NEWS and features
PROG MAGAZINE ISSUE 83 (KNELLS FEATURE, PLUS KNELLS II LANDS THE #8 ON SID SMITH'S "BEST OF 2017" LIST)
December 21, 2017
"You know the feeling when you’ve got a tune buzzing around in your head? It’s like an itch you can’t easily scratch. So imagine the frustration of being a classical composer but hearing tunes of a decidedly rockier nature that are unlikely to go down too well in the New York contemporary classical music scene in which you work. What to do?"
TEXTURA NAMES KNELLS II #13 ON 2017 BEST OF 10s AND 20s LIST (KNELLS II ALBUM REVIEW)
December 14, 2017
"No band sounds quite like The Knells. Spearheaded by guitarist-and-composer Andrew McKenna Lee, the Brooklyn-based outfit backs a trio of classical female singers with a heavy, two guitar-fueled ensemble. Whether your label preference is progressive rock or art rock, the unit's sophomore collection, Knells II, is as strong as its 2013 debut, and the band's sound, though a bit heavier, remains pretty much intact..."
DUTCH PROGRESSIVE ROCK PAGE (KNELLS II ALBUM REVIEW)
December 3, 2017
"In short this is an album that challenges your preconceptions in a pleasurable way, as it begins to unfold its myriad delights to attentive listeners. In addition, the music here is nothing short of stunning, with a lot of motion in the background. Whilst I doubt it will reach the heights it surely warrants, now is the time to catch up with this band before they crossover into the public domain."
EXPOSÉ ONLINE (KNELLS II ALBUM REVIEW)
November 22, 2017
"What is most unique and unusual about this band is that all the vocals are arranged for a three part female vocal chorus (Blythe Gaissert, Charlotte Mundy, and Nina Berman), and indeed, while there are a couple instrumental tracks, the bulk of the album’s ten cuts are vocals, organized into two side-long suites that flow together beautifully. Lyrics are very thoughtful, delivered in an almost medieval chorale style, and the instrumental support is a solid art rock in service to this huge vocal presence."
KNELLS FEATURED ON WNYC'S NEW SOUNDS #4048
November 17, 2017
"Listen to music that features multiple voices, sometimes accompanied as in music by Andrew McKenne Lee or Frances White, and other times unaccompanied, as in music by Danish composer Bo Holten or Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Sample music which contains a small chorus in the composed art rock with prog leanings by Andrew McKenna Lee as performed by The Knells. The Knells are a group that was born out an appreciation for ‘60s pop vocal groups and “boredom with the typical rock band archetype.” The band is comprised of guitarist/composer Lee and soprano Nina Berman, mezzo Charlotte Mundy, alto Blythe Gaissert, guitarist Paul Orbell, percussionist Jude Traxler, drummer Jeff Gretz and bassist Joseph Higgins."
SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND (KNELLS II REVIEW)
November 17, 2017
Four years after their debut, NYC ensemble The Knells are back with an exquisitely original album whose riveting musical content is matched by the stylish packaging. Led by gifted guitarist/composer Andrew McKenna Lee, the band boast a trio of classically-trained female vocalists whose contributions will remind listeners of Canterbury’s famed Northettes, lending a hauntingly medieval, mystical feel to the challenging, yet eminently listenable instrumental tapestry.
PROG MAGAZINE ISSUE 82 (KNELLS II ALBUM REVIEW)
November 15, 2017
"Aside from the vibrant guitar and muscular drumming, this band’s unique signature sound emanates from the beautifully written three-part harmony vocals of Nina Berman, soprano, Charlotte Mundy, mezzo-soprano and Blythe Gaissert, contralto. With a delivery that’s more akin to medieval polyphony, their sweet yet sour voices shimmer and glow. Like silver and golden threads woven deep into the fabric of the music, they assuage the often acerbic scrape of their instrumental backing with layers of silky emollient."
