wed 21/02/2024

CD: The Knife - Shaking the Habitual | reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Knife - Shaking the Habitual

CD: The Knife - Shaking the Habitual

Swedish brother-sister duo make their declaration for the epoch

'Shaking the Habitual': misshapen electropop with an exotic edge

Shaking The Habitual’s centrepiece – the seventh of its 14 tracks – is the 19-minute “Old Dreams Waiting to be Realized”. A tone which ebbs in and out, it’s occasionally underpinned by distant rhythmic colour.

Although thoughts inevitably turn to the similarly lengthy “SDSS1416+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter)", the 22-minute amelodic experience exemplifying Scott Walker’s recent Bish Bosch, the astonishing Shaking the Habitual is, over its 97 minutes, an album retaining connections with what is recognisably music. Even so, it’s still pretty far out.

Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer – The Knife – issued their last album, Silent Shout, in 2006. It came on the back of José González’s gentle cover of their early song “Heartbeats” becoming ubiquitous via a TV ad for TVs. The release of Shaking the Habitual is accompanied by a cartoon titled Make Extreme Wealth History and a polemic-crammed biography touching on “a blood system promoting biology as destiny; patriarchies that [are] a problem to the Nth degree; hyper-capitalism; [the] homicidal class system; the school system that’s kaput.” In a rare vocal appearance on “Stay Out Here”, Olof Dreijer declares “the Euro falls”. Presumably, the siblings' new album won't be used for any corporate promotion.

Shaking the Habitual begins with “A Tooth for an Eye”, which sets them in familiar territory: misshapen electropop with an exotic edge nodding towards Tin Drum-era Japan and "Games Without Frontiers" by Peter Gabriel. The atmosphere is distant and frosty. “Full of Flre” (sic) takes them into a warehouse for a communion with Marshall Jefferson. Then, what sound like a koto and piano strings being detuned are brought in for “A Cherry on Top”. Progressing with a linearality, each new element follows from those introduced in the preceding compositions. Connections are made by that glacial atmosphere, circular, pattering south-east Asian drums and Karin Dreijer Andersson’s deliberate, treated voice – “Raging Lung” is the album’s closest nexus to her post-2006 work as Fever Ray. By taking it to such extremes, Shaking the Habitual shares a wilfulness with Fleetwood Mac’s similarly overstuffed Tusk.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Watch the video for “A Tooth for an Eye”

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