Album 1: Gentle Knife (2015) – Ratings:
- Nominated to the IndeProg Awards 2016 – Friday Night Progressive, New York/USA
- Prog Magazine #64 Accompanying CD March 2016 #42 No Jacket Required: Our Quiet Footsteps (Gentle Knife, 2015)
- Among the 25 top prog albums of 2015, Dec 2015, Somewhere Between Sunrise & Sunset on 88.3FM WBWC, Jan 2016, Ohio/USA
- New Face Award 2015, J.M.Prog Notes’ “Progressive Awards 2015”, 2.1.2016, Japan/Asia
- Among best outsiders/best foreign releases, Rock Progresivo, 2015, Brazil/South-America
- Among the picks of the year, The progressive aspect, Dec 2015, UK/Europe
- No 4 out of top 30 2015, Music from the other side of the room, Zachary Nathanson, 27.11.2015, Texas/USA
- Read the review, 9.8.2015
Album 1: Gentle Knife (2015) – Reviews (57):
-This is indeed a very good album and one to really cherish and check out. Go so forth…
-As with their most recent album, I am just amazed at how intricate this music is, and how they bring everyone together in a way that makes complete sense without the senses being overwhelmed by the amount of instrumentation involved.
-The arrangements are superb, and somewhat surprisingly, given the number of people in the band, there is a strong sense of space and the need for dynamics. They can be peaceful and laid back, with just rippling keyboards and gentle flute, or they can be doing their level best to blow the woofer out of the speakers. They mix full-blown progressive rock in its truest traditional sense with some psychedelic tendencies to create an album that is immediate, impressive, over the top and that delivers even more each time it is played. Superb.
-It is always often a gamble to write, record, engineer, produce and master a concept album. First you need to have a tangible plot or story-line that finds an audience or even a niche. Second you need a band or personnel surrounding you that is willing or actually shares the same vision towards the main concept or story. Many bands that fall under the progressive rock banner usually do not make a concept album on their debut. However there are exceptions to this notion.
-As a matter of fact, some bands refrain from making concept albums or wait until they are many years into their recording careers with a established audience before they even introduce the world to a concept album.
-For a debut album this was one of the most ambitious and thought provoking I have heard in quite sometime. People kept mentioning this band to me all through 2016 and after this I know what the hype was all about because this debut lived up to it.
-I give Gentle Knife Gentle Knife a 5/5.
-The most obvious comparison for Gentle Knife would be their countrymen White Willow: this has exactly the same kind of dark, chilly and distinctly Scandinavian sound. Lengthy, complex and dynamic, the album is packed with twists and turns that recall the seventies heyday of progressive rock whilst remaining distinctly modern. In short, this is a very striking listening experience – and an instant classic.
-In this modern age it feels so nice to once in a while find bands who look back in time for their sound and musical ideas. Norwegian band Gentle Knife is a perfect example. Putting it short, they’re a band with obvious influences from bands and artists like Jethro Tull, Kate Bush, Gentle Giant and even Pink Floyd.
-There’s an imminent 70’s vibe in the sound and the keyboards have that typical analog sound that is so lovable. And looooong songs, of course! Compared to the average progressive rock scene contributions, I find more folk vibes in Gentle Knife’s music as well. It’s a nice and odd spice. And the band knows how to use all the gears; there are lots of switches from truly soft parts to heavier guitar driven parts. The song “The gentle knife” is a great example, and also includes some top notch keyboard solo playing.
-The band is a quite solid bunch of players and all in all this is very much an uncut gem. What I’d like to see is better lead vocals and a stronger production.
-(…) this is a strong recommendation for those of you who really loved the progressive rock of the 70’s. You don’t come across new bands like Gentle Knife. Cool!
-Those who tend to enjoy vintage era progressive rock with eclectic qualities and recurring dark atmospheres should find this debut album by Gentle Knife to be of interest. A certain affection for bands that are fond of using the saxophone will be needed, and I’d hazard a guess that among those who find a band like Van der Graaf Generator to be among the more interesting bands that ever appeared, there will be quite a few people who will be charmed by the landscapes explored by this Norwegian band. All in all, this is a fine, good quality debut by a promising band.
-An interesting debut.
…-it’s the peripheral players who tend to set this band apart from its contemporaries, (…) -cleverly integrated within this pastoral soundscape.
