New Music Tuesday (March 2nd, 2010)

2 Mar

The Knife
Tomorrow in a Year
Rabid Records

The Knife is no longer on hiatus. Known for their darkly delicious dance tunes, mask-wearing tendencies and countless Swedish Grammy’s, the innovative risk-taking sibling duo are back with a double-disc album, “Tomorrow in a Year”. Truly digressing from pop sensibilities that Silent Shout brought to fans worldwide, the album illustrates perhaps a more “adaptive” and mysterious side of the Knife.

Disc #1 begins with digital bleeps and bloops, slowly evolving into an audio recording of geological epochs. Its quiet and experimental droning confuses Knife fans that came prepared to dance. But this isn’t a dance album, it’s the soundtrack for an opera based on Charles Darwin’s book “On the Origin of the Species” commissioned by a Danish performing arts group Hotel Pro Forma. An operatic voice (Kristina Wahlin) breaks through the finely crafted noise, introducing a human perspective to the album.

As a non-noise and non-opera fan, the album can be lacklustre but the concept is brilliant. Olof Dreijer traveled to the Amazon to collect field recordings for the album. The point is to hear Darwin’s experiences albeit jarring at times: from strange species discovered on Galapagos Islands to the chirping of various birds; from the calculated clutter of data in Darwin’s head to boats sailing to foreign lands. The mind wanders into deep places and history becomes exciting.

Finally, Disc #2 is unearthed. Haunting violins stream through “Annie’s Box”, an emotional track documenting Darwin’s letters to his daughter. The throbbing percussion of “Tumult” leads into “Colouring of Pigeons” which is the stand-out, 11-minute, repeat-friendly song where Karin’s vocals debut. At last, all elements on stage merge together into a mesmerizing rhythm accented by the Knife’s signature synth-xylophone sound. The following tracks, “Seeds” and “The Height of Summer” remind listeners that this really is a Knife album, as fragments of fossil records and tree diagrams make their way into the songs.

Confusing at first, “Tomorrow in a Year” deserves more than one listen simply for its challenging of conventional opera music. With hints of electro and noise, this album is ripe with imagination and memory. Olof Dreijer states in an interview, “It took me about a year to become emotionally moved by an opera singer and now I really [am]”. Perhaps we can learn to love this record after all. Why Hotel Pro Forma chose to collaborate with the Knife makes sense: it must have been natural selection.

Posted by : Erin Pehlivan

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