Tag Archives: Knifeworld

I Must Set Fire To Your Portrait

A song from “Bottled Out Of Eden”, filmed at Bush Hall earlier this year.

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Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden

Knifeworld - Bottled Out Of EdenThere is no other band quite like Knifeworld. Led by Cardiacs and Gong alumnus Kavus Torabi, the eight-piece band with their unique brand of horn-driven psychedelia with added bassoon has made a big impact on the festival circuit over the last couple of years.

“Bottled Out of Eden” is their third full-length album, following 2014′s excellent “The Unravelling”. As we have come to expect by now, it’s full of typical Knifeworld song titles like “I Must Set Fire To Your Portrait” and “Lowered Into Necromancy”, and combines dark and enigmatic lyrics with swirling kaleidoscopic instrumentation.

The album beings with chants and drones heralding “High/Aflame”, a rocker that might be familiar to those who have seen the band live in the past year. From then on it’s a blend of psychedelic rock workouts and slower and often sinister atmospheric numbers. Highlights include the dark and brooding “Foul Temple” with it’s haunting near-orchestral instrumental section, and “I Must Set Fire To Your Portrait” with its great interplay between Kavus Torabi’s growling guitar riff and the horn parts swirling around it. “A Dream About A Dream” is as dreamy as the title suggests, again with some evocative work by the horn section. Even the half-minute bridge between two songs, “Vision of the Bent Path” makes an impression, an instrumental featuring just the horn section playing in multi-part harmony.

Earlier albums emphasised Kavus Torabi’s psychedelic guitar and layered male/female vocal harmonies. While those elements are still present, this time they bring the horn section centre-stage and make them the focus of the record. The resulting arrangements recall Frank Zappa’s early 70s big band albums “The Grand Wazoo” and “Waka Jawaka”, with horn-driven instrumental passages taking the place of traditional solos. While it’s a logical progression from what has come before, by strengthening the most distinctive elements of their sound, Knifeworld take things to the next level with this record. And there is nobody else remotely like them.

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High/Aflame

Psychedelic rockers Knifeworld release a promo video for the track from their forthcoming album “Bottled Out Of Eden”.

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Knifeworld news

Kavus Torabi’s psychedelic rockers have produced a teaser video for their forthcoming third album “Bottled out of Eden”. They’ve also announced an album launch gig at Bush Hall on Thursday 12th May

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Knifeworld, Boston Music Rooms

Knifeworld

Though they headlined the Prog Magazine sponsored “Stabbing A Dead Horse” tour in 2012 and have appeared on the bill of several progressive rock festivals including Summers End and most recently HRH Prog, Knifeworld are not exactly an old-school prog band. They have feet in other camps. Certainly the healthy-sized crowd in the small north London venue was rather younger and more fashionable than a typical middle-aged prog audience, though were still quite a few of the London prog regulars present.

The first of two supports were Barrington, a power trio based around angular riffs with strong echoes of 80s King Crimson, and some very muscular drumming. So much so that stage by the kit was covered in feathers; unless there had been a fight between a pigeon and a cat which had ended badly for the pigeon, he’d burst the pillow inside the bass drum. The band did have one or two interesting ideas but ultimately came over very one-dimensional, and had little in the way of stage presence.

The second support, Cesaraians were an awful lot more entertaining, a bonkers six-piece with a keyboard-heavy sound, trumpet and violin replacing guitar, and a compelling frontman who understood stagecraft in a way most bands don’t. Their music defies easy genre classification; there were elements of 80s new-wave plus an occasional blues flourish, and an awful lot of rock’n'roll attitude. Not many support bands are this good, and it was good to see Kavus Torabi himself in the front row for a good part of the set.

Knifeworld at Boston Music Roomx

Knifeworld were a sax player short (I was told this was purely a temporary absence), but the temporary reduction to a seven piece did little to diminish their sound. Armed with his distinctive gold and white Gresch guitar, Kavus Torabi led his band through a spellbinding set of psychedelic grooves, Zappa-style horn arrangements, intertwining guitar and bassoon lines, and layered vocal harmonies. One of Kavus’ solos emphasised the Zappa vibe, very evocative of the great man himself.

