Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Knife - Tomorrow, In a Year

The latest release from the Swedish sibling electropop duo The Knife is a commissioned opera about the life and work of Charles Darwin and sees the artists teaming up with Mt. Sims and Planningtorock for an emotional, yet mostly quiet experimentation into the sound of evolution and variation. It has to be said that this album is not what a usual fan of The Knife might come to expect for their next release. This opera is more akin to the lo-fi, quiet sounds of Fever Ray, but much more subdued - it takes longer to interpret all of the sounds and get started. In fact, it takes over 4 minutes of static nature based sounds like leaves rustling for the actual vocals to begin. Since the newest release is an opera, it will take reading the libretto and a couple of times listening all the way through for the true quality of the album to sink in. Tomorrow, In a Year grows in sound layers, track by track, and by the end becomes something so much more complicated and meaningful than its natural beginnings. To further communicate Darwin's life the lyrics jump from technical observations in his work to his personal journals and other works. Most of the vocals are provided by Kristina Wahlin, and Karin Andersson of the Knife and Fever Ray doesn't make an appearance until track 8. The bonus CD will be more rewarding for fans of their past work. However it is also in a slower, quieter style. The last track on the bonus CD offers an alternative vocal version of "Annie's Box" sung by Karin. This song adds a beautiful cello piece that helps relate Darwin's pain at losing his 10 year-daughter, Annie, and Karin's vocal draws out some extra emotions as well. Altogether, this is a tough album to digest for any fan, but very rewarding for anyone willing to take the time and consider the immense ambition, style and amazing artistry put into it. -Chris B

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