Fever Ray's self-titled album called to me from the break-room free
table. I'll admit, my choice was based entirely on the great cover art.
Swedish artist Martin Ander skillfully aped the style of Charles Burns'
Black Hole; in
fact, the atmospheric, haunting album would make an excellent
soundtrack to for the book.
There are tons of slow, atmospheric electronic albums out there.
Nearly all of them will bore you into a stupor, bore you till your
brain falls out your ass, bore you till you pick up the CD player and
hurl it through the window just to hear a little fuckin' noise. It's fantastically difficult to make a slow, atmospheric electronic album interesting.
Ray has succeeded magnificently, treading the tightrope between jarring
and somnolent with grace. Karin Dreijer Andersson, the artist behind
Fever Ray, sings in thin, childlike strains, often distorted or tweaked
to sound unearthly, while the instrumentals alternately grind and sway,
teasing the ear as they flow trip-hop-like between points of interest.
The Low Point
Andersson's last project was the Knife, a band that (to paraphrase
Indietits) convinced hipsters that bloopy
house techno was a new artistic direction instead of a tired
retreading. Sometimes (not very often at all) you can hear the
bloopiness trying to re-emerge. Lilly Allen can get away with it
because it's cute, but bubble-gum sounds have no place on an album as
dark as this one.
"When I Grow Up," the second track on the album, is lush and utterly
gorgeous. It begs to grace the soundtrack of a gritty, washed out
sci-fi anime or gun-fu movie, as the sweeping instrumentals and
quite-but-driving rhythms speak of a calm before a raging battle. The
track also has an awesome music video: