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Crossover Prog • Norway

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Gentle Knife biography
Gentle Knife is a Norwegian progressive rock band counting 10 members. With both male and female vocals, guitars, synths, mellotron, woodwinds and everything else you would or would not expect, the band combines the mood of the ?70s with a modern take on the genre. Gentle Knife's self-titled conceptual debut album takes you from the clamor of the big city, into an alluring forest. The journey is supposed to renew your energy, but somewhere deep in the forest, you are drawn away from the path, and into the unknown...

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JFK 2015
Audio CD$13.63
$11.99 (used)
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Bajkal 2015
Audio CD$70.06

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GENTLE KNIFE discography

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3.70 | 30 ratings
Gentle Knife

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gentle Knife by GENTLE KNIFE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.70 | 30 ratings

Gentle Knife
Gentle Knife Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Hmm, what do I know about contemporary Norwegian prog? I know at least Wobbler, White Willow and Airbag. GENTLE KNIFE goes right there to the top of my list. This new 10-piece group from Oslo has made an "8-part suite rooted in the classic 70's concept album". If Wobbler can be described as Yes-derivative and Airbag as Pink Floyd -derivative, GK has in my opinion absorbed a wide pallette of influences and executed a pretty original outcome.

This music also makes me think of the thin line between various subgenres, e.g. "Symphonic" and "Crossover" Prog; at least I would like to emphasize the symphonic tendencies heard here. I don't have anything against placing them under Crossover Prog, but unlike many artists in that subgenre, GK definitely is pure and full-blown progressive rock in the traditional sense, even having the epic approach and themes that are slightly escapistic and mythical; the album "recounts the tale of an adventurer's unfortunate demise in an alluring forest".

Perhaps the most notable feature is the use of both female and male lead vocals. I like them both, but Melina Oz's voice is rather thin in its [Sarah Brightman reminding] high clarity. All in all the sound & arrangements are not as rich and varied as one could imagine with ten members. GENTLE... Giant? No, not that much of eclectism in the use of instruments. The group features a flautist and a saxophonist, and the keyboard player plays some trumpet too. Saxophone sometimes - not often - approaches VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR territory, but flute is sadly quite a little heard. The synths and electric guitar seem to dominate more than the acoustic elements, and the male vocalist Håkon Kavli obviously isn't a master of acoustic guitar.

I tend to agree with BrufordFreak, that this undoubtedly potential band is at this point still a bit immature, and the technical skill doesn't reach the same high level as the ambition. Especially if you pay close attention to the rhythm section, you'll find the music to be quite unimpressive from the technical point of view.

The 80's King Crimson reminding 'Coda' following the 'Epilogue' feels more like a separate bonus than an essential part of the whole. The melancholic beginning of the title track with Melina's nice solo voice is better than the latter half featuring male backing vocals. These reserved notions aside, this is a pleasant album to sink into, dreaming oneself away of the everyday routines. Highlights are the slow-paced 10-minute opener 'Eventide', the emotionally powerful 'Tear Away the Cords That Bind', instrumental 'Beneath the Waning Moon' with its flute/saxophone/trumpet contributions and the 8-minute instrumental 'Epilogue'.

3½ stars, rounded up for the beautiful layout, and to wish the band the best of luck for the future!

 Gentle Knife by GENTLE KNIFE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.70 | 30 ratings

Gentle Knife
Gentle Knife Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

3 stars Gentle Knife is a new band from Norway delighting in promoting the fact that they have ten members, all interested in contributing to a progressive rock format. The album is intended as a concept album expressing the overwhelming confusion as an urbanite wanders and gets lost in a vast forest. Musically, the band seem to draw major influences from the classic prog artists of the 1970s, specifically, KING CRIMSON, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR and GENESIS. The opening song, 'Our Quiet Footsteps' (12:35) (8/10) definitely is a 'suite' of four distinctive parts: the four- minute instrumental intro, the verbal story telling, the instrumental development of said story, and then an odd fourth part that seems to go off on its own before tying back into the original sections. Like most of the album, this song gives me impressions of an ambitious band that is still as yet unpolished in its collaboration, performance, and engineering. The use of two lead vocalists, a male and female, with sometimes alternating storytelling, sometimes one harmonizing with the other slightly in the background is nice but, like on song #2, 'Remnants of Pride' (7:58) (8/10), the timing of the two vocalists is just enough off kilter to be distractive. I like it much better when each voice is given center stage, alone--though the alternating style works well, too. Often the songs are saved, for me, by the interesting inputs of the brass/woodwind instruments. Two electric guitarists seems a delightful prospect yet one of the guitarists style is so raw with his fast picking over sustained notes that it feels as though he needs a few more months of practice to really master this technique. The other style of soloing used predominantly through the course of the album is much more pleasing and integrated--kind of a Robert FRIPP style and sound. Keyboards and rhythm section are good though song rhythmic foundations are often very basic, repetitive, and toilsome. This works well for the soloists to noodle over and the vocalists to sing over, but the 'lead' instruments are rarely as fiery or flamboyant enough to take the music to a different level.

