After reading a load of good reviews on the first CD of Norwegian Gentle Knife, I have great expectations for the second one. No, I haven't listened to the first (self-titled) album yet. Time is not on my hands, and I have a shipload of music still waiting to enter my ear canal. Pre-reading reviews is not always a good thing. It can leave you with prejudice. At first I was worried about is the massive use of wind instruments. I'm not a fan of horns, trumpets, saxophones and such. Although there are some exceptions, for instance the Cardiacs manage to use them in an excellent way without annoying me. Off course it's strictly personal. Maybe that's one of the reasons I never got into bands like Gentle Giant and Van De Graaf Generator. The name of this band seems to have a link with one of those bands. I hope I can give a fresh insight in this record without having the knowledge of these bands among others.
After a nice instrumental Prelude: Incipit you get thrown into the epic title track of 15+ minutes. The Clock Unwound takes you on a musical journey through prog landscapes that are familiar yet quite unique. This song pulls you right into the seventies sounds and the use of the wide range of instruments is balanced well. The 15+ minutes are over quite fast, it keeps you on the edge of your chair. Fade Away sets in melancholic and leads you in to a bombastic mid-section with nice flute intermezzos which reminds me of the legendary Edge (of Faith). Both of the singers of this eleven (!) piece band match well. Smother is more up tempo and lets you bounce between various types of music styles. I even recognised a bossa nova tempo in it. Funny... Plans Askew is another prog track that shows you the collaboration of the musicians is again well matched. Another nice long track Resignation ends this refreshing but familiar sounding prog journey. The gloomy bass intro leads you to more flutes and saxes, the depressing voice of the speaker lets you know the lyrics are even more depressing. Resigning the life you live is not the most joyous topic you can think of. And so this track gives you a good musical insight of the depression the vocalist serves you and the music completes it. Brilliant!
A great band, which pushed all of my prejudice aside. Not all parts are my cup of tea, but they managed to keep me interested throughout. The excellent balance between the massive use of different instruments amazed me. Not many bands of 10 and more members do it as good as this one. Nice long tracks let these 55+ minutes pass by in a short time.
**** Erik van Os (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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