Scandinavian Apotheosis: Björk Trades Remixes With Fever Ray / The Knife

 

Relationships end. Children grow up. Mothers cry, often grappling for new reasons for and by which to exist. When the mother is Karin Dreijer-Andersson (Fever Ray, and one half of The Knife) or Björk, it is not surprising that the tumult of their post-breakup worlds would be processed through their art.

Björk turned inwards to a prismatic, multimedia world of isolation on her album Vulnicura, perhaps clearly stating that she was indeed finally alone again. Utopia followed two years later as less of a declaration of her separation, but more of a processing of the new life she was coming to own. Dreijer-Andersson, on the other hand, dropped the hyphenate, brought back her Fever Ray persona – one that was originally presented to process the isolation and hardships of motherhood – hit up Tinder in Berlin, reconfigured their sexual and gender identities, and got to fucking their way through the transition.

 

 

Each human chose her own public path as they embarked on their new, personal life phases. Either way, the prolific Scandinavian mother artists found in one another fertile, common ground from which to spawn fascinating new creations. Enter their remixes of one another’s tracks, “Feature Creatures” (Utopia), and “This Country Makes it Hard to Fuck” (Plunge), by Björk and Fever Ray respectively (all via Mute Records).

Predictably intense, if not insane, Björk tackles Fever Ray’s track and ups the fervor by zeroing in on the harshest aural aspects of the original…then laces her vocals around Dreijer’s shrills. The result is a stark, unforgiving experience that likens itself to breaking teeth on cement in slow-motion, yet with a fecund, multi-layered undertow that could only be brought by Björk amidst the madness.

 

 

Dreijer gets two entirely different shots at Björk’s track. The first is remixed by them as Fever Ray, the second includes their brother Olof, collectively as The Knife. The latter duo, while unpredictable, had a knack for lending a more pop-savvy electronic aura to any strange project they chose to take on. The remix is no exception, and comes together as a perfect combination of their upbeat, danceable frame of mind, mixed with Björk’s deeply internal, sometimes emotionally overwhelming landscapes.

Fever Ray, takes a moodier approach to “Feature Creatures” by comparison, and injects the original track with more of a beat-driven framework…yet allows Björk’s most intense feelings to weirdly shine through.

From these two exquisitely iconoclastic minds, of course, one should expect nothing less. But still…good lord.

 

 

Listen: Blu DeTiger’s Funkariffic New Single ‘Tangerine’

 

 

We were always taught to eat lots of fruits and veggies because, obviously, they’re better for you than bacon-wrapped pizza. So no surprise, at the moment we vigorously recommend Blu DeTiger‘s delicious new single “Tangerine” (out today, September 6 via Heavy Roc Music) as a likely cure all the ills that come with being bombarded by so much utterly banal pop music.

The exceedingly stylish, 21-year-old NYC songstress extraordinaire in particular shows off her way with a silky, slithery bass riff (she’s a rather talented four-stringer), laying down a funkariffic foundation for her playful musings on romantic flirtation: “The crown look good on me / Fresh like tangerine / I wanna write my name on your wall”.

Produced by Bejamin Ruttner of The Knocks, with its synth squelches, slinky guitars and sultry beat, it feels something like a Miss Kittin / Tom Tom Club musical détente.

“It’s about going beyond that initial step and creating the environment you want, “she explains. “Flirty, cheeky, empowering, badass…and the groove just glides.”

All that…and it’s actually good for you.

 

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Sarah Jaffe’s Colorful, Introspective New Video for ‘Lay Low (Take Care)’

 

 

We’ve been smitten Sarah Jaffe fans for too long to even remember how long. And her iconoclastic synth-pop never fails arouse the imagination – evoking surreal little worlds for temporary and contemplative escape.

The quirky girl from Texas was busy this summer, releasing two thoughtful EPs, the hopefully titled This Is Better Part 1 and This Is Better Part 2 – though the overall tone was more pensive, even introspective. Taken from Part 1, BlackBook premieres here the intriguing new video for “Lay Low (Take Care),” words which sounds like good advice – though the lyrics actually find her struggling for a way forward: “Get my shit together / Gonna gonna get my…together.”

In the Dani Okon directed clip, Jaffe is positioned against a shifting pastel wonderworld, while another her walks a tightrope of what is seemingly flimsy pink yarn.

“Everyone has to fight through their own storms,” Okon offers, “and this music video is a colorful reminder that sometimes we need to lose sight of ourselves in order to find ourselves again.”

