Collected Works: Music
by Fever Ray
We hear a tangle of electronic timbres, a misty, mossy forest of digital audio. Synthesisers whistle like the howling of the wind. Pattering percussion evokes muffled sticks tapping small, animal-skin drums. Taking in our sonic surrounds, we hurl out a boomerang and quietly await its return. It travels with a skittering pulse, panning across the stereo soundscape, fading into the distance. Then it hurtles back towards us, returning to sender with a satisfying thwack.
Such aural flourishes are scattered across Fever Ray, decorative details weaved into an intricate tapestry. The tracks ooze an eerie, esoteric menace that summons vivid images of nocturnal walks, abandoned houses, and furtive glances. At the centre of these cryptic visions, Karin Dreijer Andersson stands, refusing outburst, revelling in restraint. As on the album’s cover, she appears to be harnessing the power of nature, inhabiting and ruling over this haunting realm.
Throughout, we are unable to shake the feeling that there is more than meets the ear. The lyrics eschew easy interpretation, but never at the expense of evocation. ‘Seven’ recounts a childhood friend, mixing the mundane and the mysterious, dishwasher tablets and November smoke. The undertones of ‘I’m Not Done’ are more overtly chilling: ‘Do you laugh while screaming / Is it cold outside?’ Each song hints at a story, but the specifics have long been lost, buried, or hidden behind a veil.
The album appears to be a collection of memories and dreams, the inner workings of an insular mind, but we are never certain whether its fantastical nature is the result of escapism or suppressed horror. The bare, bassy drones of ‘If I Had a Heart’, for example, conjure up a ghostly Celtic ritual with Andersson as a pagan prophet. This arcane atmosphere may slip from our mind, but never for long. Like the thrown boomerang, Fever Ray soon comes drifting back to us.
Words by John Wadsworth