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The Book Of Knots: Garden Of Fainting Stars

This band's name is borrowed from a 1944 book of sailing knots. Very appropriate considering the disparate musical elements they manage to tie together into a cohesive unit. The core group of Joel Hamilton, Carla Kihlstedt, Matthias Bossi, and Tony Maimone bring with them a musical pedigree that includes work with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Elvis Costello, Shiner, and They Might Be Giants. The music is slower-paced, dark, and slightly disturbing (I guess that depends on how disturbed you are to start with). Like a soundtrack to a Neil Gaiman-esque version of a creepy circus, The Book Of Knots blends the usual rock instruments of guitar, bass, drums and male and female vocals with piano, strings, sound effects, ambient washes, odd narrations, and electronic elements. The band's website is not updated yet with further info on this third release, but there is also a running lyrical theme of space travel, hinting at chimpanzee astronauts, moondust, planetary mass objects, and Chuck Yeager. You're not going to find displays of virtuosity here. Rather, its like a soundscape for your imagination. Despite it's general oddness, I also don't find myself drifting off into distraction while listening. The music remains engaging throughout. The Book Of Knots is really telling a story, not being weird just to be weird. I'm a stickler for production values as well, and this album is clear and full, something that can be difficult to achieve with all the sound elemts they put together here. I would like more of Carla's vocals though. Her voice reminds me a little of Bjork and Anneke van Giersbergen, and it's a great lilting, dreamy contrast to the jarring music. Recommended for fans of the previously mentioned SGM and Tom Waits, and bands like Stolen Babies. Definitely an album for headphones as well.

Track Listing

  1. Microgravity
  2. Drosophila Melanogaster
  3. Moondust Must
  4. Lissajous Orbit
  5. Garden Of Fainting Stars
  6. All This Nothing
  7. Yeager's Approach
  8. Planemo
  9. Nebula Rasa
  10. Obituary For The Future

Added: July 11th 2011
Reviewer: Sean Gill
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3503
Language: english

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The Book Of Knots: Garden Of Fainting Stars
Posted by Mark Johnson, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-07-11 18:21:00
My Score:

The Book of Knots is an experimental rock band from Brooklyn , New York. The band is made up of Tony Maimone, Joel Hamilton, Carla Kihlstedt, and Matthias Bossi.

If you like experimental rock, you'll probably enjoy this. Full of interesting sounds and original experiments and variations on the theme.

'Microgravity' opens with heavy lead guitar, bass, deep keys, and drums. Kihlstedt's vocals are full of power and at the same time full of attraction. "Will they survive this microgravity?" Kind of a heavy alternative rock mixed with 90s/Pumpkins rock. Then some spoken word from megaphone or a radio announcer added in for good effect. One of the best tracks on the album, so enjoy it.

'Drosophila Melanogaster' brings on full electronic experimentation with dark sounding keys surrounding male spoken word, complete with an accent, telling the story of an uncomfortable plain flight, while weird chords and strings hum and strum all around. Fruit flies are the distraction.

"Come on in the water's fine. The oceans of the moon are made of wine", from male vocals to open 'Moondust Must'. Then the full chorus of voices singing, "Moondust tastes like gunpowder", set to throbbing drums, bass, noises and occasionally placed electric guitar chords.

'Lissajous Orbit' is set to gentle bass guitar chords mixed with piercing lead electric darting throughout the soundscape as keys and synths surround the soundscape. Echoed vocals drift around as the strings play on. Definitely sounds like drifting in orbit on a Lissajous pattern.

'Garden of Fainting Stars' opens with off key lead guitar, bass and drums set to zombie like vocals. Male vocals sing "Are you scared of monsters", just to make the illusion more real. Then more strings are added to make the slow, dark, dirge like dance, even more macabre.

Bells and far off keys and drifting female vocals from a dream open 'All this Nothing'. The cembalom adds just the right kind of ambience to the sound to keep this interesting.

Loads of synths, guitar and cool effects open 'Yeager's Approach'. The narrator sounds like an echoing Bill Crosby impersonator set to a slow plodding guitar, synth and key trudge. There are some cool synth effects near the end.

Slow quiet keys and synths flow through 'Planemo', with quiet male vocals barely audible. Then the song takes a dramatic turn with powerful dark keys, guitars and heavier drums. The male vocals become louder.

Piano, keyboards and strings open 'Nebula Rasa', before more noises and megaphoned speech. Then quiet male spoken word, with more piano, guitar and other assorted noises.

'Obituary for the Future' is full of noise effects. People talking and whispering, keys, strings, heavy drums, and then Kihlstedt's vocals roar through with heavy mashing guitars and drums. They bring on the macabre in full force to close the album. More spoken word as the album closes with expletives and audio electronic break - up.

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