The Knife – Shaking the Habitual Review

This is The Knife’s first proper album since 2006 and wow what a return! Shaking the Habitual is the most confusing yet most amazing thing i’ver ever heard and im glad that they have created this monster of a record which feels like it’s been hiding away in a cave or something! Yeah i know… They have always wanted to challenge the music industry and challenge the idea of creating music with a structure that has been pioneered in the 50’s and 60’s to keep the commercial big wigs happy. Let’s face it… anything in the charts today follows the exact same structure of a song from the 50’s or 60’s. Take The Beatles as the most famous example. They are being recycled to the point of breaking even today and The Knife have dropped this with Shaking the Habitual. It couldn’t be anymore different from English Rain from Gabrielle Aplin which i reviewed last week and if im honest that was easier to review aswell! ‘Full of Fire’ is a song that some may not even consider a song but perhaps that’s the problem. Perhaps we are all being so very narrow minded about what a song is so if you’re going to listen to this song then do it with an open mind. It doesn’t have a chorus as much as just repeating, disstorted and manipulated lyric with different sounds. That’s what this song is. A collage of sounds woven together into nine minutes. The sounds border on a gritty and dark techno theme with some electronica elements thrown in but none of them used in a convential way. The vocals too are almost always haunting or just straight up creepy so i’d advise against listening to this in the dead of night if you are easily scared as the song plays on every sense and every new sound makes you a little nervous. But when you think about it, when has a song ever done that? Another great element with the song is that you never get bored with it despite it’s unconvential length. This is because there is always something new going on in the tune to intrigue. ‘A Tooth For an Eye’ is a very percussion driven song with the constant rattle of cymbals and an electronic rythmic beat going on throughout with a heavier electronic percussion sound at intervals throughout. This union of percussion sounds grows in volume as do the vocals from Karin Andersson and some subtle electonic synth sounds are introduced as Karin’s vocals take control of the song more in it’s second half. ‘Ready to Lose’ has a very low percussion like electronic sound that drives the song which again grows naturally with added subtle synth sounds and hand claps accompanying it. A more metallic percussion sound joins in as Olof’s vocals rise above the sounds and delivers a vocal that pulls your attention to the lyrics. ‘A Cherry on Top’ has a very minimalistic intro with an eerrie collage of manipulated and disstorted sounds. The song almost stops to restart again with an off kilter guitar sound as Olof’s vocals begin over five minutes into the song and last for around a minute. The general sound could be from some retro, underground horror film and like ‘Full of Fire’ it’s very thought provoking and you can be left hanging on every plucked string which is again something you can’t say a song has done before. All in all this album is great! Even if you don’t quite get some of the songs at first you should listen again and try to deconstruct the wall of different and varying sounds. Some of which fill the song but others leave the songs with lots of space to generate a real atmosphere and with this they have challenged the norm’s of modern music to the points where alot of people won’t appreciate it because they don’t understand it. Im not even sure if I fully understand it but i do recognise what has been done and I think the same old same old of music needs to be challenged but sadly, perhaps The Knife are too ahead of their time with Shaking the Habitual and it might only be appreciated more in the future. So if you’re looking for something dark, challenging and different then this album is for you!

The Knife – Shaking the Habitual = 8.5/10

Images from http://consequenceofsound.net/#&panel1-3 / http://www.abeano.com/tag/the-knife

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