The Carpet Knights - "Lost And So Strange Is My Mind"

Transubstans Records
Trans 009
Conclusion: 6 out of 10

The Carpet Knights is a five-piece band from Malmö, Sweden, that formed in 1998
Although at times the line-up has fluctuated, it's been stable since 2002 and consists of
Mattias Ankarbranth on drums and percussion; Tobias Wulff on guitars; Magnus Nilsson
on vocals and flute; Joakim Jönsson on guitars and vocals; and Nils Andersson on bass
guitar. The Carpet Knights have released a debut CD titled Lost And So Strange Is My
, which is being distributed by Record Heaven, a label I've always known to release
and/or promote very excellent progressive and progressive-tinged rock music. The Carpet
(especially with the band's mild similarity to Lucifer Was) fit into Record Heaven's
niche very well.

One strength of this band is it's use of flute. And, really, I might say that the band's
refusal to overuse the flute is also a strength. For example, All Be The Same begins with a
touch of Nilsson's flute work that echoes Roots To Branches-era Tull, a period in which Ian
changed from a throaty, Kirkian blower into a discrete but still powerful
woodwindist. The song features a flute solo as well that is far more charming than biting,
and yet, it doesn't rob the track of intensity. And with or without the flute, this song is
one of the best on the release, showcasing a lead vocalist with a rich, developed delivery
and tempered phrasing. The 15/8 count in the verses is tricky but never jarring. I also
enjoyed the background vocals but I thought that they could've been more pronounced.
If the flute tones are noteworthy on this track, the guitar tone isn't always, especially in
the solo, where it's thin and brittle and too weak. All-in-all, though, a first-rate track and
a smart way to start off the proceedings.

Fools And Silent Callers is another track containing just enough flute accents to keep the
sound enjoyable rather than tedious. Hats off to The Carpet Knights for managing the
flute convention well. On this track, the rhythm section of Ankarbranth and Andersson
shine with deft playing that recalls the old-school style of The Jimi Hendrix Experience
or Led Zeppelin. Again, I'm impressed by the vocals; the singer has a slightly nasally but
very professional voice: it fits the music very well and constantly draws attention. The
band does a great job with some irregular signatures on this track and the Asian/Indian
dual guitar work is an appreciable study in counterpoint and balance.

There are a few standout tracks that do not feature the flute, as well.

No Space To Spare is a neat, lizard-loungy groove with some spacey guitar. The dual
vocals are perfect and the main guitar riff awkward, slippery, and slanted but it's ideal
for the song. This track recalls The Doors, especially in the quarter-tone inflected, sitar-
style solo. There's no great pop hook here but it's a solid song, and the choruses are

Zonked is heavy and throbbing and I'd swear to a S.T.P./Scott Weiland influence on the
vocals. This song doesn't have enormous grip and the spacey effects are trite, but
there's kind of a cool stoner ambience in the bridge vocal section. This might sound really
good live...

The Mist is one of a couple very mellow offerings. The drumming is very tight and crisp on
this song and keeps thelisteners's sleepiness at bay. In some ways, the tune reminds me
of latter-day, lower-ranged Geoff Tate Queensr˙che. An effective effort at mood and
coloration. The chorus is very powerful but controlled to convey sneakiness and sinister

A few tracks didn't work as well as others.

Dab Nekan is instrumental except for the background vocals and has a crawling intro that
moves into a more playful organ riff. There's a spare bit of acoustic guitar and the whole
song reminds me a little of some of the more exotic stuff on Cheap Trick's last album,
Special One. This one never really gets off the ground.

I found Feel It to be OK, in a Doors-meets-Pink Floyd fashion, and I expect stoners will
eat this up, but it seemed gratuitous and too static. The balance between the metal riffs
and the spacey passages is appropriate, although it's not exactly my thing.

Sad Soul is another mellow track with a dreamy opening and more syncopated, irregular
timing. I felt like this song could be a relative hit in the mainstream if it were set in 4/4.
Yeah, it might be selling out to use a standard signature, but on a 10-song CD, if you sell
out on one track, you've got nine more on which to "do your own thing"... Sad Soul has a
fluid chorus to break up the drone-like verses. The closing section reminds me somewhat
of middle-period Yes, especially with the echoed guitar chords floating above the rhythm
section. This is a decent track but I thing it might work better "unprogged".

By the time I got to the final track, Last Of Many, I was a little tired of The Carpet Knights.
Yes, the singing is fine, the playing is accomplished, and there's definitely some verve in
the tracks, but I felt like the sound wasn't deviating that much. I did like the electric piano
opening and the track does have a good, early 70s heavy-rock quality but, by 48-plus
minutes, I needed a novel noise and this wasn't it. Despite any shortcomings, Lost And
So Strange Is My Mind
is a quality disc. The whole album has a contemporary sound,
almost a blend of the better alt-rock with prog, but pushed forward into "The Now".
There's a modicum of heaviness to many tracks but nothing ever crosses into scream-o. I
can recommend this on the strength of the singing, the songs themselves, the use of the
flute, and the intelligent arrangements. The CD is perhaps too long and maybe The
Carpet Knights
need to expand the instrumentation and tonal palette to fend of the sonic
blur between tracks, but I still think this is worth the time of prog fans. If you enjoy Tull
or Lucifer Was, or any Record Heaven release, you can safely give Lost And So Strange
Is My Mind
a try.