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Tomorrow, in a Year marks The Knife's fifth studio release since their self titled debut in 2001 and to say they've come a long way since then is a slight understatement. Their latest offering is as far removed from their synth-pop beginnings as you can get. Siblings Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer have collaborated with Mt. Sims and Planningtorock to create a unique aural experience. The music was originally commissioned by Danish performance group Hotel Pro Forma for their opera based on Charles Darwin and his world renowned book On The Origin Of Species. Tomorrow, in a Year is the studio version of their collaboration with aforementioned parties.
The album begins with ‘Intro’ , a track teeming with electrical blips and ominous synth sweeps which seems to hint at the very beginnings of multicellular organisms, tide pools and the primordial soup. The tracks ‘Epochs’ and ‘Geology’ seem to follow the same vein, the evolution of sound parallels the evolution of life and seem to have no hierarchy, as in a melody or beat, and undulate in seemingly random patterns. Opera singer Kristina Wahlin Momme first emerges in ‘Geology’ and the juxtaposition of an operatic tone with the dissonant tonalities is truly unique. Wahlin Momme is prominent throughout the record, as is Planningtorock's Janine Rostron and Swedish pop singer Jonathan Johansson but Karin Dreijer Andersson is strangely absent.
The record does become slightly trying after half an hour but we are rewarded with five absolute gems that make up the final portion of the record. The first of which is ‘The Colouring Of Pigeons’. An actual drum beat, not processed or programmed announces a totally different sound. Kristina Wahlin Momme’s staccato tones are accompanied by some beautiful strings, followed by Karin's first performance of the record. Jonathan Johansson duets with her and they compliment each other beautifully while Janine Rostron provides harmonies. The Knife's signature sound seems to come out for the first time here, yet it is wholly transformed by the organic sounds. Lyrically it seems to tell the story of Darwin coming home and looking over his experiences in the field and then finding the evidence supporting the fact that traits in pigeons are passed on genetically. The ability to give such emotion to a scientific discovery makes this the stand out track and worth buying the album for. ‘Seeds’ is the only track with a big beat. The Knife's characteristic sound is evident here but with a slant added by Mt. Sims. ‘Annie's Box’ appears twice on the album and the last track is an alternative vocal mix featuring Karin singing the story of the death of Darwin's daughter.
Tomorrow, in a Year is not an immediately accessible album but worth some perseverance for the moments of brilliance that shine through. The Knife have gone in a completely different direction for this outing, not all of it works out but they should be applauded for their boldness and willingness to experiment.
- Gary McDonough