Category Archives: Fever Ray

5 Great Things About 2017: Part 1


Yaeji’s Drink I’m Sipping On pretty much made my musical year.  A seemingly effortless blend of Trap and sultry Korean RnB, it managed to conjure into being a midnight world at the border between exuberant intoxication and the existential 4am dance music that is 20JFG’s usual stock in trade.  This was all made even better when the artwork dropped and it featured a slightly embarrassed looking Yaeji, out of focus in the corner.  A bright spot of red against the darkness.  That the subsequent EP had the only decent Drake cover I’ve heard (Passionfruit) and the sweaty, pounding Raingurl made extra happy.  Noonside (off EP1) is an absolute banger too.

DIY dance music was still going strong in 2017.  Perhaps because dance music is uniquely suited to DIY.  Everyone has a laptop, right? Identity Theft got two back to back posts on the blog along with associated label Katabatik’s output.  RVNG were still putting out the jams (although more on them later) along with old friends Where To Now?.

Assel – Barbecue Stains

And speaking of old friends, Murlo’s self produced, self performed, self animated show at the ICA was pretty special.  Beautifully drawn, Mobius influenced sci-fi landscapes played out on a giant screen while Murlo triggered both animations and sound behind the fabric like an instrumental Grime Wizard of Oz.



The New Age / Ambient / Synth nexus was also still going strong in 2017 (providing us with yet more parallels with the 70s and the Western nervous breakdown that’s happening again).  Both Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Caterina Barbieri put out exceptional synth records this year.

Caterina Barbieri – Information Needed to Create an Entire Body

RVNG continued to put out peerless reissues including the wonderful Eros in Arabia by Richard Horowitz.  A strange travelogue through imagined middle eastern worlds full of vocal loops and huge synth washes.  On Never Teach No Foreign Answer he manages to locate the overlap between the gamelan and nascent New York Noise music.  Which is impressive.

Richard Horowitz – Never Tech No Foreign Answer

Not Not Fun put out Canada Effervescent’s Crystalline on tape.  An album that manages to sooth and transport, a sort of ritualised bathing in pure energy.  Entirely synth led this will be playing in the waiting room before you transcend to a being of pure energy.

Canada Effervescent – Rayon Solaire Holistique

And in one of the best gigs I’ve been to in Years, GAS managed to turn standing behind a lectern into a emotionally transportive experience through the simple application of stunning, synced visuals and overwhelming sonic force.  Ambience via volume.  Ambience via nature.  Must be seen on largest screen possible.



With the world continueing to burn with the power of a thousand 2016s, the most escapist culture continued to thrive.  Although the vast majority of videogames released this year would have gone into production before anyone descended in golden elevators, 2017 was nonetheless an absolutely outstanding year for losing oneself in strange other worlds.

Nex Machina arrived and sadly became the last arcade shooter from Housemarque, the economics of neon flecked arcade shooters finally taking their toll.  But what an exit.  Completely hypnotic, frantic and capable of playing you more than you playing it.  Like last year’s sublime Thumper, it requires reactions faster than conscious thought and is our current go to ‘zone’ game.  No engagement with reality required.

A late entry into this year’s 2017 game roundup is Gorogoa which I haven’t even finished yet.  It’s here purely for the fact that it actually made me smile-out-loud, which turns out is a grin followed by a happy murmur.  It’s a meticulously drawn sliding block puzzle that brings in both the z-axis (as you zoom in and out of the screen) and an almost associative approach to perspective.  It’s artwork and logic seems pulled from a sort of Czech New Wave version of The incal.  Sounds of war mixed with ancient ruins, densely packed libraries and hallucinatory nature.

And then there was Mario.  Who had an Odyssey of pure, unadulterated joy.  Interestingly enough having his own run in with the rules of perspective and indeed, his own history.  Seeing Mario revisit New Donk City from his first appearance (in Donkey Kong) is…rather odd but then, so is visiting a world made of cooking ingredients.  But not as wonderful/odd as transforming into a 2D version of himself and playing out throwback levels that wrap themselves around 3D geometry.

