Book of the Dead (05)
Black Garden (10)
K2 (live performing line-up) - Josh Gleason (vocals), Ryo Okumoto (keys), Ken Jaquess (bass),
Karl Johnson (guitar) and Doug Sanborn (drums)
Original Entry 6/29/06:
Ken plays bass, keyboards and 10-string acoustic and was also the composer, arranger and producer, so K2 is really his "baby". But the list of other band members reads like a who's who of progressive rock. The main guitars are handled by prog icon Allan Holdsworth (UK, Bruford, Pierre Moerlen's Gong etc.), piano and Moog by Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard), vocals by the late, great Shaun Guerin (Clearlight and Genesis tribute band Cinema Show) plus drummer Doug Sanborn. Additional musicians include Art Rock Circus members John Miner playing additional guitars and Yvette Devereaux on violin. If you're afraid this sounds like a hopeless mishmash of styles, have no fear! Jaquess gets all these musicians pulling together on a magical journey into the ancient Egyptian afterlife.
Soaring guitars, blasts of Mellotron and more modern symphonic keyboard sounds, busy Chris Squire-like bass lines, early Beardish synth solos and Guerin's dead-ringer-for-Peter Gabriel vocals immediately put this album into the comfort zone of anyone who has heard any of the work of these artists before. The convergence of styles here, which might have proven to be jarring or inappropriate given the diversity of the band, instead lead the listener down a path of delightful twists and turns. The whole album stays surprising and holds the interest for the entire duration, and has even more to reveal on subsequent listenings. This last, in my opinion, is what separates the good from the phenomenal, and K2 lands squarely in the second category. This is a must-have album for anyone who likes any of the bands these folks have come from.
Not content with simply releasing a great CD, Jaquess decided to take the band on the road for a tour. After a slight name change* from K2 to K2, he was left with the problem of Allan Holdsworth not being available to tour and Shaun Guerin's untimely death. Holdsworth's replacement for the live version of K2 is Karl Johnson, former guitarist for Atlantis. For the vocalist, Jaquess acquired yet another singer from a Genesis tribute band, Josh Gleason from The Waiting Room. The live band is rounded out by Jaquess, Okumoto and Sanborn from the studio band. I haven't heard them in this form, but since I liked Johnson's guitar work in Atlantis, I suspect K2 is a great live act as well. Josh Gleason's voice (judging from the MP3 samples on The Waiting Room web site) is also quite Gabrielesque, though a bit deeper in tone than Gabriel, which should work well for K2's songs. Perhaps one day we'll be offered a live album for those of us who won't be on the tour route.
In the meantime, K2's popularity has been high enough that a second album is under strong consideration. If it materializes, Jaquess believes that Holdsworth will again play on the album. -- Fred Trafton
*Ken told me, "We have new managment and they think we should just stick with K2, (even though its REALLY K-squared). K2 is just easier to remember and its easier to search the web." Ken recently registered K2 as a trademark.
|Links||[See Art Rock Circus | Atlantis | Clearlight | Shaun Guerin | Allan Holdsworth | Spock's Beard]|
Deeds And Talks (77)
Quirky prog mixing folk, Mediaeval traditional and classical music with blues, funk and other mainstream styles. Some bits remind of Jethro Tull minus the flute, others of Bob Welch-period Fleetwood Mac, still others indescribable. The funky "When Shall We Know?" sounds like Stevie Wonder circa Talking Book with a prog feel! Other tracks range from the bluesy ("Are You Turning?") to the symphonic ("Suit-Case"). An offbeat mix that grows on you. -- Mike Ohman
From Our Friends To Our Friends (76)
Prog rarity, private pressing.
Kada is a 7+ piece band that is obviously Henry
Cow / Soft Machine / Wetton-era
King Crimson influenced. Rather than taking a
symphonic approach to their music, they take a more jazz/RIO approach. Plenty
of horns, sax and Fripp-like lead and Wetton-like
bass. Unlike other King Crimson rip-off
bands, I don't consider Kada to be a rip off band as there's some freshness
and uniqueness about this album.
Even though Kada is from Hungary, their self-titled album (which is excellent) sports a western sound rather than an eastern euro sound. Highly recommended to KC, Henry Cow or Soft Machine fans. At times I am reminded of Larks Tongues in Aspic by KC and other times I am reminded of LegEnd and/or Unrest by Henry Cow. An excellent album from 1999 that sounds like it could have been released in 1972/1973. -- Betta
|Links||Click here to order Kada from M&M Music|
One other album? (89?)
|Kafka's Musikanervosa is an album reputed to sound like U2.|
|Links||Click here to download Kafka songs from C|NET download.com|
Inget Nytt Under Solen (77)
Notes from the Past (02)
|One more Swedish truly symphonic band. I only have their 1976 effort Inget nytt under solen. The first side is definitely not bad music-wise, but here it definitely helps to not know Swedish - each time I listen to this I'm stuck between the choice of laugh or cry to these truly pathetic lyrics.|
|Kaipa was a Swedish band that released their self-titled debut album in 1975. Kaipa, by mid-seventies standards, contains music full of youthful exuberance while finding its roots in both classical and Swedish folk music. Kaipa, the band, rivaled their Anglo-Saxon contemporaries Camel. Their dual lead guitars are reminiscent of Camel's album Mirage. At other times Kaipa reminded me of efforts by other Scandinavian musicians such as Pluto and Pekka Pohjola. Kaipa grew on me. I found myself humming snatches of the songs hours later. Though singing in Swedish, Hans Lundin's voice is a pleasure to experience. His rich falsetto does not have that annoying shrillness of Jon Anderson's. The many Hammond organ riffs and the essentially instrumental songs beautifully combine classical music, popular folk melodies, and the best of English and Italian progressive rock. The outstanding track on the CD is the final song "Oceaner Foder Liv," a 9:29 extravaganza brimming with exquisite harpsichord solos, thunderstorms, weird voices, and gorgeous melodies. Though not the best progressive band or album of the seventies, Kaipa is an essential CD for the progressive rock fan.|
|Inget nytt under solen is sprightly Yes-influenced prog. Vocal quality varies from pleasant and clear-toned (as on "Ömson sken") to rather rough (as on "Hoppfullheten"). But the music is of consistently high quality, brimming over with bright keyboard themes expressed on organ, synthesizers and Mellotron, and anchored by the the acute guitar of Roine Stolt. One of the best from Sweden. -- Mike Ohman|
|I have their second and third albums. Solo is absolutely brilliant symphonic rock. A must-have for Flower Kings and Transatlantic fans. -- Jean-François Cousin|
Kaipa's three first albums stand as the high-point of Swedish symphonic prog in the 1970's.
Their debut (Musea FGBG 4091.AR) introduces a young, ambitious band exploring the boundaries
and overlap-areas of rock, classical, jazz and folk. Keyboardist and primary composer Hans
Lundin dominates the sound with piano, organ, string-synth and both melodic and occasionally
more grating synthesizer solos. His high-pitched yet guttural voice, present on five out of
eight tracks, is perhaps the most jarring element in Kaipa's music, though I find it quite
melodious most of the time. Tomas Eriksson brings a twangy Rickenbacker bass tone to Swedish
rock with his melodic lines (though he is no Chris Squire), while drummer Ingemar Bergman keeps
the swinging beat and works the dynamics well within the limits allowed by a rather poor drum
sound with his top-heavy style (listen to his cymbal work on "Ankaret" for a good example of
economic but appropriate accompaniment). To top it all off, young
Roine Stolt (some twenty years before his ascension to the
throne of the floral kingdom) contributes
Hackett/Latimer-styled guitar melodies and occasionally more blistering solos in the Robin
Trower style. The band's main strength, however, is that they saturate each song with upbeat,
expansive melodies which often draw influence from various types of Scandinavian folk music,
giving Kaipa's music a flavour quite distinct from their British contemporaries; Stolt's
instrumental composition "Förlorad i Istanbul" also brings in Middle-Eastern melodic material.
However, some compositional immaturities are still evident in the band's reliance on jamming in
favour of linear development on some tracks, and the album's reverb-hazy sound doesn't do
complete justice to the majesty of the music.
Inget nytt under solen sports improved production values and greater ambitions. The first side of the original album is taken by the 22-minute opus "Skenet bedrar", which is a tour de force of melodic and innovative progressive rock brimming with colourful melodies and instrumental ideas churned out by Stolt's guitar and Lundin's extended keyboard arsenal and tuned percussion. Between the stately mood created by the Camel-like guitar theme that opens and closes the track, the music races through solemn symphonic song, angry rock, melodic percussion pointillism, hyper-charged synth/guitar duels and even a spacey section with a subterranean "voice of the Almighty". The second side is more uneven, with a couple of shorter tracks that lack development; of these, "Dagens Port" could have been a real winner, as it has a truly exalted melody, but no chance to realise its full potential in less than three minutes. On the other hand, the Mellotron-propelled instrumental "Korståg" and the Yes-styled title track (both Stolt's compositions) are small symphonic gems that together with "Skenet bedrar" are among the finest examples of the genre. While the whole album doesn't sustain their standard, these three tracks count for over half an hour of essential listening and make this a highly recommendable album. Musea's CD re-release (FGBG 4098.AR) includes nearly thirty minutes more-or-less redundant of bonus material, including "Från det ena till det andra", a two-minute fragment of surviving, unreleased material recorded for the first album, and a 14-minute live version of "Skenet bedrar" which is mainly interesting as an alternative reading of the piece. Finally, there are alternative versions of four album tracks with English lyrics and a different singer which were meant for international markets but were never put out. This might have been just as well, because the guest singer has an irritatingly nasal sub-Gabriel voice and the backing tracks are unchanged, so these have curiosity value more than anything else.
By the time of Solo, Kaipa had a new bassist and a new singer: Mats Löfgren provides a softer, more pleasant, yet certainly no less assertive lead voice, while Mats Lindberg's bass work retains Eriksson's melodic sensibilities but his work on a Fender Precision and occasionally fretless gives the band's low end a lighter tone. Combined with the more prominent role assumed by Stolt's guitar and songwriting, Solo is a more accessible, immediate record with eleven tracks of 3-8 minute length. Yet the songwriting and performances are as good as ever, and there is some excellent symphonic rock to be found. Lundin's ballad "Visan i sommaren", "Hairless Heart"-like "Igelkötts död" and especially the spooky "Taijigan", laced with wobbly Mellotron, are among Kaipa's finest works, while Stolt's "Total Förvirring" is the blueprint for his later Flower Kings adventures, and "Sist på Plan" closes the album with some of the most incendiary guitar/synth duelling the band ever recorded. I find the flippancy of "Sen Repris" and the ... well, funk of "Frog Funk" (actually, much better than the title would suggest) a bit out of place, but they are still good enough works not to distract from the whole of this lighter but still absorbing album; in fact, The Flower Kings fans may well prefer this album over the others. Of the three live recordings included on the CD version (Musea FGBG 4128.AR) the most interesting is the ten-minute jam "Live in an Elevator" which shows the band can still maintain an immaculate melodic sense while jamming their heads off. Some of the original album tracks have also been remixed for this re-release.
