Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
coverpic flag US - Texas - Full Moon 36 - 09/25/99

Knife in the Water
Slavery b/w Redbird
Western Vinyl

Country music is the true music of the night. All that is known in day becomes more and more uncertain as light's bearings fall away from your senses, rails and references fail, and judgments defer to shadow and drunken merriment. Fueled by the honky-tonk clink of ice-cold longnecks, eyes blurry and desperate from unbottled smoke, natural light buried with neon lights, the bandstand transfigures this evening's hallucinations into melting tones for the crowd. When they are up there under the night lights, Knife in the Water has always proved capable of melting me down in my own stool and shoes (as has Emmylou or Shania Twain, but that's a whole nuther haystack).

Slavery, just for a moment (as opposed to an eternity), begins with a bass figure similar to the Pixies' Gigantic, but once that steel guitar swoops down, blurring all them notes that in broad daylight stay solid, stolid, the song really lifts off. Drifting through some pretty heinous images, the band weakens your natural inclination to wince at the horror that is not merely a picture from life's other side, but a real-life movie.

Redbird crawls closer to the awkward, stark mis(t)ery of the Corwood Industries, the song's core black with words, shadows, tambourine death rattles. These voices, one the man's, the melody, the other the woman's, the harmony, these opposites are no longer so separate on the record of pure reeling midnight. Listening in the dark, their two throats meld intuitively into each other, as one entity. You close your eyes to better feel the sounds move over you, drawing you into the void of bed with them.

Each side reveals, perhaps even revels in the sad desperate truth of every night, where all reality returns to the comfort of a lightless home, a dim-lit bar. Like a morality play (or is it mortality play?), country music has a cathartic affect on the listener: how can I feel so bad yet at the same time two-step and clap at the end? Knife in the Water is somehow balanced on this paradox. Their words are nightmares, but the music is a(n) (n)everwaking dream.


Copyright © 1999 Andy Beta e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Knife in the Water articles/reviews: Crosspross Bells, Plays one sound and others, Red River + Sunset Motel (7").

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