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★★★★★

bounty

iamamiwhoami

To whom it may concern. / Cooperative Music

Scheduled Release: June 3, 2013

If this is the first time you hear the oddly concatenated name iamamiwhoami, then you have missed the fascinating beginnings of an enigmatic viral internet sensation that took over Youtube in 2009. Founded by the Swedish folk singer-songwriter Jonna Lee, her producer Claes Björklund and the film director Robin Kempe-Bergman, iamamiwhoami is an audiovisual musical project with many charming peculiarities that your regular wannabe-weirdo artists never manage to deliver.

In case you are a tough nut when it comes to newcomers in the music industry, you might be reluctant to believe that there is anything remotely interesting about iamamiwhoami, but you might think differently when you find out that until late 2010, fans across the world had no idea who their new favorite synth- and dream-pop star was. In other words, iamamiwhoami started as a completely anonymous and puzzling Youtube project that spread out virally and remained incognito for almost an entire year.

It all started when numerically titled videos were uploaded to iamamiwhoami’s Youtube account and emailed to various music journalists. These initial videos were very short and portrayed oddly-decorated forests, eerie synth beats, snowy graveyards, human-tree hybrids and, most importantly, a mysterious woman completely painted in black, with her eyes shining distinctly under overly extended eyelashes. The pattern continued until a full-length video titled “b” was released in March 2010, which was the first concrete beginning of a mesmerizing tale.

What was the tale? Funnily enough, it’s hard to tell. After “b”, new one-letter videos were released in a non-random order: “o”, “u-1”, “u-2”, “n”, “t”, “y”, which eventually spelled out the word “bounty”. Each video was very unique and had its own story, but they all had some recurring features, which included a black cat, the female protagonist’s loose dance moves, fairy tale forests, ethereal surroundings, half-naked people, and semen. For instance, in “t”, the female protagonist dances completely naked on a cliff singing about new beginnings, while in “y” she frolics around a foil-covered forest guarded by trees with half-naked people inside them. The mystery was partially shattered when “t” was released — it became clear that Jonna Lee was involved in the project because her face was unveiled for the first time, and all the media’s speculations of Lady Gaga or Christina Aguilera being involved fell into oblivion. In the summer of 2011, iamamiwhoami released two singles “; john” and “clump”, which were the last two tracks to be included on bounty. Instead of releasing bounty as their debut LP, they decided to first release a completely different album titled kin, which contains singles unrelated to the bounty storyline and notably less entertaining videos that were released sequentially in 2012. While the album was well-received by the critics, it lacked the substance that bounty will surely showcase when it is released in June.

Of course, iamamiwhoami is not all about otherworldly videos and enchanting storylines — their music is equally captivating. “b” and “u-1” are the only mediocre singles on bounty; the rest of the tracks are superb and entrancing dance songs that prove iamamiwhoami’s creativity not only in the sphere of visual artistry, but in that of acoustics as well. “u-2” sounds like an ecstatic heavy-beat Crystal Castles anthem, “n” is a hypnotizing pop lullaby, and the last one-letter single “y” is an amalgam of nostalgia, mischievousness, disco rhythms and Jonna Lee’s innocent voice that define this single as a covert evergreen. Musically, bounty easily achieves what many mainstream albums fail to do — it makes dance music intelligible and artistic.

Only time can tell how iamamiwhoami will develop and if it will ever become a timeless piece of culture, but bounty will surely be remembered as an internet treasure that won the hearts of many people across the world. Even though the charm that these singles had when they appeared online will wear off when they are released together as a physical album, they will always remain as riddling dance tunes that define their own dimension of weirdness. After all, how often do you see a video of a woman lying in veggies telling you to “sharpen your knives and clean plates for some tender?”

Highlight tracks: “o”, “u-2”, “n”, “t”, “y.”