And finally there was Zelda.  It may/may not be the greatest game ever made depending on where you sit on the hyperbole scale but it was certainly the first open world game that didn’t feel like it was put together by a fussy tour guide that wanted you to tick off all the sights.  A world of endless Ghibli-esque beauty where simply journeying between locations managed to hit the childish pleasure centres of exploration and wonder.  It’s a thing of maddening complexity masquerading as earnest simplicity, like peak Beach Boys or the silent slapstick of Keaton.  Although its post-post-apocalyptic setting did have a nagging sense of melancholy that would be easier to process if the world wasn’t on fire…



2017 was also a banner year for people still being really good at shit.  Which is nice because we need all that we can get.

Slowdive returned (after 22 years) with a album that’s so thrown back it’s new again.  And, like a great videogame remaster, actually sounds like what you thought the original sounded like in your head.

EMA put out perhaps the best album of her career with Exile in the Outer Ring.  A sort of sci-fi / internet culture / depression America journey that features a track called Aryan Nation.  Which seems to loop round to her early work with Gowns on Red State.  A sort of through line of disenfranchisement.

Fever Ray returned!  Which was wonderful.  It’s an album that’s truly explicit, a completely bare emotional reckoning with her sexuality, motherhood and politics.  IDK About You is such a banger too.



The cultural event of the year though can only belong one place, Twin Peaks: The Return.  An 18 hour movie, or TV series, or Limited Time Event, or whatever it was, it was mesmerising.  Owing as much to Eraserhead as the original show, it frustrated, beguiled and confused.  It soared, it fucked with nostalgia and fan service as well as dishing out loads of nostalgia and fan service.  It took one of television’s greatest heroes and most notorious ‘bad’ endings and deepened their relationship to one another.  It gave us Namoi Watts’ best performance in years.  It turned David Bowie into a tea pot.  It had a pretty flawless booking agent for the Road House (I’d argue the bands themselves are spoilers so I won’t list them).  It had so much to give.

It was a culmination of Lynch’s career, forcing through his ideas on dream logic to the point where they broke the fabric of Twin Peaks’ murder mystery / soap.  It had moments of genuine comedy, empathy with the changes the world has undergone over the last 25 years (“people are under a lot of stress, Bradley”) and absolute horror.  Episodes 8 and 17/18 will live with me for a long, long time even if the books produced by Mark Frost may have made things too solid.  Although deliciously he mentioned that they’re his reality, and that Lynch’s Twin Peaks may exist in a different one.

Several albums have come out of the show.  Two ‘official’ ones, centring on the score and the Road House guests.  But more interestingly two other albums emerged, one from Johnny Jewel (on Italians Do It Better) and one from Dean Hurley (on Sacred Bones).

Jewel’s Windswept contains what I imagine to be all the submitted music for Twin Peaks, a fair proportion of which was used.  It is, as you’d imagine, what happens when the Chromatics go Lounge Jazz instead of Disco.  Slow and sad and eerie, ending with a startling (revised) cover of Blue Moon.  Audrey would be massively into them.

Hurley’s Anthology Resource Vol. 1: △△ is more ambient and soundtracks the more terrifying moments of the series.  As such I’ve listened to it significantly less than Windswept as I like to actually sleep at night.  These are Convenience Store jams.

2-step hieroglyphics


Lets take a crawl through haunted circuitry hallways  that run labyrinthine-like, beneath those giant blocks of cement and glass, where light emitting diodes weakly flicker on and off in a disquieting fashion to the faint murmured rhythms of a clipped and fragile humanoid voice fragmented into some alien form of 2-step code. We can find a place to sit and listen as the mysterious robotic hieroglyphics, we’ll come to learn are made by two wire whisperers brought together under the name Darkstar, lull us into a softdub trance and we’ll slowly feel the reanimation of something occuring as their future funk incantation brings into life the fidget clicks and synth plinks that once ruled and spooked those grey streets of London, now reborn as something more meditative and melancholy as they emerge out of stasis.

The incantation in question is forthcoming on Hyperdub which shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering how they’ve been responsible for some most hypnotic phantom digi-diva bass hymnals in the past, and who, prepped to celebrate their 5 year birthday very soon, are probably one of this decades most important and continually impressive British labels out there.

