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The Knells - 2017 - "Knells II"

(42:47, Still Sound Records)


TRACK LIST:                   

1. First Song 4:41
2. Interlude I 2:31
3. Could You Would You 4:25
4. Sub Rosa 4:53
5. Coda 2:52
6. Bargaining 2:31
7. Final Breath 3:36
8. Poltergeist 4:55
9. Interlude II 5:25
10. Immolation 6:58


Nina Berman - vocals
Charlotte Mundy - vocals
Blythe Gaissert - vocals
Andrew McKenna Lee - guitars, electronics
Paul Orbell - guitars
Jude Traxler - percussion, Rhodes, electronics
Jeff Gretz - drums
Jospeh Higgins - bass

Prolusion. US project THE KNELLS is the brainchild of composer and instrumentalist Andrew McKenna Lee, an artist with quite an eclectic career and skill set, from what I can recall from the marketing information submitted with the first CD by The Knells a few years back. "Knells II" is the band's second album, and was released through McKenna Lee's own label Still Sound Recortds in 2017.

Analysis. Just by looking at the line-up for this album, one will notice straight away that this album will be a rather different one when compared to the debut album. Firs and foremost due to no strings being attached this time around: No viola, no violin. But the trademark feature of using multiple vocalists remains, and then using them simultaneously rather than as guests on individual tracks. The layered vocals does give this album an ever so slight classical music sheen, with the vocalists each covering one spectrum of vocals and singing in a manner that has some trademark touches of classical vocals to them. Kind of operatic as I experience them, but without the high drama you will find in opera. These are then used to good effect to contrast the instrument part of this package, and while different from what appeared on the first album by The Knells this is still interesting stuff. The compositions tend to operate around a careful rock arrangement, with wandering guitars and a steady rhythm section forms the foundation. The material may then expand, most often by the inclusion of riffs and various aspects of psychedelic guitar effects, ranging from delicate reverberating sounds to psychedelic tinged solo runs and, especially on the final cut of this album, textured post-rock oriented guitar motifs. In addition some Americana tinged details are thrown into the blender here and there, and perhaps to emphasize the contrast the slide guitar is given a good airing throughout. Combined with some distinct blues-tinged guitar details this makes for a tasty layer of contrasts to be present. Add in that the rhythm section occasionally will go more expressive and then often in a kind of a jazz-oriented manner and we are treated to a further layer of contrasts. Even when going for material of a more simplistic nature, cue Poltergeist for this with it's close to stadium rock structure, percussion and electronic details are then added to the mix to provide some ear candy of a less predictable and out of mainstream orientation.

Conclusion. Just where to place this album in terms of style is a challenge. Eclectic for sure, with it's blend of elements from jazz, blues, psychedelic rock and classical music, and arguably from progressive electronic music as well. All explored inside a progressive rock context. The amazing thing is that the material isn't all that demanding to listen to either. The vocals obviously has a lot to say there, but this is in fact an album I'd describe as sophisticated yet also with a rather broad appeal. And obviously a production to seek out if you tend to enjoy material that resides within the more eclectic parts of the progressive rock universe.

Progmessor: February 27th, 2018
The Rating Room

Related Links:

The Knells

Still Sound Records


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