The Knife
Tomorrow, In a Year


4.5
superb

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
February 5th, 2010 | 418 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Knife go down the rabbit hole.

Remember when The Knife could be considered casual listening? When you could just go for a drive and jam to “Heartbeats” while contemplating your ex-girlfriend for a brief but important moment before something else catchy and electronic and pathos-y came on shuffle? Those were simpler times, friends, times before the Karin and Olof Dreijer duo burrowed itself deep within the rabbit hole, far hidden from the shadows that covered Silent Shout and even more so from the sunshine they danced in on Deep Cuts. Tomorrow, In a Year is a completely different kind of wonderland, one characterized by ice and wind, its starkness embodying the density of the entire project. It’s a mammoth of a piece, often more thoroughly exemplified by its silences than its fleeting moments of clarity, and the impact of Tomorrow, In a Year on you, the individual, depends completely upon whether you decide to, for lack of a better metaphor, take the red pill or the blue pill.

Each decision has its advantages. To take the blue pill is to remain thoroughly detached from the beast that is Tomorrow, In a Year, which is certainly the more time-saving option. Tomorrow is not a piece that cordially welcomes but rather sits stonily in a corner, not particularly caring if its liked or not, existing with a firm belief that it is exactly what it wants to be. To find its true character is a daunting task that many will strike many as cumbersome and exhausting. But to engage in this search- to take the red pill and see just how deeply goes the rabbit hole- can be very, very rewarding.

Tomorrow, In a Year is not a Knife LP to be considered a follow up to Silent Shout. It is a commissioned opera for the group and collaborators Planningtorock and Mt. Sims based on Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, which means that what is being reviewed here is, essentially, the soundtrack. Though it remains inscrutable as to possible threads of plot, the recording itself certainly moves in a definite direction. Literally crawling out of nothing, Tomorrow, In a Year opens deeply entrenched in soundless space. The Knife offer nothing concrete to hold on to until halfway through “Epochs,” instead constructing tension and closeness out of waves of rustling wind and thunder. From here, Tomorrow opens in dribs and drabs; divided into two discs, the first section is a monster of the atonal and experimental. It’ll often place its vocalists- a combination of the tremendously talented soprano Kristina Wahlin, Lærke Winther, and Jonathan Johannson- in a kind of musical purgatory, where they are whim to the Knife’s meticulously crafted chord changes. On “Upheaved,” the vocalists are rigidly chopped into a series of staccato quadrants, conducive to the paranoia that is imploded on the furiously intense “Minerals.” Elsewhere it’ll strip the backgrounds and let the formless evolve into the beautiful (“Ebb Tide Explorer”) before attacking tranquility with a saw (“Variation of Birds"). The effect of this constant shape shifting is both maddening and engrossing; there is something deeply powerful here, but The Knife do not offer it freely. The instead opt to constantly morph the status quo, fortifying the album so profoundly that they nearly obscure the tiny shimmers of light that faintly but unmistakably gleam from Tomorrow, In a Year.

Slowly, the barriers constructed by The Knife’s allegiance to the atonal begin to break, and these tiny shimmers of light become increasingly, gloriously brighter. Tomorrow finally begins to reveal itself on the second disc as emotion cracks through the façade. On the stunningly, unexpectedly gorgeous “Annie’s Box,” a serene mix between “Dead Flag Blues” violin and Wahlin’s mournful soprano, you can hear the heartbreak, especially with the ear trained by the preceding hour of material to seek out the slightest depth of feeling. It is this half of the project where connections are made and where Tomorrow, In a Year begins to leave its impressions. It offers style. Parts of Tomorrow’s second half have the ability to make one sit back, smile, and whisper “cool.” For example, the transition between “Tumult” and Tomorrow’s opus “Colouring of Pigeons,” an introduction of immaculate percussion and a legitimate groove, is absolutely thrilling. “Pigeons” is something definite, something Tomorrow, In a Year seemed stubbornly intent on not sacrificing, and as such is contextually perfect. It is an explosion of color to combat the grays purveying the majority of the album, interweaving Karin’s voice with both the male pop star’s and the opera singer’s flawlessly, giving each voice a section before blending the three into a climax to define Tomorrow, In a Year.

