Sunday, 12 November 2017

Fever Ray "Plunge" (2017)

I dreamed but never thought it would be so, eight years on Swedish musician Karin Dreijer releases a follow up to her critically acclaimed self titled Fever Ray. In the three years since my discovery of her debut It has grown to be one of my all time favorite records, the sort you have to always consider when making top tens and playlists. Her sophomore Plunge comes entirely out of the blue, a rouge email in my inbox I thought to good to be true but alas it is so. With only a video single released a week prior, this surprise release is more than just a pleasant one.

First impressions were wild, all I could focus on was all that was different. Plunge felt dissonant, avant-garde and ambiguously adventurous with its entrancing electronics. Working with more ambitious, experimental sounds the textural journey continually weaves webs of intricate noise arrangements flailing from Glitch to Electonica, with hints of Industrial in its noisy, less melody driven passageways. The atmosphere shifts and varies from one track to the next, conjuring obscure, spacial vibes that can delve into gentle unease and unearthly sounds with the measure for calm, soothing relaxation. On its other hand these songs can become animalistic, dark and paranoid in their abrasive persuasions.

All of this often revolves around a sturdy backbone of stripped back club and House beats. Hard thuds detached from the conventional pop of a snare and tempo setting hi-hat let the dense instrumental arrangement absorb the attention a club groove would often dominate. A hand full of songs, maybe four to five of the songs feel straight of the back of the last album, utilizing the same bell and siren-like synths but deploying slow and steady kick and snare grooves in contrast to the more polarizing, experimental tracks. "Red Trails" being one of these songs you could slip onto Fever Ray has to get a shout for Sara Parkman's stunningly, morose, harrowing violin solo that seeps itself into the atmosphere like a parasite, eating the song from the inside out, carving its menace through an otherwise chilled, if not dark track. Stellar moment on the record.

The production being of this modern era is unsurprisingly crisp, no thanks to the state of technology but balancing all that heard is done with a touch of class. The record can feel almost clustered in moments with all the rattling of intricate sounds swirling around, from start to end its all managed and put together in a lean and easy setting. Karin's singing is infectious, her unique, estranged voice is unleashed with the wit to spin her expressions into elevating hooks, radiating the music and lodging themselves into your consciousness. Lyrical themes are entwined in sexuality, charged by identity and eroticism, the sometimes coarse but often poetic lyrics rub up against some obviously political statements, see "This Country" to hear unflattering commentary that's hard to ignore.

Ultimately, Plunge is a superb record, little to fault and plenty to rave about, Its an endearing listen. My main point of questioning would be in its two halves, distinctly alike to its predecessor on half the tracks taking a big leap forward in experimentation on its other half we essentially get the best on two worlds. To repeat yourself or be inconsistent on a record can sometimes be a hindrance but neither of these possible considerations seem to matter in the case of Plunge, which will probably go head to head with Sikth for my favorite release this year!

Rating: 8/10