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Kino

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Review by Steve Alspach

Any prog-rock "conglomeration" will get my attention. From Emerson Lake and Palmer (they pretty much were the first ones in that genre, right?) to today, you really can't go wrong with any of them. (Okay, maybe "GTR" could have been better, but that's what happens when you try to foist commercialism on prog rockers.) Kino is one of the latest "merger" groups. Take John Mitchell from Arena, John Beck from It Bites, former Porcupine Tree drummer Chris Maitland, and Marillion bassist Pete Trewavas, and the result is a little bit of the four groups and something in and of itself. Don't expect any 25-minute epics from Kino, but rather you'll get a band that is at home with shorter, hard-rocking numbers, as well as some "soft-edge" prog that is still unique on its own.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 1 at https://garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2005.

Track by Track Review
Losers' Day Parade
This nine-minute opener has a little bit of everything in it - Porcupine Tree intensity, a bit of McCartney-esque cuteness, some fret-shredding from Mitchell and some restrained passages.
Letting Go
The song has a slight dark edge with powerful guitar lines and a bent-note synthesizer riff in the introduction, but it then goes to more conventional forms before re-visiting the intro section again.
Leave A Light On
Kino stays on the more "conventional" path with this one, although there are some rather good instrumental passages throughout.
Swimming In Women
John Beck wrestles the lead vocals from John Mitchell on this 12/8 thumper. (There is some pretty cheeky artwork for the lyric page on this one courtesy of Paul Tippett.)
People
This might be the most Marillion-ish sounding song of the whole batch. Chris Maitland's explosive drumming helps to propel Mitchell's guitar solo.
All You See
This one has a slight Porcupine Tree feel to it. "All You See" is a slower, power-chord number.
Perfect Tense
This one caught my attention for its unexpected chordal turns on the chorus. The sparse use of Mitchell's guitar allows the song some air to breathe. "Perfect Tense" is a tasty number that would find a good home on alternative or adult-oriented rock radio.
Room For Two
Not a whole lot of experimentation here - Kino cuts loose in 7/4 and utilize some infectious harmonies on the chorus.
Holding On
Kino takes time on this one to explore some dynamics. The first part is a bit restrained with some nice acoustic guitar work, but the middle instrumental section takes on a Yes-like feel with the odd time pattern and the counterpoint organ lines of John Beck.
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I'm reminded of Elton John's "Goodbye" from his Madman Across the Water album for this short closer where John Beck's piano accompanies the vocal while playing a wistful ostinato. Synthesized strings round out the arrangement.
 
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