Notes From The Past (2002)
This is very similar to the Flower Kings, but with different vocalists.
Again, Roine Stolt is the genius behind it all.
Reviewed by: John “Bo Bo” Bollenberg, February 2002
Those of you who had the pleasure of checking out the Kaipa albums when they were released on CD, courtesy of Musea, might have felt saddened by the fact that they only got to know about these guys way after the band had disbanded. Out of the Kaipa ashes The Flower Kings was founded, yet guitarist Roine Stolt remained good friends with Kaipa keyboard player Hans Lundin, so much so that both musicians agreed to unleash yet another Kaipa album to the world. With the addition of the talented bass contributions from FK and session musician Jonas Reingold, the drum madness of Morgan Agren, who’s known from his stint with Zappa and Mats & Morgan, and the vocals of Ritual singer Patrik Lundström, Notes From The Past continues where albums like Kaipa, Inget Nytt Under Solen and Solo left off. In fact, Kaipa released two other albums that in every respect were not worth being re-issued on CD because they didn’t contain enough good material to get the CD treatment. On both Händer and Nattdjustid you’ll find a couple of good tunes, but you can hear the band was searching for a more commercial sound in order to sell more albums. Sadly it didn’t work out. Looking back at what went wrong, both Roine and Hans could now learn from their mistakes and thus steer the material for the new album in a direction which comes close to the nucleus of the first three albums. The distinctive guitar sound of Roine will nevertheless take your mind back to some of the Flower Kings highlights, which I feel is an obvious reaction, as FK has been going strong for the last couple of years, not forgetting Transatlantic, of course.
A perfect example of what to expect throughout the entire album can be found in the opening thrack “Notes From The Past – Part 1,” which kind of sums up all of the influences we will encounter on this new Kaipa journey. Especially the intro for “Night-Bike-Ride (On Lilac Street)” has this déja vu feel to it. Lundström illustrates what a great singer he is during the wonderful, melodic “Mirrors of Yesterday.” Lundin introduces the immortal mellotron rather heavily during “Leaving The Horizon,” a 14-minute plus epic that again holds a lot of the Flower Kings trademarks, although all of the material has been penned by Lundin (who certainly must have listened a lot to the FK output, learning his lessons from the band’s current success). But then again maybe one can say that Stolt “borrows” a lot from the vintage Kaipa period in the FK music, so who was first: the chicken or the egg? The folk influence is heavilly present during “Folke’s Final Decisio”‘ although some heavy blues is introduced as well. The main melody here alternates between keyboards and guitar delivering a fresh sounding tune.
One of the highlights of the album and certainly one that will please many guitar fans has to be the epic “The Name Belongs To You.” With Lundin’s mellotron sounds opening for Patrik’s vocals, the song evolves in a rather strange way in order to find the right “hook” on which to hang the entire song. In between Patrik’s vocal acrobatics we witness a rave collection of guitar solos brought to you buy the one and only “king of Swedish guitar playing” Roine Stolt. Several sounds from the magical mellotron are used to underline the symphonic nature of “Second Journey Inside The Green Glass” which holds a lot of Ars Nova elements. Meanwhile the first chord sounds almost like “Watcher Of The Skies” revisited, before once again the guitars go completely wild.
We welcome nice female vocals in “A Road In My Mind” courtesy of Aleena Lundin & Tove Thörn Lundin adding a nice ballad to the already impressive collection of wonderful tunes on this album. Containing a slightly country-ish feel, the song is taken into overdrive by means of the organ before calm sets in once again in order to let the vocals shine. “Morganism” is probably the weirdest track on the album, introducing a horn section and fuzzy wah-wah sounds, not forgetting a section where the rhythm goes completely over the top. Again guitar and keys work tremendously well together, adding a fantastic vibe throughout the song, often getting close to the better parts of the impressive career of the band Chicago. At the end of this song Kaipa has added something that doesn’t really fit the atmosphere of the song, but hey this is prog remember? The album closes with a rerun from the main theme as delivered in the opening track. So it’s vintage sounds galore once again with some stunning keyboard interventions by Hans Lundin, backed at first by soft acoustic guitars that soon switch towards distorted guitar. The album ends with the sound of the wind blowing through the Skandinavian countryside, opening plenty of opportunities for a follow up. No doubt this album will please Flower Kings fans the world over, as the music sounds so very much like FK all over the place. Let’s say that it’s more FK than Kaipa. Luckily the inclusion of singer Patrik Lundström adds an extra flavour to the music, making it a splendid release. Now if Roine Stolt can take some time off between FK and Transatlantic commitments maybe he can take Kaipa on the road, a thing that will certainly be appreciated the world over. NEARfest 2003 anyone?
Hans Lundin – Hammond, synthesizers, mellotron, piano, vocals
Roine Stolt – electric and acoustic guitars
Morgan Agren – drums
Patrik Lundström – vocals
Jonas Reingold – bass
Aleena Lundin and Tove Thörn Lundin – additional vocals
Inget Nytt Under Solen (1978)
Notes From The Past (2002)
Keyholder (coming fall 2003)