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A Word Is Also a Picture of a Word

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Album Review

The title of 31 Knots' debut full-length, A Word Is Also a Picture of a Word, was taken from Don DeLillo's novel Libra. Like DeLillo's fictional speculation of the events leading Lee Harvey Oswald to President Kennedy's assassination, 31 Knots' album is undeniably sinister, evoking conspiracy and "men in small rooms" with a calculating precision and complexly constructed matrix that would do the novel proud. The guitar and bass move and change with a frenetic nervousness over complicated rhythms. 31 Knots desperately dodges simple labels as A Word Is Also a Picture of a Word grinds from a Jawbox intensity to experimental start/stop guitar parts ("E for Alpha"), from Fugazi politics and riffs interchanged with dreamy melodies ("Buy High Sell Low") to math rock ("Pity Has No Power"). Lyrics apply a sense of institution and red-tape mechanisms to deeply emotional ground. On "Frozen Found Fire," Joe Haege sings "by the last count my hands were co-conspirators." The target of the plot might just be the world of easy-to-categorize rock music.


Formed: 1997 in Portland, OR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

31Knots fuse complex rhythms with jagged guitars for mathematical songs that zigzag through changes and anxious start-stop riffs, calling to mind Sonic Youth, Modest Mouse, the Ex, and even Fugazi's more challenging work. Experimentalists on par with bands like Tortoise, the members of 31Knots stand apart by playing music that is distinctly rock & roll, though not easily classifiable as prog rock or math rock. Guitarist Joe Haege and bassist Jay Winebrenner have been playing under the 31 Knots moniker...
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A Word Is Also a Picture of a Word, 31Knots
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