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At first it was very difficult as we really didn’t know anything about opera. We’d never been to one. I didn’t even know what the word libretto meant. But after some studying, and just getting used to opera’s essence of pretentious and dramatic gestures, I found that there is a lot to learn and play with. In fact, our ignorance gave us a positive respectless approach to making opera. It took me about a year to become emotionally moved by an opera singer and now I really do. I really like the basic theatrical values of opera and the easy way it brings forward a narrative. We’ve approached this before in The Knife but never in such a clear way -- Olof Dreijer.

For the most part, The Knife's Tommorow, In a Year opera is an admirable failure. One cycle, however, stands out most clearly as a brilliant achievement, a synthesis of all that makes The Knife and opera and experimentalism worthwhile - 'Colouring of Pigeons' (available to stream here). This 11-minute epic recombines operatic voice, Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer's unmistakeable voices, alternatively gamelan-esque and martial percussion, and deeply moving cello and halldorophone into what is more or less a classical opera song refracted through the structures and dynamics of dark house. This is what makes the track so gripping - The Knife force all the melodramatic elements of an opera song through the prism of their equally melodramatic and atmospheric electronica. It's a perfect match, made all the more perfect by the formal experimentation and minimalist arrangements the track is formed in. Each genre illuminating one another in perfect symbiosis.


The artistic arc Joanna Newsom has displayed across her three albums is just beautiful, each work builds on and consolidates her aesthetic whilst introducing some amazing new element. I've heard lots of people arguing that Have One Me is a caricaturing and popularising of her style (i.e. she's sold out) but I actually think it's quite distinct. Anyway:

- The Milk-Eyed Mender's defining element was just that every song is timeless and amazing, and how it creates absolute beauty out of odd smallness. It's just this chick who sounds like nothing we've (but others probably have) heard, playing on a harp these beautiful songs.

- Ys was brilliant for the decision to do an album of extended songs, that spun out into cohesive, holistic musical and literary tapestries - just try not to get lost in Emily.

- The best thing about Have One On Me is that it's really composed of a series of little and intensely exciting to listen to moments - the songs are good, sure, but they are good because they are peppered with these bristling moments - that line, that vocal change, that progression, etc. Take 'Have On One Me', whilst it's of similar length to the songs on Ys, it's really quite different, it's just like a little treasure chest of moments: .50 as the harp starts to wind up; 1.10 'in the night, in the niiight'; 1.26 as harp resolves itself; 1.38 as the 'chorus' (?) comes in!; etc. etc.

There's very little else I wanted to say, just to get this down here. Joanna Newsom: amazing.