is likened to Nico with good cause, but many seem to have ignored the fact that that makes her backing band – Geoff Barrow’s Beak> – a modern day Velvet Underground, which is a comparison fully realised in a small, dark club.
Anika is no doubt the star – coyly only opening her mouth to sing and seduce, dressed in black and frozen centre stage behind a very Velvets & Nico monochrome projection – but it’s Beak> who are the architects; it’s a Beak> production. Having made sinister tracks by Yoko Ono, Bob Dylan and Nina Gordon, with motorik drums, dub bass and flourishes of odd noise, it’s these elements that are ramped up tonight – Matthew Williams’ distorted slide guitar loudly squeals over ‘The End of The World’, making the band’s disturbing take on a sweet classic even more experimental and troubling. It’s the kind of thing John Cale would no doubt do, and a highlight accompanied by a cover of Ono’s ‘Yang Yang’ (still wailing but also picking up the set’s plodding pace) and Anika’s own, endless ‘Masters of War’. Needless to say it’s all extremely cool to look at, and to hear too. And even when the evening sags and drags, there’s little denying that this project only works because of that voice.
By Stuart Stubbs
Originally published in issue 25 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. February 2011