Exposé Online banner

The Knells — II
(Still Sound 002-2017, 2017, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2017-11-22

II Cover art

One thing that is sorely lacking in most current progressive rock is any semblance of real originality. What we hear mostly are bands trying to re-create the glory days of the sound as it was defined in the late 60s and early 70s, or taking that sound or something like it and dumbing it down in order to make it more listener friendly, removing its edge. When bands like King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, Van der Graaf Generator, vintage Genesis and Yes made a record, you knew it was them without being told, they had their own sound that was uniquely theirs. The Knells, led by composer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew McKenna Lee from Brooklyn, NY is one such band, unique in many ways, defining their own vision clearly among all others in any genre. So what makes them so unique? The band features five instrumentalists, including McKenna Lee (guitar and electronics), Paul Orbell (lead and slide guitars), bassist Joseph Higgins, drummer Jeff Gretz, and Jude Traxler featured on percussion, Rhodes, and electronics. What is most unique and unusual about this band is that all the vocals are arranged for a three part female vocal chorus (Blythe Gaissert, Charlotte Mundy, and Nina Berman), and indeed, while there are a couple instrumental tracks, the bulk of the album’s ten cuts are vocals, organized into two side-long suites that flow together beautifully. Lyrics are very thoughtful, delivered in an almost medieval chorale style, and the instrumental support is a solid art rock in service to this huge vocal presence. Lyrics are printed in dark red on black on the inside of the CD tri-fold, maybe the limited edition vinyl edition is somewhat easier to read, but either way the words are worth following along. All taken, Knells II, like its 2013 predecessor, is a unique and highly emotional recording that sets new standards for originality.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): The Knells

More info
http://theknells.bandcamp.com/album/knells-ii

Latest news

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Kantata - Samsara – For background information, go dig up a copy of Expose #14, and find the review where I spent half a page trying to describe a CD by Iwan Fals. Here, the XTC/Sting/Cat Stevens-influenced...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues