Knekklectric are another fantastic find from Bergen, Norway. It seems to be a hotbed of creativity, and this is a delight. Alt Blir Verre (Everything Gets Worse) is their third full album, and I can confidently confirm that the sentiment of the title doesn’t apply to the band’s development. They craft distinctive progressive songs with psychedelic jazz leanings which they play with consummate skill and no little passion. They sing in Norwegian, specifically the Ålesund dialect, and it is claimed the lyrics are ‘devious’. Well, they may well be, but I couldn’t possibly comment. I’ve been able to find translations for a couple of the song titles, but that’s as far as it goes. It matters not a jot, as the vocals are easy on the ear and contain a musicality essential to the character of the music.
Angra På opens proceedings with a rolling tinkling piano refrain which bubbles up at intervals through the piece. The two guitars deftly play the off-kilter melody with dexterous interjections from drummer Jon Bolstad as the gently complex song weaves its path in unexpected directions, bringing to mind the way Sanguine Hum tend to approach their writing. Despite the underlying complexity, the song is memorable and easy to enjoy. The indecipherable words in no way detract from the accessibility, as the overall effect simply sounds right.
Moving on to the title track, which begins with a whimsical psychedelia, we soon progress through a difficult chord sequence to a galloping jazzy sprint, the vocals becoming increasingly agitated and urgent, climaxing with the screamed “Alt Blir Verre” as the song breaks down, only to slowly restart, leading to a closing instrumental workout highlighting some great interplay between keyboardist Hogne Aarflot and the guitars of Edvard Brøther and Johannes Maaseide, all underpinned by the talented rhythm section of Erland Alm Lerstad on bass and Bolstad on drums. This is invigorating stuff.
The one song I’m confident I understand the title of comes next, 1992. Tricky time signature changes abound as we move from relatively straightforward verses to the quirky yet memorable choruses. The lyrics clearly relate some significant happenings for the band dating back thirty years. What they are exactly remains clouded by language, but it must have meant something, and it sounds marvellous somehow. The long instrumental passage has some thrillingly clever musicianship, the most intense so far. Muknado by contrast expresses an assured Steely Dan vibe with its tight but relaxed delivery over expensive chords, and oozes class.
Elsewhere, the music takes in psyche echoey vocal effects one moment, throwing in some Zappa inspired glockenspiel and percussion embellishments the next, the guitars and varied keyboards playing off each other with skill and flair. The final song even provides the one gently introspective moment in the set, Se På Me (Look at Me), which brings things down nicely to finish.
In conclusion, I have to say how pleased I am to have come across this talented troupe. They make interesting and inventive prog fusion sound easy, when on closer listening it is anything but easy. The standard of playing is top drawer and inspired. It’s a concise selection of songs where not a moment is wasted, every second counts. It’s a feast for the ears, and I thoroughly recommend giving this album a listen. You could be very pleasantly surprised at Knekklectric and the collection of wonders on offer here.
01. Angra På (6:24)
02. Alt Blir Verre (6:17)
03. 1992 (7:30)
04. Muknado (4:26)
05. Rød Bil (5:26)
06. Beksvart Gull (4:13)
07. Se På Me (3:52)
Total Time – 37:42
Johannes Maaseide – Vocals, Guitar
Edvard Brøther – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Hogne Aarflot – Rhodes, Hammond, Synthesisers, Piano, Glockenspiel, Backing Vocals
Erlend Alm Lerstad – Bass
Jon Bolstad – Drums, Cymbals
Record Label: Independent
County of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 22nd April 2022