Initially spending the early part of her professional career as a political journalist, who split her time between Berlin and Bristol, UK, Annika Henderson, best known as Anika can trace the origins of her musical career to a particular moment — when she was introduced to Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. As the story goes, at the time, Barrow was looking for a vocalist, who would be willing to work with his band Beak> for what he envisioned as a side project. Reportedly, when Barrow and Henderson first met, they immediately bonded over a mutual love of punk, dub and 60s girls group. And within a week of their meeting, Barrow, Henderson and the members of Beak> went into the studio to record the material which would eventually comprise Henderson’s 2010 self-titled full-length debut.
2013 saw the release of Henderson’s self-titled EP, a collection of covers and remixes that included one of my favorite songs off the set, Henderson’s cover of Chromatics’ “In the City,” which paired Henderson’s icy delivery with a Portishead and The Velvet Underground and Nico-inspired production. Last year, Geoff Barrow’s Invada Records, released an icily foreboding, dub-inspired cover of Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” by the mysterious Invada All Stars featuring Anika on vocals as part of the Stop Trident National anti-nukes demonstration in London.
Since then, Henderson has been busy with her most current musical project, Exploded View is collaborative side project fronted by the renowned vocalist and featuring a group of Mexico City-based producers including Martin Thulin, known for his work with JOVM mainstays Crocodiles; Hugo Quezada and Amon Melgarejo — and the project’s sound finds Henderson and company moving away from the krautrock-inspired sound of her solo work, and towards a seemingly fuzzily atmospheric and baroque-like psych pop. After completing the material that would comprise the band’s self-titled debut album, the members of the band decided to return to the studio and record some more, with the result being the Summer Came Early EP. Comprised of some outtakes from the self-titled album, along with some new material, their follow-up EP reportedly finds the band crafting sons that carefully walk a tightrope between clarity and focus and a messy, free-flowing experimentalism that comes from improvisation.
Interestingly, EP title track “Summer Came Early” may arguably be one of the most delicate and bitterly wistful songs that the band has released to date — while thematically, the song is written as a post-permanent climate change ode to how the environment once was, with the caveat that no one questioned anything and no one did anything besides lazily sat down and gave up. And when the proverbial shit hit the fan, the only action that was left was to point fingers at someone else. It’s a bit reminiscent of the famous T.S. Eliot poem isn’t it?
Directed by William Markarian-Martin is an eerily psychedelic vision of the hellish and permanent damage that humanity has done to the environment, and while wistful it possesses an eerie fatalism and acceptance.