Weird, creepy, disturbing and also damn catchy. It must be Sweden's The Knife!
Chris Jones 2007-07-19
Re-released in deluxe 3-disc form on the back of some triumphantly strange gigs (included on DVD and CD here) and vast critical approval, Olof and Karin Dreijer’s The Knife are a duo who almost single-handedly prove that it’s possible in this day and age to be both weird and wildly commercial. While the rest of the known world seems desperate to retreat into reactionary, guitar-led, pre-digested 'rebellion', these siblings are busy actually doing something new. Even a year after its original release, Silent Shout, while happy to reference everything from Industrial Techno to New Romanticism and even some Tangerine Dream, still sounds like nothing else. This is a good thing.
If one word could possibly sum up this melange of blips, heavily-treated vocals and European sang froid it’s ‘creepy’. Yes, Silent Shout is somehow deeply disturbing. Partly recorded in various strange locations such as factories and churches, it’s often bleakly post-industrial with Karin’s vocals pitch-shifted into the male register, giving things an air of palpable menace. Even where you get close to her natural timbre on tracks like “Like A Pen” or “Marble House” there’s a remoteness that, while cold, remains icily seductive. The Swedish duo’s inclusion on various prime-time TV series (Ugly Betty, CSI) proves that frankly, sometimes we all like to be a bit weirded out.
Lazy journalism would lead many to compare this kind of rollicking techno mixed with outré vocals to, say, Goldfrapp. But whereas Alison Goldfrapp’s muse is more straightforwardly sexual, The Knife want to take you to a far darker place. For starters no one’s even seen their faces, and the bonus live DVD (coupled with an essay on Schoenberg, natch) shows a band who clearly wish to push boundaries. All you indie kids may feel safer within your six-stringed comfort zone. But Silent Shout has ten times more to say. Be afraid…