Fire Note Says: Shaking the Habitual is a jaw dropping psychedelic record dressed up in electronic clothing!
Album Review: The Knife, the Swedish duo comprised of brother and sister Olof Dreijer and Karin Dreijer Andersson, have taken a long time to release a follow up their 2006 album, Silent Shout. That album was a landmark in electronic/synth /experimental music, that was incredibly textured and created a universe all its own inside the listener’s head. It was the rare record that could be played at parties or enjoyed completely isolated and alone in the dark with headphones, it didn’t matter. Seven years is a long time to go between records, but with Shaking the Habitual, The Knife has come back with a double record that is even more ambitious than Silent Shout, and every bit as rewarding, and possibly more so.
Shaking the Habitual despite its length, is well paced, and is sequenced in such a way that despite clocking in at over 90 minutes, is easy to digest in one sitting. Every third or fourth track, the duo work in a droney experimental/noise piece that helps to rest your ears from the chaos and prepare you for the next sonic attack. Godspeed You! Black Emperor did the same thing on their last record, the drones put you into a trance like meditative state that calms and relaxes the listener. While I was listening with my headphones on, I swear I kept hearing someone calling my name, but there was no one in the house with me. For example, the first two tracks, “A Tooth for an Eye” and “Full of Fire” are both dense electro pop tracks, full of blips and beats and crazy sounds, along with Karin’s amazing voice. Both tracks together run about 15 minutes, they are then followed up with the 9 minute “Cherry on Top” which drones for 6 minutes before a voice makes a brief appearance, then fades into the distance, while the track carries on for another 3 minutes. When “Without You My Love Would Be Boring” kicks in, it knocks you out of the trance and you immediately get pulled back in to the song. “Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realized” is probably the most talked about song on the album, and rightfully so. It is a 19 minute drone piece that is the sonic equivalent to a hit of acid. The songs goes on so long that as you really focus on it and pay attention to it, you begin to hear things that aren’t even there. Footsteps, voices, laughter, it’s disorienting, and just when you think it can’t possibly go on any longer, it stops, and the last 45 seconds of the track are complete silence. My favorite track on the record is “Fracking Fluid Injection”, which sounds like whales mating underwater. I can’t describe it much better than that, it might sound like something completely different to each listener, but that’s what I hear.
Shaking the Habitual, is a record that will challenge you. It’s an easy record to find yourself obsessed with. It is mysterious, gorgeous, difficult, and rewarding, often on the same track. Don’t be afraid of this record, its longer drone tracks are in no way inaccessible, they won’t turn you off; in fact, they serve the purpose of really helping to set the pace and the tone of the album. This is a jaw dropping psychedelic record dressed up in electronic clothing.
Key Tracks: “Fracking Fluid Injection”, “A Tooth for an Eye”, “Raging Lung”
Artists With Similar Fire: Aphex Twin / Björk / Fever Ray
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-Reviewed by Kevin Poindexter