Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bubbling Under #124. Deep Cuts

124. Deep Cuts, The Knife (Rabid Sweden, 2003; Rabid UK, 2004)

Karin Dreijer Andersson fronted mid-’90s Swedish alternarockers Honey Is Cool, her singular vocals the most distinguishing feature (think the Cardigans fronted by Bjork). In ’99 she formed the electro duo Knife with her brother Olof Dreijer; her effects-laden voice would be its key instrument. Deep Cuts, their 2nd LP, employs digital noir, playful rhythms, and sultry darkwave disco grooves. Willfully obscurant though retaining a wry humor, the two refused interviews, wore masks in public, and avoided live gigs. The identity explorations continue on Deep Cuts as Andersson uses pitch-shifting software to create alternate personas: spooky falsettos, child-like harmonies, and husky baritones that can convince you her brother is singing; such software reliance is a risky proposition and the Knife successfully avoids misuse. Heartbeats and Pass This On both use Caribbean steel-drum accents, the former a gauzy roller jam cloaking a lyric about a lover who “knew the hand of a devil/and kept us awake with wolves’ teeth”; the latter, an unsettlingly sexy come-on (“I’m in love with your brother/what’s his name?”). Rock Classics evokes Kurt Weill’s 1920s cabaret slink. The inclusion of two comedic snippets (including the LP’s closing track) serves only to interrupt the sensuality. Deep Cuts is a real progression from the debut, yet lacks the thematic consistency they’d find when its more gothic aspects would dominate their next major work (not counting the soundtrack to Christina Olofson's '03 film Hannah med H), ’06’s Silent Shout.

Highlights: Pass This On, You Take My Breath Away, Heartbeats

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