Portland's 31Knots was hailed by Magnet magazine as "the flagship band when the term 'prog pop' enters our lexicon" after the 2002 release of the group's full-length debut, A Word Is Also A Picture of A Word. In other words, more power to you if you can rip freely from the songbooks of Yes, Rush, King Crimson and The Cure (!); knot and knead those influences into cold, detached, cryptic and discomforting songs; slather on lousy production; and when all is said and done, simply bask in the indie-cred praise of an alternative music press with a skewed perception of the term "progressive."
It Was High Time To Escape, this trio's second album, seems to adhere to that philosophy. Granted, tracks like "The Gospel According to Efficiency" and "That Which Has No Name" find the band rearing its heavier chops, with singer and guitarist Joe Haege actually adding some bite to his nervous vocals. And 31Knots pours it on thick for the emo crowd on "Without Wine" and "Matters From Ashes." But for the most part, It Was High Time To Escape is an acquired taste, full of frenetic (I daresay schizophrenic) riffs and an anxious rhythm section laid down by guys who are technically proficient but think too highly of themselves.
Indeed, the press materials for It Was High Time To Escape states that "being esoteric about art is pure snobbery to 31Knots." Yet that attitude is precisely what makes this trio come off as pretentious, ultimately spoiling what essentially is provocative music created by thee discerning and talented players. Truth in advertising, please.