It is nearly impossible to describe Fever Ray in a single sentence. I’ve been puzzled about this album for a long time, and even now I’m not sure that I fully understand all about it. But bear with me, this is not your typical thick layered electronic album, what we have here is a gutsy Swedish lady doing something more primitive, almost basic in nature, spread through a journey that probably leaves more questions than answers.
It seems so distant from those collaborations with artists such as Röyksopp or dEUS, or her own other project, The Knife. Fever Ray departs from the traditional electronic formula and attempts to give us a glimpse of an unknown world that previously existed only on Karin Dreijer Andersson’s mind. It is a cold, primitive and almost claustrophobic place to stay, but the funny thing is that even in an environment such as that there’s still beauty to be found.
I experienced this album’s steep learning curve first hand, because at least for me, it’s not an easy album to get into. It is radically different from the more traditional conventions we’ve been used to that it takes some time to let your mind get the hang of it. The only aspect that remains constant is the strangely beautiful voice that made us love Andersson in the first place, and Fever Ray is the right place to find her.
Looking back to those times when I tried unsuccessfully to make some sense of this album, I recon now that I failed many times because I was expecting to fully appreciate it with just repetitive listens, which never happened by the way. Some time later I thought about trying this again, but with a different attitude, this time trying to find textures, scenarios and looking for the complete adventure, and I’m certain that the results were complete different from the first time, I’m very pleased to say.
Sometimes I will get the feeling that I’m listening to something almost tribal in nature, something very basic that appeals to that primitive human being that is still somewhere inside of us, like I’m witnessing some sort of futuristic rendition of the rhythmic dancing ceremonies inside some cave in an apocalyptic future where humanity has again resorted to escape the civilization as we know it today. Don’t think for a second that this is the focus of this album though, it isn’t, those are just some random experiences I’ve come across while playing with this.
Some other times I found myself having what I can only describe as a sensation of loneliness. The album is very succinct and sometimes the feeling that you’re just listening a bare-bones, minimalist composition of the most surreal nature gets very strong to you. I’m sure some might even get a claustrophobic sensation during some passages, but I’m confident that the general tone of the album will compensate for those brief episodes.
I guess all I’m trying to say here is that maybe we’ve been fooled into thinking that there is just one right way to do electronic music. Fever Ray will be a challenge if you’re not used to Andersson’s eccentricity, but it has a reason to be, and it is because it is a different approach and she doesn’t cut corners while doing it.
Fever Ray is a very interesting album, and the reason you should give it a chance is not just because it is something different, but because I believe that sometimes music is just like math, there are always several ways of getting you to the answer… However, I’m still not sure if Fever Ray is the answer, or just the question to something bigger?