The Knife review: Cutting-edge duo go out on a high


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How do you kiss goodbye to 15 years of challenging, divisive sui generis electronica?

In the case of The Knife, whose fourth, final and farewell album, Shaking the Habitual, was described as both “utterly gripping” and “unbearably boring” by one critic in the same review, the obvious answer was forming – and performing with – an all-female collective of more than 14 choreographers and set designers.

It’s quite a spectacle. The Swedish brother-sister duo responsible for making the music are indistinguishable from 13 or so other androgynous, face-painted dancers on stage. Meanwhile, everyone wears matching blue satin onesies, and it’s almost impossible to tell who’s playing instruments on stage, and who’s pretending. This is indicative of The Knife: Shaking the Habitual was a concept record based on blurring gender norms and it’s no surprise their live set  should ask questions about a band’s relationship to live performance.

And the music itself, when it arrives? A peroxide-blond nymph saws away at a zither the size of a grand piano, uncomfortably low bass hits deep in the stomach, and Karin Dreijer Andersson’s voice is shockingly beautiful as it ever was. In other words, perfection.

The Knife Brixton Academy, London