Review: The Knife’s “Tomorrow, in a Year”

The electro-pop duo releases their operatic homage to Darwin.

PHOTO COURTESY RABID RECORDS

PHOTO COURTESY RABID RECORDS

Tony Libera

The Knife ALBUM: âÄúTomorrow, In A YearâÄù LABEL: Rabid Records That Charles Darwin fella sure is popular these days. Not only does the bearded British birdwatcher have a feature film out about his life, but now heâÄôs got an electronic opera dedicated to âÄúOn the Origin of Species,âÄù courtesy of Swedish electro-poppers The Knife. The album, âÄúTomorrow, In a Year,âÄù diverges from the bandâÄôs previous work, but the Dreijer siblings, as always, make something disturbingly beautiful out of the most unlikely of materials. Sitting through the âÄúIntro,âÄù four and a half minutes of digital drops of water and post-apocalyptic wind patterns, gives a clear indication of the strange amalgamation to follow. This isnâÄôt an opera in the way that The WhoâÄôs âÄúTommyâÄú is an opera; this is straight up Wagner meeting Lou ReedâÄôs âÄúMetal Machine Music.âÄù This juxtaposition âÄî a layering of melancholic cellos, subtle percussion and a swooning diva with the harnessed tumult of industrial synthesizers âÄî at once recalls classical operatic roots while testing the limits of the form. More power to the Dreijers for their refusal to be pigeonholed, but some fans might be turned off by their latest antics. Aside from the lack of throbbing dance numbers, âÄúTomorrow, In a YearâÄù is almost entirely devoid of vocals from the actual members. KarenâÄôs eerie chanteuse-ery is replaced by the mezzo soprano of Kristina Wahlin Momme, the collected, swell of actress Laerke Winther and the warm buzz of pop singer Jonathan Johanson. Despite the stylistic change, there are a couple tracks that retain their kni-fidelity. âÄúSeedsâÄù comes in with heavy thumps and melts into a distorted blip-scape, while the intertwining range of synthesizers in âÄúThe Height of SummerâÄù recall the hushed tracks off âÄúSilent Shout.âÄù âÄúTomorrow, In a YearâÄù may not be the record that Knife fans were expecting, but itâÄôs an impressively bizarre achievement by one of the weirdest bands around. If an initial listen doesnâÄôt pull people off the fence, the inevitable release of the DVD will surely convert the stoned legions. 4/5 Stars