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3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 29 July 2014
I'm a long time fan of The Knife, I think they're two of the most inspiring, intelligent, and talented musicians around, and i've enjoyed their side projects Fever Ray, Oni Ayhun, and the Darwin opera Tomorrow in a Year, which in many ways seems to be a precursor to this.

Shaking the Habitual can almost be split into two albums, first the more traditional Knife songs with beautiful lyrics and utterly amazing sounds, songs such as -
A Tooth for an Eye ~ surely one of the best tracks of the last few years
Full of Fire ~ where they mix gender politics with a (metaphorical) nine minute gun fight
Without You My Life Would be Boring
Wrap Your Arms Around Me
Raging Lung ~ one of a few songs which includes that scraping metal factory sound, wonderful
Ready To Lose

And secondly the more experimental and 'difficult' tracks, with few lyrics and a purer focus on sound, which would include -
A Cherry on Top
Old Dreams Waiting to be Realised
Stay Out Here
Fracking Fluid Injection

Whilst the first list is sure to be more crowdpleasing, the second is bound to disappoint many. Whilst the second list is full of interesting music and ideas, and seems very much a follow on from the long musical tracks found in Tomorrow in a Year, it lacks that albums clear concept, and therefore sometimes feels a bit aimless and indulgent, especially on the almost 20 minute track 'Old Dreams..' With the Darwin opera those sounds were perfectly matched to Darwin and the theory of evolution and the voyage into the natural world, but with this there isn't quite such a clear connect between sound and concept.

But actually to split the album apart into those two distinct factions is quite a violent act, they belong together, feeding off each other. There is a clear aesthetic which is apparent in every song throughout the album, and which is new and much more complex than any other Knife album.

It is an essential listen. It's not ambient music as some people seem to claim, ambient says to me 'background music' and this clearly requires attention, and it will slap you round the head until you give it. This is an album about contemporary life, on a social, personal and political level, and contains the most roaring and (i have no other word but) gorgeous and jarring sounds around. And maybe it's our shortcoming if we don't like it because it doesn't contain as many seductive pop beats as Silent Shout.
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on 21 May 2013
Both CD versions need a trim. Take all the tracks over the 2 CD version and you would get an excellent CD. Now, I dont mind a bit of experimentation (Pere Ubu, Bjork, Eno) it can be very rewarding but direction and continuity always helps an album. The first five tracks are excellent but A Cherry does highlight the CD's problem with a low key, false start. Also, after the electronic cyclone of the first tracks where does the ambient electronic chill of Old Dreams come from? A real curve ball, and one that is totally at odds with what has gone before, and unnecessary given that Fripp and Eno did the same sound 40 tears ago on No Pussyfooting. In many ways there was no point doing another Silent Shout as Fever Ray is in that particular sonic territory and consequently Habitual is the right way for The Knife to go, but it just needs to be edited to be more rewarding.
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on 18 April 2013
There's been a lot of rhetoric surrounding the release of this album. Some journos could not score the album on a scale of 1 to 5. After reading lots of what is written about this record already, I approached with trepidation, as if one listen could change my will never be the head could explode. I've heard it. Plugged it into my ears on a train from London to Manchester and listened to it whole.
My head remains en tact, my sanity is as it was.

So what has got everyone spooked?? Shaking the Habitual is starkly twisted; bleak at times but I found it altogether fascinating from start to finish. Even the emptiness of Old Dreams Waiting... was sort of interesting but contrasted the rest of the ensemble IMO. Most of the sounds in here reminded me of some early-mid 90's techno (think Laurent Garnier, early CJ Bolland, Luke Slater, Joey Beltram etc.); strange noises intertwined with raging, pulsating beats - but with The Knifes contorted lyricism threaded through the mayhem. Some of the tracks are pure animals - Full of Fire, Stay Out Here, Wrap Your Arms Around, Networking - all spit and lust. Others are reflective and searching or uncompromisingly wierd (Fracking Fluid Injection).

One thing is for absolutely sure, this album is unique and inspired. This is not to say that all people will enjoy Shaking the Habitual, lots of people will struggle to listen. It is mostly a white-knuckle ride from start to finish: some people will come out the other end feeling exhilarated with a beaming smile; others will be dazed, confused and feeling a little ill.
If you like your beats dark, furious, pulsating and twisted - serve this one up. Just be warned - it will not be to everyones taste.
By the way, this was a perfect soundtrack to speeding through the English countryside at 125 mph.
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on 13 June 2013
I have enjoyed previous Knife and Fever Ray stuff but this album only hints at how good it could be. There are a few standout tracks but im bored of the sort of drone ambient noise fillers - heard it all before (do younger fans find this exciting and new?) the odd one or two like this is fine.

