The Knife’s Crazy, Bespoke Instruments on Auction

The strange sounds of the Swedish duo are made solid in these custom designed instruments from artist Bella Rune.

In 2014, The Knife played one of its final shows at New York’s Terminal 5, staging a burst of light, color, and dance that vivified its otherworldly tracks. Key to the sound and aesthetic of these Shaking The Habitual shows were custom-made instruments designed by Swedish artist Bella Rune. Tonally and formally unique, these instruments were Rune’s attempt to manifest The Knife’s unearthly sounds in three dimensions. This month, as the band emerges from its retirement to release a live film, album, and photo book of its Terminal 5 show, three of these bespoke instruments are also being auctioned off to benefit the No One Is Illegal Network. Ahead of the auction’s close on September 17, we revisit Rune’s weird and wonderful creations.

The Bell 

On this stand, pictured above, hangs five aluminum pipes, molded from old Swedish road signs and tuned to a microtonal scale with a steel saw. Their chimes—which close out “Raging Lung”—are rich and reverberant, analogous to the sound of a vibraphone.

The Cone

The low, yawing sound of The Cone, a one-string bass, features prominently on the studio recording and live performance of “Raging Lung.” Installed on one side of the wooden pentagonal cone is a thickly spun string (akin to that on a stand-up bass) that can be plucked or played with a bow; and on another, trigger pads that produce percussive bass sounds such as those heard on “Bird.”

The Harp

Though built to sound like a harp, The Harp’s construction is far from conventional. Strung with multicolored LEDs, the instrument sits on an angular plinth, and glows with rainbow hues when played.

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