The setlist drew heavily from their latest and best album, 2014′s “The Unravelling” along with highlights from their earlier discs and some new as yet unrecorded material. Even when a man short the intricacies of the records come over strongly live. The whole set flowed as a seamless whole, making it hard to single out highlights, though the encore of “Me To The Future of You” was particularly mesmerising with Melanie Wood and Chloe Herrington’s harmonies at the end.

It was all very heady stuff; regardless of how you try to classify them genre-wise there is nobody else quite like Knifeworld. They proved yet again that they really are quite a remarkable live band.

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HRH Prog 3

Jessie May Smart of Steeleye Span at HRH Prog 3HRH Prog is now in its third year, and it’s second at Hafan-Y-Mor, the former Butlins holiday camp just outside Pwllheli in north Wales.

Pwllheli is a long way from anywhere, at the far end of a winding single-track railway line, and the train stops many, many times at little request stops where the train might only stop if you know how to pronounce the station. So by the time I finally got there after a whole day’s travelling I missed the opening band. But I did catch most of The Dream Circuit’s set, with a space-jam sound that owed a lot of Ozric Tentacles.

Knifeworld were the most eagerly anticipated band of the Thursday night. They opened with a brand new song which Kavus Torabi dedicated to his great friend, the late Daevid Allen of Gong. With his white and gold Gresch guitar, Torabi looks most un-prog, but with it’s Zappa-style horn orchestrations, psychedelic soundscapes and layered vocal harmonies the music is as progressive as it gets. There were one or two who didn’t ‘get’ what they do, implying they’re not “proper prog”, but it’s their loss. Knifeworld are the real thing.

Thursday headliners The Skys, hailing from Lithuania had a far more traditional prog sound, but were very good at what they did. They displayed some strong Floydian atmospherics at times, with a harder-rocking edge at others. They had a great keyboard sound with big washes of Hammond, and one guitar solo in particular was brain-melting.
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2014 Albums of the Year – Part Three

Part three of the end-of-year album countdown, and we’re into the top ten. These are from 10 to 6, again sorted alphabetically because I can’t sort these into any sort of order. They’re all equally good.

Cloud AtlasBeyond the Vale

Cloud Atlas - Beyond The Vale newYet another York-based band (Is there something in the water?), Cloud Atlas is the band put together by Heidi Widdop following the dissolution of Stolen Earth. Their impressive début album is big widescreen rock with an epic scope, with Heidi’s distinctive bluesy vocals setting them apart from many of their obvious peers. But this album’s sound is as much about Martin Ledger’s soaring melodic lead guitar, with strong echoes of Marillion’s Steve Rothery.

Gazpacho Demon

Gazpacho - DemonNorway’s Gazpacho have come up with one of the darkest and most sinister-sounding records of 2014. It’s what Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden might have sounded like if Mark Hollis had spent a lot of time listening to Black Sabbath. Sinister violin-led pastoral soundscapes with are intercut with bursts of hard rock, motifs recur across the album, and there’s even an irruption of accordion-led central European folk at one point. An ambitious album which is by no means an easy listen, but one where you can keep finding new layers after many listens.

Knifeworld The Unravelling

The UnravellingA major step forward for Kavus Torabi’s eight-piece band, and reflects their current live sound far more than any of their previous recordings. It’s a record that takes psychedelia, jazz, hard rock and all kinds of other things, and puts them in a blender to produce something that sounds quite unlike anyone else. Fans of the late, great Frank Zappa should find a lot to like about this record, as should anyone who thinks there should be more bassoons in rock.

