If you could imagine what it would sound like for Beck, Marilyn Manson, and Jim Morrison to play together in an experimental art rock band, you would probably think of something that sounds like The Book of Knots. You would also realize that this sound could go in multiple directions, ironically culminating in a singular style that seems to make sense overall. In their most recent album release Garden of Fainting Stars, The Book of Knots provide their listeners with a musical representation of aeronautics with an abstract artistry that resembles scattered unity.
As a whole, Garden of Fainting Stars seems to make a strong impression in terms of distinct sound and style. Most of the album’s individual tracks, however, fall short of leaving the listener with anything but an uneasy, disjointed feeling. This isn’t so much a negative quality for those who can appreciate atonal and dissonant music. Aside from tracks like “Microgravity” and “Moondust Must,” which demonstrate more melodic and lyrical qualities, there is little coherence within songs. “Drosophila Melanogaster” comes close once the dictated lyrics emerge from the distortion, but tracks like “All This Nothing” and “Nebula Rasa” take a more backdoor approach to music by blending cacophonous samples with jarring textures.
While Garden of Fainting Stars isn’t entirely art music for art music’s sake, it strays dangerously close to resembling the audible version of a red dot on canvas that modernists call “complex.” The aeronautical symbolism is there, but it’s buried under about twenty pounds of frantic disharmony.