“Horror Vacui” is a 12 track album by Got.Knees, an alternative music project based in Warrington, UK. Influenced by both rock and electronic music along with films and literature Got.Knees create songs of sadness, melancholy, depression and emptiness amongst happy feelings. If ever an album sounded like its title, this would be it. Filling in all the sonic spaces, it’s ambient sound lays somewhere between a midnight club, a morning bedroom, and a hazy afternoon. “Horror Vacui” is the perfect antidote for a night in or out. A layered and cohesive package of enveloping synths and grinding guitars filled with addictive hooks. There’s a sad undercurrent throughout the tracks – a bittersweet twinge if you may, hidden deep within the album’s warmth.
Got.Knees, and especially their remarkable album, elude a solid definition and they cunningly thwart the mold for the exact kind of music they make. Each song off this release is as diverse as your imagination, unmarred by the expectations of any given public. It’s because of this incredible diversification of tunes on “Horror Vacui” that they, one could say inadvertently, bring a wide scope of electronic chills into their alt-rock music. Even the titles themselves are impressive.
The album is the everyman’s guide to alternative electronic-rock music, condensed into a sonically superior 45 minutes. Brilliantly produced by an artist who has already learned his production tools inside and out, and is simply waiting to permeate the auditory membranes of listeners who are only laterally familiar with his style of music.
At once earnest and playful, yet moody and abstract, conceptually stern and melodically flexible, it’s a prime example of how the pure mind of an artist can truly lead to emotional electronics blended with rocking guitars.
Understated and intricate, “So It Happens” opens the set with a whispering vocal and a shuffling bassline. Got.Knees maintain their minute attention to detail on “During the Years of Our Intimacy”, notwithstanding the more insistent push towards darkwave bombast.
“There Are Bad Dreams For Those Who Sleep Unwisely” forges dominant and immaculately arranged percussion, leading into the dirty guitars and changing rhythm of “Logic Is Rare”. “Immensely Obliged To You” could easily rely on the endearingly frugal sound of the lead vocals, but it instead swells and deflates, achieving a sonic density that runs contrary to any impressions of slightness.
“Oh No” is built out of immaculate swells of guitar and keyboards which are firmly lodged on top of an insistent beat. Its urgent pulse is distinctly felt. The melancholy of “Waiting for Something to Happen” presents the vocals up front and center in the mix, and it’s an intimate and extremely pleasurable experience.
The tone changes dramatically on “Time Wasting” with its overdriven grungy guitars and pointed beat. The atmospheric “Devils of the Pit” manages to stay just the right side of metronomic mournful, without dipping into self-indulgent narcissism.
“Mina Murray” also runs through a varied arrangement that balances on alt-rock and electronic devices, once again showing Got.Knees’ musical bipolar tendencies. This time the chords have a darker undertone, the harmonic language takes uneasy turns.
“Pointless” starts off as an ode to simpler tunes, and it’s lyrically quite endearing, before Got.Knees turns up the guitar noise and injects fire and thunder into the track, to only switch tones in mid-track again.
The reverberating sonics of the previous track is carried over into the album closer “Nonentity”, which effectively accommodates two sides to Got.Knees’ musical personality – on the one hand, there is the flair for tightly-wound, alternative rock; on the other, a commitment to more exploratory ambient electronic.
What we end up with is a well-judged balance of both, forming an album which is able to cover quite a lot of thematic and textural ground without lacking cohesion. Got.Knees is pushing a new angle for contemporary alternative electronic and rock music.