Luna RossaSecrets and Lies

Luna Rossa Secrets & LiesLuna Rossa started out as a side-project from Panic Room emphasising the acoustic side of Anne-Marie Helder’s and Jon Edwards’ music, but seems to have taken on a life of it’s own. Their second album is a logical progression from the first; perhaps not quite as eclectic, but with a slightly clearer musical identity. Luna Rossa still defy easy genre pigeonholing, though the album does show occasional hints of artists as varied as Goldfrapp and Renaissance. There’s some very raw heart-on-sleeve emotion, with the music revolving around and complementing Anne-Marie’s always remarkable vocals.

Steve RotheryThe Ghosts of Pripyat

Steve Rothery - The Ghosts of PripyatThis Kickstarter-funded project is Steve Rothery’s first proper solo album in more than three decades as lead guitarist of Marillion. It’s an instrumental album with a band including Panic Room’s Yatim Halimi and Mr So and So’s Dave Foster, Rothery’s lyrical and emotional playing both soars and rocks, the numbers building in intensity from slow-burning beginnings. The whole thing shows just why Rothery is one of the best guitarists of his generation, one of the few players good enough to pull this sort of thing off without descending into self-indulgence.

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Knifeworld – The Unravelling

The UnravellingKnifeworld are the brainchild of Kavus Torabi, who also plays guitar with Guapo and punk-prog legends The Cardiacs. The band have made something of a name for themselves on the live circuit. An eight-piece band with a brass section and a bassoon, they play what is best described as completely bonkers psychedelic rock. They have wowed festival audiences and headlined the successful “Stabbing a Dead Horse” tour with Trojan Horse and The Fierce And The Dead.

Their second full-length album is their first record to feature the current eight-piece version of the band, and it successfully captures their big live sound of eight instruments and five voices. It’s a record that takes psychedelia, jazz, hard rock and all kinds of other things, and puts them in a blender to produce something that sounds quite unlike anything other band in the current scene. Jagged angular guitar and woodwind riffs alternate with rich vocal harmonies and sometimes sinister atmospherics. There are hints of the late Frank Zappa’s off-the wall approach to melody and arrangements, and occasional flashes of various 70s King Crimsons. Torabi’s occasionally goofy lead vocal contrasts with the layered harmonies of Melanie Woods, Chloe Herrington and Nicki Maher.

It’s an ambitious and very varied record. “The Skulls We Buried Have Regrown Their Eyes”, which has to be the song title of the year features electronic soundscapes interrupted with a brief but frenetic squalling burst of free jazz. Then there’s the stripped-back spookiness of “This Empty Room Once Was Alive” with its atonal guitars and piano. The minute-and-a-half long “The Orphanage” has a punk feel. There are strongly Zappaesque jazz-rock instrumental passages in “Send Him Seaworthy” and “Destroy the World We Love”. But if anything characterises the power of Knifeworld in full flow it’s the big wall-of-sound workouts “Don’t Land On Me” and the closing epic “I’m Hiding Behind My Eyes”.

“The Unravelling” is a major step forward for Knifeworld, and reflects their current live sound far more than any of their previous recordings. Fans of Zappa should find a lot to like about this record, as should anyone who thinks there should be more bassoons in rock. But this is a record for anyone looking for something determined to strive beyond existing stagnant music forms. Which Knifeworld certainly do.

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Knifeworld – Don’t Land on Me

A taster from Knifeword’s forthcoming album “The Unravelling”, due in the Summer. You want bonkers psychedelic rock from an eight-piece band with a brass section and a bassoon? Of course you do!

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Stabbing a Dead Horse

A tour featuring three bands from the more avant-garde end of the progressive rock spectrum, Knifeworld, The Fierce and The Dead, and Trojan Horse. There are allegedly bassoons involved, although as for which of the three bands might feature such instruments, that would be telling.

This progtastically bonkers extravaganza can be seen at the following venues:

  • 27th October – The Stag & Hounds, Bristol.
  • 28th October – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
  • 29th October – The Ruby Lounge, Manchester.
  • 30th October – The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds.
  • 31st October – The 13th Note, Glasgow
  • 1st November – B2, Norwich
  • 2nd November – The Lexington, London

Full details including ticket info can be found at http://www.stabbingadeadhorse.com/

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