[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
If you ever were sent to vacation bible school, had an enforced evangelical christian upbringing or found yourself under a tent while the faithful railed about ‘revival’ then you’ll have no trouble understanding what Knives have released. Or let’s say you’ve found yourself in the cycle of unrelenting debts and vindictive tenement surroundings… tuck in.
If neither are applicable, just read along as I delineate what’s going on.
The five pieces making up ‘thewaypeopleare’ operate in much the same way these manic, feverishly devout operations so often did. There’s the calm, tranquil introduction which is followed by ever increasing tension as the true purpose is revealed. I had to spend a lot of time playing through what Knives composed before it hit me, closer and closer I trained my attention. Once I heard the oh so familiar sermon/warning about the dangers of rock music it felt like I was right back there, out in the woods (where these events always happened) far away from the prying eyes of anyone who’d raise the proverbial eyebrow listening to deluded madmen.
The title he’s given should be enough to make clear what his view of the world is but if that isn’t enough, take a look at the sleeve design. Soak up the imagery he’s using, tell me if this isn’t material meant for the dispossessed. Those who have been cast out of paradise and now dwell at the edges growing angrier and angrier as the days go by. More than anything Knives are literally putting one in the socio-economic state’s status quo; the rusted hinges, weathered doors, washed out interiors and single-paned windows so many of us call home because there’s no other option are his canvas.
Knives are, if nothing else, versatile. You get a sense that he’d prefer to be on a porch somewhere with his guitar luring in tourists before drowning them in a melange of processed feedback and insidiously distorted loops. This is, after all, an individual who has been known to make an entire track revolving around the faded footballer Gazza giving speculative, third person advice to Raoul Moat. Look the names up and believe me when I say obscurity is his calling card.
Even with all of these details in mind, this new album was ten years in the making, so one can only imagine the editing sessions which took place once the framing had been completed. Nothing about this record is off the cuff or improvisational by any stretch of the imagination; I would be quite happy to see him embark on a small tour of the Appalachian mountain range here in the US on the off-chance he’d soak up some bluegrass influence. Don’t pull back in horror, dear readers, at that thought because therein lies the beauty of this artist: harnessing diametrically opposed elements in order to manipulate their intent is where his music resides.