When the words progressive and rock are placed together they are often viewed through a pejorative prism. Uncomfortable memories flood back of early 70’s musical bombast, highfalutin concept albums and ankle-length gold capes, but Knifeworld give lie to that often much maligned perspective of progressive rock. The English-based eight piece band may well possess tremendous instrumental dexterity and the ability to cleverly negotiate their way round the most complex of time signatures, yet by infusing some of prog rock’s more central characteristics with strong elements of jazz, metal guitar and psychedelic pop they make their music something altogether more appealing.
Knifeworld are in town tonight as part of a ten date UK tour to promote the release of their new album Home of the Newly Departed. But as band leader Kavus Torabi helpfully points out, the record is anything but new given that it splices together two former Knifeworld EPs – Dear Lord, No Deal (2011) and Clairvoyant Fortnight (2012) – both of which are now long out of print.
But it is to the present that Knifeworld first go as they blast off with two new songs. All chugging guitar and delirious horns, ‘High/Aflame’ is a glorious burst of lysergic energy whilst ‘I Am Lost’ drifts comfortably into the outer limits of retro jazz, before Torabi – a man who has seen active service with the British left-field art-rockers Cardiacs, avant-experimentalists Guapo and those original space-rock cosmonauts Gong – sets sail into Knifeworld’s curious past.
From the ascension of prog rock to the thunderous grooves of proto-metal, a tumult of musical inspiration tumbles forth. And while there are times when the speed at which Torabi and Knifeworld’s collective imagination travels just a little too fast to fully execute their myriad of ideas, these are far outweighed by the many rapturous moments that lie in between.
‘Destroy The World We Love’ from last year’s album The Unravelling sways wonderfully between the hymnally bucolic and a fractured groove that nods vaguely in the direction of Larks Tongues In Aspic-period King Crimson. And then there is the evening’s stand-out song, ‘Me to the Future of You’, a sumptuous swell of cosmic charm enhanced by the beautiful harmonies of Melanie Woods and Chloe Herington.
And then in a wonderful reprise – prompted by the fact that they had already played their encore – Knifeworld return to the stage to once more treat us to ‘High/Aflame’, only this time with even more zeal and added oomph. As Kavus Torabi so rightly tells us “stick this in your head”.
Photo credit: Simon Godley
More photos from this show can be found here
The tour continues:
30/05/15 – Brighton, Prince Albert
31/05/15 – Bristol, The Exchange
Ahead of three festival dates:
24/7/15 – Devon, Kozfest
25/7/15 – Sheffield, Tramlines Festival
26/7/15 – Maidstone, Ramblin Man Fair