In 1979 Stolt left Kaipa to explore a more pop-oriented approaches with his own group Fantasia. This began a steady stream of personnel changes which left Lundin the only original member by 1982. The band released the albums Händer and Nattdjustid before breaking up in 1983, but these were apparently much more straight forward than their seventies works. The band's original line-up supposedly got back together in 1989, but nothing came out of that, as far as I know. Lundin did release his second solo album Houses that same year; it features Stolt on one track and has a few good progressive moments, which are however let down by overriding compositional mundanity and generic mid-1980's synthesizer arrangements. However, anyone interested in symphonic progressive rock should have a go at Kaipa's first three albums. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Links||[See Bodin, Tomas | Fantasia | Flower Kings, The | Stolt, Roine | Transatlantic]|
Brazilian symphonic rock band founded by Quaterna Requiem's ex-violin player, Kleber Vogel. Arrangements are similar to Quaterna Requeim's first album, but Vogel is not quite as good a composer as Wiermann. Still, it's a pretty decent album. Fans of Brazilian prog should check it out. decent album. Fans of Brazilian prog should check it out. -- Anthony Alumkal
Kaizen is the project of Brazilian violinist, composer, arranger and producer Kleber Vogel. The band includes keyboards, guitars, bass and drums and they are joined on Gargula by guests on flute, oboe, bassoon and cello. The use of acoustic as well as electric instruments ensures a certain equilibrium to the sound. The compositions, as well as the arrangements show strong classical influences but usually involve rock or jazz rhythms. In fact, the melodic and harmonic work stands out from fairly conservative rhythms. For symphonic rock and violin fans. -- Paul Charbonneau
[See Quaterna Requiem]
|Very rare psych. Heavy acid solos with a somewhat West Coast feel.|
|From the small redneck town of Davis, CA, these guys made one ultra-rare album in 1968 and split up. Basically a second-rate Moby Grape; not really what you'd call psychedelic, much more of a regular rock 'n roll band. Not bad, but not terribly memorable either; I'm not sure why the vinyl commands such high prices among collectors. Big Beat put out the CD with a ton of extra tracks, including a few newer recordings the singer did. I'm not quite sure why this band is listed here as there's nothing remotely progressive going on here. -- Alex Davis|
Don't Panic (90), Resistance is Useless (93)
New progressive rock band from Utah. Don't Panic starts out with a spirited instrumental which leads into what's probably the album's best track, "Between The Lines," that has a pop feel with clean vocals, laced with ripping guitar work. The rest of the album is mostly instrumental tracks, more typically progressive in style. Overall, good but not great.
Kalaban were a band from Utah who "enjoyed" the obscurity that characterised the American progressive bands of the seventies. The majority of the music on Don't Panic is instrumental (four of the six tracks), with a couple of tracks that clock in at over 12 minutes apiece. The up-front lead guitar reminds at times of Rush, but at times, the melodic lines recall UK and Genesis. In summary, the music is very much in the seventies progressive rock vein, though, perhaps, a bit more aggressive than prior Syn-phonic releases such as Cathedral, North Star, etc.
Don't be put off by the first 5-7 minutes of Don't Panic! My first impression was that it was a bit cheesy. The first two tracks do little to contradict this impression. However, given a full listen, Kalaban's debut is surprisingly solid. From Utah, this US band plays a guitar/keyboard oriented brand of progressive, somewhat similar to Dream Theater, but more emphasis on instrumental breaks. Influenced by Yes, Genesis and the like (who on the Syn-Phonic label isn't?), Kalaban makes as interesting addition to the growing ranks of new US progressive bands. While a strong debut, the writing and playing lacks a certain degree of maturity, though it drips with potential. The guitar tracks are very simple at some points, though they interplay well with the keys on the longer pieces. The drummer is quite good. He rarely plays a simple, straightforward rhythm. A mediocre bassist rounds out this four piece.
Crawling to Lhasa (74)
Prog private pressing.
Free Love (73)
A jazz-rock band. Really good album and keyboard.
Tangerine Dream (67), Faintly Blowing (69), White Faced Lady (unreleased third LP made it to CD)
[See Fairfield Parlour]
People No Names (72)
Boogie Jungle (75)
Abraham's Blue Refrain (77)
Live in Finland & Europe 1970-77 (04, Live)
Anthology (04, Compilation)
|Heavy psych. People is one of Finland's rarest albums, Boogie is more mainstream, but lyrics (and some vocals) by Wigwam's Jim Pembroke. Electric guitar leads, flute, piano and acoustic guitar.|
Kalevala was founded in 1969 by bassist Juha "Lido" Salonen; they ended up
with the name of the Finnish national epic almost by accident, when a concert
organiser objected to their then-topical original name Vietnam and they needed
a quick replacement. The band's early line-up sported such would-be icons of
no-nonsense Finnish rock as guitarist Albert Järvinen and drummer Remu
Aaltonen, and that's pretty much what their early material was, straight-ahead
and aggressive guitar rock; a few surviving live recordings from this period
have been released on compilation discs, so be careful if you come across
these. Subsequent line-up changes turned Kalevala's course towards progressive
rock, especially the arrival of guitarist Matti Kurkinen who would compose all
eight songs on their 1972 debut album.
Some of the songs on People No Names (Finnlevy SFLP 9532) are closer to psychedelic than progressive rock in that they are still essentially grounded in the blues scale, especially during the vocal sections, but feature some compositional sophistication beyond the scope of ordinary rock music and long guitar solos over repetitive instrumental vamps. On the other hand, "Where I'm From" and "My Friend " are more formally prog as they feature delicate, classically-influenced instrumental sections with exquisitely spun-out piano work from guest keyboardist Olli Ahvenlahti, which then suddenly lurch into a wildly contrasting vocal section or gradually grow rockier as they pick up more instruments on the way. The strident and twisty title track definitely fits the progressive bill, with its acoustic/electric shifts and a bass line which reveals the band had at least heard "Heart of the Sunrise". There is also a noticeable folk influence, especially on the final track "Tamed Indians". What keeps the album together is Kurkinen's tasteful guitar work, which shows some influence at least from Focus' Jan Akkerman and also Steve Howe; he comes up with interesting parts that serve the songs (listen to his nimble, Howe-like riffing on the otherwise pedestrian instrumental "Escape from the Storm") and creates interesting arrangements by overdubbing interlocking acoustic and electric guitar lines with a good use of wah-wah and Leslie colourings. Vocalist Harri Saksala is the least impressive part of Kalevala's sound, sounding a bit like a more guttural and Fennophonic version of Ian Anderson (the song lyrics were originally written in Finnish, but pressures of the market place necessitated a translation into English). A nice solid album of rough-edged and enthusiastic early prog, People No Names is not the classic of Finnish prog that its relative obscurity has made it out to be (an original LP copy will these days command a ridiculous price), but it is the strongest of Kalevala's three albums.
Before Boogie Jungle (Hi-Hat HILP102) was released, Kalevala had found time to break up and reform with only Salonen and Kurkinen remaining from the previous line-up. The album itself is much more straight-forward an affair than the first one was: gritty 1970's hard rock with dual electric guitars riffing and soloing over alternatively solid and vaguely funky rhythm section. The new vocalist, "Limousine" Leppänen, has a stronger voice than his predecessor and in fact reminds of Family's Roger Chapman, albeit without the monster vibrato. One of the album's few keyboard moments is the clavinet played by Wigwam's Jukka Gustavson on one track, while his band mate Jim Pembroke provides the lyrics and backing vocals. However, there are only two tracks that stir any real interest: the ballad "If We Found the Time" has an intricate guitar arrangement with layers of acoustics and electric slide, while "Jungle" goes on a seven minute instrumental jam with throbbing bass, drums and spacey synth whistles over which Kurkinen spreads a smorgasbord of Jan Akkerman-influenced guitar work and finally concludes the song on a rather anthemic note. While Boogie Jungle has more curiousity value than anything else, you can get it as a bonus with People No Names, as both have been re-released on one CD; the first edition was by Finnlevy in 1990 (long out of print), the second by Escape Records a decade later.
On the cover of Abraham's Blue Refrain (HILP126) the band were billed as Kalevala Orchestra, apparently in an attempt to appeal to wider international markets. It sports a more typically "progressive" cover artwork than the other two, but the music continues mainly along the same straight-forward lines of Boogie Jungle, only the compositions and production have improved, with very good layered guitar arrangements throughout (all played by Salonen, as Kurkinen had been killed in a tragic accident two years earlier). Vocalist Leppänen also sounds increasingly like Chapman here. Three progressive tracks make this an album worth hearing (the only three to feature keyboards, incidentally): Pembroke provides backing vocals and lush piano for the grand, Family-like title track, which is among Kalevala's finest songs, while both "Playground" and "Lighthouse" slip from their bluesy roots long enough to include prog-styled guitar melodies or, in the case of "Lighthouse", very tasty lead synth work. The band soldiered on for some time after this, touring France with Ange, but lack of domestic support eventually killed them off.
Their swan-song album was eventually reissued on CD as part of Kalevala Anthology (Shroom SAP004/05). This 2-CD compilation, like its companion release, the very shabby and error-ridden Live in Finland & Europe 1970-77 (Shroom SPLE200105), also contains number of live recordings that give a slightly more balanced idea of Kalevala's live potential than the earlier snippets. The most interesting are the 1972 recordings, since they include a few unreleased, Finnish-language songs that didn't make it to People No Names, plus early versions of songs that did. The material was rougher live, with only flute and some piano to offer respite from the guitar assault. No lost classics are hidden here, though Saksala's folky agit-prop rocker "Antti" is amusing enough and would have improved the album. Kalevala Anthology concludes with five demo-quality songs Salonen and Leppänen recorded in 1995 with a new line-up (including Pekka Pohjola on bass). They had remained unreleased, because record companies felt that English material would have little potential in the domestic market of the 1990s (an ironic turnaround considering the fate of their first album). Ultimately, the record companies may have made the right choice for the wrong reasons: "The Song" is a nice powerballad in a pathetic sort of way and "Runaways", a hardrock song taken hilariously too fast and aggressively, but generally their mixture of hardrock, AOR, various ethnic influences and a bit of progressive sounds slightly out of time, its essence now better assimilated and exploited by newer bands like Five Fifteen. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Links||[See Apollo | Gustavson, Jukka | Pembroke, Jim | Pohjola, Pekka Wigwam]|
Danish drummer Kalle Mathiesen is the leader of Kalle's Worldtour and also drums for Taylor's [Free] Universe. There are two very different releases from Kalle's Worldtour, Nu and Start.
If you ever needed any proof that sound sampling devices are dangerous when put to use by mental institution inmates, look no further than Nu. This album sounds like what a performance by the Bonzo Dog Band would sound like if they were signed to Ralph Records (The Residents' record label) and had Camembert Electrique-era Bloomdido Bad de Grass playing sax for them and no witty British lyrics (no lyrics at all, really). With co-conspirators Jakob Mortensen Munck on sousaphone, sausage horn, bass and vocals, Torben Snekkerstad on sax and bass clarinet, Jeppe Kjellberg on guitars and brief vocals on "Mortal Men Live" by Jess Ingerslev, we are paraded past a dizzying array of strange aural scenes. A hive of musical bees abduct a litter of kittens while their owners stand by and sing scat ... in Kobaian. A mob of drunken sailors break into a concert hall and randomly make odd noises on the instruments. An asthmatic sax player on acid practices scales at a ping-pong tournament. One might describe this album as avant-garde, experimental, pointless noise or just plain whacked. Now don't get me wrong. I really like this album. Oh, Nurse? Can I have some more of those little pink pills? I'm seeing spiders crawling up my arms again. Bwahahahaha.
Wait a sec while I splash some water on my face. There, I'm feeling better now.
