Review : Fever Ray - Fever Ray
DrownedinsoundElectronic music – when it’s being made by natural performers, rather than solitary craftsmen – has always gone hand-in-hand with fluid identities; multiplying them, extending them, erasing them. Each medium, says McLuhan, is an extension of man; for every extension, says Baudrillard, there’s a corresponding amputation… or castration. These are the kind of dark jokes and symbolic manipulations you’d expect from Karin Dreijer Andersson AKA Fever Ray: are you entering another world… or being trapped in it?
On Silent Shout (2006) The Knife’s secret theme was gender anxiety & gender dysphoria; it’s unclear who’s singing when Karin’s vocals are doubled and pitch-shifted: “I had a dream I was in the woods again / calling me woman and a half-man / I had a dream all my teeth fell out / a cracked smile and a silent shout” Is another lyric’s reference to “chemical castration” a woman’s revenge on rapists, or empathy with someone for whom masks aren’t enough - defamiliarizing the artifice of gender (common to all) by focusing on those who need surgery rather than just costumes? In any case, The Knife were creating a dystopia through electronics....full text
DustedmagazineFever Ray is Karin Dreijer Andersson, better known as one half of the Knife, the Swedish electronic brother-sister juggernaut. For a duo who has hidden themselves from the public, literally, it’s pleasantly surprising how well known and adored they’ve become. Since their third album, Silent Shout, broke through in 2006, it’s left them in an enviable position – an art band with a following that spans the pop, indie and dance scenes.
This solo project doesn’t veer far from the Knife’s nocturnal clicks and ghostly voices, but it avoids the danceable beats of her main gig. Silent Shout generated a lot of its eeriness by distorting voices into strange registers, until it was hard to determine the gender, or even the species producing the sound. After listening to Fever Ray, it’s easier to pick out Karin’s contributions to the former disc; she keeps her voice here in natural range much of the time. But even ifFever Ray is less alien or beat-driven than the Knife, it doesn’t come across as the personal statement that’s typical of solo outings....full text
CokemachineglowWe might look on childhood—and likewise the art that embraces it—as irreverent or cute or regressive but it’s unlikely that children themselves can ever relate to these concepts even in their purest form. Check out Karin Dreijer Andersson in the video for “When I Grow Up”: standing on the diving board of a swimming pool in post-apocalyptic rags, war paint and eyes drawn on her palms in an odd juxtaposition of Andersson’s intense tribal stare with a rather banal suburban environment. But childhood embraces the transformation of the mundane into an epic struggle of survival: in the same track she sings about drawing a “funny man with dog eyes and a hanging tongue” and doesn’t even remotely sound like Animal Collective when she does it.
I experienced my own transformation over the course of listening to Silent Shout (2006) and I doubt I’m the only one: somehow it went from being a fun but one-trick dance record to a massive synth-pop masterpiece that sucked all of its well-worn elements into a black hole that made any comparisons seem trivial. A “monochromatic rainbow” as our house MD Alan Baban eloquently put it. I doubt the same questions regarding integrity or craft will be applied to Fever Ray, Andersson’s solo project and close enough in sound to be an informal follow-up to Silent Shout. Perhaps because most people have had the time to absorb and move beyond the exaggerated reactions to its initial impact but also because, like most solo records, Fever Ray is a more refined songwriterly affair, even if the drama and icy synths (is there really any other descriptor for what they sound like?) have hardly been reduced.
But Andersson, writing most of these songs after the birth of her second child, plays with gender dynamics as much as childhood themes. It was easy to forget that she presumably delivered most of the vocals herself with the Knife, her brother Olof contributing mostly on the programming and beats. On Fever Ray she stands alone and the androgyny of her vocal manipulations is apparent from the outset, her voice brought down to a deep baritone on “If I Had a Heart” as she sings “this will never end ‘cause I want more” (again playing into the sometimes diabolical mindset of a child). Considering the Knife boycotted the Swedish music awards, sending friends in gorilla masks to protest the inequal gender dynamics in popular Swedish music—perhaps a shout-out to the feminist performance art group Gorilla Girls—the implications for gender dynamics are probably well understood by Andersson....full text
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