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THE KNIFE

The Knife & Planningtorock & Mount Sims

Tomorrow, In A Year

    In 2009, The Knife was commissioned by the Danish performance group Hotel Pro Forma to provide music for an opera set to mark the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Joining Karin and Olof as collaborators were Mt. Sims and Planningtorock.

    Karin: “We were invited by this Danish performance theatre company ​called Hotel Pro Forma ​to make this piece. And we knew it was supposed to be performed in the Danish Royal Opera House in Copenhagen.”

    Olof: “The theatre company wanted to make an opera about evolution theory and Darwin ideas. And they asked if we could make music for that. We entered that project thinking, Of course, it’s important to talk about Darwin’s impact on fascism in Europe.​ It is as important as the colonial history of Europe — how Darwin’s ideas were misused to promote fascism. But throughout the project, it became clear that [the theatre company] was not interested in that. They were interested in biology and geology.”

    Luckily, Karin and Olof had asked their friends Mt. Sims and Planningtorock to write the opera with them. Together, they wriggled free from conceptual potholes. Instead of bowing to the traditional form’s grandiosity, the collaborators went granular with their sonic palette.

    Karin: “You were very into field recordings at this time.”

    Olof: “Yes, a short period. Which, actually, I just think is silly. Who gets to say that recording this sound in nature is art? It shows the hierarchy of contemporary art. Not everyone can say that a recording of the wind, or whatever, is art.”

    The studio recorded versions of the compositions were released as Tomorrow, In A Year in 2010 by Rabid Records. Now The Knife continues its 20th anniversary celebration as they announce the first-ever vinyl pressing of their work Tomorrow, In A Year.

    TRACK LISTING

    A1. Intro
    A2. Epochs
    A3. Geology
    A4. Upheaved
    A5. Minerals
    B1. Ebb Tide Explorer
    B2. Variation Of Birds
    B3. Letter To Henslow
    B4. Schoal Swarm Orchestra
    C1. Annie’s Box
    C2. Tumult
    C3. Colouring Of Pigeons
    D1. Seeds
    D2. Tomorrow In A Year
    D3. The Height Of Summer

    The Knife continues their 20th Anniversary celebration as the duo of Karin and Olof Dreijer present a magenta coloured 180g numbered vinyl pressing of ‘Deep Cuts’, the 2003 album that lives up to The Knife’s name. A seething dissection of the status quo dressed up in the most delicious of hooks; a Trojan Horse of a pop record that dreamt of a revolution.

    ‘Deep Cuts’’ ‘Pass This On’ and ‘Heartbeats’ represent two of the most overt pop songs in The Knife’s catalogue and helped propel the band’s profile to new heights. Fellow Swede José González introduced the track to a fresh audience via his tender acoustic guitar cover that went on to be featured in a massively successful Sony Bravia commercial.

    ‘Heartbeats’ and its tale of instantaneous, fervent love became one of the most celebrated electro-pop songs of the 2000s. Pitchfork included it at #15 on their list of The Decade’s Best Recordings saying, “each version of ‘Heartbeats’ is a miracle in its own right, highlighting a different aspect of the same incredible, life-affirming experience.”

    The Knife sought to imbue ‘Deep Cuts’ with allusions to their socialist political ideals via the democratization of art. The duo conceived calypso-tinged electronic pop and used it to rail against ingrained structural entities such as the police state, toxic masculinity and domestic abuse. It was a spoonful of auditory sugar to help offset the bitterness of a dark reality. ‘Deep Cuts’ offered a chance for people to dance while confronting a troubled world.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: Maaaate. If you were at a student after-party between 2004 and 2009, it was only a matter of time before someone put this absolute CLASSIC on. Almost two decades on, and this LP is a glorious moment in time, where icy Scando-synth work translated emotive pop sensibilities into something perfect for a new millennium.

    TRACK LISTING

    Heartbeats
    Girls’ Night Out
    Pass This On
    One For You
    The Cop
    Listen Now
    She’s Having A Baby
    You Take My Breath Away
    Rock Classics
    Is It Medicine
    You Make Me Like Charity
    Got 2 Let U
    Behind The Bushes
    Hangin’ Out

    The Knife continues their 20th Anniversary celebrations as the duo of Karin and Olof Dreijer present a new violet coloured vinyl pressing of their critically adored third studio album, ‘Silent Shout’.

