“Traditionally, your second album is the worry: you don’t want to create something that people don’t like as much,” A.A. Williams contends. “But I must create music I like myself, and I’ve had more time on this record; I’ve felt more confidence and conviction. As The Moon Rests is heavier and softer, there’s more texture and weight, and a string ensemble. It’s Forever Blue times ten!”
Released in 2020, Forever Blue was the London-based singer-songwriter’s album debut, a brilliantly dramatic, unique and intimate walk on the dark side that fused bold and smouldering hues of post-rock and post-classical. By turns, it was glacial and volcanic, blissful and violent, through moments of disarming quiet and explosive volume, equally appealing to alt-rock and metal camps.
“The shifts between moments of high drama and quiet tension point to her kinship with Chelsea Wolfe and PJ Harvey,” stated Uncut. “Stirring and evocative… The chances of a more heartrending and fully formed debut emerging this year are practically zero,” reckoned Metal Hammer. As Williams contends, As The Moon Rests amplifies the scale of her ambitions, crystalised by ‘Evaporate’, the first track released from the sessions. It comes with a video that embodies the thrilling tensions of Williams’ world, where emotions walk a fine line between control and chaos. Likewise, the impact of William’s deep-trawling voice and lyrics that ask all the right existential questions throughout As The Moon Rests: who am I? What can I change? What can’t I change?
Forever Blue had already set in motion Williams’ quest for self-improvement, but the pandemic presented more challenges. As Forever Blue was about to be released, she started posting solo videos - cover versions suggested by her fans, such as Radiohead’s ‘Creep’, Nick Cave’s ‘Into Your Arms’ and Deftones’ ‘Be Quiet and Drive’, alchemised to fit her own crepuscular sound and vision. Songs From Isolation, as she called it, “was a positive experience to focus on through the overwhelming reports of bad news. And I could have a dialogue with my listeners.”
Songs From Isolation subsequently turned into a nine-track album of covers, a definite and heartaching document of solitude and fortitude. Next came arco, a re-imagining of Williams’ debut (self-titled) EP (released in January 2019) for just voice and strings. She’d played the string parts (as well as guitar and piano) on Forever Blue, but here she wrote the arrangements for a ten-piece ensemble, transposing the rhythm and low end of a rock band into sumptuous and elegant orchestrations. “I could utilise my skills in a different way,” she says, “and to make the songs fresh and interesting for those who had, or hadn’t, heard it before.”
The string ensemble returns for As The Moon Rests, bolstering the album’s cinematic dimensions and underlining the palpable drama of Williams’ quest to forge a more liberating path. The album’s opening track ‘Hollow Heart’ sets out the emotional terrain: “Give me time and I will learn / that I am only human,” she sings before the instruments begin their slow climb to boiling point. Williams’ voluminous guitar and keyboards are embellished by co-producer (and husband) Thomas Williams’ bass guitar, Geoff Holroyde’s drums and engineer / mixer Adrian Hall at his London studio Clever Pup (as opposed to the Williams’ two-bedroom flat for Forever Blue). “We had better equipment, and more experience at hand,” says Williams. When they were finished, As The Moon Rests clocked in at a mighty 62 minutes. “I was expecting to take a few recordings away after we’d finished, but the consensus was that everything was good, and worked as a collection.”
The album takes its title from the closing track. “For me, ‘As The Moon Rests’ jumped out as evoking a change in direction in the lyrics,” she explains. “It’s a love song, not necessarily romantic, but between two people with an unwavering bond. It seemed poignant and prominent enough to work as the title.”
That unwavering bond could equally exist between two conflicting parts of the self. “Most of Forever Blue’s text was quite insular,” she recalls. “I was trying to understand myself, trying to cure, or eradicate, parts of myself. But I realised that if you remove things; you might remove parts of your personality too. You just need to learn how to manage things, to be kinder to yourself. It’s all a journey, a progression.” Throughout, Williams keeps probing: “All I knew was tainted by the things you said, but I WILL NEVER CHANGE” (‘Murmurs’); “It all starts and ends with You / I can’t stop the violence in my mind” (‘Evaporate’); “’Love is just a game’, you once said / I never thought I’d win it the way I did” (‘Golden’); “Sweetly, I can sense you’re near me / Is it all so delicate as I balance hate and love” (‘As The Moon Rests’).
On her latest album Church Of Imagination she explores new musical territories with subjects that cover magic, religion and the power of imagination. Recorded and produced by Karin at her own studio with co-producers Nick Sheldon (Blackhill) and Kjetil Nernes (Årabrot).
She has been referred to as the Scandinavian Nico for her persona, but her talents are considerably more. Having performed with such icons as Lana Del Rey and David Bowie among others, she expresses herself not only through music but also through perfumery and fashion as forms of art, taking inspiration from such perfumers and designers as Serge Lutens, Son Venin, Gareth Pugh and Yohji Yamamoto. But to get a real sense of who Karin Park is you must know the place she comes from.
A chubby child from a christian family, growing up in a small Swedish village and years spent in a Missionary school in Japan made her desperate to break away from narrow thinking. And she used her only advantages to do so; her unique voice and personality. By the age 15 she had moved away from home to find her place in music.
After studying at Stockholm Music Conservatory, a Norwegian poet took her to Norway where she started her pop career, this was followed by a move to London to write songs, and working as a model for high-profile brands such as Swarovski, Haizhen Wang and DKNY. But her heart was always in music. After five albums, a few Grammy’s, writing a Eurovision entry for Norway and hits for other artists, Karin returned to the village of her youth and bought the church where she first sang in front of an audience as a child. She turned the church into a combined studio and home with her husband Kjetil Nernes, front man of the Norwegian rock band Årabrot. And it is here that Imagination now holds sway.
”I got heavily into synths, hugely inspired by Fad Gadget and a lot of the other Daniel Miller signings for Mute in the early 80s. But there wasn’t a female community of musicians in that scene that I could really look to as an example, so it took a while to find my feet. I love pop music but I always need to dig deeper, evolve and find new territory. I easily move from Throbbing Gristle to Beyonce and back again.” - Karin Park After a year of sold-out performance as the lead in Les Misérables, touring the world with Årabrot, and becoming a parent; Karin Park is back with a new album, her first in five years, in which she reflects on her journey and maturity in that time. Like Karin, Church Of Imagination is a playful record.
We sense the influence of Scott Walker, Massive Attack and Nico, it is Karin’s using different elements to tell her stories. What defines Karin the most is her ability to touch people with who she is and what she stands for. And her imagination. Church Of Imagination is available worldwide via Pelagic Records. Published by Mute Song.