Watch + Listen: New Union of Knives Single/Video ‘Like Butterflies’ is a Call to Break Free

Perhaps it took a global pandemic to inspire a reformation. But the provocatively monikered Scottish electronic trio Union of Knives returned after a 14-year recording hiatus last month with the tense but lavish new single ‘A Tall Tale,’ with Ladytron’s Helen Marnie on vocals. Their 2006 debut album Violence & Birdsong had won raves – but by 2009 they had all gone their separate ways.

A second single, ‘Like Butterflies,’ is released today, and it definitively confirms their comeback is indeed a vital one. The song opens with chunky synths layered over something of a calypso/funk groove, which all brings to mind the likes of Talking Heads and Blancmange – though songwriter/producer/singer Chris Gordon cites Prince as another influence.

The lyrics also seem to be conveying an urgent philosophical message, one that might just be urging us on from the all-encompassing oppressiveness that has characterized these last twelve months of anxiety-plagued pandemic lockdown.

“Cut all the ties, empty the skies / With a shout to the dawn light”

“I want you to dance and get out of your cocoon already,” prods vocalist Ant Thomaz. “Let those delicate highs tremble through you as you push on into the light.”   

The accompanying video feels like an exuberant visual catharsis, with dancer Alexandra Tsiapi, a graduate of the Scottish School of Contemporary Dance in Glasgow, thrashing and writhing alone in an empty attic studio. The footage is deftly interspersed with illustrations of hands clapping and drums being pounded.

“The video is a collaboration in movement,” explains Gordon, “We knew Alexandra could express something physically that we do our best to express with words and weird noises.  I spent a January morning filming her improvisation to ‘Like Butterflies’, as she jerked and fluttered and floated all across the room with such grace and commitment, perfectly synched to the spiritual sense of the song.” 

‘Like Butterflies’ is taken from their upcoming album Endless From the Start, out June 4 via Disco Piñata.

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