Published Aug 27, 2020People had a lot of opinions about Krill — they were too juvenile, too cerebral, too self-aware, not self-aware enough. One thing that was difficult to dispute, however, was that Krill had songs. If you preferred your rock to skew mathy and humorous, then Krill were the band for you — like the sickly lovechild of Cake and Slint (and a healthy dose of fellow Bostonians Pile), Krill made itchy, silly and ultimately meaningful music.
Following their break-up in 2015, the band told fans why — they'd gone back to school, dedicating their time to fighting for public housing and tenants' rights. They got to work. Their statement also struck at an idea about the alternative music scene that would come to greater light years later — "People sell engagement in this community as inherently countercultural, oppositional, and antagonistic to power. It's not."
Given this year's tidal wave of abuse allegations against bands, labels and music industry players, Krill's parting message seems almost prophetic — the belief that these leftist, artistic spaces are fundamentally good or useful has officially crumbled, a collapse that many on the inside saw coming for years.
So how do a band like Krill return to this burning empire? With a new name and a new sense of purpose. Knot are essentially the same band as Krill, though they're now joined by guitarist Joe DeManuelle-Hall. And Knot, their debut record, sounds quite a bit like a Krill record. However, Knot is cleaner, meaner and less interested in catharsis than in tension. The record's highlights — opener "Fallow," the seasick "Horse Trotting, the Feet Not Touching the Ground," restless closer "Space and Time" — hum with clear-eyed determination.
The band's name is fitting; each song is built on intricate tangles of guitar and rhythm, a game of constant pressure and release. Jonah Furman's lyrics are still dense and brainy, but they're more concerned with institutions and power this time around. It's too easy to assign some skewed political meaning to just about any art released these days, but Knot feels like the real deal, a soundtrack to fight for something better than what Krill left behind. As Furman sings on "The World," ""I don't want another world / I want this one." (Exploding in Sound)