It wasn’t that long ago when Karin Dreijer Andersson, one-half of the duo The Knife, was blessed with the kind of praise that most independent artists would kill for. Pitchfork named their album Silent Shout one of the best records of 2006 and the Swedish recording industry agreed by providing the Dreijer siblings with a total of six awards at the Swedish equivalent of the Grammys.
At that moment, the idea of playing ball should have been the first priority of the band. Instead, the two sent friends dressed up in gorilla costumes to collect their prize (a protest of Sweden’s Caucasian-heavy music scene) and then promptly went on hiatus.
During this time, Karin gave birth to her second child and while most parents of newborns become mentally numb during the months of ensuing sleep deprivation, Andersson used her somnambulist hours to program beats and put the beginning touches of a solo project on to her hard drive.
The project is entitled Fever Ray, a ten-song collection of post-natal electronica that effectively captures the dark corners of when restlessness sheepishly tangles with unchecked creativity. The circumstances here have helped to create an album that is both somber and cold while being strangely endearing.
Don’t expect much coherence in terms of Fever Ray‘s lyrical content. It comes from an alternate universe and seldom makes sense on this planet. When it does, there are hints of a woman in need of a good nap. There are numerous references to time, the passing cycles, and of general exhaustion.
Karin attaches a variety of vocal sounds to match these moments; “Dry And Dusty” utilizes a pair of pitch shift vocals that drag her voice down to an eerie masculine persona. On others, she mirrors Kate Bush-minus the expansive range-an influence that Fever Ray is more than obviously indebted to.
Musically, Fever Ray wonderfully captures the cold chill of electronic minimalism with a lush palate of early 80’s synth-sounds. It’s a weird algorhythm of familiar nostalgia and modern hard-drive production and is the first album that I’ve heard in quite some time that sounds as isolated as it must have been during the creative process.
As a result, Fever Ray is unnerving as much as it’s intriguing. You can practically recreate the lethargy of the original recording just by listening to it and appreciate the dreams that its slow and methodic beats long to attain.
MP3: Fever Ray – “If I Had a Heart”
Video: Fever Ray – “When I Grow Up”