Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Review: Knife Party - Haunted House EP

Imagine a cross between the waves scene from Day After Tommorow, except with the waves electrified by Zeus's thunderbolts, with a tornado thrown in for good measure. The description seems a little over the top and dripping with dramatic gravitas, but that's quite how hard Haunted House, the new EP from electro duo Knife Party hits you in its opening notes.  Now it's on sale and having deliberately held back from all the snippets and previews available up till this point, I thought I'd dive straight in when it became available and within seconds found myself grinning from ear to ear (much like the slightly creepy take on their logo featured in the artwork!)

Power Glove begins with the sort of flourishes that you might expect from the orchestra to such a theatrical epic as earlier described, with synthesized vocals and a torrent of drums, cascading into a storm of bassline and keys that never leaves you time to catch your breath before immersing in fresh sounds. I read a review of Power Glove that criticized this as 'too orchestral for edm' but to be honest, I reckon that ignores what this track is about. It has themes, layers, experimenting with the traditional Knife Party sound and constructing something that sounds awesome for the hell of it. This is a brilliant piece of music, inventive and powerful.

LRAD delivers a grandois opening, filled with trance influenced stabs, rushing synths and pops, beneath but the real meat of the song comes in with the menacing, mechanistic build ups that eventually plummet into a deep dark drop that bristles with energy. The song develops from there, with the second plunge into a low end fest taking the elements of the original and playing with them to give the song a Godzillaesque (which probably should be a word) stomp that represents the most radical departure from Swire and McGrillen's trademark style to date.

Swire & McGrillen performing live
EDM Death Machine is, in all fairness, a rather silly title. The opening is classic Knife Party, swaggering drums and a collection of dismissals of various dance music trends, promising (thankfully) 'in the future there will be no Harlem Shake' before indulging in a selection of whirring noises and then a heavy, unrelenting yet stylish drop. However it's the bridge of this song which truly deserves credit, where some dark production sorcery manages, somehow, to seamlessly blend vocals from 90's rave, acid synths and breakbeats into their own brand of music. It sounds a fairly strange combination of influences for this sort of hard electro, but it really does work, then the track morphs back into a subtle variation on the initial drop.

Internet Friends (VIP Mix) is quite honestly not the song I wanted to see on the end of this EP, with promises of a new tune, Baghdad dashed just weeks before release. But given the perfectionist nature of Knife Party and the quality of the rest of the record, (plus this itself was unreleased and had only been heard at this point in strobe lit, alcohol fuelled dancefloors up and down the country), I went straight for it. The first part of the song appears barely indistinguishable and builds anticipation to a fever pitch before finally turning things on it's head and becoming the snarling, vicious mosh pit monster that you were waiting for. It's really rather fun, toying with your expectations before breaking down and slowly, subtly increasing the tempo and leading into an even more visceral dubsteppy breakdown that brings the EP to close in marvellous style.

These are merely my first impressions, but it really is worth having a listen to, for unlike much modern electro, it doesn't merely 'drop the bass' after a clumsy build up, but presents a selection of songs brimming with musicality, heaviness and a wicked sense of fun that little else out there can match it.

Macabre, intelligent and fantastic, I rather love it!

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