Tue, Apr 16, 2013 - Page 12 News List

CD reviews


By Jon Pareles; Jon Caramanica and Ben Ratliff  /  NY Times News Service

Typically Dreijer thinks along minimal-techno lines, and even on this, the Knife’s strangest album, there are plenty of clear, trackable rhythms — claustrophobic, subdivided, airy, digital, hand-drummed, whatever. This music has deep weirdness but incredible will and charisma. (If Kesha, say, has not already internalized the contours and textures of this album’s strongest singalong track, Without You My Life Would Be Boring, that may happen soon – despite the fact that it involves a couple of long, loosely harmonized passages seemingly played on wooden flutes.)

In the past the Knife’s music has been profound and funny, spooky and slightly pretentious, but never actually ugly. Fracking Fluid Injections, nearly 10 minutes long, crosses that line: echoed vowels become nasty bleats, bowed metal objects produce screeching overtones. The Knife might lose you there. You will also have to deal with Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized, an immersive, 19-minute, basically effective wordless electroacoustic track with short outbreaks of rhythmic incident. I draw the line at A Cherry on Top — a long, dull stretch of digital sound run backward followed by the tuning of a stringed instrument, and then doggerel, sung in a demented warble: “Strawberry, melon, a cherry on top/Butter, popcorns that I can pop.”

But among indulgences, some extreme, there’s at least half a record for dancers here, with purposeful abandon draped over the thudding beats — a sound that can be stagy or conceptual. In Stay Out Here, which earns all its length and its stubbornness, it’s both. Dreijer sings with a deeper-voiced singer, Shannon Funchess from Light Asylum, in a mixture of freestyle and curdled, corroded electro; the synth tones elongate and distort, growing dark and blobby, but the song never loses touch with club rhythm.

— Ben Ratliff, NY Times News Service

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