 

“We are both very visual people,” adds Jaffe, “in terms of how we communicate or express a feeling or an emotion. From the start to her final edit was harmonious.”

Perhaps a harmony of process was something like therapy then, as the song deals with the ways in which heartbreak can veritably cause an internal split.

“When we are faced with loss,” the singer observes, “we are far more resilient than we ever knew. We keep going and we surprise ourselves at our own inner strength. Dani did such a brilliant job of portraying that notion like a storybook. A little miniature version of us, fighting for us, and pulling us back together when we split apart.”

Jaffe will play the Texas International Pop Festival in Lewisville, TX on August 31.

 

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BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: New KRISTEENYOUNG Single/Video ‘Everyday’ is Actually About Love

 

 

Since her 1997 debut, KRISTEENYOUNG has managed to draw the considerable likes of David Bowie, Tony Visconti, Morrissey, Dave Grohl and Placebo’s Brian Molko into her singularly fierce musical universe. For her new album The SubSet, however, she’s essentially pulled a Prince and pretty much done everything herself.

The record is due out September 4. But in the lead up, BlackBook premieres here the video for first single “Everyday.” Rather unusual for Kristeen, it’s actually a song about amor – though sweetness is unsurprisingly eschewed for a kind of romantic relentlessness, evidenced by such lyrical niceties as “I don’t care about the next election / It’s just a revolving door transaction / I don’t care about the Earth’s destruction / It’s just an everyday distraction from you.”

“I don’t write many love songs…so that’s significant to me,” she confesses. “I guess I’m trying to say that when love hits, it’s the real force of nature and all the other things we talk about mean…not so much. Nothing else exists. It obliterates your world and everything in its path.”

 

 

 

The video itself (also done entirely by herself) is a jittery, quick-cut ostensible evocation of different recesses of the psyche: one dark, stark enveloped in smoke and, well, falling down a lot – the other all extravagantly adorned (she’s also her own fashion designer), and holding fast against an inexorable wind.

“I was trying to echo the music with the visuals, the dreamy / airy meets fire and static,” she explains. “The rising above / floating meets falling down. I made the set and, obviously, the outfit in the dreamy section. I really don’t know why I made the visual choices I made. I can’t answer that. I saw it completely in my head first and I have no reason for any of it. Maybe it’s something underneath that wanted to scream out and it’s in that language.”

A unmissable live performer, she’ll do a weekly residency this September at NYC’s Berlin, before several US and UK dates that take her through the end of November.
Image by Brian McClelland

 

Watch: Chela Does Psychological Battle With Herself in the New Video For ‘Heart O’ Hearts’

 

 

We’ve been loving what’s coming up from Down Under of late – and it’s almost exclusively female.

In June it was the melancholy noir of Melbourne’s Phebe Starr. And now we have the lovely Filipina-Aussie Chela – born Chelsea Wheatley – brandishing her utterly infectious new single “Heart O’ Hearts” (from her upcoming EP Delivery, due out October 23). With its chunky synths, jittery groove and soaring melodies, it’s like some decade-hopping melding of Austra and Scritti Politti.

 

 

The accompanying video shows her doing psychological battle with, well…herself, in between bursts of exuberant dancing. It perfectly encapsulates the lyrical themes: “I’m far from a saint / But I’m open to change / I’m measuring all that I am.”

“I wrote this song about inner conflict resolution,” she explains, “the good vs. the evil, the positive voice in one ear reckoning with the negative on the other side. It’s a mantra for quieting down the dark side of yourself.”

Considering how busy the dark side of humanity has been lately, the timing couldn’t be better.

 

Sabrina Claudio’s New Video For ‘Holding the Gun’ is a Sultry Desert Escape

 

 

Sabrina Claudio has been perched at the edge of stardom for a good couple of years now. A Twitter blow up last year probably slowed things down a bit…but the Puerto Rican – Cuban chanteuse’s songs regularly get streamed in the millions. Which is why it seemed a bit odd that her 2018 debut album, No Rain, No Flowers, didn’t quite ignite the charts.

Her label, Atlantic, will only say that a new “project” is in the works – which one could reasonably guess is her follow up long player. But a sultry new single, ‘Holding the Gun,’ has us thinking her moment may have at last arrived. Musically, it’s spot on early Sade, with Sabrina breathily declaring, “I will take your bullets / Even if it were you holding the gun.”

“’Holding The Gun’ symbolizes loyalty and an everlasting type of love,” she explains.