-I could offer a hundred comparable bands to GK, but if you think Transatlantic, Mostly Autumn and Flower Kings of the modern era, and King Crimson, early Genesis and Pink Floyd from those halcyon days of the late 1960s and early 1970s, then you’re in the right ball park.
-The songs themselves are all slow/mid-tempo, conventional Prog fayre but the subservient woodwind and brass embellishments are never far away to add texture, depth and much welcomed variation.
-Does Gentle Knife cut it? Overall I’d have to say yes – however, the tempo throughout is rather pedestrian. Progheads fill your boots, the remainder… prepare to be tested!! An interesting debut.
-The music of Gentle Knife is 100% Classic Progressive Rock, using instrumental timbres and textures of the ‘70s. The rhythm and pace are predominantly slow and cadenced, but a few moments of energy and vigor occasionally burst out. The atmosphere of the songs alternate from dreamy and trippy to mildly psychedelic, as it is typical of many Nordic bands.
– Overall, I have found Gentle Knife’s first album to be a very nice debut, showcasing a band that knows how to probe into deep-layered emotional music, and how to craft both surreal and mysterious soundscapes. Even though Gentle Knife may have a great potential still to grow, this band may be recommended for fans of authentic Progressive Rock with the flavor of ‘70s, who like bands such as “King Crimson”, “Van der Graaf Generator”, “Soft Machine”, “Camel”, “Gong”, “Renaissance”, and who love bands from the Nordic world, like “Kerrs Pink”, “White Willow”, “Wobbler”, “The Windmill”, “Gazpacho”.
-Lots of musical dynamics set against ever changing time and tempo make this a spectacular first-time effort and clearly make Gentle Knife a band to watch. No hesitation here, this is recommended to all symphonic prog fans.
-If you are fond of vintage seventies prog, you’ll love this album, inventive, creative, very musical, lyrical and an ensemble of superbly mixed sonorities, this disc will inevitably seduce you.
Fireworks Magazine/Rockreport blog, 20.11.2015, Europe-UK, Dave Crompton
-Have to play it once more now! And again after that. One of this year’s discoveries for me!
-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… 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…
-…And how they combine, from melodic to discordant, challenging and yet comforting. Conceptually written around a traveller’s journey from city to forest where he unfortunately meets his demise in the Sylvanian utopia. It is a maze of an album with its unexpected twists and turns, the concept, for the erudite amongst you, is loosely based on Grimm, The Rite of Spring, and other European Fairytales.
-I hear Genesis, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Curved Air, Van Der Graaf Generator and more than a smattering of contemporary jazz. Nice. No pickled herring here but a smorgasbord of delights, and straight into my “really interesting stuff heard in 2015” pile. Three tracks in and I do have the urge to go to the attic and fish out the paisley shirt and flares, but it is really fun, long tracks within which to immerse yourself and wallow in the music, so much VDGG without Peter Hammill’s growl.
-The best thing about hearing something new, even with certain past influences, is that there are no expectations. With an established artist there is always an element for what has passed before. This album shows the appropriate respect but manages to make its own impression.
-…Gentle Knife has succeeded in producing a remarkable album, which should surely and justifiably find a huge amount of friends.
-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.
Blog à part, troisième epoque, 09.09.2015, Europe-France, Alias
-Those who like relatively melancholy prog performed by skilled musicians, are recommended to spin this record more than once.
-De som liker relativt melankolsk prog framført av dyktige musikere, anbefales å gi denne plata mer enn én lytting.
-Gentle Knife is clear, never noisy, dividing well the participation of each musician, not allowing such a beautiful band to become a heavy mass of sound.
-Overall, it’s an album that bets on the safety of progressive European rock.
-…This is a band that is worth knowing and a good record.
Arlequin – Progressive Rock Webzine, 02.09.2015, Europe-Italy, Valentino Butti
-The band uses not only the current prog instruments such as synthesizer and mellotron. But also various wind instruments like trumpet, saxophone, and various wooden wind instruments. Of course supported by guitar, bass and drums/percussion, so that Gentle Knife has a very full sound.
Rondo of Nightmare, 28.08.2015, Asia-Japan
-I feel like I felt when hearing King Crimson’s first album, or close to the atmosphere of McDonald & Giles. The guitars reminds me of Robert Fripp.
