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Sunday, 1 May 2016

Reviews: Knifeworld, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Red Handed Denial

Knifeworld: Bottled Out Of Eden (InsideOut)

Kavus Torabi is somewhat of a prog polymath having had stints in Gong, Guapo, The Mediaeval Baebes and The Cardiacs, he is also the driving force and founding member of psychedelic prog-rockers Knifeworld. Bottled Out Of Eden is the band's third album and it once again comes from left-field with a fusion of styles and melting pot of instruments coming together in another mind expanding, colourful, trip though Torabi's psychedelic journey. Bottled Out Of Eden starts off with High/Aflame which has murmuring synths from Emmett Elvin laying down the bass for Torabi's reverbed, enunciated English vocal.

When the rest of the band kicks in it's the mixture of instruments that immediately grabs you yes there is bass and drums from Charlie Cawood and Ben Woollacott, as well as guitar from Torabi but the band are known for their use of wind instruments with Chole Herrington's bassoon a lead instrument on the opening track and throughout while she also contributes alto sax with Josh Pearl as Oliver Sellwood gives the baritone sax. With the use of wind instruments it gives Knifeworld a very unique sound indeed pitching it somewhere between Syd Barett's Pink Floyd, Anathema and modern proggers like Von Hertzen Bros, the songs are shorter than many prog bands meaning that there is no suffering with the elongated instrumental sections but the album still packs in lots of virtuoso performances.

The pacey piano and sax driven The Germ Inside is the song that sound most like the Von Hertzen Bros with it's hard rock drive and hand claps which leads into leads into I Am Lost which moves between Latin jazz, more classical influences and haunting ambiance, it also shows off the dual vocal harmonising of Torabi and Melanie Woods which is employed to great effect throughout, this jazzier number is followed by the percussive chant of The Deathless before Foul Temple slows everything as an acoustically led number that works as break from the dense musical palette created on the rest of the record. Everyone involved in this record comes from various backgrounds and styles and it shows especially on the beautiful Lowered Into Necromancy which just bubbles away like a brook before A Dream About A Dream is a track that brings everything neatly together switching time signatures and styles throughout.

Knifeworld are ethereal, pastoral and technicolor in their approach to music with almost boundless creativity, Secret Worlds adds an element of Simon & Garfunkel to the album before Feel The Sorcery ends the album with an upbeat style that mirrors the album's opening and ends the record in very impressive style injecting just that last shot of innovation at the end. Bottled Out Of Eden is yet another superb album from Knifeworld and one that reinforces their stake as one of prog's most intriguing bands. 9/10 

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Nonagon Infinity (ATO Records)

Are King Gizzard the most prolific band of recent years? Well it seems like it as since 2012 the band have released two albums every year with Nonagon Infinity being their eighth release in total, the seven piece band have a huge amount of influences on show and these are distilled into every single psychedelic drop of this record. Frontman Stu MacKenzie describes it as "never-ending album" suggesting that the nine songs on the record are "connected by musical motifs which flow 'seamlessly' into each other" MacKenzie says that final track Road Train links "straight back into the top of the opener like a sonic mobius strip".

It's hard to argue with him as that is exactly what happens with this record that can be seen as one long track with every single part linking into the next one like on long journey into the madness of the Lizard Wizard. What I've always liked about the band is their frantic almost impatient way of playing meaning that their records are very true to their explosive live show. Robot Stop starts the record with their trademark rapid delivery driven by bass, drums and grungy fuzzy guitars, the pace quickens again on the melodic surf style Big Fat Wasp. With four guitars working with flute, synth, harmonica and theremin to give the band it's spacey, Hawkwind style sound.

First single Gamma Knife maintains the immediacy of the record as does People-Vultures which has some Indian flavours to it while Mr Beat finally slows down with some 60's psychedelia, which actually goes through this entire album including on the production. Nonagon Infinity is yet another quality addition to this band's repertoire that works completely as an album but when the songs are hand picked for the live shows they will be able to stand on their own. 7/10    

Red Handed Denial: Wanderer (Self Released)

Toronto band Red Handed Denial are something a little different as well as a little interesting, Manipulator starts the record with a djent style palm-muted riff and some heavy groove but it's Lauren Babic's soaring, angsty vocals that bring to mind Hayley Williams of Paramore fame that on this record work as the perfect counterpoint to the heavyweight rhythm section behind it. With odd time signatures on Widowmaker the band flex their prog credentials working along the same lines as Tesseract or indeed old-school math rockers InMe with the frantic flowing lead guitars weaving in and out of the bruising backline, especially on Collector which merges emo-punk with technical proficiency and shows that Babic's vocals can rip your throat out as she displays a fantastic metalcore roar.

On Widowmaker the song changes pace and timing on several occasions before a piano plays out the track, the title track ends the record in a progressive jazz-odyssey with clean guitars and acoustics doing their bit to help the record drift away on the final moments of this EP, changing the pace entirely from the jarring heaviness at work on the first track. Wanderer is a great EP from the Canadian five piece who meld numerous styles together to get a distinctly modern and unique sound, check this band out if you like things a little different and if you want to while away a boring day in work their youtube videos are great especially their cover of Dirty Diana. 8/10     

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