Live

by Annika Bentley

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about

"Annika Bentley is a young artist creating insightful, pretty music that will inevitably be compared to nebulously similar musics, previously created by female artists who may or may not have written similar tunes than she. Put another way, into a world too quick to generalize any female singer-songwriter’s work as sentimental stool-folk worthy only of a side stage at a future Lillith Faire, Bentley has quietly put forth her distinct, recalcitrant brand of oddly-attired pop music, with the hope that people will just listen with an open ear.

This can be difficult.

On a Thursday night in Chicago, Annika Bentley is trying faithfully, desperately, to ignore the types having a laugh in the back corner. It’s not their fault; the pints are flowing, and the Abbey Pub’s music room is a dark, smoky affair that lends itself to nooks and crannies. Towards the back of the venue, away from the stage, they might get the feeling that one can speak freely. But that’s when they fuck up. And then they get the stink eye from Annika, whose fractal, lilting performance enjoys the silence between notes as much as the analog groove kicked up by her bandmates’ cello and an upright bass. Be embarrassed you weren’t listening. And kick yourself in the shins when she’s famous.

Bentley’s music is guided by her voice, an instrument that soars and whispers, hinting at the sinister qualities of Polly Jean Harvey while still retaining a crystalline virtue that’s intrinsically her own. As she alternates between guitar and piano, her melodies are backed by her mother (!) Kathleen Fraser on double bass, cellist Ian Downey, and drummer Otto Hauser. Because of her classical turns on piano, and a certain similarity in vocal delivery, comparisons to Tori Amos are inevitable, and maybe a little apropos. But at Thursday’s show, Bentley’s chamber-core reminded me more of a sans reverb Dream Academy, or perhaps some middle ground between the quiet moments of Sarah McLachlan’s Solace and Mary Timony’s post-Helium riffs on Medieval fairytales.

I have just made the mistake of comparing Annika Bentley to numerous female artists who have used the tenets of pop music to reach for a more austere, introspective, or cathartic – yet still rocking – result. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as long as Bentley isn’t critiqued into a corner, labelled before her own muse has a chance to reveal itself. And in the details Thursday, it did. All influence aside, the music was passionately, painfully original, to the point that it demanded an attentive listener. As such, it was unfortunate that the audience onhand was on the smaller side, and a bit more interested in bullshitting than an acknowledgement of the raw talent on stage. The loudtalkers in the bunch missed out on a few prescient moments in Bentley’s set – a whispered vocal here, an inspired chord change there – that suggest widespread greatness in her future.

Here’s hoping that, next time, they listen."

-Johnny Loftus, Chicago Readers Guide / Glorious Noise

credits

released October 4, 2005

Annika Bentley: Vocals, Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Electric Piano, Sampler
Ian Downey: Cello, Backing Vocals on 1
Kathleen Fraser: Double Bass, Backing Vocals on 6
Otto Hauser: Drums, Ebow

All songs written and arranged by Annika Bentley.
Recording engineered, mixed and mastered by Matthew D. Guarnere.
Video Footage by W. Keith McManus and Richard Della Costa.
Lighting by Ben Raimi.
Collage by Annika Bentley.
Drawing by Margaret Farmer.
Design by Chris Reeg at Prim8Media.

Recorded live on May 27, 2003 during promotional taping at Allendale Columbia in Rochester, NY.

Copyright 2003, 2005 Billy Likes Records

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about

Annika Bentley Rochester, New York

Singer-songwriter & composer from Rochester, NY

Photo by Keith Parkins

Artwork by Margaret Farmer

Design by Darryl Norsen

Web design by Travis Johansen
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Track Name: What a Spell
Forget the aeroplanes which can't save you now. Habit habit, little rabbit, I will drown in this skin. My golden memorial, scratch scratch scratch, flutter car-fast and plain. Pirated my diffidence and you let your lashes down to fly. Penchant pendant round and round it flickers faster than your moths. Stick this needle in my eye, my words left you so unsatisfied. Arrest within my every sigh and bear these losses by and by and by. I can weight the picture box in currency of robins now. You can sing a mother song with thumbs like rocking paper horses go, tracing how I came to set this package out. Don't fight the civil service, I am the postal man.
Track Name: Red Moon
Hey red moon,
get up,
get up high.
I measure stillness
by your presence in my eye.

I don't think that you'll stay
by a birdless sky.

Hey pale hands,
catch up,
you move so slow.
I don't know how fast
a heart can beat
before it goes.

I don't think that you'll stay
in a crowd of sorrows.

Hey sharp tongue,
shut up,
I'll sew you down.
Heaven help you if you speak,
if you ask the tide
to help you drown.

I don't think that you'll stay,
you won't stick around.

