Band: Gentle Knife

CD Title: Clock Unwound

Website: www.gentleknife.com  

Label:  Bajkal Records (2017)

Rating: Great Stuff 4/5



This is the second album for the Norwegian Progressive Rock outfit called Gentle Knife and its entitled Clock Unwound. And right off the bat, I have to say, this is a great release in so many ways. By way of background, this is an eleven member group that features both male and female vocals and instruments as far ranging as woodwinds and trumpets. They exude a classic seventies flavoured prog that has a lot in common with certain aspects of early King Crimson in tone, feel and musical approach. We’re treated to six compositions, roughly fifty-four minutes of music in total in mostly longish pieces. The shortest track is the instrumental opener “Prelude: Implicit” [3:20] which for the most part features a melancholy flavored haunting introduction that relies on soft piano and muted trumpet interplay to create an establishing mood and atmosphere rather than actually create any kind of melody. In doing so it actually sets the tone for the rest of the album. Things genuinely pick up with the dramatic and dynamic launch into the title track “The Clock Unwound” [15:55]. Guitars launch into a repeating riff while everyone hammers out syncopated crescendos and then unites in a minor-chord driven melody line that features changing instruments delivering lead lines. This is really brilliant stuff. The music swells creating grand climaxes and then swivels into different directions effortlessly incorporating the classic elements of polyphony and contrapuntal elements. Starts and stops occur everywhere, allowing the music to shift in time, tempo and general mood. From the busy churning guitars that propel song segments into each other to the pastoral, drum and flute segments, there’s something fascinating around every corner. The overriding aspect of the music of Gentle Knife that fosters that classic seventies vibe is the fact their music is built on minor and diminished chords and notes. This gives their music a powerful sense of expectation all of which is wonderfully resolved when they do get around to hitting those major chords. The last two tracks of the album, both about ten-minutes incorporate what I call the “Starship Trooper” approach where a melodic theme or riff is played over and over, building slowly ultimately reaching a wonderful climax. Clock Unwound is simply a great record. I loved every aspect of it and heartily recommend it to fans of classic Symphonic Progressive Rock.