by / March 3rd, 2010 /

The Knife – Tomorrow, In a Year

 1/5 Rating

(Rabid Records)

When the siblings Dreijur took on a commission by a progressive theatre production company to score an electro-opera based on the life, work and theories of one Charles Darwin barely a brow was raised. It’s not that Tomorrow, In a Year is a natural progression from Karin and Olaf’s monolithic masterpiece, Silent Shout, but rather a project so conceptual, so innovative is exactly what is expected from the enigmatic pair.

Where a traditional opera might entail performances of libretto and acting against visual stage-scenery and dramatic musical score, Hotel Pro Forma’s production uses all of these elements in an unconventional modernistic approach. Along with contributions from Mt. Sims and Planningtorock, electro-pop pioneers The Knife provide the original score.

The soundtrack is experimental with an arthouse flavour making it challenging to say the least. Olaf himself admits to taking over 12 months to learn how to appreciate opera fully so investment in this record is required, but thankfully not that long of a period.

From the rumbling beginning, the story immediately unfolds with the sounds of digital wildlife, mechanical seal cries and strange bird-like sounds twittering over minimal arrangements. -Epochs’ is a droning piece of synth and sampled sounds of the rain-forest with approaching resonance of a mezzo-soprano. The striking vocal of Kristina Wahlin Momme narrates with alerting punctuation; out of context opening tracks -Geology’ and -Upheaved’ seem more than a bit peculiar on early sittings. Swedish pop star Jonathon Johannson’s singing on -Ebb Tide Explorer’ is uncomfortable bordering on creepy though the uneasiness of listening does fade with each visit.

Thematically evolutionary the record changes pace. As if rewarding the investment in the ‘difficult’ first half, order and familiar sounds appear midway through the album. -Annie’s Box’ box is a warm acoustic violin piece; soothing and tranquil. -Tumult’ carries us to -Colouring of Pigeons’ and this is where The Knife jump out with Karin’s much loved vocal blending against Kristina’s soprano and hammer-like ruminative percussion. -Seeds’ is floor friendly electro that just happens to be about pods, pollination and angiosperm or, maybe, just the birds and the bees.

The album cumulates in the epic 12 minute title track, a merging of the unusual operatic nuances and electro-acoustic pop sensibilities – encompassing the eeriness and pulsating rhythms of Silent Shout.

Without a transcript Tomorrow, In a Year as a record is a bit of a subjective soundtrack. Unfortunately, not everyone will see the full production but as a musical score it does stand on its own. The Knife deserve full kudos for characteristically challenging the norm, for daringly and successfully tackling unfamiliar territory and subsequently breaking new ground and most of all for bringing us with them.

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