When told you’re about to hear a “Producer’s album,” it’s easy to imagine something like a finely-honed Swiss watch. The last thing to expect might be The Book of Knots’ critically acclaimed 2007 release, Traineater, a crumbling, over-wound, “endlessly clacking cuckoo-clock”- to borrow the words of Joel Hamilton, the Brooklyn-based producer/engineer who is also a core member of the band.
This year, Hamilton [Blakroc, Sparklehorse] has reunited with bassist and fellow Brooklyn producer Tony Maimone [Pere Ubu, Frank Black], violinist/vocalist Carla Kihlstedt and drummer/keyboardist Matthias Bossi [both of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum] to release Garden of Fainting Stars.
It’s the final installment in a trilogy of edgy, esoteric rock records that began with the band’s 2004 self-titled debut.
From the outset, The Book of Knots knew this third record would be their last. First by sea, then by land, and now by space, each album investigates the appeal of frontiers, and ultimately, the perpetual anti-climax that goes along with our never-ending urge to explore.
“What’s actually out there is never as exciting as what mankind imagines,” says Hamilton with some wistful humor. “We wanted to ask, what the hell is in us that keeps us looking over that next hill? What is that drive, what’s the purpose, and what’s kept us from just sitting in southeast Africa as an entire human race?”
If there’s a sonic thread through these releases, it may be that each one has somehow managed to play off as rickety and grandiose at once. These are records that combine raw performances on thrift-store finds with a production sensibility that favors heavy-handed mixing in search of massive sonic impact.
For Traineater, the band decided to err on the dilapidated side of the spectrum, offering a sense of gigantic, rustily-creaking musical machinery that paired well with the iconic bray of prominent special-guest Tom Waits…