We Become Ourselves
Norwegian singer and composer Rebekka Karijord's We Become Ourselves is arguably the finest work of her career to date. Recorded with Tobias Fröberg at Stockholm's Gig Studio, the arrangements are genuinely exceptional, filled with organs, boys' and men's choirs, piano, guitar, drums, and Karijord's fierce, striking vocal delivery. "I wanted to make a love album first, circling around my relationship to men," she explains. "I wanted it to be a romantic, huge, physical, and powerful record, yet stripped and raw, with its flaws on its sleeve. I wanted to make an album about 'life and death': heartfelt and serious." Its initial framework was constructed with only a drummer and guitarist, ensuring that -- beneath these imposing arrangements -- the songs remain simple. "My challenge is always to dare to hold back," Karijord says. "I record layer upon layer and then peel away most of it before mixing. I also recorded a real organ in a church in Norway, and a lot of the dark sub-frequencies you hear are foot pedals, the darkest notes on that organ. I absolutely adore that organic bass sound." The album's centerpiece is "Use My Body While It's Still Young," a song built upon a bedrock of vast, tribal drums. Karijord's vocals are potent and yet unafraid to display subtle, bewildering hints of vulnerability in both her delivery and lyrics. We Become Ourselves hints at a wide range of influences including Cat Power, PJ Harvey, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Moondog, and Robert Wyatt. "Prayer" is a stripped-back affair that slowly develops through the understated employment of a male choir, which reappears on the growling "Save Yourself" alongside a boys' choir as moving as that of Talk Talk's remarkable "I Believe in You"; the delicate, nimble nature of "Multicolored Hummingbird" belies a melody that lingers long and heavy, while "You Make Me Real" is so gentle as to barely exist. "Oh Brother," meanwhile, is a sensitive lament that aches with both sadness and optimism, and the title-track is distinguished by harmonies reminiscent of Sinéad O'Connor's debut, The Lion and the Cobra. If "romantic, huge, physical, and powerful... yet stripped and raw" were Karijord's goals, then she has more than surpassed them. With We Become Ourselves she has crafted a record of unforgettable, eerie magic as moving, epic, and peaceful as the Norwegian landscape in which she was raised.