CAN THIS EVEN BE CALLED MUSIC (KNELLS II ALBUM REVIEW)
November 13, 2017
You don’t often see, or hear, a troupe of classically trained musicians making progressive rock music along with an all-female vocal trio. Yet, as its name alludes to, Knells II is the second album of New York’s The Knells, a band united under Andrew McKenna Lee’s vision. The compositions are rather short and to-the-point, but are meticulously written with many intertwined layers more akin to a woven tapestry than merely a bunch of parallel threads. Knells the Second is a direct successor of the first of its name, superior in every regard – except in duration. The Knells was a surprising and fortuitous discovery, and I hope I’ve made you discover it yourselves!
PROGSHEET (KNELLS II TRACK BY TRACK FEATURE)
November 13, 2017
"Led by classical guitar wunderkind Andrew McKenna Lee, Knells combine classical idioms with highly experimental, pretty much category-free music. Very challenging and deeply satisfying. Read on as Lee goes through the new Knells release track by track..."
Track 1: First Song
AML: Musically, the introduction and first large section of the song takes a structural cue from some of J.S. Bach's instrumental preludes (BWV 999 and 1007 for example) which frequently feature slowly unfolding arpeggiated chord progressions over a pedal or drone-like bass line. From there, it transitions to a comparatively gentle pre-chorus that sets the stage for a large, anthemic chorus, whose lyrical message — "just cut the ball and chain and free yourself" — is both the heart of the song and the album as a whole.
HEAVY BLOG IS HEAVY (KNELLS II ALBUM REVIEW)
November 10, 2017
"...But it’s the choirs which steals the show; moving from evocative harmonies to clever counter-points, it injects the entire track with a grandeur that’s hard to resist. Everything turns almost funereal, in the sense of the unspeakably large, the overbearing presence of something ephemeral... What seems to us to be epic and over the top is the starting point for The Knells, here and elsewhere."
THE PROGRESSIVE ASPECT (KNELLS II ALBUM REVIEW)
November 6, 2017
"The pieces forge themselves from a lifetime of listening and influences, all the choices are well made as this second release takes things a step forward, feeling more cohesive and mature as a result. There really aren’t any standout tracks as the quality of the album as a whole is so high... This is a superb listen that scratches places that few other releases even think of going to. It’s intelligent, considered but retains a rawness and energy, the results being both refreshing and cleansing. Stunning."
THE BIG TAKEOVER PREMIERES KNELLS II ALBUM STREAM
November 3, 2017
The Big Takeover is delighted to premiere Knells II, an album that combines art rock and classical sophistication for an unusual and entrancing sound.
The band states, “In contrast to the first Knells album, Knells II is leaner, grittier, and a bit more down to earth. While the individual songs are generally shorter and flirt with more conventional song forms, the album itself was conceived as a large, through-connected arch, and is intended to be experienced as a single entity.”
SPILL MAGAZINE PREMIERES "POLTERGEIST" VIDEO
October 26, 2017
“Poltergeist” is a dark comedy about addiction, unhealthy obsession, or any other type of self-defeating compulsion. It’s also about choices: will you do the work necessary to break the spell that binds you, or do you somehow find solace in your own despair?
“Poltergeist is a song about unhealthy obsessions, and our impulse to sometimes indulge in self-defeating behaviors, in whatever form they might assert or manifest themselves.” —Andrew McKenna Lee
ALTPROGCORE (KNELLS II ALBUM REVIEW)
October 22, 2017
Nel 2013 il primo album dei The Knells fu una folgorazione: il gruppo si presentò come un atipico ensemble tra il Rock In Opposition e il neoclassico che affiancava alla caratteristica formazione rock con chitarra, batteria e basso, tre cantanti con impostazione operistica e una sezione di archi. Il risultato fu un sound unico che fondeva avant-garde, psichedelia, minimalismo e progressive rock.
NEW NOISE MAGAZINE PREMIERES KNELLS II SINGLE, "SUB ROSA"
September 28, 2017
We’re pleased to bring you the premiere of The Knells’ new song “Sub Rosa” (listen below)... Andrew McKenna Lee of The Knells commented on the song:
“The literal translation of the Latin phrase ‘Sub Rosa’ is ‘under the rose.’ The phrase is generally used in English to connote secrecy or covertness. The song is essentially an anthem to our most precious resource as human beings – time – and the idea that we should make the most of it, since we never know when our final moment might come.”
