Band: Bent Knee
CD Title: Say So
Label: Cuneiform Records (2016)
Rating: Great Stuff 4/5
Boston’sBent Knee came together in 2009 and this is their third CD release, the first on the Cuneiform label and according drummer Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth is both their most accessible and strangest album. That is really saying something. Bent Knee is first and foremost an arty, experimental band that takes from a wide variety of sources and then blends those influences into their own unique style of alternative rock. With six members, the level of layered musical elements and musical input is high while the amount of dissonance and angularity is kept in check, perhaps present just enough to keep everything slightly off-kilter. There are moments where those minor notes and minor chords play front and centre creating a tentative and haunting atmosphere before being swallowed up in cascading dissonance; but then at other times like in the brilliant “Leak Water” [4:41] that explosion of music is more on the major-chord side of things with a proggy grand and majestic kind of thing. The overall sound-presence is dominated and even held-together by Courtney Swain’s multi-octave vocals. Bent Knee have no fear in repeatedly drifting into the avant-garde and experimental but on Say So they are just as likely to drift back into something a little more accessible and linear and I think that’s what makes it some listenable. Lyrically these ten compositions all give off a dark and moody vibe with the music adding to the haunting feel. Multiple melodies are the order of the day with nothing being what it seems at first. The music of Bent Knee is always ready to shift gears, grand and sweeping one moment and minimal the next. Their music is unconventional and yet surprisingly catchy. It’s not the style of music I regularly listen to, I’ll admit that, but as a fan of symphonic prog there was clearly something going on here that caught my attention and I really came to appreciate it. This is music that pushes the musical envelope in ways that will appeal to a wide swath of progressive rock music fans.