Three days ago the Rapture came and went without incident. A lot of people were bummed having already paid to have their dogs looked after once they’d ascended. They gave away their children’s college funds and spent their life-savings on prophetic billboards. And they’re all still here.
“Of course we’re on the path to destruction,” says Matthias Bossi, drummer for The Book of Knots and the now-defunct Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. “There’s a mixture of breathless anticipation then total doom and letdown.” We’re discussing the Book of Knots‘ upcoming album, Garden of Fainting Stars, (Ipecac, June 14th), but the conversation is strangely applicable to certain recent non-events. “There’s this ‘anything’s possible’ attitude until you get to where you’re going. In the case of space…maybe there’s nothing there.”
Garden of Fainting Stars completes the Book of Knots’ experimental trilogy relating “over-arching themes of failed voyages by land, sea, and air.” The band’s core is comprised of Mattias Bossi, Joel Hamilton (producer/engineer for >BlakRoc and Pretty Lights), Carla Kihlstedt (Tin Hat Trio; Sleepytime Gorilla Museum), and Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu; Frank Black; Bob Mould) with each album featuring of host of guest appearances by such talents asTom Waits, Mike Watt, Blixa Bargeld, and Mike Patton.
“Everything is an instrumental tune that we craft and mix, then decide what one of our friends or heroes will add to it. We’ve been really lucky. We never know what’s going to come back. We don’t give them any direction. The general clangishness and unhinged sound of the Book of Knots does not lend itself to sunny lyrics. They’re not going to come back with Katy Perry lyrics on top.”
Bossi’s description is an understatement; Garden of Fainting Stars is a soundtrack to the end of the world. It is epic and jarring from moment one. Blixa Bargeld provides a travel-narrative over the second track, “Drosophilia Melanogaster” (Greek for ‘dark bellied dew lover’, better known as a fruit fly), that pushes the level of anxiety to an all-too vivid extreme, and whatever waits at the end of his flight is not pleasant–quite possibly downright revolting. The record’s structure is ridged, mechanized, and orbital in rhythm. The songs seem held together by some tenuous gravity that threatens to snap. We crash, bang, and wail our way through the remainder of the album toward an inevitable conclusion of chaos and disillusion. “I’m not an apocalypsadour or a dooms-day bell toller. You need some jagged, sharp edges to tell a good story. Notice I use the word broken a lot. Broken and beautiful are the two words that need to coexist in the Book of Knots’ structure. As if it’s soaring toward the heavens but it’s on fire.”
In a world where we seem to always dream that our hopes are to found elsewhere—over the sea, across a continent, in the sky, or even in Heaven—the Book of Knots tie us to the present (or floors you to it, if you happen to be listening through headphones or at a high volume) and remind us that no matter how far we try to reach, we’ll end up back where we began. They provide a smashing slap to the face reminding us that we are here now.
As for the future, it’s always vague. “We’ve only talked about making these three records than disappearing into the ether, but now that it’s over it feels wistful. Maybe there will be a [another] record. The quest for knowledge and the thirst for adventure is a built-in human urge.”