Gentle Knife - Clock Unwound
Gentle Knife are a Norwegian progressive rock ensemble comprising about eleven members. The band was quite fluid in its origins until 2014 when the name was decided. They released their first album in 2015. In November 2016, my friend Veronika joined the band as a vocalist with their second album Clock Unwound being released in June 2017. It is fifty-four minutes long but just six songs.
The album opener ‘Prelude: Incipit’ starts with a series of low octave piano chords before saxophones and other horn instruments are slowly added into the mix. It is a very tasteful and beautiful instrumental piece that sets up the mood of the album.
This links into the title track ‘The Clock Unwound’. It is sixteen minutes and pure prog in its arrangement. The guitars have a far bit of distortion, the drums are powerful throughout. I mentioned Veronika earlier because she explained to me that both the female vocals were written and arranged to be atonal (not written in any key) and are not out of tune at all. They may not be to everyone’s liking and it certainly took me a couple of plays to appreciate but I couldn’t imagine the song without them. There is a wonderful synth solo in the early minutes of the song, but I also love the choir synth sounds and chugging guitar line underneath the guitar solo and the guitar arpeggio under a flute solo. I would consider this song the best on the album.
‘Fade Away’ starts as a ballad with acoustic guitar and male and female vocals for the first two minutes. The guitars then get faster and heavier for the rest of the song. There is a short synth solo, a funk interlude and even a bit of calypso influence in there too. It then goes back to the ballad for the last ninety seconds. I can hear a lot of Jethro Tull influence in this song
‘Smother’ is a high tempo energetic nine-minute song. I love the Hammond organ part at two minutes thirty and the bossa nova influenced section. It is another song with a lot of Jethro Tull influence and along with the title track, one of the highlights of the album.
‘Plans Askew’ has a lot of lead guitar work that is influence by thrash metal band such as Metallica and Megadeth. The difference is that there is a lot more flute and and horns in this song. I was especially intrigued by the saxophone solo about half-way through and the short Mark Knopfler influenced guitar solo. Probably the song least influenced by prog bands but making it sound more prog.
‘Resignation’ is quite moody, dark and very like early King Crimson. I like the spoken word male voice and the pipe organ sounds throughout. Though things only start to pick up about half-way through when the tempo increases. Though it is a great song throughout the whole ten minutes, it is probably my least favourite on the album.
Gentle Knife have made something very special here. There may be many different instruments, but they work so well together, and you can tell that no member is trying to draw too much attention to themselves. There are lots of influences from Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Genesis, Pink Floyd and even Dire Straits and Metallica who are all bands I love (though I’m not so keen on early 1970s King Crimson). I think this will be an album that I will be playing quite often, and I look forward to hearing what they do on the third album.