The Knife’s dark and quirky style doesn’t conform to any set dance music subset. On its latest effort Silent Shout, this sibling duo takes various facets and moods of techno and creates a mix that sticks to the conventions of dance music at the core, but at the same time remains unusual for a hardcore techno record.
Beneath the simplistic execution, Silent Shout is an experiment in techno. The record is dark and almost industrial-like in parts, but the tunes are hardly as complicated and have the pleasantness of ‘90s dance music.
The title track exhibits this vague clashing of styles, where the brooding vocals mingle with clanky synth noise. Equally gloomy is “From Off To On,” which is more Gothic than industrial. The eerie vocals on this brilliant track come out menacingly at the listener with the music just playing part of the rhythm section in the background.
This Swedish duo’s punk-like aggressiveness and quirky in-your-face vocals is where the excitement in the album truly lies. Often singing in tandem, Olof and Karin Dreijer’s unusual singing styles coupled with their Swedish accents work greatly to their advantage and add whimsy and attitude to their music. This is one of the few techno acts that actually seem to try different and interesting things with the vocals and don’t just rely on the music alone.
On “Neverland” and “We Share Our Mothers’ Health,” the aggression of the music is complimented with some powerful vocals that giving the songs the extra punch and the rush that makes them so exciting.
In contrast, on the elegantly crafted “Captain,” which has an Oriental twist, the music is accompanied by some creative East Asian-styled singing that is tender and refined. Even on the hardcore techno “Like A Pen,” which is in comparison to most of the other tracks musically less exciting, the vocals add a burst of energy into the song, giving it a whole new appeal.
With the capriciousness of Bjork and the musical sensibility of The Chemical Brothers, The Knife could be the best thing in electronica that’s not exactly electronica. Though not as hard hitting as an electronica record, Silent Shout is not your run-of-the mill techno album. This record takes conventional synth music to a new level with its intelligent song writing and musicianship; not to mention the fabulous vocals. Silent Shout is techno like no one’s ever heard before.