Gentle Knife is a Norwegian progressive rock ensemble featuring eleven members. With male and female vocalists and multiple guitarists. And besides the standard progressive rock instrumentation with several keyboards, guitars, synths and of course the Mellotron (samples) the band uses also instruments like the flute, saxophones and trumpet. Their sound is based on the Prog Rock from the seventies. The band released in the year 2015 their self titled album “Gentle Knife”. I like the name of the band because it is a reference to the Prog bands of the Seventies. In this case Gentle Giant and Genesis (The Knife). Musically speaking the debut album had references to Genesis and Van Der Graaf Generator. On the new album “Clock Unwound” the band has developed their own sound to the next level. They call it themselves; controlled chaos.
Astraea Antal - flutes, bagpipe chanter, alto saxophone; Pål Bjørseth - keyboards, flugelhorn, trumpet, viola, alto recorder, backing vocals; Odd Grønvold - bass; Thomas Holland Eriksen - tenor saxophone; Veronika Hørven Jensen - vocals; Håkon Kavli - vocals, guitars; Eivind Lorentzen - guitars, synths; Charlotte Valstad Nielsen - alto saxophone, baritone saxophone; Ove Christian Owe - guitars; Ole Martin Svendsen - drums, percussion; Brain M. Talgo - Mellotron samples, vocals
On Clock Unwound you can find the following six compositions; “Prelude: Incipit”, “The Clock Unwound”, “Fade Away”, “Smother”, “Plans Askew” and “Resignation”.
The album opens with the short “Incipit Prelude”. It is a dark and Cinematic piece of music with delicate piano and trumpet playing. This kind of beautiful trumpet melodies you would expect earlier on a jazz release of the German ECM label. After this tasteful opening the band continues with the long (15:58) title track “The Clock Unwound”. This wonderful piece has it all. Lovely synth and guitar melodies, intriguing vocal parts and catchy vocal refrains are found besides the more complex and freaky saxophone parts that will remind you of Van Der Graaf Generator. There are also beautiful and melodic flute passages. This track with great diversity and some jazzy atmospheres is one of the highlights of this fine album.
After a complex climax the following song “Fade Away” opens with a delicate guitar, Mellotron and melodic flute passages. The combination of male and female vocal voices is very tasteful. After a melodic vocal part the music becomes more up tempo and complex with saxophones and a synth solo. But those hectic parts are interchanged with beautiful melodic flute passages. In the end the slow vocal parts are returning once more.
The song “Smother” surprisingly includes some bossa nova elements. But this is placed next to avant-garde like woodwind passages. The instrumentation is diverse and unique in a Prog setting. Where do you find synth solo's next to saxophones, trumpet and flute parts. The following track “Plans Askew” opens with delicate guitars and a male vocal part. Later on the flute and the saxophones are returning.
The flute has an important role in the music. And with three guitar players in the band the music has also a great diversity in that section. The album closes with the song “Resignation”. It has a beautiful dark opening with Mellotron samples and lovely flute melodies. The flute parts on this album reminds me of Scandinavian Prog bands like White Willow and Änglagård. After a mysterious and dark vocal part the music becomes more complex. Together with the strong opening of the album with tracks like “The Clock Unwound” and “Fade Away”, “Resignation” belongs to the highlights of this fine album.
With “Clock Unwound“ the Norwegian progressive rock ensemble Gentle Knife has produced a strong successor of their self titled debut album. The band creates an unique sound in the progressive scene by the use of instruments like flute, trumpet, flugelhorn and several saxophones. Besides the more complex and progressive parts you can find lovely vocal melodies, flute passages and synth solo's on this album. The music includes some elements of jazz and avant-garde music. But in overall it is a delicious melting pot of Nordic progressive rock which has it's roots in the Progressive Rock music of the Seventies.