Honorary Bachelors of Arts (Self Sabotage)
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., Dec. 4, 2015
Veterans of the experimental wars, Thor Harris, Jonathan Horne, and Randall Holt bring their sonic scars to bear on Honorary Bachelors of Arts. The download-only debut by the Austin super trio finds percussionist Harris (Swans, Shearwater) hopping from rhythm to rhythm like an amphibian, underscoring propulsive guitar chords from Horne (Plutonium Farmers), and cellist Holt's legato leads. Instrumentals generally divide into genres – jazz, surf, ambient – but Knest creates wordless sounds without borders. "Sycamore Propellers" chops acoustic guitar, cello, and vibraphone into a waking dream, while "Beholden to Nothing That Is Not There, and Nothing That Is" pushes quiet intensity to the edge of nightmare. "Transnational Rationality Attack" puts Holt's swirling drone through a distortion pedal as Horne and Harris throb the backbeat, and the latter's shuffle on "Moving Us to Keep Whole" lifts a keening cello above soothing ambience. Crackling interplay shifts Honorary Bachelors of Arts from adventurousness to the razor's edge of early fusion.