“Shaking the Habitual” drops, and the experiment begins


Posted Thu, Apr 18, 2013

The Knife by Shaking The Habitual is available on iTunes ($12.99)

“The Knife” by Shaking The Habitual is available on iTunes ($12.99)

On April 5, 2013 the Swedish electronic brother/sister duo, The Knife, finally released a new album, “Shaking the Habitual.”

Fans have been waiting for seven years for Karin Dreijer Anderson—who has been working solo as Fever Ray— and Olof Dreijer to come back as the experimental, dark, trip-hop band, The Knife.

After such a long wait, many people doubted that The Knife would ever record anything else. Anderson herself said, in an interview on their website theknife.net.

“We didn’t plan to make another album.”

This new, unintended and highly anticipated album was not meant to be just another electronic contemplation, but something that had a thorough message, relevant to important issues in the world.

“Music is so meaningless,” Anderson said. “We had to find the lust.”

Dreijer and Anderson used “Shaking the Habitual” to focus on issues such as gender identification and the disproportionate wealth distribution. They got the idea to put these messages in their music through reading books on feminist theory, such as Mohanty’s “Feminism Without Boarders.”

“We played and we played and we played,” Dreijer said.

Upon a first listen, some fans may be disappointed to find that “Shaking the Habitual” is less like the hit track “Silent Shout” from their last album of the same name, which fell more in the category of dance or house music, consisting of a catchy main riff and a smooth complementing bass. Instead, they decided “to let go of what (they) knew about music,” according to Anderson.

They used traditional instruments to make a non-traditional sound, so many song have a distinct acoustic feel to them, especially with the drums and the rhythm. Occasionally, the album feels like it was intentionally inspired by a human being’s primal urge to smack various objects to make a rhythmic, hypnotizing beat.

“We wanted to find a room where all sounds are just as old or just as normal—where the boarder between normal and strange is erased,” Anderson said.

The second track, “Full of Fire,” begins as a rhythmic beat and then it becomes clear that they deterred from this “normality” that can often lead to monotony in electronic music. They meshed a low, pulsing beat with a whining, rotating screech, creating a dystopia of sounds.

“We started improvising to find something less predictable,” Dreijer said.

Their gender rights agenda becomes clear in this song with lyrics such as, “Let’s talk about gender baby/Let’s talk about you and me.”
“What we do is political,” Dreijer said.

The digital booklet, which can be purchased through iTunes or viewed on their website, includes a comic written by Liv Stömqvist that clearly demonstrates their desire to present a message.

One panel in particular, said: “The idea is very simple: to take a small amount of money from the extremely wealthy.”

Other panels deal with masculinity and the culture of shopping malls and pointless spending. One character in the comic pointed to a picture of a Wall Street businessman and said, “This man is a product of a culture that shapes men into wanting to have too much money and power.”

For fans that don’t really enjoy experimental sounds, there are still several songs that demonstrate The Knife’s ability to record catchy, intoxicating dance music. “A Tooth for an Eye” salvages a semblance of vintage Knife, and sounds like something that could be on “Silent Shout.”

However, in comparison to some of the other songs, it appears as if the catchy songs were too easy for them, as if the methodical equation of a normal song is somewhat boring. In “Without You My Life Would Be Boring,” Anderson and Dreijer combined both the experimental and the predictability of method. And the chorus is definitely one that will get feet running toward the dance floor.

The whole album is available for streaming on their website or for sale on iTunes for $12.99.

The Knife, a history:
• Formed in 1999
• Lead singer Karin Dreijer Anderson is also known as Fever Ray
• “Silent Shout” was named Pitchfork Magazine’s best album of 2006
• The Knife rarely makes public appearances and up until 2006, they did not perform live shows.

A tooth for an eye

About Maureen Bayne

Maureen Bayne grew up in the small town Aztec, New Mexico. Later, she moved to Bakersfield, CA, where she graduated from Bakersfield High School. After attending Colorado State University for two years, she moved to Berkeley, CA, where she studied art at Berkeley Community College. She is currently living in Westminster, CO and is seeking a degree in magazine journalism at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

View all posts by Maureen Bayne

2 Responses to ““Shaking the Habitual” drops, and the experiment begins”

  1. S.L. Alderton Says:

    Good article! You gave a good sense of what the album is like, and the video is helpful, too.


  2. Stephanie V. Coleman Says:

    Really good idea to add video for those who don’t know who this band is.


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