Dancer of the Boreal Valley

Featuring : The Knife

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Although the slowing of 20JFG posts over the last couple of weeks wasn’t caused by it (honest), it has coincided with the final part of this writer’s favourite video series.  So it seems appropriate to post today about Dark Souls 3.

Doubly appropriate if you consider that we spend a great deal of time musing on how old things are reconfigured into new.  For while all of the Souls games have had entropy at their heart (from being set amongst collapse and ruin to the very mechanics of the game forcing you to constantly contemplate loss), Dark Souls 3 seems to embrace the remix.

While the graphical overhaul from one generation to the next is totally a thing and everything looks nice and pretty, what’s significant here is the way that locations from the first game are reused for the last.  The sun-kissed beauty of the gothic city Anor Londo is revisited, this time  draped in snow and cool blue light.  Rooms that housed painful, exhilarating memories of death (many, many deaths) are returned to and the sorrow is palpable.  For a series that revelled in showing you locations after a collapse, the walking tour of these same locations after a long, long time is…emotional.

But the remix, the remix here is significant.  It’s the remix of self.  The Kate Bush Director’s Cut.  The David Bowie Toy.  This is a backward looking game in many ways but it isn’t regressive.  It holds up its original form to the harsh light and forces you to play through its environs, to appreciate them anew, but to know that this is a cycle.  This is a series that must end because, like all the heroes that have passed through its stories before, to continue is to repeat yourself.  You died?  Repeat.  Your triumphed?  Start again.  You want more?  Here’s two biannual sequels.  Dark Souls 3 uses the remix not to make the old more palatable to the new, but to kill it with sadness.

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We Share Our Mothers’ Health (Shaken-Up Version)

In 2013/14 The Knife went on a farewell tour ostensibly in support of their album Shaking the Habitual.  Bringing along a dance troop, obscuring their presence on stage and mixing their ‘live’ performance with album playback, they were accursed of self-sabotage.

In 2014 they released an 8 track EP called Shaken-Up Versions which contained the versions of tracks played on the tour.  On it was the Shaken-Up version of one of 20JFG’s favourite songs of the 2000s, We Share Our Mother’s Health.  We were running a club night at the time it came out and that song is inseparable from all that was good and holy and banging in that dank basement.

On Shaken-Up Versions, The Knife strip We Share Our Mother’s Health of its deep percussion and bounding synth melodies.  In its place are hand claps and sub bass and a rattling drum edge, spinning round what I presume (and hope) is the original vocal.  It’s exhilarating.  It’s as if the memory of the 2006 version is conjured and held in place while the Shaken-Up Version is assembled anew around it.

And when it’s complete the 2006 banger has been sealed from the dancefloor.

You can get Shaken Versions on CD from Juno.  It’s also on all streaming services if that’s more your thing.  The vinyl’s probably going for loads on Discogs but I dare not look.