Punknews.org
Knowledge - A Gift Before I Go (Cover Artwork)

Knowledge

Knowledge: A Gift Before I GoA Gift Before I Go (1998)
Asian Man Records

Reviewer Rating: 4


Contributed by: GlassPipeMurderGlassPipeMurder
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everything. So goes the moniker of one Lawrence "Kris" Parker, but for frontman Nick Traina, Knowledge was more of a rebound from Link 80, the Bay Area ska band from which he was ousted as vocalist while battling drug abuse, depression and attempted suicide. .
iTunes StoreAmazon


Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everything. So goes the moniker of one Lawrence "Kris" Parker, but for frontman Nick Traina, Knowledge was more of a rebound from Link 80, the Bay Area ska band from which he was ousted as vocalist while battling drug abuse, depression and attempted suicide.

The son of famed harlequin author Danielle Steel, Traina had grown up in a wealthy but broken home, a bi-polar manic depressive with a gift for music and an affinity for living life on the edge. As his unpredictability led his bandmates in Link 80 to move on without him, Traina sought to start over with Knowledge.

A Gift Before I Go is actually a demo, released posthumously after Traina committed suicide at age 19 in 1997. However, it's a phenomenal demo both in recording quality and content. In somewhat of similar manner as Link 80, the cornerstone of the Knowledge sound is a combination of hyper ska and punk rock, though with no horns and perhaps a broader palette.

Whereas Link 80 generally focused on more of a straight-ahead ska-punk style, Knowledge does a bit more, incorporating a spectrum that includes influences from Desmond Dekker to Bloodlet with Crimpshrine in between. The band covers the former doing a take on the Jamaican classic "Unity," while "Against the Rest" features heavy riffing and a more metal vocal approach in a similar vein as the dark hardcore of Bloodlet. The band incorporates both approaches on the opener "Still Standing," which alternates between slam-pit savagery and hotstepping ska.

Lyrically, Traina admonishes an apathetic generation on the playful "Clinton Youth" while waxing inspirational on the Suicide Machines-styled "Don't Give Up." The band delivers one of their best tracks on the melodic punk of "Brotherhood," which is as the title suggests, an endearing tribute to close friendship.

The best song of the album is the harrowing closer "Gnat (I'm All Alone)", a chillingly minimalist testimonial of Traina's thoughts and feelings just before his death: "i have been shown my heart of stone / Feeling it in my broken bones / Love I can't have, the dad I won't have / The child was left here all alone." It's an incredibly prophetic and sadly appropriate end to the album that he never in his life saw released.

This album isn't perfect, but the circumstances surrounding it give it a special kind of aura that can't be qualified in a review. Who knows whether he would have wanted it released, but proceeds from the record go to the Nick Traina Foundation to benefit mental health, music and other child-related causes. Traina's life and struggles are chronicled in his mother's book His Bright Light, an incredibly insightful look into the mind of someone battling manic depression in the midst of adolescence. As for A Gift Before I Go, it is what it is: a beautiful gift from a life cut far too short.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Dan Vapid and the Cheats - TwoKoffin Kats - Our Way & The HighwayVarious - 50 [12-inch]Pelican - What We All Come to NeedPacer - No. 1 [10-inch]Cheifs - 'Holly-West' Crisis [vinyl reissue]Vic Ruggiero / The Forthrights - Ska Is Dead, Vol. 3 [7-inch club]The Dreadnoughts - Polka's Not DeadUnited Nations - Never Mind the Bombings, Here's Your Six Figures [7-inch]Various - Past Present: Breaking Out the Classics

Please login or register to post comments.What are the benefits of having a Punknews.org account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on the stories that interest you
  • Rate music and bands and help shape the weekly top ten
  • Let Punknews.org use your ratings to help you find bands and albums you might like
  • Customize features on the site to get the news the way you want.
Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
lushj (July 19, 2010)

I prefer KRS-One.

friokir (July 19, 2010)

the secret of life is knowledge

superskabro (July 18, 2010)

daisy dukes, bikini on top

wallofyouth (July 18, 2010)

my friend from high school lived in his house after him! ahh

nedsammy (July 18, 2010)

it's stupid that in all my asian man records orders i never got this. Brotherhood was a great song, i'll look into it.

runneruprecords (July 17, 2010)

this album can roll with the best of link 80's stuff any day of the week.

evildeadalive (July 16, 2010)

Pretty much nailed it with the review.

ZappBrannigan (July 16, 2010)

Great review of a great album.

Cos (July 16, 2010)

My old roommate had this CD, I knew the drummer, but I've never listened to this. Hrrmph.

hubitcherkokov (July 16, 2010)

I love this record and His Bright Light was a pretty good read, from what I remember (yikes...it's been nearly 10 years since I've read it). If you're interested in Link80, particularly the first two releases, you'll enjoy this.

Exclusive Streams

Sponsored


Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Other Places to Go