So with the buzz around The Knife building, an opportunity to see the siblings live in concert is met with great anticipation. The Scala is full. A mixed crowd of good looking Scandinavians, St Martin's types, indie kids and scenesters look toward the screened stage, then around to each other in acknowledgment that this is a cool event, although no one knows what to expect.
The pair emerges on stage as two dark silhouettes. Clad head to toe in overalls and balaclavas, with only their eyes, ears and mouths uncovered, they open with the sounds of electronic steel drums and a slightly reworked version of Pass it on. This is the dark beauty of The Knife. Upbeat appregiated synths sit along-side ambiguous lyrics like "I'm in love with your brother" or the heavier "Too far away from the city; Some kids left on their own; They say we had a communist in the family; I had to wear a mask".
There is a sense of a disturbed childhood in the way simple graphics and video jar against Karin's cold and warped vocals. You get the feeling this is not the shiny synth pop that some in the audience had hoped. It's certainly more Silent Shout than Deep Cuts. While some tracks like the epic trance melodies of Forest families or the hi-nrg almost J-pop carnival tune of Kino rouse the desire to rave, these instincts are countered by the stripped back and seductive properties of others like The captain and From off to on.
The engaging performance of electronic music is a challenging prospect. Where Kraftwerk stand motionless speaking through the power of their machines, or a hyperactive Karl Hyde and the visuals of Tomato sustain Underworld, it is not surprising that a band so individual as The Knife have found their own take. For most of the night Olof stands rooted square on, alternating between keyboards and striking a drum machine with sticks. Karin dances stuntedly, sometimes confronting the mic, at other points trembling behind it, before fading back into the darkness. The two share the stage with mechanical scarecrows. Projections of faces and later skulls onto oversized heads provided backing vocals and didn't feel out of place in this twisted fairytale.
It was a captivating show. And at 50 minutes was also short. Neverland appeared to be a logical encore but never materialised. For an almost debut performance it was encouraging. Where transitions between songs could be improved, this was more than made up for in the haunting moments that put goose bumps on the arm and linger with me over the next day. Against the current background of minimal sounds there is something compelling about the creepy world of The Knife. Hopefully their live shows will no longer be so rare.