What you think of Nu one way or the other will have nothing to do with your opinion of Start. A completely different line-up, aside from Mathiesen, and an utterly different approach to the music make this album far more "normal" than Nu. Keeping in mind that this isn't saying much, Start is still quite experimental in its own way, while having points of reference for someone who likes melody and harmony to grab ahold of. The most obvious of these is singer Marie Ingerslev, who would sound quite natural singing any Carpenter's song you could name. Her vocals are the rock around which the other musicians can be more experimental. Mathiesen's drums are turned up in the mix, but never to the point where they overwhelm Peter Müller on guitars, Kim Matzen on bass, Mathiesen himself on keys or Ingerslev's vocals. His drumming style is a mixture of complex progressive and jazz drumming , punkish bashing and an unusually abundant quantity of snare rolls. The drum recording is a bit on the dull side (as in not much treble, not lack of excitement) which, along with Mathiesen's unique style, makes the drums sound very different and interesting. Lyrically, the songs are a bit self-conscious, talking about the music itself and the lyrics. Most of the lyrics are in perfectly composed and pronounced English, though two are in Danish ("kotelet" and "jeg har stjålet denne sang") and another ("come blood, bleed hair, kom blot blidt her") alternates between the two, comparing words in both languages that sound nearly the same.
While Start bears little resemblance to the usual bands you think of when the word "prog" is invoked (no comparisons to Yes, Genesis or ELP here), this album should appeal to most folks who like prog. It's got lots of inventive composition, cool studio work and a really unique blend of musical styles. Nu will appeal more to avant-garde lovers, especially those that don't mind some humor and craziness mixed in with the experimentation. Both albums are easy to recommend. -- Fred Trafton
|Everything in Fred's review is correct -- heck, the review itself is a little like hearing Kalle's Worldtour. The only thing I would add is that the music makes me think of what 20th century American composer Charles Ives said was "the sound of two marching bands as they pass each other", and to me it sometimes felt as if I were listening to the radio in some ambiguous foreign country as I kept changing the dial, desperately trying to find something I could tolerate. Yet in that constantly shifting urgency there revealed an intriguing sound of its own. Only for the brave or musically whimsical it's true but for appreciators of boundary busting, Kalle Mathiesen is a neat new creative spirit. -- David Marshall|
[See Taylor's [Free] Universe]
Click here for Kalle's Worldtour's
Svajende Siv (80)
|Instrumental with jazz influences.|
Song for America (75)
Point of Know Return (77)
Two for the Show (78)
Audio Visions (80)
Vinyl Confessions (82)
Drastic Measures (83)
Best of Kansas (84)
In the Spirit of Things (88)
Carry On (90)
Live at the Whisky (92, Live)
KANSAS [boxed set] (94)
Freaks of Nature (95)
Always Never the Same (98)
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Kansas (98)
The Best of Kansas (99, Re-release digitally remastered and with track changes)
Somewhere to Elsewhere (00)
A highly successful American band in the mid-to-late 70's, Kansas combined
British-style progressive rock with elements of both early 70's heavy
metal and classical music, while maintaining a hard rock edge throughout.
Instrumentally, the music of Kansas is noted for the ubiquitous presence
of violin as a lead instrument, dual lead guitars (ala Wishbone Ash),
extensive orchestration and melodic interplay, and tight playing. Kerry
Livgren's philosophical/spiritual lyrics are well-rendered by Steve
Walsh's strong, smooth vocals, often sung in duet with violinist Robby
Kansas started as a bar band in Topeka, Kansas in the early 70's. The original line-up, which remained constant for nearly ten years, featured Steve Walsh on vocals and keyboard, Kerry Livgren on guitar and keyboard, Robby Steinhardt on violin and vocals, Dave Hope on bass, Rich Williams on guitar, and Phil Ehart on percussion. Songwriting duties were shared by Livgren and Walsh, with occasional contributions from other band members.
Kansas' first album, the self-titled Kansas, features lengthy symphonic-style works such as "Journey from Mariabronn" and "Death of Mother Nature Suite," all with a strong heavy metal edge. Kansas also exhibited its bluesier side on tunes such as "Can I Tell You" and "Bringin' it Back," a J.J. Cale composition, notable as a rare song recorded by Kansas but not authored by a band member. The contrast between symphonic works and more earthy compositions would pervade many Kansas albums, with Livgren crafting epics of myth and search for ultimate truth, and Walsh portraying an angrier, more worldly view. The semi-acoustical ballad, "Lonely Wind," fit neither camp, but was the band's first single.
Their second album, Song for America, saw a softening of Kansas' sound, with more classical influences evident, but still betraying hard rock origins. "Song for America," "Lamplight Symphony," and "Incomudro-Hymn to the Atman" are lengthy, intricate pieces, while "Lonely Street" is straightforward blues, and "Devil Game" is a tightly wound, fast-paced rock shuffle, all sung with great emotion by Walsh.
The third album by Kansas, Masque, is lyrically quite dark. "Mysteries and Mayhem," a very fast-paced progressive piece in a hard rock vein, segues into "The Pinnacle". The compositions are based upon a nightmare that Livgren once had, while "Child of Innocence" dwells on the certainty of human mortality. "Icarus-Borne on Wings of Steel," is based on the Greek myth of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and perished. Only in the reassuring "All the World" does good prevail.
Kansas finally became a major attraction with their fourth album, Leftoverture, on the strength of the hit single "Carry On Wayward Son." "Carry On," with its heavy guitar riffs and high vocals, became a signature piece for Kansas. "The Wall," with its thickly textured sound and vaguely spiritual lyrics, remains a fan favorite. Perhaps the most bizarre piece is "Magnum Opus," a lengthy, mostly instrumental piece composed of six sub-sections with whimsical titles. "Leftoverture" represents the maturation of the band's sound -- interlocking melodies, tight playing, and almost fugue-like sections combined into a crisp fusion of hard rock and progressive influences. Most reviewers of the time concurred, and while "Carry On" was becoming a hit, most of the album received heavy play on FM stations.
Having achieved stardom with Leftoverture, Kansas followed up with the even more successful Point of Know Return, spearheaded by the haunting acoustical piece "Dust in the Wind." "Dust in the Wind" portrays a bleak view of the impermanence of the world, while "Nobody"s Home," "Sparks of the Tempest," and "Lightning's Hand" dwell on the folly of man and the likelihood of his self-destruction. "Point of Know Return" saw Kansas move more towards shorter, compact songs, which still exhibit melodic interplay and Livgren's philosophical lyrics.
Kansas was always known for their tight live performances, and fans were gratified by the release of Two For the Show, a double-album live release. "Two For the Show" is an outstanding live recording of most of Kansas' best-known songs. Unfortunately, the CD re-release of this album required cutting one song ("Closet Chronicles" from Point of Know Return) to get everything onto a single compact disc.
Kansas returned to the studio and delivered Monolith, their first self-produced album. The opening song, "On the Other Side," has proved enduring, and "People of the South Wind" was a minor hit as a single. However, the album failed to hold the audience built through Leftoverture and Point of Know Return, as sales dropped.
A year later, the band followed up with Audiovisions, the last production of the original band lineup. The songwriting rift between Livgren and Walsh, evident on Monolith, was even more pronounced on Audiovisions. Livgren's recent conversion to Christianity was reflected increasingly directly in the lyrics of even minor hits like "Hold On," a mostly acoustic ballad, and "Relentless," a straightforward rocker. "No One Together," a holdover from Monolith, still demonstrates a progressive edge that by the time of Audiovisions was on the wane in Kansas.
In the interval between Monolith and Audiovisions, both Livgren and Walsh produced solo albums of modest success. Livgren's album, Seeds of Change, was effectively a Christian rock album with guest appearances from a diverse array of talent, including Jeff Pollard of LeRoux, Ronnie James Dio of Black Sabbath, Barriemore Barlow of Jethro Tull, and David Pack of Ambrosia, as well as members of Kansas. While content to let his guests supply most of the voices, Livgren did manage to make his vocal debut on the blues number "Whiskey Seed," proving that, as a vocalist, he was a heck of a guitar player. Walsh's solo effort, "Schemer Dreamer" was a much more straightforward rocker. It, too, featured a number of band and guest appearances, including Steve Morse of the Dixie Dregs. The title track received a reasonable amount of AOR/Top 40 airplay. While in hindsight the two solo albums clearly articulate the musical and lyrical differences between the two, at the time they seemed merely to be a typical indulgence of the era -- the opportunity to work with other artists in a more casual atmosphere.
Citing artistic differences over the direction that Kansas should take, and hoping to establish a solo career, Walsh left the band just before the recording of their next album Vinyl Confessions. Walsh soon after founded a decidedly non-progressive rock band called Streets. He was replaced by John Elefante, a fine vocalist to whom fell the unenviable job of filling Walsh's shoes. Vinyl Confessions, under Livgren and Elefante's direction, had a strong Christian influence, which, coupled with Walsh's departure, alienated many long-time fans.
Robby Steinhardt left the band after the Vinyl Confessions tour. As Livgren went through severe writer's drought, most of the next album, Drastic Measures, was written by Elefante. The absence of Steinhardt's violin and Walsh's vocals and much of Livgren's creative impetus resulted in an album that seemed to many fans to be a Kansas album in name only. The Christian lyrics are only slightly more subtle than those on Vinyl Confessions, while musically the album is nearly straight-forward rock.
Kansas disbanded in 1984 as Livgren and Hope left to form the Christian rock band AD. The retrospective Best of Kansas release included one new song, "Perfect Lover," from the Elefante era.
Walsh, Ehart, and Williams re-founded Kansas in 1986, adding acclaimed guitarist Steve Morse, and bass player Billy Greer from Walsh's now defunct band Streets. Their release Power saw Kansas re-enter the spotlight, as the soft ballad "All I Wanted" received extensive play on Top-40 radio. Pieces such as "Musicatto" and "Taking In the View" recaptured a touch of the progressive feel of earlier Kansas, but overall Power had a strong pop flavor to it.
In the Spirit of Things is Kansas' only attempt at a concept album, detailing the destruction of a Kansas town by a flood. While not commercially successful, Morse's guitar work and Walsh's vocals recaptured the interest of some early Kansas fans, although "In the Spirit of Things" sounds nothing like early Kansas. "Bells of St. James" and "Rainmaker" are notable tracks.
Once again, the members of Kansas "retired." A second retrospective "best of" album called Carry On was released but contained no new material. However, in 1990 a German promoter made an offer to the group to reform and play some shows in Germany. Initially the reunion band included all the original members except Steinhardt, along with Billy Greer and Greg Robert (who had been a session player for Power and In the Spirit of Things) on keys. After a short time, Livgren and Hope dropped out, and Steve Morse came back aboard.
The reunion was originally a temporary deal, but the group enjoyed the European shows and decided to start touring the U.S., in early 1991. Since then, Kansas has toured fairly steadily, playing small-to-medium venues all over the country. Livgren was with the group during their European tour, but dropped out of regular touring at some point early in the U.S. tour, though he has made several guest appearances since then. In April of '91, Kansas added violinist/guitarist David Ragsdale. After a few months of U.S. touring, Morse dropped out, leaving the band with its current lineup.
In 1992, Kansas released their second live album, Live at the Whisky, recorded in April of that year at The Whisky, a Los Angeles club, with Livgren guest-starring on two tracks. In July 1994, Kansas released a 2-disc (or 2-cassette) boxed set, entitled KANSAS. It consists mainly of remastered "greatest hits," some unreleased live tracks, and a new studio song, "Wheels," written by Livgren.
In June 1995, Kansas released their first new studio album in seven years, entitled Freaks of Nature, on the Intersound label. Freaks of Nature, strikes a balance between covering new ground while simultaneously attempting to return to Kansas' progressive roots. Ragsdale's violin is featured prominently, and Ragsdale receives writing credits on many songs. The complex arrangements and instrumentation are reminiscent of Point of Know Return or Masque. Some listeners claim similarity to groups like Dream Theater. Kerry Livgren contributed the song "Cold Grey Morning." "Desperate Times" is the first single to be released from Freaks of Nature,. The album has been very well received by Kansas fans. -- People of the South Wind (Kansas Mailing List)
In 2000 Kansas went back into the studio to record "Somewhere to Elsewhere", featuring
all six original band members. Livgren wrote all ten songs on the album, but did
not support their subsequent tour.
