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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Kaipa

Angling Feelings

Review by Gary Hill

I've heard such good things about this outfit, but have never really heard them before. Perhaps my expectations were too high because this really doesn't capture my spirit like I thought it would. That said, it is great music, but I was expecting something out of this world. The sounds here are for the most part quite competent modern progressive rock along the lines of The Flower Kings. They bring in Celtic textures, Beatles-like pop and blues to round things out. All the performances are top notch and the group really make some complex music seem simple. It's just that, at least for me, this feels a little generic (mind you, generic killer prog) and doesn't really get under my skin. I'd consider it a very good album when I was expecting a great one.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Angling Feelings
Frantic melodic prog leads this off in fine fashion, working through a few changes on this introductory segment. After what feels like an angry vocal line (sorry, I didn't get the lyrics), they drop back to a stripped down texture that feels rather like modern King Crimson. This mode is updated and expanded on as they move the cut forward. Then it shifts out into a very melodic chorus that reminds me a bit of Genesis. Some alterations appear before they settle on a prog ballad-like style over which Celtic instrumental elements play. This (minus those Celtic tones) becomes the backdrop for the next set of vocals. They power it out a bit more as layers of vocals work around each other. Then the Celtic elements make a short return. More vocals give way to a smoking keyboard solo. They intensify things as they make their way through this instrumental section. Then another round of vocals gives way to a new jam that feels like a crunchier Emerson Lake and Palmer. They return to the central musical themes and begin similar patterns again as they work their way through the rest of the composition. It's a very strong and dynamic, yet cohesive, piece of music that really works well to lead off this set.
The Glorious Silence Within
This one begins with a ballad type mode and builds gradually with an accessible yet compelling manner that is quite enchanting. Eventually it fires out into a more intense version of those same modes as they build the song upward. This is pretty and powerful. It eventually gives way to an instrumental segment, starting at first on piano. As the piano ends we get Celtic instruments that give way to a high energy jam that still maintains a bit of that ethnic sound. It turns a bit funky as the Celtic tones leave and vocals re-enter. This general concept stays for a time, just working through some reiterations. Then they fire out into a new frantic jam that encompasses elements of ELP and King Crimson. After this runs through they drop back to the first fast paced segment to keep it going. And then we're back to the funky textures. This moves out later into a slower paced jam with lots of blues influence soaked into it. They work this through several variations, feeling a bit like Joe Satriani at times. It turns more towards powerful ballad material before it finally ends.
Everything Was Not Enough
The songwriting is rife with Beatles' riffs. It's slow and pensive like Yesterday, but lush and poetic like Crazy Lane. While I like all their past albums, each of them may have been guilty of carrying a certain sameness from start to finish. What I like best about this album is the fact that every song is innovative from the last and this one is no exception. The many bridges along with the wrap-up at the end are extraordinarily gripping. This is where Yogi's voice really shines, expressing eagerness and empathy. Drifting through my open mind, there seems to be much more beyond the words he has to say.
The Fleeting Existence of Time
At over twelve and a half minutes, this is the epic of the disc. Keys (still weaving somewhat Celtic textures) start this off. Then they launch out into a Yes-like progression (complete with bursts of vocals in that vein). This is interrupted by some keyboard lines and then a start and stop process of alternating the two concepts takes it. Eventually they move fully back into the Yes stylings for a time, but this gives way to a short version burst and is then morphed with some modern Crimson textures showing up from time to time. They drop back to just keys and female vocals at around the minute and a half mark. This transforms after a while into a powerful prog ballad approach. Then keyboards take over to herald in a new instrumental exploration. This is dropped back a bit to serve as the next vocal section. A fusion-like jam comes out of this and carries the track after a while to the mode that preceded it. After this vocal section, though, we go back towards hard rocking, slightly off kilter jamming. Then a crunchy segment that feels a lot like Kansas takes over. The guitar lines that soar over this backdrop remind me quite a bit of Steve Howe. They move out into fusion like territory later in this extended instrumental journey. It's not until about the ten and a half minute mark that the vocals return, this time accompanied mostly by keys. The jam that ensues from there reminds me of something from Anderson Bruford Wakeman and Howe's disc. Then a new jam, very Yes-like comes from there before they switch back to fusion followed by a reprise of that vocal section. It drops to just atmospheric elements to finally end.
Pulsation
A cool vocal arrangement leads this off. After one line, instruments take over in a triumphant sounding, powered out burst of sound. They run through a few measures they drop it to a bouncy progression for the verse. They intensify and fill this out a bit as they carry on. I rather odd, but very cool vocal arrangement enters after that. They move through the chorus and then drop back for the verse. This time out keys bring in a playful texture and we are back into the verse chorus progression. Some cool instrumental work shows up before they finally resolve with a powered up vocal segment that leads into a short, slower segment.
Liquid Holes in the Sky
Sedate, melancholy tones are the first things heard here. The vocals come in over this backdrop. Just before the minute mark female vocals enter and they power this upward, but it still remains slow. After a time they move it out into tasty instrumental territory, with a bit of a fusion edge. During the course of this journey there is another vocal burst and then they eventually power it way down for another verse. When it powers back up to the chorus it's pretty awesome. This finally ends the track.
Solitary Pathway
A killer keyboard sound starts things off in fine style and gives way to a smoking instrumental segment. They drop it back for the verse, but then power back out into another screaming prog excursion. This one moves through a number of organic and powerful changes. It is quite a catchy number.
Broken Chords
This has more of a mellow feel through much of the track, and even has some jazz-like textures. It's another strong cut on a disc that's full of them, but is a little less dynamic than some of the other material. It's tasty, but I'd have to say that it might not stand quite as tall as some of its brethren. They still manage to bring some powerful passages into the mix, though.
Path of Humbleness
Neo-classical, sedate tones are the first thing heard here. When the fashion vocals enter, in a very slow and balladic (yet potent) fashion, it is over keyboards that remain both ambient and in keeping with the general theme to this point. After the verse the cut grows organically and Celtic tones emerge over the top as the track gains speed and a rhythm section. When the vocals return it's over the top of this general arrangement, the intensity rising all the while. During this segment the Celtic textures vanish and a replaced with an almost bluesy keyboard sound. This moves through a number of changes and eventually turns the corner into a killer instrumental progression that really rocks. Some unusual timing and tasty keys serve to flavor this and it moves into a smoking guitar based jam later. At around the eight and a half minute (this one clocks in at almost nine and a half) they drop back to Celtically tinged ambient tones that take it out.
Where's the Captain
This has a hard edged start and stop approach on the introduction. They move through a few variations before settling into a Satriani-like motif with elements of Yes in the mix. This jam moves it's way through a number of killer changes, never really settling anywhere. This number is probably my favorite cut on the disc. It's full of varying moods and textures. While you can't predict where it's going from one movement to the next, it still manages to avoid feeling disjointed. This is what I wish the rest of the disc was like. The vocals don't even show up until about two and a half minutes in. When they do they are among the most effective ones of the disc. This thing is simply incredible. It gets Celtic at times, hard rocking at others, dissonant from time to time and is just plain awe-inspiring.
The Ship of Life
This is a powerful progressive rock ballad. It's musical thematic stylings are quite constant and unchanging, the cut deriving any variety from differing arrangements on those themes. This is actually one of the best cuts on the disc, but balladic as it is, I'm not sure about the wisdom of putting it in the closing position.
 
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