Knifeworld (British rock band)
|Origin||London, England, United Kingdom|
|Genres||Alternative rock, psychedelic rock|
|Years active||Circa 2002–present|
The Monsoon Bassoon
North Sea Radio Orchestra
The Mediaeval Baebes
Hatchjaw and Bassett
|Past members||Craig Fortnam
Knifeworld has connections with various English musical projects both inside and outside the rock world, having shared members with Cardiacs, Chrome Hoof, North Sea Radio Orchestra and Sidi Bou Said (London-based oud player Khyam Allami also served as the band's original drummer).
Originally born in Tehran before a move to England while still a baby, Torabi had previously played with a succession of bands. Beginning his career in Die Laughing. and Squid Squad in his native Plymouth, he had moved to London and come to public attention as one of the two singing guitarists in The Monsoon Bassoon. Playing what Torabi described as "lysergic funk" and various reviewers described as psychedelia and math-rock, The Monsoon Bassoon scored three Singles of the Week in a row in New Musical Express in 1997 and 1998 and released a single album, I Dig Your Voodoo before splitting up in 2001. During this time Torabi had become a well-established member of the group of musicians centred around Cardiacs, whom he joined as guitarist in 2003, playing with them until the group’s enforced halt in 2008.
Torabi had formulated the ideas for Knifeworld as a solo project at around the time of the breakup of the Monsoon Bassoon, but took eight years to assemble, finalise and record the songs. For the band’s first recordings, he played the bulk of the instruments himself (guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, santoor, melodica, violins and "devices") as well as singing the majority of the lead vocals and writing, producing and arranging all of the material. Former Sidi Bou Said drummer Melanie Woods sang the rest of the lead vocals and also sang backing vocals. The recording sessions featured further contributions from a broad swathe of musical collaborators drawn from Torabi’s contacts on the London art-rock scene. Drums were played by Khyam Allami (ex-Ursa and Art of Burning Water). James Larcombe (Stars in Battledress/North Sea Radio Orchestra) played piano and Ben Jacobs (aka Max Tundra) played keyboards and trumpet. Katherine Blake (Mediaeval Baebes) played recorder and Crawford Blair (Geiger Counter/Foe/The Slow Life) contributed some bass guitar parts. Torabi's former Monsoon Bassoon bandmate Sarah Measures contributed saxophone, clarinet and flute, and further vocals were provided by Shona Davidson and former Ring singer Johnny Karma.
The debut Knifeworld album – Buried Alone - Tales of Crushing Defeat - was released on Torabi's own Believer's Roast label (via Genepool distribution) on 17 August 2009. It was preceded by the download single 'Pissed Up On Brake Fluid' on 13 July 2009. In summer 2009 Torabi set up a live Knifeworld band, led by himself as singer and guitarist with Woods remaining as second singer and Allami as drummer. Three new members were added: bass guitarist Craig Fortnam (better known as the leader of North Sea Radio Orchestra) and two members of the avant-garde rock orchestra Chrome Hoof (keyboard player Emmett Elvin and bassoonist/saxophonist/backing singer Chloe Herington). The live band made their debut at 93 Feet East, Spitalfields, London on 18 August 2009.
Soon afterwards, Torabi would formally establish this live lineup as the full Knifeworld lineup, transforming it from a solo project to a full band. Drummer Steve Gilchrist would occasionally deputise for Allami whenever the latter's burgeoning career as an ud player made him unavailable). In winter 2010, Knifeworld began new recordings. In December, the first full-band recording emerged: a cover version of the Cardiacs song 'Stench of Honey' appeared on Leader Of The Starry Skies: A Tribute To Tim Smith, Songbook 1 (a fundraising compilation album to benefit the hospitalised Cardiacs leader Tim Smith).
In July 2011, Knifeworld released the Dear Lord, No Deal EP, another full band recording. During the winter of 2011, Knifeworld changed its lineup again when both Allami and Fortnam departed amicably to concentrate on their own projects. Torabi recruited former Veils drummer Ben Woolacott, and Charlie Cawood (a multi-instrumentalist who also played with Tonochrome, Spiritwo and a host of bands in various disciplines) joined as the new bass guitarist. The new lineup recorded the Clairvoyant Fortnight EP, released in the summer of 2012 (and accompanied by a striking video shot by Thumpermonkey's Michael Woodman, set in an Edwardian seance and featuring a guest appearance by snooker star (and progressive rock advocate) Steve Davis.
In the early autumn of 2012, Knifeworld teamed up with two other bands with similar aims (London's The Fierce and the Dead, and Salford's Trojan Horse) for a series of British gigs called the Stabbing a Dead Horse Tour. Shortly before the tour the band became an octet, adding two more saxophonists (Josh Perl and Nicki Maher). The band would play further assorted gigs in the UK during 2013, and in September 2013 released their first new material for over a year - the download single "Don't Land On Me", which featured a guest appearance by former Do Me Bad Things singer Chantal Brown and a performance video filmed by The Chaos Engineers.
Having signed to Inside Out Music in early 2014, Knifeworld released their second album, The Unravelling. Around the time of the album release, Nicki Maher stepped down from the band to be replaced by Oliver Sellwood (the saxophonist for A Sweet Niche and Workers Union Ensemble).
- Kavus Torabi - lead vocals, guitars (also keyboards, santoor, "devices" and other instruments on record as and when required)
- Melanie Woods - backing & lead vocals, percussion, glockenspiel
- Emmett Elvin - electric piano, keyboards, synthesizers
- Charlie Cawood - bass guitar
- Ben Woolacott - drums, percussion
- Chloe Herrington - bassoon, saxophone, backing vocals
- Josh Perl - saxophone, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
- Oliver Sellwood - saxophone
- Craig Fortnam - bass guitar
- Khyam Allami - drums
- Steve Gilchrist - drums
- Nicki Maher - saxophone, clarinet, backing vocals
- Buried Alone - Tales of Crushing Defeat ( Believers Roast, 2009)
- The Unravelling ( Inside Out Music, 2014)
- 'Pissed Up On Brake Fluid' / 'Happy Half-Life, Dear Friend' (Believers Roast, 2009)
- Dear Lord, No Deal (Believers Roast, 2011)
- Clairvoyant Fortnight (Believers Roast, 2012)
- 'Don't Land On Me' (Believers Roast, 2013)