Kansas existed in several earlier incarnations, and the second one (with Kerry Livgren) from 1971-73 made some recordings which were recently released under the name Proto-Kaw, including an early version of "Belexes". This group also re-formed and put out a new album in 2004. See the Proto-Kaw entry for further information. -- Fred Trafton
[See Mastedon |
Click here for the Kansas web site
Instrumental symphonic in vein of Outer Limits, Kenso, and Mugen.
After the Storm (94)
The Circle of Madness (04)
Kaos Moon 2004 - (I'm not sure which of these is pictured here) - Bernard Ouellete,
Norman Lachapelle, Sylvain Provost, Alain Bertrand, Alain Pothier, Beno&ihat;t
Chaput and Magella Cormier
This Quebecois band offers a high quality melodic rock. After the Storm features guitarist, keyboardist/singer (in English), bassist and drummer. A guest keyboardist also contributes. The music is an efficient blend of catchy melodies and dynamic rhythms. Simple compositions, quality performances and superb production evoke the type of music we should be hearing on the radio between Saga and Queensrÿche tracks. A complete success in an easily accessible style. -- Paul Charbonneau
Kaos Moon is the brainchild of drummer Bernard Ouellete, who formed
the band in 1984 and still remains the only permanent member (though he appears as
a singing multi-instrumentalist now). They're from Canada's French province Quebec,
which has been known for its good progressive traditions perhaps since the birth of
the genre. By the irony of fate, the debut Kaos Moon album, After the
Storm, was released on their tenth anniversary, and the same number of years
has passed before the band's discography was replenished with another album, The
Circle of Madness.
As I've read in the CD press kit, Kaos Moon's music might please die-hard fans of Marillion. No, it won't, unless they consider Brave the best Marillion album, in which I wouldn't believe, though. Only the superficial listening to The Circle of Madness may lead to the idea it's Neo. I think any Neo-headed will grit their teeth when hearing the kaleidoscopic changes of (a wide-variety of different) themes that are hallmarks of most of the songs here. Add here that Kaos Moon members are technically on par with the best jazzmen, which is partly because they are certainly fond of Jazz-Fusion, and I believe they have the corresponding training behind them.
... this album can be put on the same plane as Bubblemath's Such Fine Particles of the Universe, As the World by Echolyn, The American Standard by Dreadnaught and Kansas' Freaks of Nature. Not just Art-Rock, but Art-Rock bordering on quasi Jazz-Fusion (sometimes with a sense of authentic Jazz-Fusion) is what I've heard on most of the tracks here.
The album is 41 minutes in length, so here is the conclusion: a perfect time for a perfect music. Kaos Moon is an extraordinary band, so after hearing The Circle of Madness most of the listening part of the Prog community will be certainly looking for more from them. -- Vitaly Menshikov (condensed from his review on Progressor. Click here to read the complete review)
|Links||Click here for Kaos Moon's page on the Unicorn Records web site|
Uber Sieben Brücken (78, a.k.a. Der Albatros, 79)
Der Blaue Planet (82, a.k.a. Modra Planeta)
Die Sieben Wunder Der Welt (84)
Fünfte Jahreszeit (86)
Im Nächsten Frieden (90)
Karat 91 (91)
Die Geschenkte Stunde (95)
Ich liebe jede Stunde (00)
Licht und Schatten (03)
|Karat hail from East Germany. Der Albatros appeared in 1979. It was their second album. The original East German title of the album was Uber Sieben Brücken, only it was changed for West German release. The title song of Der Albatros proved that this band can do absolutely beautiful symphonic prog in the spirit of Novalis, Grobschnitt, et al. Unfortunately, I guess they had to please everyone, being East Germans. Thus as an album, Der Albatros is remarkably uneven. Consider the A-side suite of songs, opening with the Eloy-like "Introduktion," which is followed by the light prog of "Koenig der Welt" which is in turn followed by the two minute "Blues," then there is the hard-rock of "Wilder Mohn." You get the basic idea. Still, for fans of well-made melodic light-prog who don't mind a little straightforward rock mixed in, Karat may be for you. In 1980, Karat issued Schwanenkönig. Although there was no real grand epic like the eight minute "Der Albatros" on this album, there were a lot more truly progressive shorter songs. "Magisches Licht," "Tiefsee," "Le Doyen I and II" and the title song are all magnificent dreamy prog-tunes full of rich synth-textures and sheets of cascading guitar. There are a couple of more upbeat prog-rockers in "Tanz mit der Sphinx" and "Das Narrenschiff," but vocalist Herbert Dreilich tends to grate on the rockier tunes, his voice is much better suited to ballads. Still a bit uneven, note the six-minute "Mitternacht-Blues," but fans of Novalis, Tabula Rasa et al should like Schwanenkönig as well.|
|Karat is an East German band that scored notable success ouside its homeland, particularly in West Germany. The band began life in 1975 as a spin-off of Panta Rhei, the influential East German combo whose singer, Veronika Fischer, went on to have a succesful solo career in East (and after 1980, West) Germany. After some early personnel changes, a five-player line-up emerged: keyboardist and composer Ullrich "Ed" Swillms, singer Herbert Dreilich, Bernd Römer (guitar), Henning Protzmann (bass), and Michael Schwandt (drums). Karat's eponymous first album, released in 1977, was fairly generic hard rock, although it contained the standout "König der Welt" ("King of the World"), which pointed the band in a more progressive direction. The band's second album, Über Sieben Brücken (Over Seven Bridges) established Karat as a top act. Tracks like "Gewitterregen" ("Thunderstorm") and the eight-minute "Albatros", with its provocative lyrics ("the albatross knows no borders"), are classics of East German rock. The title track "Über sieben Br;uuml;cke müßt du gehen" ("You Must Cross Seven Bridges") was an enormous success; obliquely, it's about the drudgery and the difficulties of East German life. The song became well known abroad, thanks to a 1979 cover version by West German singer Peter Maffay. Karat built upon its following in both Germanies with 1980's Schwanenkönig (The Swan King) which shows influences as divergent as Roxy Music and Yes, and the band was allowed to perform in the west. The follow-up Der blaue Planet (The Blue Planet, 1982) made Karat a household name in West Germany, selling in the hundreds of thousands, more than any other East German artist had or would. Its title track is still an FM staple. The album closes on "Wie weit fliegt die Taube?" ("How Far Does The Dove Fly?"), which incorporates words from the book of Genesis. 1983's Die Sieben Wünder der Welt (The Seven Wonders of the World) updated the Karat sound slightly with electronic drums and Fairlight synthesizers, but contained memorable tracks like the acoustic "Mir zwingt keiner auf die Knie" ("No-one can force me to my knees"). Swillms (and Protzmann, who joined Lift) left after "Sieben Wünder" but Karat continued to score hits like "Die Glocke Zweitausand" (The 2000 Bell, 1986), which featured Silly vocalist Tamara Danz. In 1989 Karat recorded a new version of "Über sieben Brücken" with Maffay, which appeared on the album ...Im nächsten Frieden (In the Next Peacetime). German unification was as bad for Karat as it was for most other East German bands, as their fans rushed to the western artists they were now able to see up close. The band's self-titled 1991 effort, recorded with the help of British musicians, went almost unnoticed. But after their initial fascination with the west was over, eastern Germans returned in droves to the music they'd grown up with. Karat's back catalog was re-released on CD in 1993. The band opened for Elton John at his 3 October 1994 Brandenburg Gate concert. The following summer, they released the album Die geschenkte Stunde (The Given Hour) and celebrated their 20th anniversary at a sold-out open-air concert in Berlin's Karlshorst stadium. In 1996, Karat appeared at an outdoor festival alongside the eastern acts Die Prinzen, Die Puhdys, Selig, Extrabreit, and Stern-Combo Meissen at the Waldbühne -- in what used to be West Berlin. -- Simon Bone|
|Links||[See Lift [Germany] | Panta Rhei]|
Suomi-pop 2 (71)
Hyvää joulua (81)
Shinjuku Birdwalk (10, Download only, Recorded in 1981)
Top (L-R): Karen Smith (vocals), Frank Daniel (guitar, keyboards, percussion), Bill Altice (guitar),
Burt Blackburn (bass)
Bottom (L-R): Les Smith (guitar), Bo Jacob (drums), Steve Bernard (bass), Wm. Burke (electronics)
Karen Cooper Complex was a short-lived band from Richmond, Virginia, featuring vocalist/poetess Karen Cooper Smith who sings/speaks/chants/screams stream-of-consciousness lyrics against a backdrop of instrumental improvisation. Instruments are all guitar and bass, with real drums on some tracks and drum machine on others. I might call this a mixture of Pere Ubu, The B-52's and Devo, but with a female vocalist and no aspirations to have a radio hit. It's totally improvised. But don't worry, as Bill Altice said, "it's more Bitch's Brew than Grateful Dead. Right. It's been categorized as "post-punk" in genre, though the artists themselves called it "Analog Music from a Lost World". I think that's a lot more descriptive.
The music on this release was recorded in 1981, but was never released. Band member Bill Altice put together this album in 2010 and released it on the Free Music Archive after bandleader "Frank Daniel died of complications of Type I diabetes in 2004." Bill continues, "I've collected and digitized this volume as a salute to his memory and in hopes that someone out there will listen to this music and say 'Good work, Frank. Thanks.' I, for one, am definitely ready to say it, and I think many other GEPR readers will feel the same. Check it out at the link below. If you're old-fashioned like me and want to burn your own CDR, it's OK with the band. You can also download the jewel case artwork as a PDF by clicking the link below. -- Fred Trafton
Click here to download
Shinjuku Birdwalk from the Free Music Archive
(Right)-Click here to download the jewel case cover, back and insert art for this album - compliments of Karen Cooper Complex
Karma Depth - Hans Berten (lead vocals & bass), Dieter Cailliau (keys & backing vocals),
Hans Mahieu (drums). Not pictured - Jeroen Vanryckeghem (guitars & backing vocals),
Lorenzo Petralia (guitars, quit the band in June 2006)
Although their musical preferences are rather varied there's one constant factor in the lives of our four Belgian friends here and that is their admiration for Dream Theater. Needless to say they often included DT covers during their humble beginnings, although it soon became clear that these guys wanted to create their very own music asap. Having followed this foursome for a couple of years, I noticed they went from strength to strength. Karma Depth is a very tight unit where friendship is concerned, which no doubt is a very important factor in the life of any band.
Last year they handed out free copies of a CD-r including their proper composition "Ask Yourself." Today the same track opens their full-album Resilience and it sounds more mature with the addition of more detail and depth. A typewriter opens the composition, steering the song right away into a bedding of great playing embraced with a certain commercial feel so it sticks to your mind immediately. Contrary to what you might expect, the Dream Theater influence will not guarantee tons of powerful segments, instead the DT trademark settles within the detailed arrangements sometimes even resulting in a "more with less" attitude. When the band started out writing their own material, each of the songs got the name of an animal. So they would rehearse cats and dogs but later on as the lyrics and arrangements progressed they would settle for the final takes which we can fully enjoy now. Dieter's keyboard solos settle in the middle between Kevin Moore and Jordan Rudess, not in the least because of the use of his very own Kurzweil. Whilst most of our attention might be going towards the singing and the guitar I'd like to point out the wonderful drumming by Hans Mahieu who surely is a very underrated drummer finally getting the recognition he fully deserves.
