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

2019-11-07
Glenn Smith RIP – Glenn Smith, founder, mandolinist, and primary composer of the DeLand, Florida based prog / fusion band Magnatar, passed away on October 18th 2019 at the age of 68, after a brief illness.  » Read more

2019-11-04
Dino Brassea RIP – Word reaches us of the passing of Dino Brassea, who sang and played flute in Cast for many years. By our count, Brassea appeared on 11 Cast albums between 1994 and 2002. He also released music as a solo artist. » Read more

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ezra - Shapes – As heavily featured as keyboards are on Shapes, It is surprising that Ezra is a three piece outfit consisting of vocals/guitar, bass, drums — and no keyboards. In fact, I'd say that the keys are...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues