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A Dimension of Sight & Sound...

Here we go again. When last we heard from Knitting By Twilight, they were twisting knobs and pushing buttons and pounding anything close enough to reach in a quest for that state of grace prog-rockers think of as Nirvana (erm, the state of mind, not the band, kids). At times emulating the venerable Harry Partch Ensemble, at others a mirrored reflection of the early marriage of electronic and rock music, KBT pieced together the mysterious Riding the Way Back (2009) with paper clips and bubble gum and came out of the tunnel none the worse for wear (it is, in fact, a very intriguing five-song EP--- read my review here). Between there and here, head knitters John Orsi and Mike Marando supported John MacNeill and Don Sullivan on Incandescent Sky's slightly more jazz-oriented Four Faradays In a Cage (review here) which to my ears was more of a mixture of mid-seventies jazz fusion and European progressive rock than anything I could put my finger on. Both adventurous, both very worth hearing, both excellently put together.

It is not at all surprising to me that Orsi is involved with another musical step-into-the-void with Weathering. The guy has demons, methinks, and unleashes them through the mixing board much the same way others might through psychiatric sessions. For him, and for fellow KBT members Marando and Manny Silva, music is emotion and sound and vibration and beat and a whole lot of other things. It is basically a living thing and their process of getting it through the board and onto “tape” (or its digital equivalent) seems organic if it is not. Three guys. One studio. Whether they were all there at the same time is of no consequence. They are obviously of one musical mind.

Weathering? Think prog and fusion, then think A Thousand Islands and Clouds and Stars and The Doorman's Dairy Dream and five other like titles. Anyone who knows the genres will have a good idea what Weathering is like. Toss aside New Age, think electronic orchestral, slip in layers of percussive effects (some ambient, some not) and overlay synthesizers and electronics of all depths and you have it. Sometimes light, sometimes intense, the music wends its way through scenes of almost cinematic content. Play it soft and it is the background of life on a musical scale. Play it loud and it is pure Solarium, the sound as majestic in places as a cathedral organ (minus Bach).

Don't like prog of any kind? Let me tell you a story. Back in the early seventies, I had this friend named Darryl down in Eugene. I met him at our local record hangout, The House of Records, and at first thought him more than a bit weird. While I was scarfing up Grin and Cowboy and Wishbone Ash, Darryl was grabbing everything European and obscure--- everything from early Genesis or Van der Graaf Generator to Amon Duul to Banco del Mutuo Soccorso. Now, Darryl was a nice guy, but only a couple of us gave him any credibility when it came to music. He knew of the music we listened to but he didn't really know it--- and vice versa. One day, Darryl asked me to come over for a listening party. You know. Bring a few albums and we'll use the turntable alternately. I did. You know what? I became a huge fan of Van der Graaf and Amon Duul and every one of those bands I'd ignored. Darryl was no longer weird. In fact, we became good friends.

My point is this. As a culture, we have become so engrossed in the popular that we use it as a yardstick. The argument probably goes something like, if everyone likes it, it must be good. Because of that attitude, we are becoming culturally bankrupt. If we let the masses and the media hand us our playlists (or movies or anything else), we might as well hang it up. That is why I love music of all kinds. Because we need diversity in all of the arts (and in life in general) to progress. Get it? They call the music progressive for a reason!

Now, where was I? Sometimes the soap box takes over, you know? Ah. John Orsi. I have no idea where Darryl is these days (or even whether he is), but if I did, I'd send him a copy of Weathering and I'd tell him about Orsi, who is a damn nice guy and very open to talking about his music. I would thank Darryl for the push toward progrock and I would wish him well. Darryl gave me the foundation to love this music. And I think life would be a bit boring without it. In fact, I know it would

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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