The Black Queen – ‘Fever Daydream’ [Review]

The Black Queen - Fever Daydream

Feel. Soul. Depth.

These words are ubiquitous in the music world. They pop up in press releases for everything from reality-shattering mathcore to surgically dehumanised bubblegum pap. They’re used to imply authenticity, whether or not it’s actually present in the music.

And what the hell is authenticity, anyway? If you define something inauthentic as “fake,” then that implies deception and dishonesty. Flip that over, and authenticity is really about honesty.

True honesty in art takes you somewhere beyond feel, soul, and even depth. You’re talking about another dimension entirely, the kind of space within which any form of creative activity can take place. It’s the zone of true originality. Uniqueness.

Fever Daydream was born in that space. It’s a fluid, metallic sphere with a solid synthpop block at its core, the surface expanding, contracting, and waving according to the whims of its creators. Greg Puciato, Joshua Eustis, and Steven Alexander – aka The Black Queen – collectively control this mass with masterful precision.

When Now, When I’m This begins to pulse and seethe, it feels like familiar territory. A cinematically apocalyptic accumulation of painstakingly designed synth layers, it gradually fades into Ice To Never‘s simultaneously sky-scraping and claustrophobic combo of cold beats, warm synths, and Greg Puciato’s none-more-intimate vocal. From here on in, we’re breaking fresh ground.

Fever Daydream will make you want to dance and weep at the same time. Each track encapsulates the emotions you’d feel watching an ice sculpture melt and resolidify, restructuring itself into an entirely new form, ten times in a row. Trepidation, fear, anxiety, lust, loss, separation and post-traumatic growth all lurk within, ghosts beneath a glassy facade.

One moment, Fever Daydream is uplifting; the next, it’s unsettling. The End Where We Start tips to the latter end of the emotional spectrum, crammed tight with spectral ruminations; Secret Scream provokes knowing smiles and potential tumescence while invoking the spirit of classic Nine Inch Nails; and Maybe We Should soars gracefully through slow spirals before hitting a wall of guitar-driven turbulence. Distanced creeps with sharp harshness; Strange Quark flickers and glitches, a sonic hallucination that refuses to fully coalesce; That Death Cannot Touch drops distorted swells in favour of one of the best grooves on the whole LP; Taman Shud is catchy enough to haunt your darkest post-conscious fantasies; and Apocalypse Morning climbs an inverted mountain, the view from its deepest peak conveyed through one slowly fading and bleakly dystopian chord progression.

Fever Daydream is not an album you can describe in normal terms. It can’t be conveniently dropped into a marketable box, and neither can it be dissected into pre-existing segments. It is what it is.

A real and honest rarity.

TMMP RATING: 100% (Essential Listening!)

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Posted on 29 January 2016

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