21 November 2009

CD REVIEWS: Pineapple Thief and Knight Area

The Pineapple Thief occupies an interesting place in modern progressive music, for reasons that I hope will soon become clear.

Modern prog fans seem to have forced a dilemma in a number of ways. The giants of the past…the bands that were the foundation of progressive music, have cast such a long, dark shadow over the genre that bands seem to have had a huge issue coming out from under that shadow. Bands that tend to forge their own way, drawing from different influences and as such sounding different from those forefathers, are in their own way every bit as progressive as those initial bands. But because they don’t sound like those older bands, some people have major issues considering them prog. It’s a dilemma, and it’s one that bands as disparate as The Mars Volta, Tool, and The Pineapple Thief all encounter. In their own way, The Piuneapple Thief is a progressive rock band, even as their music draws from the indie and post rock scene more than traditional symphonic rock. While Bruce Soord’s vocals are every bit as self aware and self conscious as many of the 1980’s neo-proggers, they are set against a musical backing that has more in common with bands like Radiohead and their ilk. As such, they’re seen as prog-lite by many, and not prog at all by an equal group.

3000 Days (2009, KScope Records) is a 2-CD set compiling the band’s chosen best moments from a career that has spanned close to the 3000 days referenced in the album’s title. Featuring some remixes, alternate versions, and so on, it’s a career spanning retrospective that offers long time fans a little bit new while presenting a fairly complete look at what the band has achieved since spinning off the group Vulgar Unicorn. As such, it’s a perfect way to become acquainted with a group that certainly merits a closer look by fans of the more melodic side of progressive rock. Don’t be afraid that there aren’t mellotrons akimbo and lyrics about fantasy subjects…drink deep of a dark and melancholy musical draught that would make the members of Anekdoten or Landberk green with envy.

Highlights: Snowdrops, Too Much To Lose, Tightly Wound (Acoustic), We Love You, 137, God Bless the Child, the very minimalistic, yet wonderfully evocative cover art and packaging, including full lyrics for every song (!)

Musicians on this release:

Steve Kitch

Bruce Soord

Jon Sykes

Keith Harrison

Wayne Higgins

Matt O'Leary


1. God Bless The Child

2. Shoot First

3. Part Zero

4. 137

5. We Love You

6. Clapham

7. Dead In The Water

8. Kid Chameleon

9. Tightly Wound (Acoustic)

10. Remember Us


1. The World I Always Dreamed Of

2. Wretched Soul

3. All You Need To Know

4. Vapour Trails

5. How Did We Find Our Way

6. I Will Light Up Your Eyes

7. Subside

8. Private Paradise

9. Snowdrops

10. Too Much To Lose

The Netherlands’ Knight Area popped onto the radar of progressive rock fans around the world in 2004, following the release of their debut album The Sun Also Rises. Showcase gigs at stages across Europe, as well as the prestigious NEARfest festival in the United States, contributed to a heightened awareness of this newcomer to the front lines of symphonic and neo-progressive music. Three years passed before the release of the band’s sophomore effort, the well received Under a New Sign. Showing a maturing band from both musical and song writing standpoints, the album was greeted by several award nominations. The band toured the release across Europe, including major performances at the Night of the Prog festival in Loreley.

Autumn sees the release of Realm of Shadows (InsideOut, 2009), the band’s third album. One would expect for, and hope for, continued growth and maturity from the band, and Knight Area delivers this. While Knight Area does not ride the cutting edge of musical intricacy and intensity, those are not their motivations. Three albums have shown that their impetus is crafting well written, melodic progressive music, filled to the brim with interesting keyboard textures, incisive guitar, and lyrics that touch the heart as much as they engage the mind. From excursions into ambience and shade through fairly intense instrumental workouts, Realm of Shadows showcases a band that is continuing to grow and expand their style in a genre that has a tendency to try and compartmentalize its artists to a pretty extreme degree. While certainly one could point to elements of some songs and say that this sounds like (insert band name here), at no point do any songs actually mimic an artist throughout. Knight area takes these blocks and makes their own constructions.

Realm of Shadows is a solid, enjoyable release from this band, and shows them continuing to hone their craft, deserving of mention in the same breath as the bands that preceded them 10 to 15 years before.

Highlights: Occlusion, A Million Lives, Dark Souls, Momentum

Musicians on this release:

Gijs Koopman

Gerben Klazinga

Mark Smit

Pieter van Hoorn

Mark Vermeule

1. Ethereal (6:51)

2. Antagony (7:52)

3. Two Of A Kind (5:11)

4. Momentum (2:21)

5. Awakening (2:50)

6. Dark Souls (5:29)

7. Realm Of Shadows (5:51)

8. A Million Lives (6:52)

9. Occlusion (11:15)

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