Album Review: Pop | Kief Knifing
It’s been a while since the Sanctum got its hands on some super experimental stuff and Knifing’s latest album ‘Pop’ was an ideal Stimulus to get back to it. But don’t get misled by the title for there is not a single bit of pop in here. Prepare for big inconvenience.
The cyber intro called ‘Awake For a Year’ is communicating through a digital language, emitting messages like Morse Code, floating into a space of bright synths. There’s no clear melody, only experimentation, unstable like the following ‘A Parliament of Owls’. Uncomfortable like an Arca piece, it only takes form when, at some point, the synths try to give shape but only to leave you confused. Maybe a bit too alien even for me. Based on chaotic, minimal percussion, ‘Marina Abramovic’, like everything until now, puts another unsettling piece to this puzzle. It feels like a search to find answers through a series of abstract material that apparently do not make sense but that’s life after all so we can only keep trying. Wow. Does that even makes sense? Either way, the title was so successfully chosen considering that the mood is perfectly synchronized with the wondrous art of Abramovic. The otherwise smooth chaos of ‘E Ulay Moma 2010’ reminded me of Holly Herndon’s work. Almost no coherence at all and, once again, a melody that is struggling to show itself under the anxious beats and keys. Breezy synths flow into the void of ‘Rythm0’, refreshing this glitchy atmosphere of Pop in a way similar to ‘Thee Infinite Genesis’ and ‘The Five Points’ found lower in the tracklist. This one builds itself up with layers nicely only to fade away into its echoing pad like an exhale. The most intriguing percussion is found in ‘How Great The Wall?’ which sounds like it’s coming from random objects found in the house. Or maybe super distorted sample snares and hit hats. Having listened to the album multiple times, ‘Zone Rouge’ and the closing ‘Sol Invictus’ give off the exact same energy. ‘This Was The Most Important Part’ says track number seven, a pretty soothing one in contrast to everything behind it. Emptiness is working pretty well with the soundscapes sending the mind into a spiritual journey. Is it a border separating the experience into two chapters? If that’s the case, the anxiety of the first one should transform into something else from this point.
‘Grapefruit’s Moderat-ish quality fits well into this newly-introduced calm theme. The combo of heavy bass and kicks here give off a primitive sense unlike anything before with some dark, subtle elements in the likes of Forest Swords, one I’m a fan of. ‘Lambs Breath’ dwells into the Arca fields once more while ‘Screaming out’ feels more like an interlude despite its length and more like a whisper despite its title. The tender, human ‘Silence’ is a warm caress in this tireless world of Knifing while ‘Breach’ has everything we know, plus an eastern flavor given by mystical chords distorted enough to fit in this album. Pop feels like it has no room for anything organic and maybe that’s what makes it unique and forms its character. Meaning that, anything that does not sound distorted and electronic, simply does not belong here. BUT THEN, the surprising ‘Lupercalia’ contains sampled ocean waves catching me completely off guard, proving me wrong. After 15 tracks, Knifing is daringly throwing a generous touch of nature into this long, unorganized digital space, shattering my previous statement to pieces. Best enjoyed in a pitch black room, ‘Hexxenacht’ is free of the load of any percussion just like the following ‘The Unveiling’. Like an offering from the artist as a ‘thank you’ for staying throughout this LP. The waves from ‘Lupercalia’ are now dressed with a beeping synth in ‘Halloween’ that tries to find its place and never seems to settle.
As this journey comes to its end, I’m left feeling numb, a bit more thoughtful than before and maybe with an open third eye! The places explored by Kief Knifing in Pop are untrodden by most people and, even though they are strictly electronic, their cohesiveness makes for a personal body of work so true to its values, that it ends up being more natural than all the organic sounds of the world combined together. It’s Knifing’s second skin and we can only thank him for bringing this to the table, giving us food for thought. Cheers!
Enjoy Pop here: