The Book of Knots | Traineater (Anti-)

cd_bookofknotsThere have been fantastic records released this year, but they all pale in comparison to Traineater. This record is that solid.

 

 

 

 

When it comes to reviews and their respective rankings (stars, grades, or numbers), there is no formula to ensure uniform "grading" standards. In other words, one reviewer may be very liberal with their letter "A" stamp of approval, while another may hand out top marks with a frequency that would make Stanley Kubrick's creative output look like Ani DiFranco's in comparison. As for myself, my grading would fall more toward the former. However, with Book of Knots' new LP Traineater, a re-examination on what exactly deserves top marks is in order. There have been fantastic records released this year, but they all pale in comparison to Traineater. This record is that solid. However, don't expect to see universal acclaim heaped upon it. When you describe yourself as "doom rock," you are not looking to appeal to the masses.

On their second full length, BOK has grown beyond a self-described "studio collective" into a monolithic "studio collective." Along with base members Matthias Bossi, Joel Hamilton, Carla Kihlstedt, and Tony Maimone, the group has recruited a collection of guest vocalists that is mighty impressive. Lending their chops to this disc are Carla Bozulich (Geraldine Fibbers), Megan Reilly, Jon Langford (Mekons), David Thomas (Pere Ubu), Mike Watts (Minutemen), and some guy named Tom Waits.

Somewhat reminiscent of later-day Swans, BOKs have the artful skill of shifting between moods nailed down. Transitioning from bombast of Kihlstedt's "View From the Water Tower" and Watt's "Pedro to Cleveland," to the off-kilter creepiness in Wait's "Pray," "Hands of Production," "The Ballad of John Henry," and "Red Apple Boy," and the depressingly beautiful "Traineater," "Midnight," and "Salina." One might think that a record that rotates vocalists and moods as frequent as Traineater does might feel a bit disjointed, but for this disc it is the complete opposite. Even with a rather lengthy 50-minute running time, Traineater never grows stale. This sophomore effort is absolutely magnificent. A | David Lichius

RIYL: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Swans

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