Karin Park steals the show at classy Sanderson Hotel
Even in such an unconventional and arresting environment as the patio of the Sanderson Hotel – an opulent and ultra-modern complex in fashionable Fitzrovia – there’s no taking your eyes off Karin Park. Tall, skeleton-thin and vaguely intimidating with her kohled, unblinking eyes and model’s cheekbones, she spends the duration of this “Sanderson Session” pouring her heart out to a rock garden and some trees immediately in front of the makeshift stage. “It’s odd, there are people everywhere except where they should be,” she remarks, referencing the outdoor venue’s unusual lay-out which sees the industry-heavy crowd pushed to the perimeter of the terrace.
It’s no hindrance to Park, however, who already appears comfortable performing to such an influential and affluent audience. Despite having four albums to her name, she is only just becoming known in the UK, but Highwire Poetry, her latest release, looks set to propel her into the public eye. She warms to the task early on, pausing at one point to remark how “damn good-looking” we all are. Backed by her multi-talented brother David (who manages to drum, trigger samples and lay down basslines with his left foot simultaneously), Park is at once confident, charming and compulsive, removing her shoes before the last song because she “can’t sing a love-song in high heels…”
And then there’s that voice: at once ragged, robotic and richly bittersweet, it brings to mind Scandinavian contemporaries such as Björk and Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife, but with enough vulnerability and quirks of its own to avoid cliché. Alternating between Keytar, Moog and a wonderfully primal bass drum, Park delivers a dynamic, electro-heavy set that would work just as well in a club (her show the night before at the Shacklewell Arms being a case in point) as over cocktails in the West End.
The picturesque surroundings only serve to enhance the compelling other-worldliness of her compositions. Recent single Tiger Dreams is a menacing, Moroder-esque opener, and Restless turns into a frantic glam work-out that energises and unsettles in equal measure. The set ends all too soon with a barefoot Park delivering a disarmingly frank ballad, Bending Albert’s Law, over nothing but a ghostly synth backing. It’s enough to tear the hotel guests away from their canapés for a rapturous and well-earned round of applause, and more than any preceding song, suggests that the photogenic Swede is destined for great things.