I don't think that you'll stay
unbound.
Track Name: Lucid Lucitania
I'll eat nothing of this, it's in my blood because I've not been vaccinated for hi-fi love. Armor for this catching skin because your fingers they are contagious. my ribs, my waves, my words, my tide. But just in Texas there's a sorry and a space suit for a soldier who doesn't want to breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, BREATHE. My ribs, my waves, my words, my tide. Love grafts on these trees. My tick-tock mechanics heart the metal sparks could not ignite. A little happier, a little frostbite in my mascara. I could not stop or begin again. I could not seal my lips. I could not smooth the sea. Contagious. My ribs, my waves, my words, my tide. A little happier. I thought I kissed a pair of wings. A pair of wings.


(All at six, all of a square, all from a roof encompass me, awash and affix my hair with all the confessed adornments of your throat. Fist in hand, bring me under your deadly locks. Chewed up and caressed I'm time for moths. Quiet my voice, tremble my fingers, tremble, a treble yearning and grasping amongst these teeth. Every single one. Lest we forget. A moon-stroke. That's all. In an eye of the biggest circle. I saw and was a star. A flip-switch switch top vacillation role-reversal makes me into here and there and back again. The finest of delicate and muted lines I thought I kissed a pair of wings. No lips equal to this butter-lion-fly. I don't ever want to consume again. Born and Borne again of a scratch and a sound I know is resonating within your chest. I'm searching for this echo in my ribs. All my air smells like honey and your skin. Eating the seeds to conceal them in your tummy. Nothing can grow through such thick skin. A taste, I wouldn't start, continuation nil, what's over nearly happened retrospectively. I'll soon have miles of fabric if this pattern holds its threads. I am a needle of insistent flight. This is right now, she says. I married him for all his masquerade. I trusted an aphoniac. I wanted talk like narcolepsy. He spoke of pyrophobia and I now believe this was his incapacitation, not a fleeting or a flickering stranger. Wobble wobble, indeed. I can't bear these blisters any more than a distance or a lying nod. I'm trafficked and forgotten. Could you be more like cartilage? Bend, a way to implore, I encourage it, bend. I can feel you like cancer in my wanting cells. I desire of you osmosis. All I wanted, to plug this nightmare vacuum with a tear. Taste the self in this constellation. I've tried so many ways of lying down. The finest of delicate and muted lines. I thought I kissed a pair of wings. No lips equal to this butter-lion-fly. The water holds better than arms. It holds forever.)
Track Name: A Spreading Stain
Like a river, like a tree,
like my veins are growing out of me.
Does it seal you up inside?
Does it keep the wolves away?
Do you touch these sewn-on lines
to see what's left of you today?

I found a worm growing on my skin
and the harder I scratch, the deeper it digs in.
Like an undesired map, we mark the passing time
in flesh with tiny rivulets and the scars of carving knives.

Like a second spine, a highway to the brain,
you can shout out all you like and it gets there just the same.
Does it pierce your every thought,
are you a puppet of your own design?
Can it pump your blood for you, or help you stay immobilized?

No amount of hope undoes this damage done.
Once it's nestled down inside,
the parasite's as good as won.
An enemy of skin, not a tumor but a spreading stain,
with the highest hopes to overtake and then erase.
A flashing call to arms, my body bat signal,
a beacon of our enmity ensnares the less careful.
I promise to resist,
I swear to keep the inside in.
My ears are deaf to every beat against this armored skin.

As the sun is my mirror, my witness
I will burn all the skin upon my chest.
Will it cut the exit off, or will you find you are your own disease?
Will you watch the pulsing breast
as you give up your autonomy?

Like a ribbon, like these trees
like my veins are choking me
Does it seal you up inside,
does it keep the wolves away?
Do you touch these sewn-on lines
to see if you're still here today?
Track Name: Plant or Animal
Grace-green is my outside,
my inside red red red
like a ribbon candy in a nest.

Hold fast, hold fast.

My skin so like a photosynthesizer
I sprout and lay my egg shell creases
down along the ground.
We all came from this dirt anyway.

Hold fast, hold fast.

Inside, outside, organ, shell-case,
seed pod, lung, vein,
stalk, ground, and sky.
Polarity still, still,
polarity prison.
Conjunction and escape,
these stitches are only made of tape.

Waxed and planted, contradiction
in stem and meaty self.
Do I need the nothing?
Ceaseless circumvention.

Hold fast, hold fast.
Track Name: Gloria Wrist
Heavybound like heaven trucks through the night to bring you sky, don't leave your wings on the table, you need them to leave this behind. The cyclops holds my views didactic and ships me off to learn the nature of my crime. Gentle one, don't lose those hands. I sleep now knowing of them. The light beneath your skin is paler than truth and just as blue. I will ask every star, what's summer worth? Every time, it dies. Gloria, gloria.

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