Contributed by: Jared Harsanyi.
Artist: The Knife.
Album: Shaking the Habitual.
Release Date: April 5, 2013.
When the Knife announced their disbandment in 2014, members Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer had left a substantial legacy behind them culminating in their final album Shaking the Habitual. The Knife can be best described as an experimental electronic duo from Sweden who often incorporated feminism and exaggerated vocal effects into their music with Andersson providing the lyrics and vocals, whereas Dreijer provided the instrumentation (primarily with the synthesizer).
Due to its length, Shaking the Habitual might be a bit of a chore for some to listen to but it is well worth the time investment. Although the lyrics are topical, Andersson’s voice presents itself as simply another instrument and usually conveys a sense of emotional distress or aggravation. Due to the fact that her lyrics are by and large politically charged, her vocal style aids the tone that she is dissatisfied with the world, often taking on themes such international politics, greed, gender, and identity.
Shaking the Habitual is just as musically diverse as it is topically. The six-minute opener, “A Tooth For An Eye” starts off by incorporating playful African-influenced synths while Andersson uses inflexions to sound as though she is singing in an African tongue, despite singing in English. Some tracks take on a darker tone, such as the nine-minute “Full of Fire” that uses synths that are eerie and fuzzy. Andersson sounds almost demonic as she exclaims “Liberals giving me a nerve itch!” referring to her dissatisfaction with Swedish Liberal People’s Party who have become progressively more conservative over the years. “Fracking Fluid Injection” is full of persistent harsh noise but still easily enjoyable when put into the context of the entire album. The only flaw in my opinion is the 19-minute ambient piece “Old Dreams Waiting to be Realized”, which serves as a colossal and uneventful distraction to what is otherwise a strange and politically aware synth-based masterpiece.
The Knife may not be be around anymore but they have certainly made an essential addition to my rotation. So for those out there who enjoy experimental electronic music and do not mind songs on the longer side, Shaking the Habitual is definitely worth checking out.
Recommended if you like: Aphex Twin, Baths, Björk.
Soundtrack for life: everyday life, dancing, introspection.
Receives airplay on: Sporadic Noise on Mondays from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM.