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, sharing members with Cardiacs, Chrome Hoof, North Sea Radio Orchestra and Sidi Bou Said (as well as featuring London-based oud player Khyam Allami as 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 singer 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 August 17, 2009. It was preceded by the download single 'Pissed Up On Brake Fluid' on July 13, 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 as the full Knifeworld lineup, transforming it from a solo project to a full band (with Steve Gilchrist occasionally deputising for Allami when his burgeoning career as an ud player made him unavailable). This lineup changed once more replacing Allami with Ben Woolacott as a permanent replacement on drums, introducing Charlie Cawood on bass in the place of Craig Fortnam and expanding the brass section to include Josh Perl and Nicki Maher.
In winter 2010, Knifeworld began work on a second album. The first recorded evidence of the full band line-up emerged in December 2010 as a cover version of the Cardiacs song 'Stench of Honey' appearing 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, followed in the summer of 2012 by the Clairvoyant Fortnight EP.
- Buried Alone - Tales of Crushing Defeat ( Believers Roast, 2009)
1. Singled Out for Battery 2. The Wretched Fathoms 3. Corpses Feuding Underground 4. Severed of Horsehoof 5. No More Dying 6. An Arrival 7. Unwreckaged 8. Pissed Up On Brakefluid 9. The Money Shot 10. Torch 11. Me to the Future of You
- '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)