Archive for the ‘Opera’ Category

Variation of Birds

The Knife – Variation of Birds

As this blog is less than a year old, I have yet to use two original tracks by the same artist (although I came close with Trentmoller here and here), so it is not in keeping for me feature two tracks from the same album within months of one another, but I am doing, and I hope no-one minds.

There are several special pleadings I’d like to make to justify the rudeness. Firstly, when The Knife initially announced the release of Tomorrow, In A Year, the operatic soundtrack about Darwin’s life they had scored with collaborators Mt. Simm and Planningtorock, they released the eerie Colouring Of Pidgeons as a teaser for it, and although I blogged about it here, I didn’t actually allow the MP3 to be downloaded.

Secondly, despite the digital version of Tomorrow, In A Year being released last month, the exquisitely packaged CD version only hits the streets tomorrow – although if, like me, you pre-ordered, you may have your copy by now.

And my final reason for featuring the album twice is that since I first wrote about it, my admiration, my thankfulness, my wonder, at the scope, the ambition, the realisation, the beauty and the savage strangeness of the album has only increased the more I’ve listened to it. I genuinely believe that the musical world should thank whatever deity it turns toward that artists with the imagination, the bravery and the brilliance of The Knife exist to create music as wonderful and as weird as this is.

If you haven’t heard any of the opera before, I should warn that it is pretty demanding and unusual listening, making use of atonality, glitches, and static – I cannot remember another electro artists producing anything as challenging and as avant-garde as this before. It owes much more to Schoenberg, Strauss’s Salome and Mahler than it does to modern electro or electronica.

Yesterday evening, in a trip out with some friends, as something between an experiment and a test, I played the second disc of the soundtrack, to garner their views. Unsurprisingly, they  were surprised by the music, but more, they had not only not heard of the project (who apart from geeky bloggers has?!) but they hadn’t (despite the huge Heartbeats) heard of The Knife… Which I think is a shame not just for people who haven’t enjoyed their music and for their record sales, but for our musical culture more widely. In a world where Lady Gaga, The XX and La Roux top charts, there is surely a case for an act who clearly influenced each of them to be more widely known. I don’t imagine one more wordy, wondering and wandering post on one more MP3 blog will change that much, but if one more person gets to enjoy them because of this, I’d be pretty pleased.

If you remember the photo I used for the last track, you will see the similarity of the two. In keeping with the Darwinian theme of the music, I tried to use an image that is an evolution from the earlier one – reaching higher into the sky, and procreating too.

You can buy the album from The Knife’s website here or from Amazon here or download it from The Knife In Collaboration with Mt. Sims and Planningtorock - Tomorrow, In a Year

Colouring Of Pigeons

The Knife, featuring Mt Sims & Planningtorock – Colouring Of Pigeons

Two good things happened last week: it continually snowed buckets all across the UK and in particular in London and its surroundings; and the Knife announced more details of the opera they are jointly scoring and released a teaser track that is nine minutes of unadulterated electronic brilliance.

The opera is called Tomorrow, In A Year, and is based on Charles Darwin writing his Origin Of Species – The Knife worked on the score alongside Mt Sims and Planningtorock, both Berlin-based solo artists who there or thereabouts make electro. It is not due out until March, with the double album soundtrack set to be issued on the 1st. The good news is that as you can hear from the song above, it should be worth the wait.

The track is more fragile, and sparse than anything produced by the Knife in their three studio albums, and has clearly been influenced by the work that singer Karin did with her stunning solo(ish) album in the guise of Fever Ray. In fact, it is her voice that makes the track stand out here – as it did on Fever Ray and the Knife’s last album, Silent Shout. Here, her yelps and squawks sound exactly how you would expect the vocals to sound if someone told you she was signing the arias to an opera – unique, demented and brilliant.

It is track more filled with space and more delicately arranged than anything I can imagine any of their peers producing – although the more the produce, the more unsure I am that the Knife actually have any peers. The photo above was taken during my own recent experiences of space and silence, of delicate arrangement and daylight fading. It was captured in woods deep within the countryside close to my home as the sun began to set and the chill night laid claim to the land, the low wind causing occasional flurries of snow to loose themselves from the leaves and disturb the wildlife.

Unusually for shotwithsound I am not making the MP3 above available for download as it is available to download for free from if you sign up to their mailing list. You can also find out more about the opera and the album here.

One final thing is that I changed the audio plugin I use on here as WP Audio stopped working – the MP3s still stream in post, but you now need to click the link to start the player.

You can hear more of the Knife’s beautiful music on The Knife

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shotwithsound is a blog about the music I love, with occasional forays into my photography, and other things that catch my eye.

You can see more of my photography on my website