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Kinetic Element

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Review by Gary Hill

Kinetic Element is a band that features Mike Visaggio, whose solo work I have covered before. This is their latest disc and it will certainly appeal most to the fans of classic progressive rock. There is no modern prog in this mix (except to the extent that that musical style is saturated with old school progressive rock). The music often times calls to mind acts like ELP, Yes and Genesis. I like the disc a lot, although the vocals at times throw me off a little. Still, there’s some great music here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Riding In Time
They open the set with a nine-minute plus epic. It starts with keyboards, and those gradually grow upward. Around the one minute mark it shifts to a full band arrangement and we're off from there. The cut continues to evolve from there. While there are hints of things like Yes and ELP, this is an original number. Before the three and a half minute mark it drops to harpsichord. I'm a big fan of harpsichord, so that won me over. They work forward from there in fine style bringing in folk prog and a solid helping of jazz. It eventually works to more mainstream progressive rock from that point, but there are some hints of space rock at times. Around the six and a half minute mark it drops to just piano. The vocals come in over the top of that, and the piece gradually grows onward from there.
The Ascent
Coming in mellow and rather mysterious in texture, this moves out into a song structure that is very Emerson Lake and Palmer like. A somewhat Steve Howe-like guitar section works over the top of this as they continue to build this track out into something very special. As the vocals enter this has perhaps more of a Yes-like element (although the vocals sound nothing like you would expect from Yes). They take us through a number of cool changes and alterations. As tasty as the first piece was, I like this much more. This builds in some very intriguing ways. In some ways it’s quite cohesive and consistent, yet there are many changes. It’s just that the changes feel so organic and natural. This is a very dramatic piece. Around the six minute mark it crescendos and then returns to stylings that are similar to the opening of the piece. That said, some guitar soloing joins that is very much like the hard rocking side of early Genesis.
Now and Forever
Here’s another that reminds me a lot of ELP. The keyboards in particular give me that impression. From there, though, they fire out into one of the most dynamic pieces on the set. You’ll likely hear all kinds of classic prog bands in this mix and yet it’s all blended together in such a way as to make it seem unique and completely original. This is a real killer cut and my favorite to this point on the set. In fact, it would definitely be a contender for the best track on show here. The closing section reminds me a lot of Yes’ Going For the One album somehow. At around seven and a half minutes in length, this is second shortest song on show. 
Peace of Mind, Peace of Heart
A dramatic and rather theatric introduction opens this up and takes us out in a new adventure. Around the one minute mark it drops way down and they begin building in a progressive rock ballad motif. They build on this until around the four and a half minute mark and drop it way down to ambient tones. Then a hard rocking ELP-like jam ensues. There’s a killer Wakeman-like keyboard solo later on and then they take us into some more intriguing instrumental territory. It works into something that makes me think of a marriage of Rick Wakeman solo music with Emerson, Lake and Palmer and then moves out into the song proper from there. At almost twelve and a half minutes in length this is the second longest composition here. It’s also one of the strongest ones. It continues by revisiting earlier themes.
Meditation
An acoustic guitar solo, this is pretty and rather intricate. At times it has Spanish tones, but at others it’s more pure folky, classically tinged rock. This is a tasty instrumental and at less than four minutes in length is the shortest piece on the set. That said, if I had a complaint about this track it would be that it seems a bit overlong.
Reconciliation
Running through a number of changes this is another potent prog rock cut and one of my favorites on the set. I hear at different points in this piece Yes, ELP and Genesis and perhaps some Kansas here and there. All in all, though, the effect is an original amalgamation of the group’s influences. At over sixteen minutes in length this is the longest track on show.
See the Children
Although overall they haven’t broken any molds here this music is interesting and diverse enough to hold up and remain unique. I hear the usual suspects in terms of influences here, but arranged in new ways. I’d peg this one as my favorite song on the whole disc. It makes for a very satisfying conclusion to a considerably strong album. It is perhaps the most Yes-like number of all.
 
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