I Am Harlequin is the persona of London based Anne Freier. Born of cultured environs in Dresden before the wall came down she’s an idiosyncratic writer of music cloaked around a skeleton of electro, but fleshed out with all manner of influences. She sings with elegant control, at times quirky in the mode of Lily Allen or sassy and soulful, and at moments it gathers magnitude and leans towards an operatic capacity. This is all juxtaposed against predominantly dance backings that offer interesting counterbalance to her singing. It’s a sweet and sour combination that lends flavour to the arrangements.
The eponymous opener of her Craze EP is a sheer vocal theatre that takes her voice up to the peaks before swelling into a choral flower that overwhelms with pungency and potency. There’s power, strength and beauty in this music. Like oiled musculature it rivets the attention.
“Something Else” is the most commercial contribution and slightly out of kilter with the other tracks, especially when compared to “Because he loves them both”. This wades in with insistent strings redolent of the arrangements Michael Nyman used on The Draughtsman’s contract. Thankfully she finds it impossible to exclude these classical influences because they embellish her work with integrity rather than diminish it with pretence. Ok this track unavoidably brings to mind Kate Bush, but that’s coincidence not plagiarism.
The penultimate track, “Don’t Break the Silence”, belies her Germanic roots. Indeed there’s a Teutonic precision about all her music – vorsprung durch technic. Like their cars it’s been constructed with attention to detail and given life by drum beats that run through it like a fibrillating heartbeat. Engineers everywhere will deconstruct the mechanics of this record and likewise countless others will enjoy its greatness without any cognisance of why. It just is, and that’s all that matters.
That leads to the parting song, “Wild One”, a farewell that unequivocally proves human voices are the most expressive and versatile instruments you could want. In the silent wake of the final notes you sit and listen to your own breath that has just been taken away from you.
Released: 2nd July 2012, self-release