The Knife, the Swedish electro-pop duo composed of siblings Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer, will release its fourth studio full-length, “Shaking The Habitual,” on Apr. 9 through Rabid/Brille/Mute. Here are 10 things you need to know about the album:
1. “Shaking The Habitual” is the long-awaited follow-up to 2006’s “Silent Shout,” which was hailed as a groundbreaking collection of ice-cold dance music and Dreijer Andersson’s menacingly distorted vocals. Pitchfork named “Silent Shout” the best album of 2006, and the album has sold 65,000 copies in the U.S. since its release, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
2. In the seven years between “Silent Shout” and the upcoming “Shaking The Habitual,” the Knife released “Tomorrow, In a Year,” an 90-minute-plus opera based on Charles Darwin’s life and his masterwork “On the Origin of Species.” The 2010 project was collaboration with electronica artist Mt. Sims and U.K. producer Planningtorock, and consisted of found-sound recordings, sweeping orchestral movements, and Amazonian birds recorded in their natural habitat.
3. One year before the release of “Tomorrow, In a Year,” Dreijer Andersson released a solo album under the name Fever Ray. 2009’s “Fever Ray” contained the same type of haunted-house aesthetic as “Silent House” and was similarly praised upon its release; the album also led to this mesmerizing acceptance speech at the 2010 P3 Guld Awards in Sweden:
4. As suggested by that speech, the brother-sister duo of the Knife are notoriously camera- and press-shy: the group did not perform a live show until 2005 (six years after their formation), often boycott award ceremonies and rarely appear in press images without their faces being obscured. To their credit, the duo’s new press shot features no outlandish masks — although their backs are turned to the camera.
5. If you’re into obscured faces, the 43-second teaser video that effectively announced the new album in mid-December was, as expected, pretty oblique. “We asked our friends and lovers to help us,” reads the video’s description. Slow-motion swing sets = rave dancing? You be the judge:
6. Last Thursday (Jan. 23), “Full of Fire,” the first single to “Shaking The Habitual,” leaked online, ahead of its official release on Monday. At nine minutes and 17 seconds, “Full of Fire” is a soul-rattling vortex of chilly synthesizers, pounding drum loops and Dreijer Andersson’s gasps for clarity next to what sounds like the laugh of a demonic baby. “Full of Fire” is not a Top 40 jam. “Full of Fire” will haunt your dreams, but in a splendidly cacophonous manner.
7. Speaking of soul-rattling vortexes, the music video for “Full of Fire,” also officially released on Monday, is an ominous short film that was directed by boundary-pushing visual artist Marit Östberg. The fairly-NSFW video involves motorcycle rides, bondage gear, and some spooky camera trickery inside a seemingly normal household. Soak in all of the clip’s disturbing glory:
8. If you thought its nine-minute first single was long, “Full of Fire” is just the tip of the iceberg: “Shaking The Habitual” is 13 tracks and 98 (!) minutes long, with six songs over eight minutes long. Compared to the 48-minute “Silent Shout,” “Shaking The Habitual” (to be released as a double CD) will be a marathon.
9. The Knife hasn’t toured since the 2006 trek supporting “Silent Shout,” but have already mapped out a handful of overseas shows, beginning Apr. 27 in Hamburg, Germany. The duo will perform at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival and at Way Out West in their native Sweden, but have yet to announce any new dates in North America.
10. The “Shaking The Habitual” CD artwork has also been released (a rep for the group confirms that the vinyl release will have a different cover). But what does it all mean? Perhaps it will all be tidily explained on Apr. 9 — but don’t bet on it.