-The path from the forest can easily lead astray away from the well-known paths; the tracks of nature can be read exactly. Gentle Knife could make a new, own path through and out of the forest, but hopefully they will not leave it for a long time. Because this album stretches an enormous bow – from its melodic beginning on entering the forest to its ending end in the explorations in this.
-I guess Bono was right, music can change people. In my neighbour’s case, Gentle Knife was a part of the journey that changed his outlook. By the way, I saw Addfwyn in his garden yesterday. He was violently dead-heading his flowers. He wore a home-made T-shirt with these words emblazoned across his heaving chest: ‘Gentle Knife changed my life.’
-Norwegians Gentle Knife have managed to defy time and indeed geography here on their debut album. Although the album was released this year (2015) it sounds like it was recorded in England in around 1971. When you think of this band you must think of the pastoral, progressive music of bands like Yes, Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson and early Genesis before throwing in a little of Jeff Waynes’ War Of The Worlds and you wouldn’t be far off. The album features long sprawling songs, intricate instrumentation and whimsical songwriting which as well as being hallmarks of the bands mentioned previously, are also a very major part of Gentle Knife’s resume.
-Take a trip back to prog’s glory days with Gentle Knife who will take you trip far beyond the realms of normality so you can get Close To The Edge and then into Court Of The Crimson King just like the old days!!!
-…a rare hybrid album that at the one hand is respectful of good old progressive rock while containing an essence of modern rock (such as neo prog, post rock and minimalistic rock).
…the 10-piece have accomplished a brilliance and different passages in the compositions that are quite unexpected. So if you love White Willow, Rush, Pink Floyd, Van Der Graaf Generator, and King Crimson and if they want to share with you a hot and spicy burrito, then sink into the rivers of the sounds of Gentle Knife.
-After ten minutes, I got the confirmation of what I suspected after ten seconds: This is good music.
-My conclusion is that Gentle Knife managed to entertain me with the entire album. I think it’s an asset in the collection, and will certainly listen more often. It’s music that is not boring, and therefore best on ‘repeat’, as well as discovering something you did not hear before, with every listening session.
-Gentle Knife have crafted a solid debut album that shows a wealth of promise for their future. They have eloquently paid homage to their inspirations and carried on the soul of 70s progressive rock, while at the same time maintaining a contemporary sound. The variety of instruments is well-balanced and adds to the lush sound of the album.
Prog is alive and well, 01.08.2015, Drew Fisher
Camel Let Go blog, 29.07.2015, Asia-Japan, Sasurai
-Well, it is clear: if one is allergic to this “good old” original prog, from the early 70s, even updated to the taste of the day, walk away. Here. prog lovers with metal tendencies will not find heavy atmospheres and powerful riffs. If you are one of those, you have permission to leave this column.
Conversely, if you bathe in King Crimson, Van der Graaf or Genesis, you will fins strong reminiscences of these illustrious predecessors with Gentle Knife. Once again, lthat said: Reminiscences and inspirations do not mean copy-paste or plagiarism! There are indeed those who take inspiration, digest … and do the same. And then there are those who imbue themselves and offer their own interpretation, their own musical alchemy. Obviously, it’s easy to guess in which camp Gentle Knife reside.
-The bet was risky, but the bet is successful. Yes, it is possible to make new with the old, the current with the old, without it being boring, obsolete, moldy or outdated. On the contrary, it is inventive, lively, calm and serene.
-A debut album that shows a lot of character and carries a bright future.
-The qualities of the compositions and excellent musicianship grants the group the right to be reckoned with.
– If you consider the name of the band along with the artwork, you’ll know right away what this band has allowed itself to be inspired by. (…) This regularly reminds of the bands of the Roaring ’70s. I hear a lot of Genesis, as well as Renaissance, Yes, Gentle Giant and King Crimson. A song like Epilogue – Locus Amoenus does raise a very strong association with Pink Floyd. But nowhere is this disturbing. This band tries clearly to explain in their own sound. (…) In almost all the songs, there’s a nice balance of beautiful melodies, compelling solos and complex passages. That makes listening to this album an intensive experience. This is not background music, and requires your full attention. Let’s hope we will hear more from this band in the future.
