Yes, it’s been a long six years since Silent Shout collectively stole our hearts with its metallic dance music timbres and ever-present gloom, but the siblings Dreijer have been anything but silent in the intervening years. They collaborated on the strange, Darwin-themed opera Tomorrow, In A Year and Karin’s solo project, Fever Ray, sounded like the logical follow-up to Silent Shout. Meanwhile, Olaf let his freak flag fly in semi-anonymity as Oni Ayhun, experimenting with corrosive agents in his studio and synthesizing them into aggressive noise tonics and volatile dance-floor solutions. If the usual narrative were to be followed, then the forthcoming new Knife album Shaking the Habitual would perhaps offer a slightly more abrasive, techno take on Silent Shout‘s Nordic horror-pop, but things have clearly been shaken up (pun regrettably intended) over in The Knife’s studio. If the preview single “Full Of Fire” is anything to go by, it seems as Olaf’s laboratory has exploded, spewing its beakers of acids and caustic bases over each element in the track, including Karin Dreijer Andersson’s already affected vocals.
The Knife, “Full of Fire”
Aggressive drum hits with plenty of pink noise in tow form the backbone of “Full of Fire,” while ghastly detuning voices are pushed and pulled from the forefront of the mix. Karin Dreijer Andersson’s voice gets pushed to the brink and torn apart in a digital haze as the track marches on, its rhythms getting increasingly noxious while dipping in and out of syncopated patterns. It’s certainly the most dance-floor-focused track The Knife have ever recorded (especially if the “dance floor” in question were in a dilapidated Nordic warehouse), but also a satisfying step away from the affecting melodies of their previous work. I sincerely doubt there will be an inexplicably popular acoustic cover of this one. It tumbles deep into what has long been The Knife’s greatest strength: timbres and sounds so singular that Oni Ayhun’s identity was known well before he admitted it. Coupled with rhythmic inventiveness and a desire to push, unsettle, and agitate (just look at that cover art), “Full of Fire” has set the bar very high for Shaking the Habitual.