030 :: KNOWER

Listen to "030 :: KNOWER" on Spreaker.


KNOWER FOREVER by KNOWER, self-released in 2023. Listen / Buy direct


I'm ashamed to say it now, but I didn't think I liked this music at first. I resisted it, even. It seemed, to put it simply, too much. And by the way, this music, what's playing right now: it's nothing like the rest of the album. It's nothing like the songs I actually want to talk about. Then again, no song on this album is like the rest of the album. If there's one constant to this music, it's a refusal to stay in any one place. So maybe this, a sumptuous orchestral overture, is the most fitting introduction to an album that never ceases to subvert our expectations – like this.

See what I mean when I said that this music seemed like too much? What do you even do with a riff like this? It's so intense and sludgy and just kind of dumb, that it's hard to know whether it's meant in earnest or in jest. But one thing's for sure: the band is playing the heck out of it. And then the song flips on its head, opening up into these bright jazzy harmonies and pillowy synth pads, layered on top of an absolutely killer bass line.

It's so ridiculously groovy, it almost feels like a joke, like a spoof of a jam band. And the lyrics don't make things seem any the more serious, being just a list of things that the singer "[is] thinking while you are talking", like "does purgatory have snacks?" and "do hot girls like chords?".

But just as the band has us thinking that they're just goofing around, out comes this explosive solo, which is no joke. This is some seriously sick shredding. It's moving faster than I can even hear it. It's the sort of virtuosity that puts a grimace on your face, that feels like it's bringing us to the bleeding edge of what music can be.

This is music on overdrive, music that exists to be over the top, music that wants to show us that it can do anything.

So perhaps it's no surprise that this next song is something totally different, a sweet, singsong melody addressed to none other than Death. "Hey Grim Reap", sings the singer, as the keys chime in with a syncopated house rhythm and the band gets ready to move.

And then, with the verse, the band pulls back, the drums subdividing the beat into almost infinitesimal segments, with the keys and the bass interjecting in a playful unison. I don't know if this is the band doing hyperpop or glitch or chiptune, but whatever it is, it's never grooved so hard.

This is music that relishes in being stylistically all over the map, but if it has one consistent quality, it's an aesthetic of flexing, of showing that it can take any musical idea, no matter how wacky or crude, and make it sound like the coolest thing you've ever heard, just by sheer force of musical will.

But let's go even bigger. And what's bigger than a punchy bass line? How about a bass line played by a full brass section? How about a song about what it's like to be the President?

Yet again, this music is a ludicrous mash-up. The singer's mellifluous voice is paired with impish lyrics, as funky rhythms are punctuated by grandiose fanfares. And then, without missing a beat, the band transitions into this harmonically dense pre-chorus. Has anything this tongue-in-cheek ever sounded so nice?

This is the band at their purest and most irreverent. It's audacious and bombastic and larger than life – kind of like a certain you-know-who.

This band feels to me like the trickster gods of acid jazz, using their musical omnipotence not for good nor evil but rather for play – to shake us out of our musical conventions and show us that true virtuosity knows no bounds. After all, if you're this talented as musicians, why not use your powers to have a little fun?

So let's all rise and hail these musicians and send them off with one final, epic salute.

Liner Notes

KNOWER also makes music videos with a very particular and complementary aesthetic, including videos for two of the songs featured in this episode: