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Knife in the Water 
by Tim Byrnes

Five Star: A look at albums that are so good that they impress even the most cynical of critics. Very few albums are superior enough to obtain a five star rating but occasionally a band slips through the river of mediocrity that is the modern music industry and they produce an album that restores our faith in the future of rock! This series is a look at such albums. 

Knife in the Water named themselves after the Polanski film where a husband and wife are on a sailboat with a hitchhiker who, in an attempt to win the wife’s favor, challenges the husband with ever more competitive “games’. What starts off friendly gets more and more intense as the wife’s interest in the hitchhiker moves from casual to carnal,. She starts getting turned on by the steadily increasing aggression and humiliation-maybe feeling bad can feel good if it’s coming at you hard and fast enough.

But this Knife drags slooooooooowly, each angelic vocal harmony and crying steel guitar giving it’s misery the dignity it deserves, wrapping their many dark thoughts in a detached, but still beautiful, beauty that tears ‘cross your heart as it hopes to die. By placing the introspective and bleak-unto-death subject matter of the lyrics in grand, cinematic soundscapes that evoke the big skies of both Texas and Mars, brain-trust vocalists Aaron Blount and Laura Krause mirror the married couple of the film. Their lyrics are their sailboat, tense and confining in the vast sea of their music.

With this re-release of their 1999 debut, Knife in the Water bring their dark night of the soul music to a theater near you, again. If you missed them first time around, this CD is a great introduction to a band that captures the sound of loneliness and late night regret better than most. The opening cut One Sound, shakes like an old, cold ghost draped in cathedral organ waking at dawn on a desert roadside to the same old fearful sense that you f***ed up again but everything will be ok once you find someone to blame. (˜I try to break your health, cause I can’t breathe myself’). It’s lyrics like these that led me, at first, to see Knife as anti-human, or in the case of this line from Swallows “I don’t give a damn if every bird in the world around/would die and hit the ground’, anti-avian. But, I thought, cat’s gotta be real down to start hating birds and, besides, haven’t we all all been so far down that we hated everything, if only for an instant? I know I have. Recognition and acceptance of that black core is tricky enough, but investing it with the kind of stately grace found here, giving beautiful voice(s) and luxurious backdrops to the desolation encountered when one realizes that we are all alone, if not doomed, well brother, that’s art. 

The act of creation, in itself, guarantees humanity. If you’ve really given up. Why show up at all, even to sing, rather than curse, the darkness? Knife in the Water do more than merely show up (although sometimes, that’s enough and often more than one is capable of doing), they engage the beast and dress it up in holy sounds, waltz it across the Texas of the American night, each song a chamber in the same breaking heart. In the tradition of evocative socio-realists ranging from the Velvet Underground through the Cowboy Junkies and the Cure to Chavez and Palace, Knife in the Water stand tall, proud and, ultimately, profoundly human.


CD Info 

Knife in the Water - Plays One Sound and Others
Rating: 
Label: Aspyr
 
Tracks:
One Sound   
Swallows 
Seat of Pity   
Married Woman   
Norma   
Come on Cotton    
Sent You Up
Muse   
Careening   
Slavery   
Redbird
 
Listen to samples and Purchase this CD online


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