 

 

The accompanying video opens with a Nietzsche quote: “There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.” (We can decisively confirm that as truth.) Then a glimpse of Ms. Claudio’s face on a Wanted poster is followed by a dash through the desert in a vintage ’70s convertible.

“I wanted to make sure that showing violence was not a factor within the visual, as violence, conceptually, isn’t what the song is about. The blood and insinuation of crime represents the lengths one would go when so deeply in love.”

Sabrina launches a a 41-date North American and European tour with September 21 and 22 shows at LA’s historic Wiltern theater. It includes a stop at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom October 18.

 

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Gigi Rowe x NATIIVE’s Opulent New Single ‘Lost in Each Other’

 

 

As Laura Warshauer, she was palling around with Prince William and Kate, counting Jay-Z amongst her fans, and winning awards for her songwriting.

But somewhere along the way, real life apparently just wasn’t enough anymore. So she decamped to Miami, stocked up Madonna and Cyndi Lauper records, and exchanged all her black clothing for pink/dayglo. Of course, an exceedingly new identity needs a corresponding new name…and so she became Gigi Rowe.

As Gigi, we were particularly taken with her 2017 cover of “Dancing in the Dark.” And now she’s showing off her own way with a compelling tune, with her lavish new single “Lost in Each Other,” which BlackBook premieres here. The track, a collab with L.A. electronic producer NATIIVE, is a lush, atmospheric stunner – think Bryan Ferry – fattened up with chunky bass synths, and imbued with emotionally dramatic choruses.

 

 

It’s also an unapologetic ode to being madly in love…with the wrong person.

“’Lost In Each Other’ is about wanting someone who’s completely wrong,” Gigi explains, “but you’re all there for it anyway. And in the moment, it’s like pure magic. It’s about the rush of the experience, the immediacy of what it’s like to be immersed in it. But there’s also perspective, knowing that it’s not something that’s going to last. It’s dreamy but dark, intimate yet epic. I love the soundscape that NATIIVE envisioned to enhance the emotion of the song.”

No album plans have been announced as of yet. But currently she’s in the studio with producers Nick Lee and Yuri Ryback.

 

Image by Jasmine Archie 

Watch: New Charli XCX w/ Christine & the Queens Video for ‘Gone’ is Fiercely Erotic

 

 

In her unflinching new single “Gone,” Charli XCX spits disdainfully, “I feel so unstable, fucking hate these people / How they making me feel lately / They making me weird, baby, lately.”

We’ve all been there, of course – fighting the battle with other people’s petty judgments. But considering Ms. XCX’s prodigious public pedestal, she is likely to fall much harder and longer if they manage to knock her off.

 

 

The track (taken from her upcoming album Charli, to be released September 13), with its ferocious ’80s synth groove – think Music for the Masses Depeche Mode – is a collab with Christine and the Queens. And in the unabashedly provocative video, she and Christine are done up in bondage-y garb, and tied to an all white car that seems to have been stripped of its identity (that metaphor could go a number of ways). As they struggle to break free, figurative sparks fly between them, until the entire set is ringed in fire.

What is eminently obvious is that none of this seems like staged pop-erotica. Rather, it comes off as an earnest exercise in exigent catharsis – one which is likely to start its own summer heatwave.

(N.B.  Charli XCX will be doing summer festival dates, including Pitchfork in Chicago and Reading in the UK.)

 

 

 

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: French Duo Sacre’s Sexy New Single ’01:00AM PINK MAMBA’

 

 

With names like Hawaii and Sukil, the Amsterdam based duo Sacre (which translates, of course, to “sacred”) sound more like an Asian detective twosome. But the pair have been making cool, sexy electronic music since gliding onto the scene in 2017 – winning praise from the likes of Complex, Flaunt and Ladygunn.

We were intrigued by their latest single for its title alone. After all, wherever “01:00AM PINK MAMBA” is going on, we definitely want to be there. But with its fabulous retro-Franco-Teutonic aesthetic and sultry Euro groove, it comes on like Stereolab as reimagined by Dimitri From Paris.

 

 

If that weren’t enough, Sukil breathily recites intriguingly surreal couplets like “I’m the thief, I’m the snake / I’m the brain that you shake,” with an alluringly self-possessed aplomb.

“00:01AM PINK MAMBA is about women with a capital W,” she explains. “In the ‘Love Revolution‘ album narrative, our Pink Mamba is a waitress but she’s also a warrior.”

Love Revolution in fact, is their upcoming debut full length – and, yes, it’s a concept album.