Whilst you'd expect one technical highlight after the other with this kind of material, the emphasis lies on the entire composition, which is the result of well thought of runs and elements sporadically making way for solo spots but still delivering a whole. Towards the end of "Ask Yourself" there's a great section filled to the rim with breaks and time changes, but in the end Lorenzo's shredding takes us back to where we started, resulting in a fantastic original which, as times evolves, might well turn into a Karma Depth classic. The band often leaves the arrangements rather open, as you can witness during the opening section for "Hope," which gets the extra help of a cello. "The Price" is a great example of the band's ingenious thoughts as well as their technical skills and sense for arrangement. Here you'll hear harmony vocals, a John Myung type bass solo, furious synth sprints, guitar fireworks as well as fragile flageolets and powerful, well crafted drumming throughout.
With Dieter also following jazz tuition and being involved in the band Panopticum, his spectrum is very wide, enabling him to add tons of interesting ideas to the band's sound. Sometimes though he restricts himself mainly to piano, which then blends ever so well with the guitar and voice. During "The Ring" he kicks off on piano and then switches towards organ, which sadly isn't an authentic B3 or C3 Hammond, as its exclusive roaring sound would have done the song loads of good. I also like and enjoy Lorenzo's bottleneck intro which then switches to great interplay between organ, guitar and drums with the bass silently weaving in the background. During "See How I Glow," Dieter's love for jazz sneaks in with some outstanding piano pieces that nicely contrast with the more prog metal approach of Lorenzo, occasionally backed by double bass drum thundering. The song nicely fuses soft passages with real heavy outbursts resulting in an audio interpretation of the washing of the sea if you like.
Whenever you are able to deliver a 22' long epic without the listener getting bored one tiny nanosecond, then you can certainly be proud of what you delivered. "Heal" is without any doubt a gigantic piece of music, bundling energy, enthusiasm, craftsmanship and skill all into one exclusive mass called Karma Depth. Right at the very beginning there's a section where you hear a distant sound of trombone. Sometimes however Hans' voice tends to tackle parts that are a little too high for him to reach. I should also stress the fact that this entire Resilience album has been recorded in the band's rehearsal room, masterminded by Hans Berten who not only is the band's singer and bass player, but also runs his very own sound company SolidSound and illustrates with this album that he is a very capable guy. Full marks and hats off to the lads and Hans for doing such a great job. The album closes with a fragile piece of acoustic guitar "Nuweiba," as written and performed by Lorenzo and which matches perfectly next to players such as Al Di Meola and John Petrucci.
From a technical and compositonal point of view Resilience probably is one of the most outstanding albums ever to have been recorded by a Belgian band ... order your copy directly from the band at email@example.com for only 10 euro plus post & packing. -- John Bollenberg (condensed from Progressive World article. Click here for full article)
Click here for Karma Depth's web site
Click here for Karma Depth's MySpace page
Entering the Spectra (03)
The Wheel of Life (04)
Who's the Boss in the Factory? (08)
The Power of Two (Live in USA) (10, Live, w/ Agents of Mercy)
In a Perfect World (11)
Karmakanic at ROSFest 2006
Original Entry 7/19/06:
Karmakanic played at the 2006 Rites of Spring Festival (a.k.a. ROSFest) in Phoenixville, PA. They are currently (as of 7/19/06) in the studio working on their third album, tentatively titled Who's the Boss in the Factory? -- Fred Trafton
Karmakanic played at CalProg 2009, and teamed up with Agents of Mercy to play songs from both bands. So, in addition to Nad Sylvan (Unifaun, Agents of Mercy) and Roine Stolt, they asked drummer Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard, etc.) to play with them. A live CD The Power of Two (Live in USA), featuring mostly this line-up is available on The Flower Kings' web shop (see link below). Check out a rehersal video prior to this concert below:
-- Fred Trafton
[See Agents of Mercy |
Bodin, Tomas |
D'Virgilio, Nick |
The Flower Kings |
Stolt, Roine |
Tangent, The |
Click here for Jonas Reingold's
web site, which has information on Karmakanic
Explorations in Inner & Outer Space (04)
Karma-Kannix - Gregg Johns & James Walker
Karma-Kannix is a U.S. indie rock project with some progressive leanings comprised of Gregg Johns (lead vocals, guitars, keyboards, drums, mandolin, banjo, violin, production & engineering) and James Walker (bass guitar, vocals, percussion, engineering, & production). Their music has been likened to David Bowie and others of the more accessible end of prog-leaning musics. Personally, I'm reminded of some of Todd Rundgren's early solo works, i.e. Something/Anything or A Wizard, A True Star. The same sort of studio experimentation that the pros would consider vulgar, and even keyboard embellishments that are similar, with prog/psych leanings but catchy melodies. The styles range from psych to hard rock to Floyd-influenced spacey prog and a few Kansas-ish overtones.
But you should be aware that, by "indie", they mean "homebrewed", to the max. Gregg Johns says on their web site, "We were a bit naive in releasing an independent CD not realizing that it would be critiqued to the same standards as professional releases". Not that the sound is awful, but it is certainly not "pro-sounding". The playing is all workmanlike, but it sounds like some weekend musicians having a good time recording their compositions using home recording equipment and makeshift mic arrangements. Which is exactly what it is. Johns calls it a "raw basement tape approach to songwriting". It's pretty clear that guitar is Johns' long suit, and the keyboard and drums (especially) are merely passable. Overall, enjoyable listening, but you shouldn't compare it to a professionally (and far more expensively) produced album.
Johns and Walker have added a drummer and become Slychosis. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Karma-Kannix' web site
Dreams of Reason Produce Monsters (87)
Bestial Cluster (93)
The Tooth Mother (95)
Liquid Glass (97, with Yoshihiro Hanno)
Karn played bass for the band Japan in the late 70's and early 80's. (Japan was frequent Fripp frontman David Sylvian, Karn, Steve Jansen on drums, and Richard Barbieri of Porcupine Tree on keyboards.) Japan was not prog, but they were an interesting Bowie-influenced band and did have a progressive instrumental track on each album.
While all four of Japan's members went primarily prog following the break-up of Japan, it is Karn who stretched the envelope the furthest. His first solo album in 1982, Titles, is a mirror of Karn's career. Side 2 is good, quirky pop. But Side 1 is a heady instrumental mix of styles that is very difficult to describe, a blend of opium-flavored jazz, tribal beats, classical, and rock that would mark his later masterworks.
In 1984 Karn joined forces with macabre master Peter Murphy in a group called Dali's Car, an interesting and surprisingly upbeat project titled The Waking Hour, which in my opinion suffered only from programmed percussion.
1987 brought forth Karn's Dreams of Reason Produce Monsters, a smorgasbord of prog that reminds me a great deal of Mike Oldfield, but not imitative in any way. There is a sorta silly love song sung by Sylvian, but the majority of the album is so good that a little bit of Manilowing is hardly worth mentioning.
Karn worked with David Torn a great deal over the next decade. They headed an experimental jazz project with a drummer and trumpet player called Lonely Universe in 1988. In 1990 Torn released Door X, which featured Bill Bruford and Karn and included the three of them together on a cool version of the Hendrix classic Voodoo Chile. In 1993 Karn and Torn teamed up with Zappa drummer Terry Bozzio for a trippy little experiment titled Polytown.
In between all that the original members of Japan reformed to produce the wonderful dark piece Rain Tree Crow in 1991.
1993 also saw the release of the first of two progressive masterpieces from Karn: Bestial Cluster. Featuring German jazzrock pianist Joachim Kuhn, Zappa percussionist Ed Mann, Torn, Jansen, and Barbieri along with players of some very unusual instrumentation. This is a very complex and original work that I could not recommend highly enough.
The Japan boys were busy in them days, also producing Jansen-Barbieri-Karn's Beginning to Melt in 1993, and an excellent little remix EP called Seed in 1994.
Karn's second masterwork The Tooth Mother was released in 1995. Similar to Bestial Cluster but with a little extra oomph. Wailing ullulator Natacha Atlas helps mix things up on a couple of tracks, and Porcu-Tree honcho Steven Wilson plays funky wah-guitar on the first two songs. Torn and Barbieri are back, but Gavin Harrison replaces Jansen on drums. Also replete with a chorus of unusual instrumentation, this would be one of my picks for the peak of progressive music in the 90's.
Karn, unwilling to be pinned down musically, proceeded to make one of the coolest dub albums I've heard yet in 1997 called Liquid Glass with Yoshihiro Hanno. Similar to Amon Tobin's killer Permutations but a little more in control. -- C.J.
|Links||[See Porcupine Tree | Rain Tree Crow]|
|Barbaro offshoot featuring Barbaro guitarist and percussionist. This album runs over 50 minutes and contains 20 short tracks that basically are electric guitars (in the King Crimson vein) along with percussion. Personally, I find this album to be boring. -- Betta|
|Links||Click here for a Kárpát Möbius web site in Hungarian|
Chris Karrer (80)
Dervish Kiss (94)
The Mask (97)
Grandezza Mora (99)
|Amon Düül II leader.|
|Links||[See Amon Düül II]|
Karthago (71), Second Step (73), Rock and Roll Testament (74), Live At The Roxy (76), Live (76)
I have Second Step. Features keyboardist Ingo Bischof before he was in Kraan, which is the main reason to own this. It gets off on an amazing start with the jammin' "Pacemaker," but tails off pretty much afterwards. Much of the music is blues-rock with light prog touches, but not "heavy" like many such bands of the time tended to be. Singer/guitarist Joey Albrecht has a MUCH bigger voice than his soft, boyish looks would indicate. The most progressive songs ("'Oberbaum' Bridge" and the jazzy "Crosswords and Intermissions") feature lead vocals by Bischof, whose voice reminds me of Mike Howlett's vocals on Gong's Shamal album, but with a thick German accent. One thing that gives this band distinction is the inclusion of a Latin percussionist, who they don't use anywhere near enough. Nice enough, but overall nothing essential. Kraan fans may still be interested, and if there are any of you who actually LIKED Cherubin, Randy Pie et al, these guys may well be the best of the lot. -- Mike Ohman
[See Kraan | 2066 And Then]
Space for Truth (90)
|Spacey prog ala Popol Vuh.|
|Karuna were a group of Finnish musicians who played a very peaceful, meditative and partially improvised instrumental music that drew heavily from Asian and Eastern European folk music. The instrumentation on Space for Truth (Olarin Musiikki OMCD 33) is largely acoustic, with piano, flutes, tamboura, percussion and acoustic bass creating a warm sound that resembles Popol Vuh in the late 1970's. The most successful tracks are IMO the short hymn-like piano/flute piece "Sanan synnyttäjä - Mother of God", and "Higher Middle" which has some tasteful but touching electric guitar leads and very subtle strings to enrich the sound (somewhat comparable to Jade Warrior). On the other hand, the 7-minute percussion-ensemble piece "Venelaulu" (The Boat Song) is more strictly world music material that does little to grab me. Mellow, at times meandering but in the right state of mind, even captivating music. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
Entweder oder (79)
Das einzinge Leben (80)
Was kann ich tun (84)
Cafe Anonym (87)
Sõnum (81, EP)
Sõnum and Poletus (00, both albums re-released on CD)
Latvian* fusion featuring In Spe
members. Their debut release, Sõnum, is a 7" EP.
Poletus was compared by Audion to Modry Efekt, Fermata, etc., and is supposed to be very good.
-- Mike Taylor
* Incorrect. Kaseke is Estonian -- Fred Trafton
In reissuing the USSR's Progressive Rock masterpieces, the people at Russian
(major, btw) "Boheme Music" recording company have done us all a great service.
