Electro-Opera Beeps, Befuddles Darwin

    Tomorrow, in a Year

    The Knife

    Rabid Records

    Following the experimental electro-pop of 2006’s Silent Shout, the Knife take a rather unusual approach with Tomorrow, in a Year: The Swedish duo write an opera.

    That’s right, an opera.

    The freakiness doesn’t end there. Commissioned by Danish performance group Hotel Pro Forma in collaboration with Mt. Sims and Planningtorock, the electronic opera is based on Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. The show premiered in Copenhagen in September, and now anyone can download Karin Dreijer-Andersson and Olof Dreijer’s dramatic wails via the show’s website.

    The unlikely kinship is as strange in practice as it is in theory. A combination of obscure, animalistic images and electronic drones, Tomorrow, in a Year doesn’t really say much about Darwin; it uses his theories as a kind of structural foundation. Simply put, the music evolves.

    The album begins in almost complete silence. “Intro” is laden with disconcerting beeps and ambient noise that — with a bong rip or two — could almost be the soundtrack to the creation of the universe. The next eight tracks are in the same vein: confusing, noisy and slightly terrifying. It takes nearly 43 minutes before anything even resembling a song takes form.

    At the start of the second disc, things start to look up, particularly with the 11-minute opus, “Colouring Of Pigeons,” a song that could very well be the band’s crowning achievement. It begins with primal drums and operatic shrieking, but soon gives way to Andersson’s melancholic cries. It sounds exactly like what you would expect of an opera by the Knife: a more theatrical version of the ominous electronica for which it is so well known.

    But when it comes down to it, the album brings a whole new meaning to the word “inaccessible.” For every “Colouring of Pigeons” there is another 10 minutes of absolute nothingness.

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