Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Silent shout - the knife

Wednesday is gloomy, despite the crisp winter's day there has been only a focus on excessive workloads to which there seems to be no end. So instead of reaching for something to lighten to mood I decided to descend into the darkness of the world of the Knife.

Brother and sister, the Knife have worked hard to keep their identities a secret (although looking them up on the web it becomes clear that they can be unmasked however I prefer to retain the mystery) through a series of elaborate masks and refusing to embrace the commercial side of the music industry. They produce astonishingly twisted electronica, often with synthesised vocals which can be playful as well as disturbing. Very rarely do they have any relationship to organic sound - 'Silent shout' is perhaps the darkest of their three albums so far in the atmospheres created.

Opening song 'Silent shout' pulsates with shimmering waves of sound beneath lyrics of loneliness and frustration. 'Neverland' is more garish, its stomping, repetitive beat prefaced with simple descending chords and and offbeat clatter. 'I'm dancing for money that burns in my hand' - it goes without saying that this vision of neverland is not a pleasant one. Standout tracks are 'We share our mother's health' with its crazy popping synth loops and grating vocal sounds, and 'Like a Pen' which has an adorable frenetic bassline, the background swoops and whistles very eery on top of this (both songs also have sweet cartoony videos to accompany them). As for the rest, 'Marble House' is stately cabaret; 'One hit' sounds like Zippy (un)masked as a pervert singing about the fate of women to a ludicrously catchy beat (sample lyric - 'for a reasonable salary I will wash the world'); 'Na na na' builds gentle lullabies from the machines and 'Forest Families' describes some sort of enforced flee - 'they said there were communists in the family, I had to wear a mask' - the sounds bubbling under convey dark wintery woods dusted with snow. And such is the world of The Knife, 'far away from the city' with 'trees... apples, fruits maybe' and 'clean air' but the flip side that it almost in perpetual shadows, maintaining an effective ambiguity.

No comments: