The Knife's NSFW 'Full of Fire' Video is Full of Gender-Bending, Bondage, Boobs

The Swedish duo delivers nine minutes of dark techno

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Philip Sherburne WRITTEN BY
Philip Sherburne

Heartbeats quickened this week when a 30-second snippet of the Knife's new single, "Full of Fire," surfaced online; then, hearts sank just as quickly when those samples promptly disappeared. But the full nine-plus minutes of the thing are now available to hear in all their fiery glory in an unexpected — and NSFW — video. (Hat tip to Swedish site SVT Play for having it first.)

The clip comes courtesy of "feminist porn" director Marit Östberg (click at your own risk) and features all kinds of atypical sexual scenarios being played out in public spaces. An elderly woman dresses up like a man then goes trolling; a middle-aged woman urinates in the street through her stockings; leather-clad lads in colorful makeup have a tryst; so do some biker girls in bondage; romance emerges between a protesting punk and a member of law enforcement. Toward the end, we hear the words, "Let's talk about gender, baby / Let's talk about you and me." (Full lyrics below) Also, we witness an Aphex Twin shout-out.

Östberg described the video in a statement: “The film ‘Full of Fire’ started to grow as an embryo in the song's lines ‘Who looks after my story’. Who takes care of our stories when the big history, written by straight rich white men, erase the complexity of human's lives, desires and conditions? The film ‘Full of Fire’ consists of a network of fates, fears, cravings, longings, losses, and promises. Fates that at first sight seem isolated from each other, but if we pay attention, we can see that everything essentially moves into each other. Our lives are intertwined and our eyes on each other, our sounds and smells, mean something. Our actions create reality, we create each other. We are never faceless, not even in the most grey anonymous streets of the city. We will never stop being responsible, being extensions, of one another. We will never stop longing for each other, and for something else.”

The most immediately noticeable thing about the track is how incredibly techno it is, especially after the Swedish duo's last album. Tomorrow, in a Year — an opera based on Charles Darwin's On the Origin of the Species — was abstract in the extreme, sullen as melting glaciers, and just as slow. "Full of Fire," by contrast, is all pounding machine snares and mercurial synths, as bracing as a swim in arctic waters. (How's that heart rate now?)

The beat sounds inspired by LFO's 2003 classic, "Freak," and the squeals and squelches are of a piece with the sepulchral club music that the group's Olof Dreijer turns out under his Oni Ayhun alias. Frontwoman Karen Dreijer-Anderson shape-shifts as eerily as ever, slipping between notes like a huskier Ari Up and emerging out the other side as a ring-modded robot beast, a dial tone made flesh. Yeah, she sounds creepy, but weirdly cozy, too.

They keep you on tenterhooks for the song's full nine-minute run, with sounds transmogrifying like mythical beasts: One minute it might be Evan Parker's soprano sax, the next it's a giant squid squeezing the life out of a drum machine, or a swarm of wasps in a theremin factory. Silent Shout found the Knife hiding behind crow masks; here they've grown actual wings, ragged and sticky with carrion.

Also, can we take a minute to appreciate that single's cover? Someone's been digging out their copy of Stereolab's Peng. No way could you call this Space Age Bachelor Pad Music, however — although you may need a martini to calm your nerves afterwards.

The Knife, Shaking the Habitual track list:
1. "A Tooth for an Eye" 6:04
2. "Full of Fire" 9:17
3. "A Cherry on Top" 8:43
4. "Without You My Life Would Be Boring" 5:14
5. "Wrap Your Arms Around Me" 4:36
6. "Crake" 0:55
7. "Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized" 19:22
8. "Raging Lung" 9:58
9. "Networking" 6:42
10. "Oryx" 0:37
11. "Stay Out Here" 10:42
12. "Fracking Fluid Injection" 9:54
13. "Ready to Lose" 4:36

The Knife, "Full of Fire" lyrics
Sometimes I get problems that are hard to solve
What’s your story
That’s my opinion

Questions and the answers can take very long
Here’s a story
What’s your opinion

Of all the guys
And the signori
Who will write
My story

Get the picture
They get glory
Who looks after
My story

All the guys
And the signori
Telling another
False story

Liberals giving me a nerve itch

Now living
And always moving

Not a vagina
It's an option
The c-ck
Had it coming

Ha ha ha ha ha ha

Now living
And always moving
Now living
And always falling

Sometimes I get problems that are hard to solve
Here’s a story
That’s my opinion

Liberals giving me a nerve itch

Ha ha ha ha ha ha

When you’re full of fire
What’s the object
of your desire

Asking questions that are easy to reply

When you’re full of fire
What’s the object
of your desire

Let’s talk about gender baby
Let’s talk about you and me

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