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(58:38, Bajkal Records))
TRACK LIST: 1. Eventide 10:06 2. Our Quiet Footsteps 12:34 3. Remnants of Pride 7:57 4. Tear Away the Cords That Bind 4:53 5. Beneath the Waning Moon 4:34 6. The Gentle Knife 5:17 7. Locus Amoenus 8:03 8. Coda: Impetus 5:14 LINEUP: Eivind Lorentzen – guitars; synthesizers Paal Bjorseth – keyboards; vocals; trumpet Ove Christian Owe – guitars Odd Gronvold – bass Oz – vocals Haakon Kavli – vocals; guitars Ole Martin Svendsen – drums, percussion Thomas Hylland Eriksen – saxophone Melina Astraea Antal – flute Brian M. Talgo – sampling With: Ole Michael Bjorndal – guitars Oivind Haanes – organ
Prolusion. The Norwegian band GENTLE KNIFE was formed back in 2012, with a stated aim to explore vintage era progressive rock with a modern twist. Their self-titled debut album appeared in the summer of 2015 through the Norwegian indie label Bajkal Records.
Analysis. There are many aspects of this production one might ponder on and describe in detail, but apart from me being very late to the table on actually reviewing it – the band is launching their second album these days – I'll refrain from taking any large detours as such. I rather suspect the band's vision about exploring vintage progressive rock from a modern perspective indicates quite a lot about the music they provide on this CD, and those with an interest in a band of this nature should probably read on for a bit. My main impression is actually that there aren't too many modern features on the album as such. The manner in which the compositions are assembled, the instruments used, even the mix and production strikes me as being very much in the mould of the classic era progressive rock bands. But as far as pinpointing a specific subset of the progressive rock universe, now that is a different story altogether. One may describe this band as a rather eclectic one. Not in an intricate, quirky and challenging music kind of way, although the band does dip their toes into such territories at times too, but eclectic more of the kind of being not all that easy to place. This is a band fond of vintage era symphonic progressive rock, but also just about as equally fond of gentler, pastoral interludes and sequences. They aren't strangers to some classic guitar and keyboards-driven arrangements either, and more delicate sequences closer aligned to the likes of Camel is a part of their repertoire too, as are sequences with a few distinct nods in the direction of folk music, and they also swerve left for a few excursions into more jazz-oriented landscapes when it comes to that. But a more central characteristic trait of the band, I suspect, is the liberal use of saxophone, occasional use of brass instruments and the use of subtle, as well as not so subtle, dark atmospheres as a running and recurring trend. Not to the extent of all the compositions being of a dark, ominous mood, but most feature passages or sequences of a darker nature and with something of an eerie mood and atmosphere. To some extent a musical illustration of the story explored, I guess, this is a concept album, but also a feature that does provide the album with a fairly distinct atmosphere. The compositions as such come across as well-planned and well made, but the band doesn't always get the execution right. The mix and production come across as being of vintage era quality rather than modern, which may be a deliberate choice, but a choice that does come with a few weaknesses, Tthe major one being the placement of the vocals, which makes it a bit too noticeable when the vocalists aren't quite up to the task. This only becomes an issue on a couple of occasions, but on those occasions this is a detrimental aspect. My overall impression is that this is a gem that is a bit rough around the edges, but it is still a gem. Perhaps not an album that will have a substantially broad appeal as far as progressive rock goes, but all in all a well made album that will appeal to the right audience.
Conclusion. Those who tend to enjoy vintage era progressive rock with eclectic qualities and recurring dark atmospheres should find this debut album by Gentle Knife to be of interest. A certain affection for bands that are fond of using the saxophone will be needed, and I'd hazard a guess that among those who find a band like Van der Graaf Generator to be among the more interesting bands that ever appeared, there will be quite a few people who will be charmed by the landscapes explored by this Norwegian band. All in all, this is a fine, good quality debut by a promising band.
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