When asked to describe the circumstances that influenced her beautifully fraught new work, Berlin-based musician Annika Henderson – better known simply as Anika – quickly articulates a set of feelings and unpredictable circumstances that are familiar to anyone who tried to make art – or simply tried to live through – the recent global pandemic. "It's a moment caught in time," she says of Change, her much-anticipated new record. Given that it has been 11 years since the release of her last solo album, 2010 cult-favorite Anika, the artist suddenly found herself with a lot to say.
Having worked collaboratively in the past with the likes of BEAK> and Mexico City's Exploded View, Change was ultimately the product of necessity. "After recording the initial ideas alone at Klangbild studios in Berlin, a few months later and by some stroke of luck, Mr. Martin Thulin of Exploded View, managed to make his way over from Mexico, to co-produce the album with me and play some live drums and bass," recalls Anika. "Between Reality Baitz and Impression Recordings in Berlin, we managed to get the album together."
The intimacy of its creation and a palpable sense of global anxiety are seemingly baked into the DNA of Change. Spread across nine tracks, the central feeling of the record is one of heightened frustration buoyed by guarded optimism. The songs offer skittering, austere electronic backdrops reminiscent of classic Broadcast records or High Scores-era Boards of Canada, playing them against Anika's remarkable voice – Nico-esque, beautifully plaintive, and – in regards to the record's subject matter – totally resolute. Incantatory tracks like "Naysayer" and "Never Coming Back" are both, as Anika explains them, a call to arms and a warning. "Never Coming Back" was written after reading Rachel Carson's Silent Spring."
Recorded at a time when literally everyone in the world was being forced to take stock, rethink, and reimagine their own place in the cosmos of things, Anika provides the wisened perspective of an outsider. It's a perspective that is not lost on the British ex-pat and former political journalist. "‘Sand Witches' is about England. My old home," she says. "I gave up my UK passport when I moved to Berlin 10 years ago. Now I am a foreigner in both lands, belonging to neither. Sometimes I find it hard to recognize the place I came from."
Despite the subject matter and the circumstances around its creation, Change itself is ultimately a treatise on optimism. The title track presents the album's message writ large: I think we can change, we all have things to learn, about ourselves and about each other.