Gentle Knife - Clock Unwound,
This is the second album from Norwegian act Gentle Knife, but the first I have come across, and to try and give some idea of what it sounds like let’s look at the line-up. They have no guests, as with this many people they really don’t need any more! It must be one of the largest line-ups of a progressive rock band I have ever come across, but each has their place. Astraea Antal (flutes, woodwinds and visuals), Pål Bjørseth (keyboards, vocals, trumpet), Odd Grønvold (bass), Thomas Hylland Eriksen (sax and woodwinds), Veronika Hørven Jensen (vocals), Håkon Kavli (vocals, guitars), Eivind Lorentzen (guitars and synths), Charlotte Valstad Nielsen (sax), Ove Christian Owe (guitars), Ole Martin Svendsen (drums, percussion) and Brian M. Talgo (samples, words, vocals, visions and artwork) have put together one of the most interesting albums of the year.
That it is progressive is beyond doubt, but as to what sub-genre it belongs to is more of a discussion. The band have been claimed by Crossover, but they could easily have gone into eclectic if it wasn’t for the majestic beauty of some of the passages that transcend all thoughts of prog into stunning classic rock pop. The production has a large part to play on this album, and in many ways, can almost be thought of as yet an additional instrument, as it is the clarity and separateness of all those involved that prevent this from turning into a muddy mess. There is an emotional use of bass saxophone on the fifteen-minute-long title cut where the notes resonate against the gently picked electric guitar with quite devastating effect and impact. They aren’t afraid to use volume, driving riffs and screaming guitars when the need is right, or to move from melody into atonal noise where everything crashes together, before moving into yet another space and time.
This is music that is exciting, vibrant and with a controlled chaos that is rarely heard in today’s scene. The arrangements are complex and perfectly executed, and in many ways this album is reminiscent of the most rich and fragrant paella one could come across: take a bite, give it a stir, and the next bite could be totally different as firstly one tastes mussels, and the next chorizos, yet at all times the rice is providing a balance and continuity. I think this is the first time I have ever compared an album to food, and I have written many thousands, but this is comfortable, intriguing, welcoming and inviting, just like a good meal. Needless to say, a good drop of South Otago Pinot Noir goes with it very nicely indeed, thank you very much.
In some ways very Seventies, and in others very up to date, this wonderful album should be heard by all progheads. It is simply stunning.