A Word Is Also a Picture of a Word

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AllMusic Review by Charles Spano

The title of 31 Knots' debut full-length, A Word Is Also a Picture of a Word, was taken from Don DeLillo's novel Libra. Like DeLillo's fictional speculation of the events leading Lee Harvey Oswald to President Kennedy's assassination, 31 Knots' album is undeniably sinister, evoking conspiracy and "men in small rooms" with a calculating precision and complexly constructed matrix that would do the novel proud. The guitar and bass move and change with a frenetic nervousness over complicated rhythms. 31 Knots desperately dodges simple labels as A Word Is Also a Picture of a Word grinds from a Jawbox intensity to experimental start/stop guitar parts ("E for Alpha"), from Fugazi politics and riffs interchanged with dreamy melodies ("Buy High Sell Low") to math rock ("Pity Has No Power"). Lyrics apply a sense of institution and red-tape mechanisms to deeply emotional ground. On "Frozen Found Fire," Joe Haege sings "by the last count my hands were co-conspirators." The target of the plot might just be the world of easy-to-categorize rock music.

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