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CD Review: The Knife – Silent Shout

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The Knife are a brother and sister electronica duo from Sweden who place their emphasis firmly on experimentation rather than mainstream success. They share vocal duties throughout their third album, sometimes solo, sometimes backing each other up, but almost invariably running their voices through different effects processors with the result that we’re never quite exposed to their true voices. It’s interesting but somewhat off-putting as it gives the impression that they’re hiding behind their computers rather than really sharing themselves with their listeners.

Although highly distinctive in its own right, their music brings to mind the works of other electronic trailblazers, making a discussion of their tracks somewhat easier to frame. The lead-off title track is possibly the most commercial and hardest to compare, featuring multiple synthesizer tracks anchored by a driving beat and the heavily modulated voices of both siblings.

"Neverland" sounds like something left over from the earliest days of Depeche Mode’s catalog, around the era of A Broken Frame, a minimalist techno melody over a basic beat with some echo and vocal effects that sound pleasingly dated. "The Captain" starts off as a moody instrumental piece before picking up the pace with rhythm and a keyboard track that also borrows from the Depeche back catalog, nearer the Music for the Masses era. "We Share Our Mother’s Health" is somewhat similar to early NIN. "Na Na Na" begins with a sole keyboard track eerily similar to Duran Duran’s "Save A Prayer "before continuing in a mellow Royksopp direction.

"Marble House" has perhaps the least manipulated vocals and bears some likeness to early Bjork solo work. "Like a Pen" borders on the electro/acid house of early 808 State with a bouncy beat and catchy vocal that would work well as a single. "From Off To On" sounds like a lost Boards of Canada track with a plaintive vocal duet. "Forest Families" starts off with an insistent keyboard track that seems ready to morph into a trance stormer at any time, simmering and flirting on the edge of the dance floor. Drop a beat under this one and it’s ready to enter the crates of Paul Van Dyk and Tiesto in clubs around the world.

"One Hit" sounds closest to PJ Harvey’s quirky old standard "Down By The Water". "Still Light" closes out the album on a dreamy, languorous note as the siblings share vocals over a sparse electronic background, bearing no suitable comparisons.

In spite of the prevailing sense of deja vu, the album succeeds simply because its composition is such a rarity in today’s marketplace. They’re seemingly emulating past masters but they’re referencing the early works when those artists were the most experimental. As a result, Silent Shout is indie electronica that resists commercialization, sounding like the artists are really just making the music for their own enjoyment. It’s a grower that gets better and more interesting with every spin.

Written by Caballero Oscuro

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS