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Music / The Knife

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In a dream, all my teeth fell out: a cracked smile and a silent shout.

The Knife — what you might get if David Lynch's films could sing you to sleep before they sell your soul to the devil, in the nicest possible way.

The Knife were an electronic brother and sister music duo from Sweden, comprised of siblings Karin and Olof Dreijer. note  Formed in 1999 and disbanded in 2014, they rose to public attention when Jose Gonzalez's cover of their song "Heartbeats" was used in a Sony Bravia TV commercial (the one with all the bouncy balls).

They were incredibly reclusive, often refusing to give interviews or make public appearances (they did not perform live shows until 2006) and the few promotional images of them usually show them wearing Venetian-plague doctor masks, or dressed as monkeys.


The first two albums gained small acclaim but went largely unnoticed, although Deep Cuts was nominated for a Grammisnote . Silent Shout, however, was a roaring success, nominated for 6 Grammis Awards and named as Pitchfork Media's album of the year, as well as Slant Magazine's 95th best album of the 2000's.

While they fall under the category of "Electronic Music", their sound is hard to describe in full detail. Wikipedia lists the aforementioned David Lynch as an influence, as well as Aki Kaurismäki, Black Hole, Donnie Darko and Doom as just some of their influences, so that might give you an idea.

In addition to The Knife, Karin has a solo project, calling herself Fever Ray and releasing a self-titled album under that name. It is something of a Spiritual Successor to Silent Shout in terms of its sound, and she also provided songs for Red Riding Hood.


Karin also contributed vocals to Norwegian band Röyksopp's What Else Is There?, This Must Be It and Tricky Tricky.

Oh, and for added fun, they're good friends with Robyn. They even produced the song "Who's That Girl?" from Robyn' self titled album.


  • The Knife (2001)
  • Deep Cuts (2003)
  • Silent Shout (2006)
  • Tomorrow in a Year (2010): A concept opera based on Charles Darwin's Origins of the Species in collaboration with Mt. Sims and Planningtorock.
  • Shaking the Habitual (2013)

The Knife provides examples of:

  • Album Title Drop: The image quote above from the Title Track of Silent Shout.
  • Animated Music Video: We Share Our Mother's Health primarily, though many of their music videos feature animation at some point.
  • Author Tract: Shaking the Habitual is largely inspired by the band's views on feminism, economics, and the environment. The packaging even has a satirical comic about the UN planning to end extreme wealth.
  • Band of Relatives: Olof and Karin are brother and sister.
  • Epic Rocking: A fair share of the tracks on Shaking the Habitual veer towards or over 10 minutes, but the very longest is Old Dreams Waiting to be Realized, a 20 minute epic consisting of little else than eerie ambient noise.
  • Incredibly Long Note: Karin belts out several in "A Tooth for an Eye".
  • Jump Scare: "Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized" largely consists of 19 minutes of extremely spooky ambient noise... except for one very loud spasm of electric noise halfway through. Not the sort of track you'd want to turn on while being home alone.
  • Larynx Dissonance: Olaf does NOT sing at all on the entire Silent Shout - those deep, creepy tones are Karin (with the help of a little pitch-shifting).
  • New Sound Album: Certainly the difference between the relatively upbeat Deep Cuts and the Darker and Edgier Silent Shout is a heavy case of musical Mood Whiplash.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Karin's voice can make relatively benign lyrics utterly terrifying.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Sort of. In a rare interview, Karin admitted to having written a large part of the Fever Ray album while she was awake at night, tending to her newborn. Given the sometimes creepy content and tone of the songs, many thought this meant that she was writing in response to her experiences raising a child, rather than the simple fact that she was awake because of the child, and chose to write at that time.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: Like A Pen certainly sounds it, amongst others.
  • Surreal Music Video: A particular favourite, especially for the songs from Silent Shout.

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