– With instrumental sections sometimes with the power of Neal Morse and contrasting with aerial vocal sections, the band play eight definitely progressive songs, with plenty of keyboards, guitars and the singular presence of trumpet and saxophone. These wind instruments, uncommon in prog, add a very special signature to their music, which is after all basically standard. (…) The music is rich, gifted, sometimes quite virtuoso and flirts with Genesis, King Crimson, Transatlantic or touches of jazz (…) Gentle Knife, for a debut album, has good assets (…) The overall idea of such a big ensemble is attractive, because it offers the listener a wide musical palette.
Prog Rock Stuff, 09.07.2015, Europe-UK/Bedfordshire, ProgDog
-Gentle Knife provide a strong performance here, which shows in particular how you can create a lot of connections and just as varied and varied prog as you can from relatively simple structures through clever arrangements.
-The pieces seem so atmospheric and entwined, here and then edgy, but often also fully punctuated and spirited. This is a very refreshing, enriched retro prog classic with a Scandinavian character. This also fits the cover very well, showing the connection between man and nature in a typical Nordic and aesthetic style. Gentle Knife create their own little cosmos. Small enough to enclose and include the listerer, but also large enough to be full of enjoyment to be lost in it. Each composition has its own character, works in the album context, but can also stand out on its own. (…) With a little more experience, the band from Oslo may be the next big retro thing – very promising and original!
Betreutesproggen, 02.07.2015, Europe-Germany, Dieter Hoffmann, 9/15
-…no doubt written and performed with influence from classic idols of prog rock such as Van der Graaf Generator, Gentle Giant, Pink Floyd and King Crimson, but also with the typical nordic sound…
-…viljan är god och mellotronen bedårande sexig.
-Behind Gentle Knife is a 10-man team. The Norwegians are quite ambitious and unique. When I listen to the debut album, I feel quite a bit reminded of the first White Willow albums. The use of trumpet, saxophone and flute is already rare in the realm of prog, at least in the way Gentle Knife stage it.
-Gentle Knife is an extraordinary formation, with great future potential. If you are looking for typical Scandinavian melancholic music with partly slow tempo and a slight touch of dairy tales, you should try Gentle Knife out.
– While it has been a while since there has been a new star from Norway in Northern Europe, Gentle Knife has certainly released a fantastic debut album which manages to convey images of nature, such as deep forests and lakes, special to the lyrical mood of Northern Europe. Gentle Knife, where woodwinds are also a part of the sound, is a music collective counting 10 members. Still the band manages to produce a tight and focused sound which will will stimulate your mind, similar to a gush of fresh breeze of air. This is a must-hear album.
– This is a classic concept album in eight parts, however with a distinctive, modern sound. Combining the sound of guitars, woodwinds and electronic instruments, Gentle Knife creates a multicolored musical journey. The result is a blend of melancholy and angst utilizing both a symphonic and modern industrial sound. (…) Gentle Knife’s music is characterized by varied forms of expression, magnified by the force of this expression, as well as by not an inconsiderable amount of talent. Another characteristic is the harmonious vocals. When listening to the album, we hear instrumental dynamism and ubiquitous jazz-rock improvisation, which lends to the music a bit of madness capable of transforming individual sounds into a coherent whole. Numerous positive impressions reaching the listener leave no doubt as to how surprising this debut is in its each and every track. We are struck by the album’s ingenuity and its multi-themed instrumental expression, which draws from a variety of musical genres, as well as by the perfect individual themes executed with real panache and a touch of pathos. (…) My recommendation: Get hold of this album and let yourself be carried away by this musical adventure.
Musikreviews, 19.06.2015, Europe-Germany, Thoralf Koss, 10/15
-Gentle Knife has character, style and signature (…) The fresh troop plays symphonic progressive rock, marginally influenced by the neo prog scene, focused on the sound of the mid-seventies grand prog scene exploits and a mild reverberation of King Crimson (…) The songs (…) convey a clearly high nostalgia factor for old school freaks, Camel & Co. and with links to symphonic kraut rock (…) Appealing vocal lines, refreshingly performed, yet not deliberately overdone. Melina Oz’s voice is a particular feature – a progeny of Kate Bush with a powerful voice – caressing and smooth. (…) Already in the first track and down to the very last, the band is kept prominent company by elegant instruments: trumpet, flute, saxophone – in addition to the usual rock instruments (…) The woodwinds rock in unison with guitars and synthesizer, or complement the melodic events in swingy solos (…) Prog-heads who prefer symphonic works, will enjoy this and accept the little quirks and involontary escapades (…) The penultimate “Epilogue: Locus amoenus” with a duration of 8 minutes is a great ambient electronic piece, inspired, inspiring and floats pleasantly into the ear.
