Pikara is the alter ego of Swedish born folk singer Sara Johanne. The singer/songwriter, who is currently based in Washington state, grew up on the island of Rindö where she studied violin. As well as playing piano and bass with other bands, she has released three albums under her solo identity. The most recent of these, This Hollow, is due to hit on March 24th.
Beginning with “The Mourner of Peace”, the new record introduces itself with an inquisitive beat. It’s a very psychedelic opener that has a lot going on musically. The myriad of keys and strings at play give it a sound that is almost carnivalistic in nature. It’s followed by a chilling acoustic riff that guides “Closed Case” into a resonant verse. The instrumentation builds continuously through this heavy folk ballad, giving it quite a grand feel.
An ethereal chant emerges to announce the arrival of title track “This Hollow”, persisting in the background as the lyrics unfold. Strings and pianos creep slowly in, helping to emphasize the otherworldly ambience of the piece. In its aftermath, “Title Effect” shifts gears to a festive rhythm that teams up with distorted vocals to become rather transcendent.
“Shell Off” is a lot more disjointed than its predecessors. Commencing with solemn keys, the tone changes completely for the chorus, taking on a fierce attitude that exists in stark contrast to the verse. It’s a little jarring to the senses, making for a difficult listen.
Foreboding pianos return amid a distressed harmony during “Every Glass is the Last”. It remains stripped down and consistent throughout, taking on a pessimistic disposition. The ominous keys go nowhere for “Hiding”, combining with distant vocals to generate a haunting atmosphere. There’s an ambivalence to the whole thing that puts an unsettling end on the compilation.
Pikara’s work here is very experimental and ambitious, stirring many different emotions through its various moods. Its sound can be a little too discordant and conflicting at times, but it is always admirably unique and creative.