And happily, The Knife don’t shy away from this epoch they achieve on “Pigeons.” Instead, The Knife elect to remain in this light for the remainder of the record, holding on to the accessible, delivering legitimate hooks and dabbling in both IDM (the astounding “Seeds”) and avant-pop. Tomorrow, In a Year finally, gloriously, finds the sun and it ends in its glow. Even if the tunes themselves aren’t necessarily optimistic, the “discovery” of clarity (not to mention the chill vibe of the finale, “The Height of Summer”) indicates a definite emotional uplift at the end of Tomorrow, In a Year. Out of the cold comes something remarkably warm (literally, going by track names), and the contrast between the two is so significant, each side’s intended emotional character so well executed, that it makes Tomorrow, In a Year a powerful experience. It’s a journey that engages as much as it challenges. One just knows there is something beautiful under the heaps of unbeautiful The Knife throw at the forefront, and the transition from quest to discovery is the rewarding payoff Tomorrow, In a Year promises from its outset. So, by all means engage yourself in Tomorrow, In a Year, for the prize at the end is one of the essential experiences of the young year. Just understand the scope of the expedition you’re embarking upon before you go.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2010


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

And that, my friends, is all I have to say about that!

Kiran
Emeritus
February 5th 2010


6002 Comments


i love the knife but ive been putting off listening to this

it seems a bit draining

robin
Emeritus
February 5th 2010


4261 Comments


same as kirg aside from the previous knife-love, never listened to them. i guess i'll get this if i have to, though

Waior
February 5th 2010


11461 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I think you convinced yourself to like it just 'cause. Granted, this has some awesome sections. I can't go as deep as this rabbit hole, perhaps.




plane
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2010


6100 Comments


I wish this came with a visual companion.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2010


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think you convinced yourself to like it just 'cause.


pretty much.

I wish this came with a visual companion.


I agree. Almost went into that on the review but decided to treat the soundtrack only as a piece of music as most sputnikers would only be able to hear this and not see it, thus speculating on the visual would serve no purpose.


Roach
February 5th 2010


2148 Comments


i'd like to speculate on yr visual

AggravatedYeti
February 5th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn it I want this.



thebhoy
Emeritus
February 5th 2010


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I wish this came with a visual companion


I totally agree, it feels like it was made for visuals because it runs into the same problem as most OSTs do on their own. Until The Knife started intergrated their own style into this electronic/opera/ambient style it's really boring. I'm all for trying new things but the first 2/3rds of this is a pretty big snoozefest.

thebhoy
Emeritus
February 5th 2010


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

maybe, I need to listen to it more, but after two run throughs I'm having a hard time bringing myself to do so. The first 6 minutes of the album is just a bunch of random glitch sounds.

thebhoy
Emeritus
February 5th 2010


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I definitely agree but it's like they could've discarded the whole first disc and still maintained a (better) atmosphere with the first two tracks of the second disc. I don't know, need to some spelunking into this for sure.

As an aside, I would not be shocked if p4k gave this a 10.0 haha

jrowa001
February 5th 2010


8750 Comments


ill look into this. i like the knife

joshuatree
Emeritus
February 5th 2010


3742 Comments


i downloaded the fake/illegitimate one a while back but never got up the motivation to get this

WeepingBanana
February 5th 2010


10217 Comments


is this anything like fever ray's album?

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2010


10583 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

you would downer

Digging: Charli XCX - Sucker

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2010


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ugh this gets better every time

Chewie
February 7th 2010


4533 Comments


just finished reading Alice In Wonderland, so the metaphor is apt.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 7th 2010


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

considering joining you up there

Enotron
February 7th 2010


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I need to listen to this again.

alachlahol
February 8th 2010


7515 Comments


has this album changed anyone's life yet?



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