Favorite songs: the strongest, most complete, energetic, emotional and mature sounding song on the album, 'Tear Away the Cords that Bind' (4:53) (9/10); the synth/electronica founded instrumental, 7. 'Epilogue Locus Amoenus' (8:03) (8/10), and; the woodwind-dominated instrumental, 'Beneath the Waning Moon' (4:35) (8/10).

Should this new band rise up to the potential exhibited on 'Tear Away the Cords that Bind' they will become a great band that many prog rock lovers will scramble to see and hear. For now they are mostly interesting for their ambition, rawness, and potential.

 Gentle Knife by GENTLE KNIFE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.70 | 30 ratings

Gentle Knife
Gentle Knife Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars The Norwegian prog scene has always been an active supporter of the genre and the latest incarnation is a 10 member collective that truly espouses the traditional progressive values (what we call old school) and enhances the inherent creativity of modern processes to present a tactful, insightful and thrilling new chapter. Two vocalists (one of each gender), two guitarists and two woodwind/brass players combine with a rhythm section, a keyboardist and a sound sampler lyricist. The symphonic tendencies are balanced by some delightful Kate Bush-like vocalizations from Melina Oz, as well as tremendous sax, oboe and flute work that hint at Mel Collins-era King Crimson, Roxy Music or even Nucleus. With two guitarists, there is no lack of sparkle amid the glow and the traditional Nordic prog influences are given a powerful urban veneer. The music is both complex and accessible, in so far that a well-honed mood is perennially at the forefront of their artistic creativity.

Starting off the blocks with two 10 minute epics is quite an indication of how confident these players are with the progressive labelling, uninterested in being pop (poop) icons. The delicate "Eventide" is fueled by an incredible sense of space and time, twinkling piano exhorting the bass/drum combo to propel properly, as Hakon Kavli intones a fine heartfelt lament in partnership with Melina's shimmering and celestial voice, caressed along by some Ian Carr-like trumpet, all wrapped in a synthesized stew of smoke and mirrors that enchant, invigorate and swoon like some lost fjord lullaby. The buzz busy guitar solo is drenched in fizzy electricity, sounding almost like a bagpipe shoved through a Marshall amp.

At 12 minutes, "Our Quiet Footsteps" is anything but imperceptible, a brash reminder of early KC with shrieking sax blaring, turn-on-a-dime drum cannonades and a contrasting electric piano pool, on which Oz' angelic howl enchants once again, giving Hakon another chance at bellowing proudly. I love the fact that it's not a too polished sound, very dynamic and fresh like the Norwegian countryside. When they sing together, guitars and saxophones in tow, the feeling is quite like a window into early 1971, as I find a lot of Jefferson Airplane-like jam details. The presence of psychedelia, strident guitar work and those dual vocals, albeit dressed up in a way more progressive parka as well as the elongated blues-drenched lead guitar outburst only confirm my suspicions.

"Remnants of Pride" is pure melancholia, a stunning ballad that suggest an improbable sadness that affects us all, Hakon and Melina doing a hot duet that exudes another essay into the human condition, blooming into another sax and guitar showcase. The second go around gets even more intense and a highly pleasurable feeling emerges. A progressive ballad.

My favorite track must be "Beneath the Waning Moon", an archetypical bass-fueled launch pad for a mellotron carpeted guitar sortie, aided and abated by a slithering flute play. This is early KC revisited, with a slight Roxy feel (Trivia: Bryan Ferry actually auditioned for Robert Fripp back before Roxy became Roxy, which is proven later by Peter Sinfield being the producer of the debut album). Sensational 4 and a half minute track! The title/band name composition is next up with Melina Oz taking over the mike and the piece is undeniably quirky, marginally dissonant and weird, crowned by a protracted electric guitar solo, followed by flippy synthesizer one. Kate Bush with progressive backing (that mellotron!) is what comes to mind, and very enjoyable it is.

The prog quotient is raised once again with the unpredictable 8 minute flow of "Epilogue: Locus", a rather uncanny sense of doom and mystery is harped on to create quite a long and disquieting mood, a sudden acoustic guitar breaking through the mist, agile and cavernous bass clawing forward, creating a wonderful atmosphere. The honed musicianship really comes to the forefront here, displaying a thoughtful process and great technique. The sharp wind instruments breathe some very intense spirit into the arrangement, flourishing sonic images crowd the brain as one lets the music immerse the listener into lax submission. Another very strong highlight piece for sure.

"Coda: Impetus" puts this work into its final stretch, a rather rambling megalodon that has a raw tinge that is admirable, all kinds of current KC cubic guitar obliques that show a highly Cartesian tendency (math?), until the sax and trumpet kick in, giving off a smoky underground nightclub aroma, a platform for a screeching electric guitar run that shatters cliché penchants in favor of a more primitive expression. This is what makes Gentle Knife so appealing, a slick rawness that seeks and searches beyond the norm, carving, slicing and chopping its way to the great prog kitchen in heaven.

A very authoritative debut album, certainly a harbinger of things to come. A follow up album will determine their legacy within the prog community. Chop chop!

4 placid daggers

Thanks to tszirmay for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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