– Strolling to the prog buffet with a hankering for something with a “modern take,” I find a large serving of “Eventide.” The opening imagery is a curtain drawn back to expose a grandiose performance, with top notes of King Crimson, The Moody Blues, and Gentle Giant seeping through the workings of the piece. The shared male/female vocals add a velvety level of cool. Horns lay low–just under the radar–but they fill the air without drowning anyone out. Gentle Knife manages to pull a ‘70s prog sound into the 21st century with grace and ease. The plethora of what is happening in this song is masked by its simplicity. (…)Time to saunter back for a second helping where I find this raucous piece, “Tear Away the Cords That Bind.” The opening guitar channels Transatlantic while the rest of the band discovered their inner Strawbs. Combined with the dueling lead vocals, Gentle Knife occupies a relatively obscure section of the prog garden. Using bright colors that spill onto a busy pallet, Gentle Knife offers a full sound with no anxiety about dabbling in the deep end of the pool. The music cuts straight to the heart with surgeon-like precision, yet there is an ambience that is almost deceiving. Gentle Knife draws you in with a subtle luring–a siren call–yet once the sound penetrates your auditory canals there is a placid urgency that demands attention.
-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.
-The music is both complex and accessible, in so far that a well-honed mood is perennially at the forefront of their artistic creativity.
-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!
– Gentle Knife is a big surprise. Counting 10 members and featuring male and female vocals, they have produced a debut full of great sounding and interesting music. Starting with two longer tracks, Gentle Knife offers classically-composed progressive rock songs with some jazzy elements. Tricky rhythms, catchy melodies and shrewd interaction are trademarks of the record. Coda:Impetus is a good example. Their band set-up contains the classic five-piece, as well as trumpet and sax and things you would not expect – and they know to use it all. Gentle Knife reminds me sometimes of the wonderful old Van der Graaf Generator (Intro of Our Quiet Footsteps).
-Stämningslägena där i den förtrollade skogen skiftar och musikens berättande karaktär ger oss ledning och vägvisning. Fin debut, numera väntar man sig inget annat av ett nytt band i vår genre.
Valvulado, 23.05.2015, South America-Brazil
-A lyrically schooled symphonic rock band debut from Norway is currently drawing increasing attention. Sung by a female vocalist with a beautiful voice, and a male, obviously keyboard and featuring flute, trumpet, woodwinds and a sax player – a recording with a total of 10 people. Combining clear synths and emotional guitars paired with crystalline female vocals, this music is reminiscent of Introitus from Sweden. However the band expresses even more of that quiet subtleness of North Europe. Furthermore, the organ and mellotron and the woodwinds as key elements gives a vintage nuance which gives the music extra character. The elegance of the trumpet also brings forward the nostalgia of the sunset, but it is the lyrical flute that really moves me to tears. Fans of Nordic progressive rock cannot ask for more than this.
– Motorpsycho, Elephant 9, Magic Pie, Wobbler, Gazpacho, Leprous: Norway continuously manifests itself as a spearhead of Nordic prog. We now get to add yet another band to the list: Gentle Knife, a collective of ten (!) musicians from Oslo. Gentle Knife place themselves just about midways between the patented Norwegian melancholy and the rocky mood we know from bands like the Flower Kings. However, the band make themselves unique by, among its many members (as well as a half dozen extra musicians), featuring an abundant horn section. Which means that the Pink Floyd-ish moments become even more Pink Floyd-ish. That they have a female vocalist – the Kate Bush-like Melina Oz – in the constellation, adds even more originality. As if this wasn’t enough, they fire it up with “Epilogue – Locus Amoenus”, an over 8 minute long orgy of electronica. Krautrock galore. The album is finally rounded off with “Coda – Impetus”, where the base line is riff-rock, while the soloists fire off free jazz. A very good album debut.
– It is extra nice that we also have bands here in Norway who may claim their spot at the international top within the prog rock genre (…) Clear references to old prog rock heroes such as Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and so on (…) First class prog rock composed and published in Norway.
– A treat for Norway, Gentle Knife joins the rather exclusive club of Norwegian prog bands that mean business.