The Knife – Shaking The Habitual The Knife – Shaking The Habitual

The Knife - Shaking The Habitual (2013)

The Knife – Shaking The Habitual (2013)

Editors Note: I was havng a hard time finding album art that wasn’t pixalated until I realized it was intentional. Ohh, its going to be like that, is it?

Charles said I should get weird and review the new The Knife. I never knew I was going to get this weird. The Knife is a swedish synthpop duo who made an electronic splash with their 2003 record Deep Cuts. That was 10 years ago. I can’t imagine they are the same band. I can’t imagine they are the same band as in 2006 with their dark synth house opus Silent Shout. Seven years since Silent Shout and three since their avant opera Tomorrow in a Year, the band’s fourth proper album Shaking the Habitual was released to wide acclaim. Though the album came out in early April, it has taken me this long to process and understand. It’s time to get weird.

Silent Shout marked an important journey for The Knife which has led the brother sister duo down a dark path of wild experimentation and agitated intellectualism. In fact, since 2006, the band has gotten less listenable and conversely more interesting. It is one of the trade offs in dealing with the shadowy avant garde. Though Shaking the Habitual is far from anything danceable and bleeds artsy hubris, no one would expected any record from The Knife to be thrown on at a party…that is, of course, unless your party is filled with people wearing plague masks.

I keep mentioning the fact that Shaking the Habitual is experimental knowing full well that any record pulled from The Knife’s catalog could be considered far from ordinary. Shaking the Habitual, however, is double the length of previous efforts and opens up more floor space for 10 minute tracks of ambient noise. Additionally, the band’s embrace of tribal beats and atonal atmosphere is jarring in the same way the back end of chair on an open shoe would feel. Though the album is challenging 80% of the time and the cover makes my eyes want to vomit, I have finally begun to understand why this record is what it is. It’s taken me this month to realize that Shaking the Habitual might be the band’s finest hour. At least intellectually and behind the eyes of a mask.

This record is confrontational, rooted in deep feminist and queer theory and stands as a cultural assault on a supposed commercial corruption which infests everything. Where Silent Shout was somber and reflective, Shaking the Habitual is lively and goddamn dangerous. Is that why the album art looks like that? Probably. Now that we have gotten context and have a baseline, let’s put on those plastic trash bags and get fucking weird.

Shaking the Habitual is interesting for its polarity. One the one side songs like “Raging Lung” and “Full of Fire” might have fit well on Silent Shout. There are certain accessible elements which feel like they have gone feral. At the other end, the album’s longest tracks “Olds Dreams Waiting to be Realized” and “Fracking Fluid Injections” are landscapes of structureless noise. The rest of the album falls somewhere between, caught in an ongoing battle between aggressive order and passive nothingness.

The last time I was this drawn, intellectually, to a record was Swans The Seer and I feel both records share some weird fucked up kindred spirit. Both albums shove the listener down in public and berate them aesthetically. I feel it is important to acknowledge records which are always a few steps ahead of everyone else. I also feel that I have grown enough to distinguish between bullshit and genuine innovation. Perhaps the two are one in the same just on different points in time. Whatever the case Shaking the Habitual is a synthpop floor stomper guaranteed to get any party moving — that is of course is if your party is filled with art students in bird masks who have long given up the notion of taking drugs to get weird. They’re already there and they’ve been waiting for you.

The Knife – Shaking The Habitual Tracklist

01 A Tooth for an Eye – 6:04
02 Full of Fire – 9:17
03 A Cherry on Top – 8:43
04 Without You My Life Would Be Boring – 5:14
05 Wrap Your Arms Around Me – 4:36
06 Crake – 0:55
07 Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized – 19:22
08 Raging Lung – 9:58
09 Networking – 6:42
10 Oryx – 0:37
11 Stay Out Here – 10:42
12 Fracking Fluid Injection – 9:54

The Knife - Shaking The Habitual , reviewed by Kaptain Carbon on 2013-05-08T13:26:39-07:00 rating 4.2 out of 5

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