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Expectation is something i’m still hoping to master. Expect too much and you’re destined for some form of disappointment, expect too little and you’re one step further down the path toward joyless cynicism. Neither I like.

Discovering the existence of a solo record from The Knife’s Karin Dreijer is exciting enough without working myself into an embarrassing impatient wreck. I knew it had the potential to blow me away but if you go into anything thinking like that you’re risking being monumentally let down. So I er… tried not to think about it.

Anyway.

Karin possesses my favourite voice in music and along with her brother Olof, The Knife manage to present love and emotion in a breathtakingly refreshing and visceral manner – far removed from the bland plateau of sensitive ditties making up much of the musical landscape. Their reinvention of the ‘Icy Scandinavian’ cliché brought them critical recognition (the infamous Pitchfork named 2006’s ‘Silent Shout’ album of the year) and a clutch of well chosen remixers edged them onto the more stylish of dancefloors.

The Knife was (and still is, I hope) however very much made up of two creative minds. Karin’s piercing and sometimes heavily-pitched, androgynous vocals were always matched by Olof’s similarly stark electro beats and synthesizers. Two voices singing each song, in unison but using different machinery.

On first inspection her solo effort – Fever Ray – is musically identical. Listen closer however and although the timbres are similar, creatively it is a much different affair. Christopher Berg (who mixed The Knife’s work) and Stockholm production duo Van Rivers and The Subliminal Kid helped Dreijer give form to her musical sketches, but they are merely conduits. This is very much her record.

Dreijer has thus far only worked as a collaborator, with her brother in The Knife or making appearances on other people’s music. Here she finally gets the stage to herself and control of the atmosphere, creating a world of dreamy lounge-noir that befits her ethereal songwriting. The drum machine beats and simple analogue synth-style melodies, though clear as a bell, sit comfortably in second place to her voice. Each individual story is as dark as a Scandinavian forest, always retaining a certain mystery and cold beauty.

Her single ‘If I had A Heart’ is available now. The video, directed by Andreas Nillsson captures the spirit of the song wonderfully.

If Twin Peaks (the series, not the film) were to ever be remade, Dreijer would make a perfect Julee Cruise. Temporary Roadhouse crooner Cruise performed in some of the series’ most pivotal moments with dreamy lounge gems written with director Lynch and composer Badalamenti. They are as much part of the programme as any of the characters or oft-quoted dialogue and when combined with the plot, highly emotional moments are created.

Exhibit A:

Crushingly beautiful. Especially if you’ve followed the story… which you all should do at some point.

Goodbye!

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One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Dream Time « Expendable Youth on 25 Mar 2009 at 9:47 pm

    […] listener into that ‘other’ state reserved such music with a nebulous, wondrous magic. I covered her album recently, but now I have an excuse to post more of her […]

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