    The Knife reached yet another pinnacle with ‘Silent Shout’. After the effervescent, Eurodisco-tinged pop of their 2003 album, ‘Deep Cuts’, the Dreijers developed a dark parallel world on their 2006 follow-up. With menacing electronics rooted in early techno and identity masking via the art of pitch shifting, The Knife used their platform to subvert institutional structures and challenge social norms. They were a band with something to say and people were listening.

    For all its clean air, the isolated community they were raised in was suffocatingly patriarchal. The weight of gendered expectations almost too much to bear. In that context, ‘Silent Shout’ is a protest album of sorts. Songs like ‘Forest Families’ and ‘One Hit’ gnash their teeth at the pressure that sexism, homophobia and capitalism exert. The album’s sometimes eerie interpretation of 90s techno and trance - a formative era for both siblings - proved the perfect foil for the stinging social realism of its song lyrics.

    While there had always been at least a year-long delay between the Swedish and international releases of their previous albums, ‘Silent Shout’ was released everywhere at once. And, for the first time, they took their music on tour. On stage, they wore black pantyhose over their heads daubed with UV paint. For interviews, they used their bird masks and altered their voices any time they were on video. They became famous for not wanting to be famous.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: If Deep Cuts delivered technicolour tropical pop with a naive exuberance, "Silent Shout" was its moody teenage sibling. Dark, shadowy and at times stomping. The opener is a Scando-tech bomb I have never fallen out of love with, lead single "We Share Our Mothers' Health" is a masterpiece in pitch shifted mind melt, and the rest of the tracklist is littered with jams (Marble House, Na Na Na and Like a Pen anyone?)

    TRACK LISTING

    Silent Shout
    Neverland
    The Captain
    We Share Our Mothers’ Health
    Na Na Na
    Marble House
    Like A Pen
    From Off To On
    Forest Families
    One Hit
    Still Light

    Rose McDowall

    Cut With The Cake Knife

      Cut The With The Cake Knife was recorded by Rose McDowall in 1988/89 following the break up of her group Strawberry Switchblade. Produced with the aid of several musicians in several studios, the album features songs written for the fabled second Strawberry Switchblade album. More importantly perhaps it showcases the honest, direct and life-affirming songs of one of the greatest unsung songwriters of the modern pop era at a tumultuous time in her career.

      Tibet opens the set and could be one of the best pop songs you’ve never heard. The innate sadness of the songs’ content – the loss of a friendship, impending sorrow – is heightened to heart-melting level by McDowall’s pop nous and melodic sensibility. Choruses and hooks are everywhere on Cake Knife, from the outsider take on stadium 80s pop in Wings Of Heaven to the spiraling, ecstatic So Vicious, a glorious anthem that highlights the human fragility in McDowall’s vocal performance, an instrument that has never lost the naïve purity it first exemplified in Strawberry Switchblade’s early 80s recordings. The centerpiece of the album, the title-track, is the greatest Switchblade pop chart hit that never was. Like the veiled melancholy of her former group’s hits, Cut With The Cake Knife hints at a darkness beneath the gloss, a darkness that saw McDowall delve into more esoteric territory with her subsequent recordings and collaborations. Cut With The Cake Knife serves as the bridge between the pop music McDowall had been making with her friends Jill Bryson, Lawrence from Felt and Primal Scream to what became a more extreme, deep sound informed by neo-folk and post industrial music.

      Rose McDowall’s role in the canon has always been one of an outsider. Beginning in Glasgow’s East End in the avant proto-noise group The Poems, achieving fame briefly in the 80s and then disappearing into counter-cultural folklore, the emphasis in the internet-age has been skewed towards her image and cultural significance. Unseen to many, her solo work, her groups Sorrow and Spell and her collaborations with a whole host of underground luminaries have still touched lives. As McDowall elucidates: “They're real sad songs, about real life. I've had people come up to me to say I'd connected with them and helped them. I remember a gig in America when we made a whole room cry. It was bizarre. A couple at the front of the stage started crying and then these two boys beside and suddenly everyone was crying. And I thought, "that's power."

      Night School’s issue of Cut With The Cake Knife includes unpublished photographs, extensive sleeve notes from Rose McDowall and 2 bonus tracks culled from the bootleg 7” “Don’t Fear The Reaper.” 


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