Rebekka Karijord – “Mother Tongue” (2017)


Label: Control Freak Kitten Records

Review by Warren Mayocchi

“Mother tongue” typically refers to the first language a person learns to speak – the same language as one’s parents. Though, from the viewpoint of the parents, “mother tongue” is the constant communion with their child. From the verbal, including the distinct cries of their baby, to everything else. Like the feel of the babe in womb, the stamped foot, the pointed finger, the press of skin on skin. From the parent’s perspective the phrase “mother tongue” could also incorporate the feelings which arrive with being a parent, the sense of responsibility, the unsettling lack of control over events surrounding this new being. As this album was constructed Rebekka Karijord experienced pregnancy and the premature birth of her child. It is more than likely she channeled the creativity and inspiration arising from the time into these songs. The music on “Mother Tongue” is delivered with minimal arrangements of strong but wistful vocals, keyboards with a flourish, emotive strings, and jazz percussion. The overall effect is primal, evocative of the spiritual in an impressionistic manner. There is a union of melancholy and innocence in the musical dance between vocal and instrument. The most obviously upbeat song on the album is called “The Orbit”. It is full of jaunty piano lines, handclaps, and has a message of the interconnectedness of we humans as we orbit one another. The rest of the songs take a more sombre approach, or is it joyful? The mood shifts as I listen, and it delights me to realise the music is ambiguous enough to reflect my own feelings. On all songs it is the vocal performance and beautiful arrangement which make “Mother Tongue” exceptional. “Waimanalo”, the Hawaiian location where much of the album was written, shimmers like the sea on a hot day. Lyrically there are references to Rebekka‘s baby experiences, perhaps most so on “Six Careful Hands” where the fragile child is “light as a feather”. However, the album might best be experienced by relaxing into the sounds – there is a deeper, almost primitive ceremony going on and you can become part of it.

Rating – 90/100



  1. Morula
  2. Waimanalo
  3.  I Will Follow You Into the Wild
  4. The Orbit
  5. Your Name
  6. Six Careful Hands
  7. Home
  8. Stones
  9. Statistics
  10. Mother Tongue
  11. Mausoleum

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