"Boheme" is based in Czech Republic, and the CDs (actually these are
picture-discs only, with excellently printed booklets, etc), manufactured in
Austria by DADC and on the best Czech factories, have a wonderfully clear sound
typical for a high quality digital re-mastering made from analogue tapes. But,
the main service of the company is that its truly progressive activity on the
threshold of new millenium is a real phenomenon on the nowadays "Prog Front
line", and actually - the most important event within the Progressive Rock
movement since the beginning of the "dark '80's decade". While the majority of
progressive bands in that times were exploring the new canons (in all the
"proper" meanings of the word), i.e. rejecting the Classic canons in favour of
Neo accessibility-acceptability to please a new generation of music lovers,
Soviet groups, being as if naturally far from any commercial things, have been
doing their progressive work according to the same Classic canons that you
prog-heads so missed then and miss, sometimes, up to now. Kaseke was just one
of scores the Estonian and hundreds USSR / C.I.S. bands that were / are
working the way we love so much in early programs by Yes,
Crimson, etc, though most of Soviet and post-Soviet groups have their own,
really original style, including even RIO-oriented performers.
"Bohemian version" of all Kaseke's saga contains both EP (Sonus) and LP (Poletus) ever produced by this unique band and released on the only USSR label "Melody" in 1981 and 1983. For a band, obviously inspired by the best "progressive examples" of the '70's yet didn't influenced by any bands at all, that seems to have considered themselves traditional instrumental Symphonic Prog, Kaseke surprisingly had in their music a slight fusion touch too. Most of the CD compositions begin like a rifle shot, and the pace and intensity never let up. The music most often is keyboard-intensive, with thick, distorted guitar sawing through the arrangements to keep them vibrant. It's a unique mix of a few different stylistics, a mix that is simultaneously delicate and thunderous. That mix is one of the things that makes Estonian Kaseke such a fascinating band even nowadays. This album is a real progressive killer that you will be listen to a great many times, because there are lots of unique things here that you've never heard before. Just try to begin discovering old yet so unbelievable new musical horizons with "Boheme" and you'll get a real prog-treasury there. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to fling invective at my (quite an experienced prog-)head if my praising of the majority "Bohemian" bands is just a "patriotic" rubbish. -- Vitaly Menshikov
|Very good progressive fusion (and symphonic rock too) band from Estonia, including Mart Metsala (keyboards), Riho Sibul and Ain Varts (guitars), Priit Kuulberg (bass), Andrus Vaht (drums), flutist Peeter Malkov and four guest keyboardists - Margus Kappel, Olav Ehala, Tonu Naissoo and now famous neo-classical composer Erkki-Sven Tuur. May be compared to In Spe or Synopsis, but less calm and melancholic, and heavier and much more playful (and jazzy too) on Poletus ("Burn" in Estonian). Virtuosic guitar parts which remind me the mix of Steve Hackett and Jeff Beck styles, powerful rhythm-section and lots of keyboards - Hammond organ, electric piano and different analog synths. Overall, the music have a distinctive positive mood, but the last track called "Polenud Maa" ("Burnt Land" in Estonian) written by Tuur is darker and more disturbing than others. Short EP Sonum ("News") was recorded two years earlier and sounds more jazzy, lighter and very Canterbury-ish - like the 1st Gilgamesh album with solid dose of flute. This fact is not surprising - Tonu Naissoo, keyboardist for that incarnation of Kaseke, was well-known jazz pianist in Estonia. The basic line-up of Kaseke (Varts, Sibul, Kuulberg, Malkov and Vaht) were a famous (in Estonia, of course) punk group(!) called Propeller with vocalist Peeter Volkonski and were banned by Soviet censorship - interesting fact too. Both albums were issued by Soviet "Melodiya" label in extremely limited quantities and were reissued by Czech-Russian label Boheme Records not long ago. Excellent stuff! -- Ilia Prutov|
|Links||[See In Spe]|
The same sound as Opus Avantra.
[See Krel | Nuova Idea | Opus Avantra | Premiata Forneria Marconi]
See See The Sun (73, re-released on CD 1995 w/ 2 bonus tracks)
Kayak II (74, re-released on CD 1995 w/ a bonus track)
Royal Bed Bouncer (75, re-released on CD 1994 w/ 9 bonus tracks)
The Last Encore (76, re-released on CD 1995)
Starlight Dancer (77)
Phantom Of The Night (78)
Best Of (78)
Periscope Life (80, re-releaed on CD 1993)
Merlin (81, re-released on CD 1996)
Eyewitness (82, re-released on CD 1996)
Kayak (89, Compilation)
The Best of Kayak (88, Compilation)
Three Originals (99, Starlight Dancer, Phantom of the Night and Periscope Life on 2CD's plus bonus tracks)
Greatest Hits and More (01, Compilation)
Chance for a Live Time (01, Live)
Night Vision (01)
Merlin - Bard of the Unseen (03, also as DVD w/ extra tracks)
The Universal Masters Collection (03, Compilation)
Nostradamus - The Fate Of Man (05, 2CD)
Kayakoustic Tour (07, Live)
Coming Up For Air (08, Release scheduled for Jan. 4, 2008)
Kayak 2003 - Merlin - Bard of the Unseen line up. Ton Scherpenzeel (keyboards), Bert
Heerink (vocals), Cindy Oudshoorn (vocals), Rob Vunderink (guitar/vocals), Joost Vergoossen
(guitar), Pim Koopman (drums) and Bert Veldkamp (bass). -- Photo: Govert de Roos
Two different phases: Early Kayak (See See the Sun, Kayak, Royal Bed Bouncer) and then a later period. The later stuff is definately poppy, but some of the early stuff is simply weird. There is also a Best of Kayak taking good songs from their first three albums. [This entry was contributed before their Y2K reformation, so there's now a third phase of the band -Ed.]
Dutch pop-rock band that had some progressive tendencies. They seemed to be more at home in the short pop song format than on the longer tracks, where they seem to lose my interest. Their Best Of Kayak CD contains the best tracks from See See The Sun, Kayak and Royal Bed Bouncer. The US and UK versions of Starlight Dancer have only 5 mutually common tracks.
Kayak were a progressive band, whose later works, though "poppier," had a musical component that reflected the compositional abilities of the prime mover, Ton Scherpenzeel (later keyboardist for Camel). Phantom Of The Night and Starlight Dancer are two of their most popular releases. The underlying music has all the right "moves" that should turn on all the right switches for those who enjoy progressive rock. As far as comparisons go, I would place Saga, and to some extent, Supertramp, in the same camp. These are very broad comparisons, made more to reflect the group's approach than the music, but they should offer a good starting point for those who have not heard of Kayak or their music.
Dutch prog band that started out heavily in the Genesis mode with their first couple of albums, the self-titled one including the lengthy "They Get to Know Me" and "Trust in the Machine." But they were also developing a short-song style at this point, which ballooned into a full-fledged prog-pop style that (surprise!) actually works well. The Last Encore consists entirely of short symphonic-influenced songs a la Moody Blues, but with stronger Genesis and early King Crimson influence. Ton Scherpenzeel's keyboards are the dominant instrument, and Max Werner's biting Gabriel-influenced vocals are also prominent. The U.S. issue of Starlight Dancer actually takes only a few tracks from the European album of the same name. Most of the songs (all of the ones written by drummer Pim Koopman, in fact, who had left the band by then) come from The Last Encore, which was never issued Stateside. (The cover art is also the cover to The Last Encore.) It also appends the obnoxious disco single "I Want You To Be Mine," otherwise unavailable on LP. Phantom of the Night apparently is the result of a major image overhaul, with Werner hiding behind a drumkit for the most part, replaced at the mic by more conventional vocalist Edward Reekers. Also added to the band were two female backing singers, one of whom was Scherpenzeel's then-lover Irene Linders, who also wrote most of the lyrics. Overall, though the sound was different, the style hadn't really changed at all. The Best Of album anthologizes from the first three. -- Mike Ohman
The style of this new [2000's] version of Kayak (still under the leadership of Ton Scherpenzeel) can be compared to Camel circa Rajaz or A Nod And a Wink - mellow progressive with rich keyboards textures, very professional, nice vocals - recommended! -- Andrew Rakov
[See Camel |
Earth and Fire |
Click here for Kayak's web site
Choirs of the Eye (03)
Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue (05)
Kayo Dot performed last night [11/3/05] at Rubber Gloves in Denton [Texas].
The opening act was Great Tyrant, with 2 of the guys from
Yeti. If you liked Yeti,
you'll probably like this, too.
Anyhow, Kayo Dot went on at about 12:15am, and finished about 1:30. Pretty good show - while they did lose some of the nuances of the music in the mix, you could see what was going on, so you could tell what you should be listening for. It was mostly off of their new album, from what I could tell, but they did play the last track off of Choirs of the Eye (don't remember the track name offhand).
Overall, pretty good. Yes, it's more than a little "noisy". And I didn't like the new stuff on first listen, but I got a copy of the new CD. 6 guys (and one gal) onstage, all with something specific to do. Pretty cool show. Best $20 I've spent in a while - $5 at the door, couple for a drink, and only $12 for the CD. If you like Avant, give them a shot. It's got people from maudlin of the Well, to give you some idea of the sound. -- Michael Bourgon
|Links||[See maudlin of the Well]|
Lost and Found (01)
Four Corner's Sky (03)
Live 2004 (05, Live)
Proof of Concept (07)
KBB's Akihisa Tsuboy (violin & guitar, composer). Other current (2003) band members
are Toshimitsu Takahashi (keyboards), Dani (bass) and Shirou Sugano (drums)
Just when you thought that Japan had given up on quality symphonic prog, up come KBB with their debut Lost and Found (Musea FGBG 4363.AR) and make a killing. Simply put, this quartet, led by violin/guitar player Akihisa Tsuboy, plays fusion-influenced, instrumental symphonic rock. Fusion-influenced in that the songs are essentially linear, high-energy bursts based on virtuoso solo lines, usually from Tsuboy's violin, supported and counterpointed by Gregory Suzuki's keyboards, which rely on intensity and build-up rather than development and stark contrasts for their impact. The largely triadic melodies, rhythms and synthy textures are still of more traditional symphonic progressive breed. Only on "Nessa no Kioku" the violin erupts out of synth drones and theremin screams into a searing, Arabic-scale solo in a manner that recalls the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Similar-sounding bands would have to be their countrymen Midas during their more intense moments, and U.K. from the gaijin crowd. A few quiet, often classical-style piano episodes pace the rampages, but generally the intensity remains high and playing extremely proficient. Production is top-notch, but lacks the sometimes overpolished digital sheen of many Japanese bands, and the melodic structures are powerful enough to withstand the slow build-ups and the soloing around them. Where so many modern symphonic and neo-progressive bands float huge sonic icebergs with no real propulsion or melodic anchor at the listener, KBB hit them with one of the most powerful and best-crafted compilation of songs in modern symphonic rock. -- Kai Karmanheimo
I haven't heard KBB's debut, but their sophomore album Four Corners Sky really
isn't what I would usually think of as symphonic prog,
though it is certainly influenced by bands like U.K. (who seem
to be a source of inspiration for many Japanese bands). But I would have to categorize Four
Corners Sky as a fusion album, with similarities
to every fusion band from the jazzier end (i.e.
Weather Report) to the rockier end (i.e.
Mahavishnu Orchestra). But there are also "heavy"
guitars that smack of progressive metal stylings,
bombastic organ work reminiscent of countrymen Gerard and
even Celtic fiddle sections. But lest you forget what this album is all about while listening
to guitars or keyboards for a while, Akihisa Tsuboy will soon remind you with a searing
electric violin solo, or a dual solo with keys, guitar or even bass following the violin
melody line. This is some of the best electric violin work recorded since the days of
Jean-Luc Ponty in
Mahavishnu Orchestra or Eddie Jobson in
U.K.. Each song is full of energy, technical wizardy and great
melodies, and you won't want the album to be over. Four Corners Sky is destined to
be a progressive classic, and is a must for just about anyone's collection. -- Fred Trafton
KBB is, to my mind, one of the best of the current bunch of Japanese fusion bands. I saw them at NEARfest 2006 and they were as outstanding in person as they were on the Live 2004 CD. Every song smoked, and they won many converts at this concert.