Darkstar – Aidy’s Girlfriend is a Computer

(The label requested we only stream this one, but if you like it, you know what to do. Go get it when it materialises in physical form alongside a very nice Detroit synth workout remix of the same song courtesy of Kyle Hall)


Moving on from the beatuifully still and zen, and entering into some truly terrifying territory we present to you Magic Daddy and his ode to the joys of having your mouth pulled apart and poked with sharp objects, another wonderfully creeped out horror disco number constructed from machines that literally ooze dread. With a screwed melodic sensibility similar to that of Chicago macabre masters Gatekeeper and even a touch of the kind of synthetic doom reverberations Salem have come to specialise in, NHS Dentist practically throws you into the sterile plastic chair next to the spitoon they’ll find your toothless head in. Nasty, nasty business and not for the weak of heart.

Magic Daddy – NHS Dentist



Last night in NYC amidst a lightstorm of green lazerbeams Fever Ray peered from behind the fog to play an electrifying set of shamanic dirge-pop whiched blackened souls in the brightest possible way, and I’m more than a little bit excited to tell you all that tonight, once they’ve finished performing for probably the last time in a long time in this town, there will be a Fever Ray DJ set happening at Society, a night of talking tongues techno and astral space rave presented by XXJFG in association with True Panther. Psyched is not the word for it! If that wasn’t enough Blondes will be playing a n undoubtedly transcendental performance and bass hero DJ Kingdom will be dropping glitterbombs of crunk-cave on all and sundry. The dance commences from 9 at Arrow Bar in Manhattan. Break bones?


20JFG Best of 2008: FEAR

Amongst the seasonal activities in which your humble 20JFG scribes indulge, there is the odd film screening in the home cinema that our tycoon grandfather has set up in the cellar of his rural demesne. Crimson draperies and decadent gold gilded statues of Pan and Astarte, you can picture the scene. Well, for this year we decided to revisit a classic, no less than George A. Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’. It was this most excellent piece of cinema verité that inspired the opening of this ‘Best of 2008’ post, where we walk the darker side of the sonic mausoleum where talented artists have buried us with blood, sweat and tears. Underline blood and tears, there.

Remember when Roger is getting close to his transformation into mindless flesh-eating corpse, and tells Peter to blow his brains off only when he is one hundred percent sure that the change has taken place, because it might not happen, as he is going to try not to come back?

Well, you could say that much of the music  covered in today’s review is precisely that, music that died. And came back, a subtly, or not so subtly altered replica of its former, breathing self, still scintillatingly beautiful, but with a strange glint in its eye, a snake of black smoke nested in its fractured rib-cage, these are nice songs that spent an evening buried in the rocky grounds of the pet sematary, and awoke and returned up the lost path to envelop us with the seductive scent of their putrefaction. Many people out there do not understand our fascination with such things, they do not realise that when we behold through the ghastly gashes on the side of the emaciated visitations that our FEAR ballads are, we see things, and we hear things that come from beyond, we can’t help ourselves, we are people with that inclination for the supernatural.

Addendum– Heaven is a place where Francine blows up the head of the Hare Krishna zombie with an incandescent flare.


Two stars have shone blacker than the velvet foreboding sky this 2009 of blood-curdling shrieking and hands raised towards the sky in a feverish plea for deliverance. First come Portishead, subjects of an astonishing musical reinvention, teletransported to a nebulous zone of bone-shattering kraut-rock riddims, cadaverous country and beautiful industrial dirge, Machine Gun is probably our fave tune of the year, they also took our breath away live at Primavera Sound.  And then Salem, engineers of a fiendish genetic thief escaped from the frozen tundras of Antarctica to arrive in the abandoned-hive like streets of Alphabet City becoming what, a hybrid of dirty (gothic) south opium nightmares and phantasmagorical shoe-gazing turbulence. John Carpenter would be proud, also of fellow travellers Young Cream and White Ring.

Crows danced in the sky to the powerful pulse of Black Mountain’s agit-mystical  stomp, and Mirror Mirror drew us spellbound inside a mesmerising zone of magical glamour, an opalescent time-machine of sensual wizardry harkening back to the best pysche folk of the 60s.

