In Praise Of Karin Dreijer Andersson

19 Jun

Last week’s NME had a large article in which they highlight the most fearless people in music: it ranges from Kele Okereke to MIA to Bjork. Also rightly featured are The Knife, the Swedish electro maestros who penned and performed “Heartbeats” before Jose Gonzalez made it popular and who are so damned cold that they’re somehow affecting. But perhaps I can focus more on the female protagonist of this brother-sister duo and claim that she could have had a place in the list all to herself:

The Knife

Cold, calculating, sweeping, tearing apart dance music and putting back together in the oddest, sublime way. That’s The Knife. And at the mechanical heart at the whole of this is Karin Dreijer Andersson, who whispers, howls and manipulates her voice so far that sometimes you can’t tell if it’s her or her brother Olof that’s singing. The Knife is carried on the mysterious, masked nature of Karin and the range of emotions that her Swedish twang can actually evoke. Here’s a choice cut from their 2006 album “Silent Shout”:

Fever Ray

Karin’s solo project. She released her epnymously titled debut album last year to great acclaim though like many other female solo artists failed to penetrate further into the mainstream. Here, Karin distilled all of her darkness into one pure pot: she made full use of her voice-manipulation technology and created an otherworldliness that was all hers. “Seven” harnesses all that she is – bonkers lyrics, howling-at-the-moon vocals, earhy yet cold synths and an energy that draws you in:


Proving that she’s not just the dark woman of electro, Karin has been collaborating with Royksopp for years. She brings an edginess to the dance duo that is lost when they collaborate with the likes of Robyn and Anneli Drecker. On their most recent album “Junior”, the usually beautiful and captivating Lykke Li is blown out of the water when her song is placed next to one of Karin’s. “What Else Is There”, from their 2005 album “The Understanding” is my favourite song of theirs, probably just because Karin brings a razor edge to one of the group’s murkiest songs:

So there. That’s my case for our Karin having a place to herself. I hope you agree that she’s quite something, even if she’s not one of the most prolific people in the music world.


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