In August of 2007, KBB released their third studio album (fourth overall) entitled Proof of Concept. If the concept is that they're as good or better than any other fusion band you've ever heard, then this album is indeed all the proof you'll ever need. The songs on this album include "Inner Flame", the studio version of the "new song" I mentioned above from Live 2004. As you might guess from the title, this song has some definite Mahavishnu Orchestra vibe to it, though that's not because Tsuboy sounds like Jerry Goodman as much as he sounds like John McLaughlin! The violin here is hardly distingushable from an electric guitar sound. That's not a bad thing, in fact it's incredible. A great song.
Other favorites include "Stratosphere", which has a very Celtic feel to it (though you'll never confuse it with Enya after hearing Tsuboy's violin work) and "Rice Planting Song", which sounds more like a cartoon chase song than the worker's dirge you might expect. There's also some parts that have some traditional Japanese sounding influence, though overall the sound is still mostly western jazz-rock and fusion. Every cut is recorded to perfection and has lots of room for Tsuboy to take the lead while also giving space for the others (particularly Dani's bass) to shine through as well. Really, fusion just doesn't get any better than this. May be the best KBB album yet! Recommended. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Interpose+ | Strings Arguments | Theta]|
Resa Mot Okant Mal (71), Kebnekajse II (73), Kebnekajse III (75), Ljus Fran Afrika (76), Elefanten (77), Vi drar vidare (78)
Swedish band who took much influences from Swedish folk music on their first album, but later they started to look at African music. They were counted to the "progressive" scene in Sweden in the seventies; however, you should be aware of that "progressive" in Sweden meant something different than elsewhere. Here it was a political label, rather than a musical, and many so-called progressive band sang poltical left-wing trash to bland music. Kebnekajse kept quiet, though. Nevertheless not overly interesting.
I have II and III. Either one is an excellent purchase but both together are a bit redundant. Kebnekajse start with traditional Swedish folk tunes and give them a progressive once-over. Of the songs on each of these, only one or two are original compositions. The instruments used are guitar, violin, congas, drums, and bass, and a few other assorted instruments. You can readily detect the folk roots but addition of the rock beat makes for vigorous and exciting listening. The music is very fresh and unique, particularly in comparison to other Swedish bands of the same era. The only drawback is that II isn't much different than III. The main difference between these albums are the two non-traditional (i.e., composed by band members) songs, which also happen to be long tracks. On these cuts, the band stretches out to show their chops. There are still some folk references plus some passages that are reminiscent of Focus. I'd recommend III for starters because of the excellent 13+ minute "Balladen om Bjorbar och Natmelor," a wonderful guitar showcase. If you can't get enough of the band after this, go for II. -- Mike Taylor
[Kebnekajse is the name of Sweden's highest mountain]
Kedama Live at Sunrise Studios (76, LP, only 200 copies pressed)
Kedama (second) (77, unreleased recording)
Kedama Live at Sunrise Studios (00, CD with both of the above albums and 2 additional tracks)
Although the English is a bit difficult to follow on the
Black Rills Records web site
regarding this release, I take it that the original master tapes of this session
were lost, which I assume means it had to be remastered from one of the 200 original
LP pressings. If so, they did a really clean job, I can't hear any surface noise
on this CD at all. The original recording had obvious problems too, you can clearly
hear the microphones being overloaded from the sound pressure levels, plus the
"breathing" of limiters coming in and out in odd spots.
But what's important is the music ... and what I can hear here is a blast of previously unknown instrumental progressive innovation and experimentation from the past ... from three Swiss musicians of all things! Personally, I never thought of Switzerland as a hotbed of progressive activity, though the latest releases from Black Rills, who specialize in re-releases of old Swiss progressive bands, are beginning to change my mind about this.
Kedama must have just been kids at the time, a Swiss progressive garage band who couldn't afford studio time to record like the "big boys". Reading between the lines, they found a guy who was just building a studio to record them, but he was on a shoestring budget himself. Hence, "Live at Sunrise Studios", they recorded this live with a stereo pair of microphones direct to stereo tape. No mistakes allowed, no overdubs. As any musician can tell you, this is a gruelling way to record. So you'll have to forgive the odd squeak from chairs and clicks from pedals moving ... considering the recording technique, this performance is awesome.
The band consists of keyboardist Richard Rothenberger who plays heavily distorted Hammond, Mellotron, some sort of electric piano, and a Minimoog which of course had to be programmed on the fly by turning knobs, guitarist Christian Linder who also occasionally plays sitar, and drummer Peter Suder who also plays other percussion including tablas. The sound is slightly reminiscent of ELP, but only because of the distorted Hammond. Musically, it's more like Todd Rundgren's Utopia of the same era, though more avant-garde. There are also some mellow sections where the Mellotron reminds of King Crimson circa Court of the Crimson King. But to be honest, none of these comparisons captures the essence of Kedama's sound very well. They really had a very unique style. The first album sounds very improvised, while the second one sounds a bit more carefully composed, and therefore is a bit more complex, though it still with lots of space for improv. The studio technique is noticably better for the second album too. In fact, on one cut I can hear two guitars playing at the same time, so maybe they had moved up to multi-track capability by that time. But both albums together on one CD makes for a very enjoyable listening experience. Since the first album was recorded with an "artificial head" technique, it also sounds great on headphones ... like you were there!
Black Rills has done the progressive community a big favor by re-releasing this long lost treasure, warts and all. Actually, even the warts are rather charming. Check it out! -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Click here for Black Rills Records|
Kill H.E.N.R.Y.K! (08)
This Septic Isle (10)
Jimmy Keegan was born into an all Irish family (Dubliners) and raised "in Oldhma, a small typing error" in the North of England. (I think he means Oldham. I don't quite get the joke.) His mind was blown at the age of 11 when he heard Queen's "Keep Yourself Alive". His big brother turned him on to Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd and Focus. He says that he "didnít know what the hell it was he just knew that he wanted to do it". By his own admission, however, "He still hasnít managed it though!"
Jimmy sent me an electronic copy of his new album This Septic Isle, which he says is "loosely based on updating the themes behind Dark Side Of The Moon, only depicting life in 2010 rather than 1974." And that's the perfect description. The Dark Side Of The Moon themes (also some from Wish You Were Here) are blatantly obvious throughout, though he does add some of his own twists and mostly rewrites the lyrics, in a more dark, depressing and sarcastic way. It's possible to get more depressing than Roger Waters? Oh, yes, it is!
The songs are totally disorganized (I have only the slightest idea what the playing order is supposed to be ... I might as well set my iPod to "shuffle"), the production is amateurish and the music is totally derivative. On the other hand, the lyrics are amazing as long as you're a big of a cynical, sarcastic bastard as I am, the guitar playing is excellent, and the other instruments range from serviceable to quite good. If you're a Floyd fan and would like to hear what Monty Python might have made of Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here (OK, maybe not as silly as Monty Python, but with that distinctly Brit sarcasm), then you should get some enjoyment out of This Septic Isle. I certainly did. I don't know if it made me want to laugh more or cry more, but it certainly was entertaining.
Warning: Keegan hinself warns that his first album Kill H.E.N.R.Y.K! isn't really prog, though there are some prog touches on a couple of songs. Beware. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Jimmy Keegan's web site
The Guide (99)
Domain of Oblivion (04)
Ken's Novel - Sebastien Mentior (bass), Geoffrey Leontiev (drums), Eric Vanderbemden
(guitars), Patrick Muermans (vocals) and Bruno Close (keyboards)
This is the best progressive band in Belgium since Machiavel. It is a concept album that tell the story of "Ken", a dictator. The style of this album is rather "neo-prog", but with inventive world music intrusions, great melodies, great solos, and no weak songs. The overall sound is close to modern Marillion (but it's not a Marillion-clone at all) ...
The Second album is even greater. Ken's Novel here explores new territories, becoming a more symphonic prog band, with longer and more complex songs.
Very good songs, skillfull players, sounds great live, a very good band to discover on CD (they are distributed by Musea records) and live...
Click here for Ken's Novel's
web site (in French)
Click here to order Ken's Novel CD's from Musea Records
Kenso I (80)
Kenso II (82)
Kenso 3rd (85)
Music For Five Unknown Musicians (85)
In Concert (86)
Self Portrait (87, Compilation)
Yume No Oka (91)
Live 92 (93, Live)
Zaiya Live (96, Live)
In the West (98, Live)
Esoptron (99) (ProgressoR review)
Kenso 76/77 (00, early recordings to 2-track cassette deck)
25th Anniversary Live CD "Ken-Son-Gu-Su" (00, Live)
Fabulis Mirabilibus de Bombycosi Scriptis (02)
|Kenso III is another great example of progressive fusion. Very comparable to Finch though not quite on their level. Still though an excellant album.|
|Instrumental progressive fusion from Japan. Self Portrait is a compilation of the best of their first two albums (both very rare now, often commanding hundreds of dollars at auctions). The sound of this early stuff reminds me of a Japanese Happy The Man, with traditional influences and delicate melodic sublety, yet with plenty of fire. By the second album, and even moreso by the third, they gradually moved onward to a more direct fusion sound. Music For Unknown Five Musicians is a double-live set pulling material from the first three albums, plus a few new tunes. It is probably the best place to start. Sparta followed some personnel changes, and is probably the least impressive of the lot, but still quite good. The most recent album Yume No Oka finds them back in form, cohesive and colorful, this may be their best album yet.|
|Kenso's all-instrumental music is a combination of progressive rock and light jazz influences, perhaps in the style of Edhels and Minimum Vital, very crisply executed and energetic. Their first two albums were limited editions of 500, and are now nowhere to be found. The eponymous release is actually their third work, and shows off the style described. Music For Unknown Five Musicians is a double-CD set compiled from a 1985 live performance, and is fairly difficult to locate these days. It contains some material from their first three releases, plus some unreleased material. One of the tracks is entitled "Brand IX," and another is dedicated to Pat Metheny, which should give some indication of the band's direction. They also perform a cover version of a track composed by Flairck, a somewhat obscure, but very virtuosic, Dutch almost-chamber-rock band, and energize it with fiery leads and solos.|
|When I first heard their Music for Unknown Five Musicians, I thought they sounded like a Japanese version of Chick Corea's Elektric Band, but without Frank Gambale's lightning guitar runs and Eric Marienthal's saxophone. There are jazz elements to the music that make this a valid comparison. Additionally, titles such as "P.M. (Dedicated to Pat Metheny)" and "Brand IX" reveal jazz influences. However, the blend of keyboard dominated music with certain progressive elements also yields a Happy The Man aura about the music. I've also heard part of Yume No Oka and it's strongly in the fusion direction. Good stuff and well worth hearing. -- Mike Taylor|
|I tend to categorize this band with Iconoclasta, a progressive rock outfit that has been around for the better part of 10 years and hasn't sold out. Well, in all honesty, Iconoclasta has never matched the majesty of their first two releases, but Kenso has continued to put out quality fusion-oriented prog rock. From Japan, Kenso attacks you with a four piece barrage of complexities and musical subtleties wrapped up in a fusion package. They are unique - jazzy enough for the listener that admires that sort of approach, but they don't sound like the bands of the seventies. You can hear the influences of Hatfield and the North, Finch, and Focus, but Kenso takes new directions. Yume No Oka varies from slow, mellow, introspective pieces, to ripping cuts with everybody soloing at once. Fronted by excellent guitar work and keysmanship, the only weak point on the entire album is the drummer's annoyingly loud snare - which captures all too much of his attention when he's not doing fills or more complicated lines. The plodding snare-bass rhythms are in each track to a certain extent though the drummer shows he is capable of doing much more. If it weren't for this one drawback, Yume No Oka would be a truly excellent release. As it is, the album is very strong - one of the best by a continuing progressive band. Maybe not as outstanding as the live Music For Unknown 5 Musicians, but definitely an uncompromising and typical release for this band.|
My experience of Kenso is limited to two CDs. Kenso II has 11 tracks and
as all the titles are written in kanji characters I have no idea what
they are called. The music definitely belongs to the category of fusion,
with some quite complex, jazzy rhythms and changes. However, there is a
definite rock vibe and some of the melodies and keyboard work pull the
music towards the realm of symphonic rock. Lots of intricate,
harmonically-complex instrumental lines criss-crossing remind of Happy the
Man (I guess also because of the rather thin, clean sound). Guitar is the
main instrument, keyboards and flute follow not far behind; the drummer is
active and has that same rimshot snare sound that Bill Bruford is known
for. Two of the tracks clearly stand out, as they are lush-sounding, almost
solo-keyboard pieces, with strong melodies carried by the flute or an
operatic voice (the only vocals heard on the album). Another track combines
these two approaches by starting with just the keyboards playing and then
bringing the band in; it may be the strongest individual track on the
album. At first, I felt this album was a bit too jazzy for my tastes, but
it has grown on me on further listens.
