Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Knife - Shaking the Habitual (2013) Mute

So a few years ago I made some music. Some I made by myself and some I made with my neighbor. Nothing was remarkable or groundbreaking about what we were doing in terms of sound necessarily, yet the reason i bring it up was, to a cetain degree we didnt really know what we were doing, we just knew we wanted to create something that was against what we were normally exposed to. You could call it improv, you could almost call it free jazz(though not nearly played as well as the greats). whatever it was it was full of intent and thought to be apart of the pack. there are three distinct songs on this double album that bring the actual tonal quality of what we made years ago to mind. 2 extremely short tracks and one 3 minute track of, pretty much, atonal noise and screeches. sounds like crap right? well in the context of the album and the context of the musical landscape these tracks of pure noise are a revelation, especially considering the artist putting them out. The Knife for years now has been championed as an electro/pop/arty top of the class musical act. People(including myself) loved their 3rd effort "Silent Shout". That album was dancy, dark, weird, poppy and intelligent in it's sound design. This band was supposed to deliver on that album again, and they did it, but they did it a bit differently than expected. A lot of the same sounds are still around(steel drums, bjork like vocals, dancy drum beats etc...) this time though they put art in front of accessibility. not completely, just a little. Where once there was a 4 minute concise blast of tweaked dance pop now there is a 9 minute beast of a track that still retains the same energy and excitement from that track in the past but this time stretches it, adds a trance-like quality and expands on themes that might not have been attainable in the shorter time period. This album is divided up between the fun/exploratory and the heady/meditative. This is achieved with great effect. Ambient soundscapes bump up against electro bangers and so forth. The old sound is definitely evident but there is a sense of growth and wide eyed exploration and just the right amount of punk attitude. The songs are supposedly very political but aside from a few confrontational phrases the politics are lost on me. This album feels like another excellent case of the low-brow meets the high-brow worlds of art. Where the gutter meets Artforum. Where a trashy free zine meets the Wire. I appreciate artists who do this, it shows their intelligence, it shows their open-mindedness, it shows their wide range of taste. These things make me want to listen, to absorb every note. These are the kinds of people i respect. Yes this album is a lot to take in, yes it doesnt make a lot of sense as an easy follow-up but you would be sorely mistaken to think this is crap and anything short of an exploratory mind expanding listen. get lost in this shit and try and dance your way out. I fucking dare you....

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