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Freak out!

Posted by Matt Shaer  September 29, 2006 11:16 AM

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A long time ago, I wrote a review of a favorite CD of mine, by the electro-duo The Knife. Due to space constraints, it never got published. But although "Silent Shout" hasn't made an especially big splash on this side of the Atlantic, it was an important album in Europe, where the market is much hungrier for this kind of stuff. Anyway, here's the review. Buy this CD:

“Silent Shout” is new territory for The Knife’s Olof Dreijer and Karin Dreijer Andersson: conceptual art disguised as startlingly vivid freak-out. Dreijer and Andersson are electro anti-heroes in their native Sweden, and in the U.K., where the laptop-pop of 2004’s “Deep Cuts” was a hit. But until now, the duo has been hesitant to assign a personal accountability to their music. They prefer theatrics – The Knife only performs in costumes and baroque masks, like a Euro Gnarls Barkley without the sense of humor. So “Shout” is also an unveiling of sorts. From the horror show vocals of the title track – “In a dream all my teeth fell out / a cracked smile and a silent shout” – to the portentous backbeat of “The Captain,” the album feels like a messy secret, spilled on tape. There is the whispered threat of violence physical (“Marble House”) and emotional (“Na Na Na”). And later, the black humor of the hyper-sexualized “One Hit.” The surprise on “Shout” is The Knife’s apparently newfound ability to flesh out a psychological landscape with more than ambiance: lyrics count here, as do the pulled-like-taffy vocals. When Andersson announces on “Neverland” that she’s “doing it for dollars,” there’s no need for a more explicit explanation. The music has already closed around her like a guilty conscience.

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