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

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

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


Previously in Exposé...

Porcupine Tree - Waiting – This is Porcupine Tree's latest three-song CD EP, appropriately titled I suppose, while we are waiting for the release of their next full length CD Signify this coming fall. The music here is a...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues