So I went to the much anticipated Fever Ray concert last Tuesday September 29th and was entranced! It was not just a concert, it was a Shamanic journey filled with smoke, drums and lasers guided by the mysterious entity known as Fever Ray.
The show was held at the legendary venue known as Webster Hall in NYC on a beautiful fall night. A fan of her surreal voice ever since the work she did with The Knife and Royksopp, her new solo project was a most serendipitous find.
For me, Fever Ray’s debut solo album is a trip across the river Styx to the deep, dark reaches of the subconscious mind, the land behind the veil of death, the habitation of fears, desires and slumbering archetypes. Just check out all the symbolic imagery in this video:
Decked out in full shaman gear, her eerie voice was synthesized to a deep primal tone that vibrated straight through to ones core. The smoke that filled the air enveloped her in a mystical shroud, a symbol of the ephemeral nature of the world in-between. Her strange figure cloaked in a horned and feathered patchwork quilt was The Other staring out at the audience asking the unanswerable question behind our very own existence. Who are we really behind the masks and the cloaks?
Well the woman behind the mask is Karin Dreijer Andersson. An artist, a mother and a woman strong enough to play the role of the Shamanka as well. Traditionally, women made extremely powerful shamans as they were deeply rooted in mother earth. This relationship stems from the hunter gatherer days when they formed an intimate relationship with the plants and attuned themselves to the cycles of the moon. They were the givers of birth, seen as a most magickal act of creation that connected them by a cord to the realm where souls are born and enter, making them in essence the gateway between worlds.
Underneath the costume and inside that shell is something with a voice. The Voice that desires, that nurtures and creates. In Kabbalah, the enlightened could create life using the Sefer Yetsirah in the form of android servants known as the golem. These creatures looked all human except for their inability to speak since the voice was a gift only given to those with a soul. Fever Ray sings:
This will never end
Cause I want more
More, give me more, give me more
If I had a heart I could love you
If I had a voice I would sing
After the night when I wake up
I’ll see what tomorrow brings
Yes, it will never end. As long as we have a Voice, we will continue desiring and creating the world. In the beginning was the Word, the vibration that created our Cosmos. It is still resonating through us all and Fever Ray is one of the artist shamans tapping into it and channeling this eternal song for us all to hear…
Jackson Pollock is one example of the Artist as Shaman in the modern world. Through his paintings, he entered a trance where unrestricted by technique, the subconscious had free reign.
Pollock’s paintings are artifacts brought back from his own travels into the underworld of archetypes, stemming from his years of Jungian psychoanalysis. Greatly influenced by his childhood explorations of the Navajo reservations in Arizona, his interest was reignited when he saw a MoMA exhibit on Native Americans in 1941. Turning to Jung and Shamanism, Pollock used art to heal the discord he felt within himself, as well as becoming a mirror of America at a time when we had finally faced the possibility of complete annihilation after the dropping of the first atomic bomb.
He never planned a painting but chose to enter it fully immersed in the moment of creation, walking through a fourth dimensional plane where time and space become superimposed and ancient archetypes dance on a borderless canvas dreamscape. The correlation between his paintings and Shamanism can be seen in his statement here:
“I don’t work from drawings or color sketches. My painting is direct. I usually paint on the floor. I enjoy working on a large canvas. I feel more at home, more at ease in a big area. Having a canvas on the floor, I feel nearer, more a part of a painting. This way I can walk around it, work from all four sides and be in the painting, similar to the Indian sand painters of the West. Sometimes I use a brush, but often prefer using a stick. Sometimes I pour the paint straight out of the can. I like to use a dripping, fluid paint. I also use sand, broken glass, pebbles, string, nails or other foreign matter. The method of painting is a natural growth out of a need. I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.
When I am painting I have a general notion as to what I am about. I can control the flow of the paint; there is no accident, just as there is no beginning and no end.”
His large scale paintings with their swirling chaotic paint drippings were at once both the dropping of the atom bomb as well as the artists own turbulent soul, a microcosm/macrocosm. The canvas strewn across the floor was his stage where he assumed the role of the Shaman with the ritual itself becoming in essence a shamanic dance with paint.
Schizophrenic, shamanic, tomato, tomahto.. as the brilliant Terence McKenna so eloquently elucidates here: