The Book of Knots
Garden of Fainting Stars
By Ellen Eldridge
The Book of Knots begins with the birth of “7-pounds 11 ounces of sin” in “Microgravity” and, after posing the question, “Will they survive this microgravity?,” the band embarks on its third concept album; this one dedicated to the absence of expected hope in space travel. Garden of Fainting Stars closes the “By Sea, By Land, By Air” trilogy of concept albums begun with Book of Knots (2004) and continued on the 2007 release Traineater with tepid grace and fiery formidability.
The combination of the hazardous and the misinformed, the twilight of a good idea turning bad; these are the moments in which The Book of Knots shine a flashlight on a tormented orchestra exposing its weaknesses and exploiting its beauty. The core members, Joel Hamilton, Carla Kihlstedt, Matthias Bossi, Tony Maimone., draw to them the fireflies of the music industry, the weird and imaginative; a combination of artists to form a band like Apocalyptica only darker and more misanthropic.
On Garden of Fainting Stars Blixa Bargeld (Einstürzende Neubauten) opens a cocktail of flies with the tormented “Drosophila Melanogaster;” a song concerned with air travel on earth-grounded planes and the cocktail lounges of airports where fruit flies fill the glasses before the drinker can enjoy a second sip. This song captures the essence of the album in its frustrated attempt to endure exploration without ever reaping the rewards of success.
“Planemo” easily amounts to a single if any of these tracks could be considered apart from the rest. Mike Patton’s zero-gravity lyrics and heightened moans affect in a similar fashion to Faith No More’s Angel Dust.
The collaboration of artists including Tom Waits, Mike Patton, David Thomas, Blixa Bargel, Jon Langford, and Carla Bozulich should immediately win audience’s attention, but for the doomed travelers who turn up the tracks and feel their way along the darkened corridors of space ships and the hollowed caves of distant planets, this album can act as the soundtrack to a new generation of music and quietly bury any hope in the final frontier. The closing recorded announcement, “Obituary for the Future” feels like it comes from the future; a terrified voice calls out for companionship while the high-pitched chorus claims, “I’ll hold you close when this is over” as breaking guitars tear through ravaged drums. Wailing. Void. Over and out.