Exposé Online banner

Bent Knee — Say So
(Cuneiform Rune 417, 2016, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2016-08-01

Say So Cover art

I snapped up copies of the band’s self-titled debut and its follow-up, Shiny Eyed Babies, when they were available, and as adventurous as those two privately released albums are (and I recommend them highly) they only partially prepare the listener for what’s going down here on Say So, Bent Knee’s third release and their first for Cuneiform. This is a band that knows no boundaries, covering everything from pop to jazz to progressive rock to avant-garde, sometimes all within the same song. The six-member unit is fronted by lead singer and keyboardist Courtney Swain, who seems right at home in any setting, giving her all on any of the numbers here, her powerful multi-octave voice pushing the limits of what progressive music can be. Guitarist Ben Levin delivers a monstrous pack of power without stealing the spotlight, while bassist Jessica Kion and drummer Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth tie the pieces together seamlessly, with Chris Baum (violin) and Vince Welch (synths, sound design and production) providing the contour and texture to tie these massive group compositions and arrangements together. Add to that about a dozen more guest players adding everything from saxes, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, cello, violin, viola, shakuhachi, flute, and more. There are really no handy comparisons for Bent Knee’s music; what they do is pretty much unique, transparently blending ideas and elements drawn from a number of diverse sources, from things that might seem relatively calm and accessible to those that reach far out to the extreme extreme, though they are never jagged or abrasive. Somehow they make it all work. Tracks like “Nakami” and “Black Tar Water” are instantly likeable, while others like the nine minute epic, “Eve,” the moody closer “Good Girl,” and the intensely personal “Hands Up” take a few listens to figure out, and like any seriously good art-rock, the listener will be rewarded with repeat listens as the complexity of the music unfolds.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Bent Knee, Ben Levin

More info
http://bentknee.bandcamp.com/album/say-so

Latest news

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Virgil Moorefield - Distractions on the Way to the King's Party – Moorefield was a guitarist (one of many), then drummer, with Glenn Branca's ensemble for many years. This is his first album in a decade and his first for Cuneiform. He plays drums here and did all of...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues