The Knife: Tomorrow in a Year

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The Knife: <em>Tomorrow in a Year</em>

Scandinavian electro-opera doesn’t translate from stage to disc

Co-written by Scandinavian duo the Knife and Berlin-based one-member-bands Planningtorock and Mt. Sims, Tomorrow, in a Year has been billed as an opera based on Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, but it’s actually more of an elaborate, multimedia performance-art piece.

Premiering in Copenhagen last fall, the production incorporated dance, video and laser lights to create an eerily unsettling experience. The concept was ambitious but, unfortunately, in releasing Tomorrow as an album, the team divorces the music from the stage and leaves the songs stranded in a mire of effects and noise. What sounded compelling in the original setting now sounds aimless and tiresome, offering some intriguing musical ideas and synthetic textures (“Colouring of Pigeons,” “Epochs”) separated by endless passages of ambient birdsong and doodling keyboards. As a result, Tomorrow sounds more like a soundtrack than a fully realized piece of theater. Until they release a DVD, you’re better off listening and watching on YouTube.