The Knife/Mt. Sims/Planningtorock, "Tomorrow, in a Year"

2.5

Given the increasing sophistication of the Knife's recent live shows--not to mention the outright performance-art weirdness of singer Karin Dreijer Andersson's other musical project, Fever Ray--it makes sense that this Swedish electro-pop duo would turn to opera for its follow-up to its 2006 breakout album, "Silent Shout." But that's about all that makes sense on the Knife's latest release, "Tomorrow, in a Year," which is said to be based on the life and work of Charles Darwin. Commissioned by Danish theater group Hotel Pro Forma, the album is a sprawling, experimental work defined more by ambient synth hum and field-recording rustle than by melodic hooks or danceable grooves. (The Knife wrote and recorded the 90-minute piece in collaboration with underground electronic acts Mt. Sims and Planningtorock.) Hooks and grooves do crop up occasionally, as heard on "Seeds," a supremely lonely-sounding avant-house jam, and the 11-minute "Colouring of Pigeons," where the musicians marry moaning strings to ominous tribal drums.--Mikael Wood