KNELLS II (OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE)
September 20, 2017
The Knells Combine Art Rock and Classical Sophistication on New Album: NEW YORK — September 20, 2017 — The brainchild of guitarist and composer Andrew McKenna Lee, The Knells trace their roots back through nearly 1000 years of western classical music and refract them through the lenses of progressive, psychedelic, and experimental rock. On Knells II, releasing November 10 on Lee’s own imprint, Still Sound Records, the band further refines their unique sound with a collection of songs that seek emotional absolution beneath their dark-hued facades. Knells II will be available via digital download, CD, and limited edition vinyl through the band's page at Bandcamp.
SOLO PERFORMANCE AT 2017 AMERICAN MUSIC FESTIVAL
June 8, 2017
"Amid the flurry of festival events, the programs with soloists offered a welcome feeling of calm and intimacy. Saturday night, after the big program from the ASO, Andrew McKenna Lee offered a set on solo guitar in one of the EMPAC studios. His original compositions had a beguiling blend of classical dignity with unexpected harmonic turns and were performed with virtuosic skill."
WMHT RADIO INTERVIEW
May 5, 2017
An interview with WMHT's Rob Brown about The Black Pool, commissioned by the Albany Symphony for their Dogs of Desire ensemble and the 2017 American Music Festival.
ALBANY TIMES UNION FEATURE
February 2, 2017
"The switch from acoustic guitar to electric guitar speaks to Lee's diversity and tastes. As further evidence, there's the Knells, which is the name of Lee's eight-piece ensemble, what he calls his "band." He describes the music as a mix of the Italian Renaissance composer Palestrina with the rock band Yes.
'That kind of reconnects with my youth. Like a lot of kids, I grew up with an electric guitar, immersed in the worlds of progressive rock and classic rock," says Lee. "As a teenager in a rural area, I'd walk around listening to music on a cassette Walkman. I wondered, how do I create these types of experiences?'"
DAVID T. LITTLE'S DOG DAYS MAKES NPR'S 50 BEST ALBUMS OF 2016 LIST
December 5, 2016
The premiere recording, which was edited and mixed by Andrew McKenna Lee, is a modern opera tour de force:
"If you thought opera was all about genteel sopranos singing of love, try counting the F-bombs in Dog Days, the trailblazing 2012 work by composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Varek, which has received its richly deserved first recording. This story of a rural, post-apocalyptic family — with gun-toting father, resourceful mother, stoner sons, impressionable daughter and a man in a dog suit — scrapes deep under the skin to comment on humanity in its most tender, terrifying and alienating expressions."
Washington Post Review of Maya Beiser's Trance Classical, including David T. Little's Hellhound (featuring Andrew McKenna Lee)
August 12, 2016
"The odd man out, so to speak, is David T. Little’s gloriously thunderous Hellhound. Inspired by bluesman Robert Johnson, the six-minute assault, trudging like a metal anthem, ignites in blistering electric guitar riffs from Andrew McKenna Lee and equal voltage from Beiser’s squalling cello."
TOKAFI 15 QUESTIONS INTERVIEW
"Interviews with Andrew McKenna Lee tend to run deep and into unexpected places. When I last spoke with him in May of 2007, the conversation dealt with, among others, the benefits of a more intellectually oriented understanding of a composer's intentions, standing naked on a mountain top and the ongoing influence of New York on his writing...
INTERVIEW ON PROGRESSIVE ROCK CENTRAL
"The impressive debut album The Knells by The Knells was one of the musical highlights in the progressive rock scene in 2013. Band leader Andrew McKenna Lee reveals details about the album and his musical background."
BACKTRACKING FEATURE WITH TEXTURA
"As if releasing one of 2013's most original sounding albums wasn't enough (read the textura review here), The Knells now complement that feat with an in-depth, track-by-track breakdown of its self-titled debut album (which also, incidentally, nabbed the number nine slot in textura's 2013 top 20 albums list). Fronted by guitarist-composer-lyricist Andrew McKenna Lee, the ensemble's bold fusion of guitar-heavy prog-rock with classical singing and string quartet playing sounds unlike anything else released in 2013."