Knife Party is a side project featuring the two founding members of Perth, Australia’s long-running drum’n’bass act Pendulum. In late 2011, Gareth McGrillen and Rob Swire debuted their aggressive electro-house/dubstep guise with 100% No Modern Talking, released digitally through the Earstorm label and provided as a free download on the duo’s website. They also matched up with Swedish House Mafia for the Virgin-issued “Antidote,” billed as Swedish House Mafia vs. Knife Party. Remixes of tracks by Swedish House Mafia (“Save the World”), Porter Robinson (“Unison”), and Nero (“Crush on You”) trickled out around the same time. In mid-2012 the duo released their second EP, Rage Valley, again digitally on Earstorm, followed by the announcement a few months later that a third EP would be released at the beginning of 2013.
Being constantly shot down by the drum & bass purists had simply stopped being fun and their rebirth as Knife Party was a logical progression (if you’ll pardon the pun). But while their mission statement may have been to head back underground, Swire and McGrillen’s Knife Party project continues to blow up globally and gain momentum in its own right. There’s nowhere for the Aussie duo to hide.
This year has been one of evolution for the Knife Party sound. As Swire told Radio 1’s Zane Lowe, “It seemed to happen overnight. The records that we were playing in one place just started not to go off in this other place until it was happening all over the country, especially in the States. But the house thing is almost healthier than ever.”
Their music still has a strong dubstep strand in its DNA, but this year’s ‘Haunted House’ EP saw that house influence form a much greater focus. Still very much in effect are their trademark aggression and typically provocative titles like ‘EDM Death Machine’, a stomping, yelping, rave-inspired beast that comes complete with a tongue-in-cheek outline of EDM’s future. The same EP also spawned ‘LRAD’, a pounding, anthemic, at times almost trance-inspired track. The accompanying high budget video tells a tale of mind control and robot politicians and has more than an edge of Terminator-styled dystopia to it.
On the live front, Knife Party have taken their distinctive ‘horror house’ brand on the road to hammer crowds everywhere from Amnesia in Ibiza to Miami’s Mansion to the boggy fields of Bestival.
As for the future, another EP is set to follow but while their label are keen on a Knife Party album, that may not come to pass. As Swire told Lowe, “We know the format that our audience wants to buy music in and we don’t think that’s an album format”. Whatever their next step is, Knife Party’s global popularity seems set to continue growing, while their pendulous past is just a distant memory.