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The Book Of Knots – Garden Of Fainting Stars

Ipecac

This is an odd record. The Book Of Knots is an invitation-only collective based in New York around a core quartet and supplemented by peripheral musicians in various capacities. On this, their third LP, they explore everything from enormous metallic pounding to expansive forays into the gentle and sublime. They also manage to dig up a few top-notch guests along the way.

Opener “Microgravity” brings a female-fronted version of Page Hamilton’s short-lived Gandhi project to mind with its dense, textural guitars and inorganic bass. Blixa Bargeld pops up on “Drosophilia Melanogaster” with another one of his occasional reports documenting the amount of time he spends waiting around in airports, “I cover the glass with my passport, which at that time is green with a golden eagle on it,” before exercising his signature screeching vocals to incredible effect. “Lissajous Orbit” seems to recruit Soundwave from The Transformers to provide a list of negative statements over detuned pianos, which is actually somewhat more unsettling than it should be.

Mid-way the album sags into slightly weaker ambient areas for a few tracks before Mike Patton adds his best vocalizing to one of the album’s strongest moments, “Planemo.” Patton is one of those people who is so prolific and respected that he can get away with singing in this histrionic style; and it still sounds cool. His wail of “we’re finally losing gravity” over mournful strings creates a truly space-age gothic experience. Closer “Obituary For The Future” starts with a solitary radio broadcast by a lonely mountain-dwelling psychopath before dealing out the album’s heaviest riffage yet – like a modernised Cop-era Swans, iced with almost Björk-esque vocals that stay just the right side of overwrought. The final minutes are entrusted back to the Tourettes-afflicted mountain dweller.

Which is just as it should be.

-James Barry-

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