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.