Zaiya Live was recorded in 1995 and captures the band live on stage. Though the liner notes apologise that some of the material has been recorded on a 2-track, I find the sound quality consistently excellent. The band are a five-piece with a second keyboard player replacing the flautist. Their sound is stronger and approach rockier, but still retaining their jazziness and complexity; this is clearly demonstrated on the two tracks I knew from Kenso II. Songs like "Les Phases de la lune I" and "The Ancient in My Brain" show the band at their best, blasting through fast sections with guitar and analog-styled synth leads flying all over the place, then slowing down for calmer moments where sparkling digital sounds paint gorgeous soundscapes and delicate jazzy voicings abound. They pull all this off with great precision and skill, playing with abandon but never letting things get chaotic. There's so much happening in some of these songs that each successive listen is really rewarding. There are again a couple of odd tracks: "The Day I Left OIA" is a short solo-bouzouki performance, while the keyboard showcase "Es" would not be out of place on a Klaus Schulze album. This is an excellent album, especially for fusion fans but I think should also have wider appeal among prog enthusiasts. -- Kai Karmanheimo
[See Sense Of Wonder]
Kerrs Pink (80)
Mellom Oss (81)
A Journey on the Inside (93)
Art of Complex Simplicity (97)
Kerr's Pink Live
Norwegian progressives, with a sound that may remind of Camel (circa Mirage) or elements of Pink Floyd (a Gilmour-like guitarist playing moody, spacy stretches), their material is instrumentally dominated, with a lot of interplay between the flute, guitar and two keyboardists. The vocals are excellent when present. Mellom Oss was almost entirely re-recorded for the CD reissue, thus the sound quality is astonishingly good. The 17 minute "Where Time Fades Away" features guest female vocalist. Start with either, both are excellent.
|The immediate comparison to be made for this band is to Camel. From the opening notes of their eponymous first album, you will be reminded of Andy Latimer's melodic guitar style. Follow this with flute and the comparison is enhanced. Kerrs Pink, however, is far from a Camel clone despite the obvious influence. If it is possible, they are even more melodic than Camel and more spacious. Additionally, there's a feel thoughout the music that is uniquely Scandanavian, though I can't describe what it is. The few lyrics in the mostly instrumental work are in Norwegian. The solos are mostly guitar, though there a good amount of keyboard work. This is very relaxing and laid back music. -- Mike Taylor|
|Kerrs Pink fuses progressive rock and Scandinavian folklore just as Grieg married symphonic music and Nordic folk songs. The music also pays homage to bands like Camel and String Driven Thing. Kerrs Pink is Tore Fundingsrud (drums), Jostein Hansen (bass, guitars, and vocals), Harald Lytomt (guitars, flute, keyboards and bass), and Per-Oyvind Nordberg (keyboards). Mellom Oss is a reissue of Kerrs Pink's second album recorded in 1981 plus six previously unreleased bonus tracks. Mellom Oss was originally recorded on an old 4-track recorder. With today's technology and Kerrs Pink's improved studio they decided to rerecord the first six tracks making this CD a pseudo-reissue. Their seventeen minute opus from the LP, Mens Tiden Forgar ("While Time Fades Away"), is a remixed version of the original recording. The CD booklet, as always is true with Musea releases, contains extensive historical notes and English lyrics even though they are sung in Norwegian. Another highly recommended reissue from the European progressive archives.|
|Norwegian band that borrows ideas from Pink Floyd, Sebastian Hardie and Camel, and meld them into a uniquely Scandinavian style. The band includes flute, two keyboards and three (!) guitars. The use of keyboards (mostly organ and piano) is surprisingly subtle, the layered guitars (acoustic and electric both) give it a sometimes folkish feel. The flute often makes it sound like an instrumental version of Tabula Rasa. Overall very pleasant, while it doesn't blow you away with technical prowess, it eventually wins you over with its gentle melodicism. Mellom Oss adds some Norwegian and apparently Israeli (on "Trostevise") folk themes to arrive at a totally individualistic sound. Also many guest players, on viola, cello and female vocals. This one includes a 17-minute track. Both albums are excellent. -- Mike Ohman|
|I haven't actually heard the earlier 80's material but this 1993 double LP [A Journey on the Inside] did not impress. I don't rate Jostein Hansen's vocals at all. European inflections on English words is a minefield area in Euro-prog and here, just doesn't come off at all. Add to this fact, the awful lyrics and well it really is a shame. A shame because Kerrs Pink can obviously play great music. The acoustic guitar playing is skillful but the songwriting is below par to my mind. I was looking forward to the 10 minuter, "Rubicon" but the verses reminded me of The Scorpions for some reason and the playing was simply "average". The track, "Sorcerer" sounds like Bryan Adams has gone prog and joined an irish folk band in his spare time!! Oh dear! The track "The Prisoner" starts of like Dire Straits!!!! and even worse, actually finishes like Dire Straits. Had I also mentioned that the middle bit of this song sounds a little like ... Dire Straits!!!! HELP!!!! The little 2 minute musical interludes that cover the album just annoy the listener really, apart from some minute segments, i.e the last 30 seconds of track 12 "Time for thought" which is very erm ... "nice" I think is the expression. Hmmm ... time for thought indeed! and mine is that there are many poor neo-prog acts around and while Kerrs Pink aren't the worst (that honour must go to Dutch band Voyage) they inhabit the area clearly marked "average" on this '93 LP. I'd like to hear some of the earlier stuff as from various descriptions it seems to be a hell of a lot better!! -- David Abel|
I have Kerr's Pink's latest album, Tidings. I can't comment on how this
relates to earlier releases because this is the only one I've heard. The album
has added two new members since Art of Complex Simplicity, vocalist
Lasse Tanderø and keyboardist Lasse Johansen (in addition to Freddy Ruud,
giving the band 2 keyboard players). If lush symphonic textures are your thing,
this album definitely has 'em.
It's hard to say anything bad about Tidings. It's well recorded, well composed, and has lots of heavily orchestrated symphonic prog. But it's all pretty easy-listening and smooth, nothing very challenging. If I said this album sounded like a mixture of Mostly Autumn and Alan Parson's Project but without the celtic influence (except for one cut) and without any sequencers, you'd have about the right idea. Proggy or "Classic Rock" sounding, yet easy on the ears. As another reviewer has said, it's "nice" music (as opposed to Nice music). To tell the truth, this album didn't do that much for me, but it's still hard to say anything bad about it ... if you consider this damned by faint praise, I can't really argue. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Kerr's Pink's official
web site (seems to have gone offline ...)
Click here to order Tidings and other Kerrs Pink titles from Musea Records
|Space Shanty (72)|
|Another of the ultimate classics is Khan's Space Shanty Consisting of Steve Hillage, Dave Stewart and two others, Khan's pre-Gong progressive rock is as intense and heavy as it gets, and has some of Hillage's and Stewart's best playing ever.|
|Their classic Space Shanty is simply a must-have album. Featuring the beautiful Hammond work of Dave Stewart and the spacey/bluesy guitar of Steve Hillage, these guys weave a musical web of intoxicating beauty that will place you at the hearth inside the shanty. Somewhat song oriented (six longish tunes), each song flows together and there is very conceptual feel to the album. There are recurring musical themes throughout and the album ends as it begins - on an instrumental freakout. Stewart displays his mastery of the Hammond by wrenching some of the most beautiful tones out of his organ, while Hillage's guitar swirls between the speakers. A MUST!!|
|Great early work by guys who would later define the Canterbury sound. Very heavy prog rock, but not in the way that King Crimson is heavy, more in a "psychedelic-heavy" mould. Only one release, Space Shanty.|
|Links||[See Gong | Greenwood, Nicholas | Hillage, Steve | National Health | Stewart, Dave]|
Cherry Town (67, as The Laymen)
Level 6-1/2 (69, only 180 vinyl copies made)
Encore! (98, CD containing all major recorded works of Khazad Doom)
The Laymen (later Khazad Doom) circa 1968.
Khazad Doom was one of the earliest of the American progressive rock bands, performing in and around the Chicago area. Their only studio LP, Level 6-1/2, had only 180 copies pressed and is a major collector's item fetching $1000 per copy and up.
In 1998, with bootleg copies of Level 6-1/2 floating around, original leader Jack Eadon decided to re-release all of the band's major recordings on a legitimate retrospective CD entitled Encore!. Jack sent me one of the few remaining copies, and it's an amazing piece of prog history. Khazad Doom may be "the band that prog forgot", partially because none of the recordings are very high quality and partially because of the low distribution of their music. If they had been an English band recording at Apple Studios with a decent producer, they might have been big! Encore! contains a few cuts from Cherry Town, most or all of Level 6-1/2 and several subsequent Khazad Doom recordings which were only now released. The later material shows a lot of development in the band.
As it is, most of these recordings are pretty thin, with terrible drum and vocal mic'ing, an uneven mix, and an organ that keeps drifting out of tune. And that's on the studio album, Level 6-1/2. The Cherry Town recordings are far more primitive that this! But if you can ignore these difficulties and just listen to what the band is trying to do musically, you'll hear a lot of resemblences to very early prog efforts, such as Genesis' From Genesis to Revelation (or even Trespass), or King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King. There's also a lot of influence from "deep" bands like The Doors (particularly the organ playing which is very Ray Manzarek-like) or The Beatles in their Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band days. If you're a believer in the term "proto-prog", then that's where Khazad Doom fits the best. "Psychedelic white man's blues" works as a description for a lot of the tunes too. If they had ever had a chance to really develop into the '70's with their contemporaries, they might have been as big as King Crimson or Van Der Graaf Generator. My favorite cut is the side-long epic "The Hunters", about a gang of hunters who track down and kill a she-wolf, and the reactions of her children in the pack who are baffled at the murdering hunter's reasons for being so hateful. It's refreshing to remember there was once a time when people dared to consider that maybe pointless violence was a bad thing and not just something to be accepted as a day to day occurance.
Jack Eadon has also written a book about Khazad Doom's almost-rise-to-stardom entitled "Got To Make It", which I will comment upon in depth after I have read it. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Khazad Doom's web site
Click here for Jack Eadon's "writerly" site where you can order "Got To Make It"