Generally It sounds a bit like the Knife are taking the p*ss a bit and i feel a bit like a sucker for buying this because of that feeling, there is only suggestions of the greatness that could be here, overall its ok but I expected something better.

On the +plusside I really like the artwork and packaging : )
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on 28 December 2013
This set occasionally takes off ands hints of original thought but is mostly rather dreary 'experimental' filler that unnecessarily uses up my life
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on 8 June 2013
I don't write about music too often. music is my passion for a long, long time but, in fact, this is my very first (short) review. And probably one of my last. So, it really means something to me.... :)
This album needs some time but if you clear your mind and forget about all kind of useless concepts or preconceptions (the knife should sound like this.....or like that....some songs are longer than i want them to be.... others are shorter...bla bla bla...) then you might be able to fully enjoy it. IMHO, albums like this are quite rare these days: it's very creative in a way of its own. My favorite tracks are: .....(just joking....)
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on 30 June 2013
Reviewing 'Shaking The Habitual' can be done in two ways. 1) As a piece of art - in which case it deserves 5 stars, and 2) As a piece of music - which deserves between 1 to 2 stars in my opinion. Why? Because musically, and comparing to their previous (superb) efforts, this album is not up to scratch. Simply put, the majority of the album is NOT pleasing on the ears. An overwhelming majority of the minutes are wasted on experimental, industrial and electronic noise. There are some beautiful passages and moments, but they just aren't repeated enough, or the rest of the song proceeds on being dragged out to a painstaking length. And this is really frustrating. The only coherent 'song' on the entire LP is the last track, 'ready to loose'. This is a moody and haunting song, but annoyingly it isn't long enough.

Negative points aside, and looking at 'Shaking the Habitual' from an artistic perspective, I can appreciate what The Knife were trying to do with this album. The LP is a statement. A protest. An experiment. It does not conform to what we all expect from musical artists. It tests the boundaries and pushes the patience of the listener. It's all political by the way. The Knife are a political band.

So to summarise as I began. 1) As a piece of art this is ground-breaking. 2) As a record, this is disappointing.
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I came across a number of less than enthusiastic mainstream press
notices last week in advance of today's new release from The Knife.
That it is a largely uncompromising affair is among its greatest strengths;
the new material is not designed for an evening of easy-listening but if
you're prepared to jump in with open ears and minds there's one heck of a
lot to get excited about here. The Swedish sibs Olof and Karin Dreijer may
well have created one of 2013's sonic highlights with 'Shaking The Habitual'.

There are thirteen tracks spread over this 2CD set; from two miniatures
'Crake' and 'Oryx', (both badly behaved creatures!) lasting less than a
minute each, to a nineteen minute epic soundscape, 'Old Dreams Waiting To Be
Realized', which owes as much to the work of anarchic French composer Edgard
Varese as it does to anything in the current realm of contemporary electronica.
In and around and in between there are beats aplenty to remind us that this
hugely talented duo still have the ability to make us dance. The single 'Full
Of Fire', for example, bristles and burns with raw energy; its heavily treated
vocals and thundering percussion beating a clearing among the trees like an
indescribably nasty beast with sharp fangs and claws and bad things on its mind.
'Raging Lung', too, lumbers along dangerously on the back of some powerfully
plump tribal rhythms with Ms Dreijer going about her business like a lost soul.
For sheer nerve , however, I found myself utterly absorbed by the haunting
creation 'Fracking Fluid Invention', wherein shards of disembodied vocal
fragments tumble and turn in the ether without ever finding full-bodied form.

'Shaking The Habitual' lives up to its name. The Dreijers have certainly
shaken things up for themselves with this brave project full of dark marvels.

Highly Recommended.
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on 7 November 2013
I love The Knife, and Silent Shout is one of my all time favourite albums. I was really looking forward to the new album, which was a long time in the making. How very disappointing. It appears no effort has gone into making this. It is just a collection of electronic sounds, which have no melody at all.. A huge let down
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on 13 April 2013
After a cursory listen to the new offering by Sweden's finest, The Knife present an uncompromising listen which pushes way beyond the wonders of Silent Shout. Curiously I received the new album by The Residents, Mush-Room, at the same time. The parallels between the two bands are thus all the clearer. The Residents were the pioneers of anonymity and the Knife have embraced it as their career has rocketed. Its musically however where the real similarities manifest themselves. I don't think there is an intentional mimicry at play, simply a similar mining of a particular sonic texture and delight in surreal weirdness. Not everyones cup of tea, but an album that confirms their place in the Premier League of best Bands for me. This is an album that will be staying on my play list for a long, long time........
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