Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Bent Knee

Hello and here's to enjoying the opening stages of spring fellow progheads!  This week the Concert Closet  logged very few miles, traveling from Portsmouth NH all the way to Boston MA. Dreadnaught was a fun excursion and a great lesson in why prog is not only good--it's good for you. This week the Concert Closet found another gem staring up in wild wonder from some of the richest soil in the prog garden.  Prepare yourself for a week of complex head-scratching and bewildered
jaw-dropping...embrace the feelings you had when prog first found you...welcome to the world of Bent Knee.

Bent Knee refers to themselves as "...a genre-defying art rock collective...fiercely innovative...bridges the gap between the experimental and the familiar..."  This introduction is much too tempting for the Concert Closet to ignore, and since we are already entrenched in New England, what's another seven days when you can enjoy some great prog?  So let us check out the goods at the prog buffet...

First serving is a nice big platter of "Being Human."  The opening is almost a bait-and-switch; you are led by a tranquil voice painting a dark picture that suddenly erupts like that volcano you made in fifth grade science class using baking soda and vinegar.  The emotional roller coaster you find yourself on--coupled with time and tempo changes that seem to defy logic--make for one unforgettable ride.  Bent Knee emits top notes of King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, and Beardfish on this tune...an analytical probe of the inner mind.  The colors on the canvas start out pastel and bleed to crimson red, navy blue, and midnight black; all the while painting a connect-the-dots picture that leads you deeper into a grotto you don't want to leave.

Still dazed by the sounds that just passed through my headphones, I go back for a second serving, and discover another mind-altering cut called "Little Specks of Calcium." There is an intensity as the song opens...you know there is a ten car pile-up just around the bend, yet you are powerless to stop the acceleration toward it and are thrilled by the anticipation...

Bent Knee doesn't just hit you with sound--they fill your entire being with vivid images and intense emotion.  This is a band that forced expansion of the prog garden; there really was no acreage prior for them to call home.  I pick up aromatics of Opeth and a touch of Scarlet INside wafting through this tune...a sort of "innocent terror" if that is possible.  Bent Knee may paint dark--but there are so many hues and shades splattered across the canvas, you forget to be afraid and instead stand mesmerized by the aura.

Liner Notes...originating in Boston MA, Bent Knee is Courtney Swain on vocals and keyboards, Ben Levin on guitars and vocals, Chris Baum on violin and vocals, Jessica Kion on bass and vocals, Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth on drums, and Vince Welch handling production and sound design.  The band came together as an art/rock collective at Berklee.  Six humans may crowd a studio, but it is their unified approach to the progressive genre; heavily weighted with a desire to constantly evolve, grow, and morph into the unexpected that takes center stage.

Bent Knee prances gracefully through the prog garden while blazing a trail others have only fantasized about. Three albums currently fill their resume, but Bent Knee will certainly not stop there; much too much inspiration, grit, and random chaos running through their collective psyches to leave the next canvas blank.  However; I feel obligated to post a disclaimer at this juncture...Bent Knee is not for the "casual" prog fan--nor the hard core "purist."  Rather, Bent Knee is ideal for those who have a hankering for music that is diverse, raw, at times riveting, and always on the wrong (or is right?) side of conventional.  Courtney, Ben, Gavin, et al are the kids who cut physics class in high school for a week, show up on exam day--and ace the test.

My third slice of Bent Knee comes from their latest release "Shiny Eyed Babies," a distinctive cut called "Toothsmile."  Courtney's voice is gently soothing and surgically piercing all at once.  The music haunts--but in such a way as to coax you out of your paranoia; you just want to fall headlong into the void and lay there awhile among the sights and sounds...

My choice for your listening pleasure this week is an ear-opener called "In God We Trust."  I chose a live cut because I wanted you to see and hear the performance; let it wash over you like low tide waves after an unexpected squall.  As the song climaxes you begin to understand that Bent Knee really is like no other band to waltz through the prog garden in recent memory; makes you want to run a DNA test with Pete Sinfield and Adrian Belew...

Run--do not walk--to the Bent Knee website https://bentknee.bandcamp.com/music to make the wisest music purchase of your prog filled week.  Learn more about Bent Knee at
http://www.bentkneemusic.com/.  The band has a Facebook page for those so inclined,
https://www.facebook.com/BentKneeMusic/.  You can also follow their Twitter feed to hear, see, and learn more about what Bent Knee is up to at @bentkneemusic.  Indulge yourself; go ahead...you're auditory senses will thank you.  This is a prog band Brian Eno would have assembled if they didn't beat him to the punch...


Another seven days spent and another true prog gem discovered--all in all quite the triumphant week, fellow progheads!  Bent Knee takes the proverbial fork in the road--and uses it to poke you in the eye.  Their music fits no hardcore definition, nor is it a mishmash of sound assembled for the sake of making noise.  Bent Knee truly is an art collective; music that opens your eyes as well as your ears.
Bent Knee is "King Crimson meets Bang On a Can All Stars;"  a prog music nerve naked and exposed; the protective coating peeled back to enhance your listening pleasure.

One more reason to continue the search for all things prog; no matter who or what you discover, you just know there is more out there in the prog garden waiting for the sun to bring out the vivid color and succinct sound that separates prog from all other genres.  So I gladly continue the journey...until next week...

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