So, for once, country didn’t disappoint me. Emboldened, I took another chance.
Or to put it another way, a 2-CD set of well regarded but quite edgy music I nearly bought for $20 on last year’s record store day, suddenly became available as an mp3 on amazon for $5. I can get pretty adventurous at that price! Yeah, that’s me (in the corner). Livin in the fast lane…
The Knife are a brother sister duo from Sweden, and I can just see you now imagining a young blonde couple smiling in their white turtleneck sweaters while perched atop a snowbank. A Swedish Donnie and Marie, if you will.
Or, at worst, two earnest young people with black turtlenecks, right out of an Ingmar Bergman movie (black and white, of course), looking off into a cold, desolate landscape, reading poetry and contemplating suicide.
You should be so lucky. These two - who look almost as weird as their music sounds - make Daft Punk look like the Beverly Hillbillies.
Frankly, I find the second one scarier.
I hate to sound so damned ignorant about their appearance, but I wanted to prepare you for the music.
Guaranteed to elicit a reaction of what the f*ck from your friends and neighbors, this is unabashedly weird music. Mixing trance/ambient/dance/electronica with wails, shouts and, well I just don’t know, it’s more “foreign” than any third world record I’ve ever gotten (although not the weirdest. Thank you Pere Ubu and Captain Beefheart!).
It’s also long - 100 minutes worth of music - in that let’s get really lost kind of way, with a 19 minute trance number plopped down right in the middle of it, just in case you were having too good a time. It's a beat-y equivalent of Sonic Youth’s A Thousand Leaves. In other words, something strange with big wide open spaces and sudden jarring changes.
The first time I heard this Mrs. Jaybee and I were stuck in the house on a cold Saturday in January. We would have been looking out onto the desolate landscape but we had chores. So I put this on and it fit our mood perfectly.
Which gave me high hopes that I would come to love this. And I may still. But the vocals remind me too much of Ruth Buzzi. It's hard to contemplate suicide when you're giggling.
But it’s just so freaking DAUNTING that I keep coming back to it.
This is very apt for those times when you're feeling disconnected from the outside world. As an experiment I tried it again in the Spring when I was in the backyard potting some plants. I guess I wanted to annoy the neighbors and scare their children. But by then I had gotten used to it. It was no longer weird enough.
In any case, it’s pretty enjoyable if you’re up for a 100 minute trip to god knows where, but maybe not striking enough to really impress (or scar) you. B+
When to play it: January 15th
When to not play it: At the beach.