Spectral chanteuse Zola Jesus will surely continue sending shivers down our feeble vertebral spines with her necromantic balladry, nostrils and mouth agape project ectoplasmic tendrils that melt into an auditory rorschach ink-blot where we hear echoes of Motown and Kate Bush that fiery warlock, wandering lost in a hall of  shadows full of rabbit-holes whence we access misty treacherous moors, solitary urban back-alleys where memories of dreams dance to the cruel rhythm of a wintery wind.

Zola Jesus- Rester


You know that synthetic spirals let loose in the misty spaces of a Dario Argento tableaux never fail to turn us on in a death-pervert kind of way, well, this year we have had our fair share of such dirty thrills, by the hand of, amongst others, one master of darkness Mr. Steve Moore whose remixes of David Rubato and Genghis Tron made us think of apocalyptic sunsets populated by night gaunts spreading their leathery wings from shattered windows, nay, hollowed eyes of leprous high-rise buildings standing up to be counted like the corpses of behemoths in the sprawling graveyard of a nuked Wahington D.C. landscape.  Meanwhile, Dissident records have continued unleashing upon the discotheque pumped up italo slashers, leather glove cast in iron brandishing serrated steel implements. Brassica, Naum Gabo and Truffle Club deserve special mentions in this unholy front, as do Chicago’s finest purveyors of goulish EBM electro carnage, Gatekeeper.

We kneel by the (thing on the) doorstep of Thisisnotanexit manor for three main reasons, namely Spectral Empire’s Jan Hammer slaher new beat gorefest,  Detachments’ skeletal post-punk and Brain Machine’s vanishing point style trip across the cyclopean canals of a dead world. Just listen to Eternal Night, perfect Tangerine Dream-esque soundtrack for the eerie convolutions of Event Horizon’s Space Drive, a trail of fractal tears mark the spot where Jesus wept.

Brain Machine- Eternal Night


The long winded cycle of an ominous drone is the loop of a hangman’s noose which pulls us from freezing waters in a cruel paradox of asphyxia and salvation, Pocahaunted, Caldera Lakes, Oneohtrix Point Never, Teeth Mountain and Little Claw have risen like translucent revenants to stand in the murky background of forests captured by the camera of one Mr. Dan Nixon, a frightful zone we wander in a simultaneous delirum of joy and dread.

It is this wonderful gentleman Mr. Nixon who brought to our attention Fever Ray’s nebulous dirge. We are talking about the new project by Karin Dreijer Andersson from the Knife, so you know we are talking about some special business. An album shall be coming out in March, for now we revel in the abyssal depths of ‘If I had a Heart”, a macabre D. Lynch style trip across river Styx over the decrepit bridge of a rumbling bassline which could have well been produced with a medieval siege engine. If Genesis P-Orridge or Alan Vega had had a go at remixing Silent Shout, the outcomes would have been of this sort, i.e. astonishing.

Fever Ray- If I had a Heart

And before we go to sprinkle an orderly corn-field with virginal blood, we leave you with a message from Chris Upset the Rhythm. It has to do with Foot Village’s new album, sweet stuff, do get involved.


Foot Village – yes, them of the thunderous drum-n-shout circle from Los Angeles, are recording their new album ‘Anti-Magic’ for Upset The Rhythm in the studio right now. It’s day two and the roughs we’ve heard so far are a total brain-wrangle. It’s going to be a terrific record but only you can help finish the album as the band demand your involvement with the final track called CHICKEN AND CHEESE.

CHICKEN AND CHEESE is a celebration of requited love, a call to arms, an espionage and also an ever evolving loop about the world uniting through music – hence the inspired idea to throw the song open to everyone. Foot Village are going to start the loop and then every few measures it’ll get passed on to another band/artist/human to display their interpretation of the part.

To get a feel for what the loop will sound like at the beginning check out this practice-space recording:


Feel more than free to write and record your own version, I mean really go crazy, change it as much as you like, take it to places only you can reach and send it on to the band here:

[email protected]

They are going to take every contribution and edit it all together into a colossal parade of bands that will pretty much destroy your mind. The deadline for all contributions is THURSDAY 15 JANUARY 2009 and for those of you who might want to know the lyrics, here they are:

“We write love songs in a secret language that no one can resist”

Brilliant! Have fun and we hope you can join the party!