If there is a tide, Bent Knee are usually keen to push against it. The experimental Boston band is often saddled with some variation of the “art-rock” tag, and that’s all well and good. But where most bands of that ilk — “experimental”, “art-rock” — create jarring sounds meant to confront and combat, Bent Knee’s surrealist pop serves to draw in the listener through comfort and warmth (even if the lyrical content resides in other, more frigid territories).
This week, Bent Knee release their latest album of personal and musical complexities, titled Say So and out Friday on Cuneiform Records. It’s a grand effort that’s already gained international attention and plenty of hometown buzz, and in advance of Thursday’s record release party at ONCE Ballroom in Somerville, Vanyaland is honored to premiere a left-of-center look from the new album, the debut of Massachusetts performance series Live From Nowhere.
The inaugural Live From Nowhere video, crafted by series creators Emily Graham-Handley and Nico Rivers, features Bent Knee performing Say So single “Leak Water”, filmed back in February within the abandoned stone foundation of a 17th-century Bay State house. Other Live From Nowhere shoots, with new videos coming in the pipeline leading up to a September 22 series release show at the Davis Square Theatre in Somerville, include a deserted tunnel, a defunct railroad bridge, and an abandoned state hospital.
The winter backdrop for “Leak Water” provides a nice context for the song, and in a time of year where spring fever has everyone in a vice grip, the snow is another example, even if unintentional, of Bent Knee pushing against the trends of the day.
“Fresh snow had fallen the night before, providing a pristine backdrop — albeit a frigid one — for the recording,” says Bent Knee’s Chris Baum. “Fending off frozen fingers and toes, we managed to capture this special unplugged performance, and are thrilled to debut Nico and Emily’s new concert film series.”
The idea behind Live From Nowhere was to take bands and musicians off the stages and out of the clubs, and allow them to create additional art against untraditional backdrops. “Live from Nowhere has given us the opportunity to see a side of the state we wouldn’t otherwise get to see,” says Rivers. “It’s given us the chance witness intimate performances from amazing artists in locations that have been otherwise overlooked or forgotten.”
Adds Graham-Handley: “Some of the abandoned spots we’ve shot in have been significantly off the grid. Bent Knee was incredibly game, trekking through fresh snow in the middle of February and then delivering this performance. It was a real honor and total blast to work with them.”