01 May 2010

Tomorrow, In A Year - The Knife, Mt. Sims and Planningtorock

I remember being disappointed. The Knife were planning something of a hiatus, and it was showing all indications of lasting a while. As it happened, the period of dearth I had dreaded didn't last too long: the Karin Dreijer part suddenly produced a 'Fever Ray' album out of nowhere, whilst Olof Dreijer produced the most interminably dreadful remix known to man and shoved it on the (can I be bothered to do the characters? no, fuckit) Year Zero Remixed album. (Trent and I still disagree on the whole Year Zero thing, but so far he's refusing to talk to me.)

Tomorrow - in a year, no less! - came out of months and months of hard work, I'm sure, but it sounds best if I say it came out of nowhere. Suddenly an email appears - The Knife are involved in an opera, along with a band I'd only heard of on a DJ Hell compilation which included the demurely-titled 'Hate Fuck'. Planningtorock remain a mystery, but one well worth exploring, assuming that their involvement with the CD goes beyond planning and extends into knob-twiddling and general electrical jiggery-pokery.

That's what this work is about, actually. The calls of birds, the movement of geological structures, the interaction of swarming shoals and endlessly calling birds, desperate for a mate; that's what it's all about. Inducing an analogue synthesizer to give birth to the mating call of a short-billed thrush, twisting it through a low-frequency oscillator to emulate its more evolved cousin, then mixing the two: this is what the album is about.

Darwin, his work, the justification for our existence - it's all brought into focus, as Karin manipulates her voice over the analogue workings of her brother, Mt. Sims and Planningtorock. Twisting and winding, the instrumentation tells a story, and the soaring, the twisting and the wailing, screeching synths all conspire to clarify the situation.

Let's be clear: if you don't get the idea, then from track one through to ten, you're listening to something you don't want to hear. It's not Lady Gaga. It's not Thelonious Monk accidentally playing what turn out to be the right notes. It's a synthetic representation of the evolutionary processes which form Darwin's theory, and it's perfection. What more can be said than that I listen to it for pleasure, and that those who inhabit the room with me do not? Does everyone believe that 'The Haywain' is the ultimate expression of art? Does everyone search for a new 'Mona Lisa'? Are Dali's massively-stilted elephants not a valid representation of art?

This work - Tomorrow, In A Year - is genius.

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