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Fever Ray

"The Wolf"

[Water Tower Music; 2011]

By ; March 18, 2011 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

If early reviews for Red Riding Hood are any indication, then the advertised tension and murkiness is nothing more than an empty sales pitch. A film about a girl in love with a social outcast and a forest tormented by a werewolf may sound like a brooding endeavor, but it would stand to reason that one of the cuts from the soundtrack — The Knife’s Dreijer Andersson’s contribution entitled “The Wolf” — provides the most palpable chills.

Though maybe the movie wasn’t able to convey it visually, this new track — released under Andersson’s Fever Ray guise — is fog-thick, gratingly tense, and haunting; a trait derived predominantly from her powerful, unmistakable vocals. Of course, there’s a thematic tenderness to both the film (presumably) and the song that can also be detected in Andersson’s voice. After all, Red Riding Hood (or Valerie, as she’s named in the film) is a pretty, innocent little thing corrupted by her surroundings and what lurks within them. Fever Ray captures that contrast exceptionally.

The song’s foundation is built around what sounds like an alphorn futily trying to claw its way out from the depths of a wet cave, tribal percussion, and sampled vocals in the background that feel like they could have been recorded voyeur-style from some kind of ritualistic sacrifice. On top of this is Andersson’s description of a black-eyed, black-pawed creature full of poison and blood. Either as Fever Ray or fronting The Knife, Andersson is no stranger to bleak tracks and this one is easily one of her most blood-curdling hymns yet.

It’s funny how sometimes the best thing to come from a given movie is its music. The Twilight series — whose director coincidentally brings us Red Riding Hood — is perhaps the most illuminating example of that. But thanks to “The Wolf” and the underwhelming reviews this movie has been getting, it looks like we’ve got another case to add to the list.


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