Fever Ray set for first Scottish show
Dark, gothic electronica, with a creepy edge is what Karin Dreijer-Andersson, aka Fever Ray, does best. She’s come a long way from those coloured bouncy balls, says Ryan Drever.
Picture a sunny, cloudless day in San Francisco; the streets are engulfed by thousands of brightly coloured bouncy balls, tanning down the road in a glimmering haze whilst accompanied by a sweetly picked guitar tune, sung almost like a lullaby. Ring any bells? It was a soon-to-be-iconic ad hawking Sony TV’s (don’t tell me you don’t remember it), and a pivotal moment for largely unknown Swedish solo artist, Jose Gonzales, who became a ‘star’ in the public eye, pretty much overnight. At the time, few paid quite as many dues to the artists behind the song in question (‘Heartbeats’) but after four acclaimed albums (including an electronic opera of sorts inspired by Charles Darwin) and several Swedish Grammys, brother/sister electronic duo The Knife have done pretty well on their own.
But that’s The Knife, and there’s a lot more to vocalist Karin Dreijer-Andersson, aka solo artist Fever Ray than that. Following the duo’s third album, 2006’s Silent Shout, The Knife took a hiatus, allowing Dreijer-Andersson to spend her time in between maternal duties and crafting her own solo material. Still grounded in the electronic sounds and textures of some of her previous work, yet considerably darker in places – no mean feat when compared to Silent Shout – these tracks formed the basis of her self-titled debut; an album appealing to fans of her previous efforts whilst remaining interesting and eccentric enough to lure in many a virgin listener.
It’s interesting to look at the evolution of Dreijer-Andersson as an artist, beginning in the early 90s with a distinctly more standard role as lead singer and guitarist for the excellent Honey Is Cool (very briefly put: a Scandavian take on US ‘alt-rock’) right through to her collaborations with Norwegian ambient dance-masters Royksopp and beyond. Initially, her vocals possessed a disarming, perhaps even ‘cute’ quality, and though there have been no drastic changes to the timbre of her voice, when combined with her knack for atmospherics and dynamic shifts, it provides the perfect accompaniment to a project rooted in melancholy and desolation.
The Knife made a point of avoiding live performances until Silent Shout, when the duo made a few sporadic and pretty spectacular appearances, reworking and re-arranging many of their tracks for the stage, combined with the added theatricality of masks, video projections and light shows. With a stage show designed in collaboration with long-time artistic cohort, Andreas Nillson, Fever Ray makes her debut appearance in Glasgow this week and looks set to follow in similarly breathtaking footsteps. Standing at the front, face painted like a black metaller, cloak rippling in the onstage breeze, recent show footage depicts Dreijer-Andersson as a spectre, bringing to life a unique live persona as captivating and unsettling as the music she creates.
If her appearance wasn’t already enough of a draw, support on this tour comes in the form of 21-year-old Nika Roza Danilova, aka Zola Jesus. Dipping her toes in the same artistic pond as Fever Ray, American singer Zola Jesus is equally obsessed with darker electronic textures, frequently attracting several uses of the word goth; like a creepier Florence And The Machine with a bit more musical clout – minus any irrelevant Candi Staton covers. Whatever way you look at it: a night of dark beauty awaits.
O2 ABC, Mon 6 Sep.