Kaipa Notes

Kaipa
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?

Musicians:
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

Website: kaipa.info

Discography

Kaipa (1975)
Inget Nytt Under Solen (1978)
Solo (1978)
Händer (1980)
Nattdjustid (1982)
Notes From The Past (2002)
Keyholder (coming fall 2003)

Slaughterhouse Five

Slaughterhouse Five
by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of Billy Pilgrim, from his time as an American soldier and chaplain’s assistant, to postwar and early years. It is generally recognized as Vonnegut’s most influential and popular work. A central event is Pilgrim’s surviving the Allies’ firebombing of Dresden as a prisoner-of-war. This was an event in Vonnegut’s own life, and the novel is considered semi-autobiographical.


Review:

This novel is supposed to be Vonnegut’s best work, funny and satirical. I found it neither.  As the main character keeps moving through time, there is no plot development. Things just happen and the indulgence of the writer is to fill-in and expand of each of the events in Billy Pilgrim’s life. It’s not badly written, the prose is usually sharp and to the point and at just over 50,000 words it’s a quick read, just not a very memorable one.

Star Metal

Arjen Anthony Lucassen
Star One/Space Metal 2002

This was the first Ayreon/Arjen Lucassen album I purchased. The first CD has great symphonic rock songs with memorable lyrics and great melodies (listen to the subsequent live CD with the audience participation).

The second CD contains Hawkwind covers with Dave Brock singing. The final “hidden” track is Arjen’s observation on space travel and is a real hoot.

Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1)
by Margaret Atwood (2004)

Oryx and Crake is a love story and vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.


Review:

This was read as it was recommended by the
Science Friday Podcast.

The story begins in some unknown place and time.
No information is given about the character of Jimmy/Snowman. Then, through flashbacks of his childhood his past is revealed. He is the child of genetic engineers. His mother has some mental problems (probably depression) but his father continues work, merging genetics to create unusual animals.

When he enters school he befriends Crake. Then about a third of the way through the book the narration turns in to focus on the character, the plot slows to a halt. At this point it becomes a chore to get through, boredom sets in and I gave up.

Galactic Anthems

Galactic Anthems
Galactic Anthems (2002)


This immediately reminded me of the early Tangerine Dream albums (like Zeit) . It’s all synths, sequencers & spaceships.
Not as upbeat and pop-like as Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis, but more ambient and laid back. More like the soundscapes of Robert Fripp or some of Brian Eno’s work. It works on two levels, at low volumes as ambient noise and louder where you can hear the details in the compositions.

From Aural Innovations #22 (January 2003)
This is the debut release by a fellow from L.A. named Glen Adams, and on this he flirts right on the edges of what I like about ambient synth music and what drives me nuts – namely, the need to ÿspice things upÿ by adding all kinds of other influences. If you are gonna float then just do it! To whit, the second track, Orbital Bop, is exactly what you might guess from the title – spacey jazz-fusion. Miles Davis this ainÿt, which is too bad. Things also veer a little too close to ambient techno (is that a genre? Hell, I don’t knowÿ) on “Tortured Souls”. On the positive side, when he loses the beat and just floats (Journey) things get quite nice, and toward the end of the CD some of the more dissonant tracks such as Way Out There and especially Black Nebulaÿ are really excellent, and reach the Hearts Of Space vibe that Mr. Adams is pretty obviously after. Galactic Anthems is a mixed bag, but there is definitely some interesting motion.

For more information you can visit the Galactic Anthems web site at:
http://www.galacticanthems.com

Evanescence

Evanescence
Fallen    (2003)

Everyone should have seen this CD by now. It’s in all the CD shops and even in supermarkets. I came across this band when searching for gothic bands (see http://www.soniccathedral.com/). I would describe this as being hard rock with female vocals, like Garbage & Stellar. Unlike other gothic bands (After Forever & Nightwish) the vocals are not in the operatic soprana style, some of it more closer to screaming.

But if you like Bands like Stellar, Garbage & The Cranberries you should like this. The songs are definitely above average and very polished. They probably need to sell a billion copies to pay for all the work done on the CD and music videos.

 

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic
Petrophonics (2000)

The first time I heard this, it reminded me of Supertramp in the way the piano leads the rhythms, rather than trying to supply a melody. Some of it is almost over the edge into the “avant-garde jazz” land of instrumental wankery. Only focus and the rock feel of the bank keeps it in the region of what I would loosely call progressive jazz.

Review by: Stephanie Sollow, July 2001
Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic are somewhat what I expected from their name. I say somewhat because I couldn’t truly guess from the name alone, but would have gathered that they weren’t metal, though there are some angular edges on Petrophonics. While I had first heard Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic at NEARFest 2001 (aside from a sample track I heard a few days before), I had heard of them years before, often seeing their CDs in one of local music sources. There is just something about the name that suggests something different from the ordinary progressive rock — whatever that means (what I mean is something other than rock based prog, like jazz based prog, for instance). A higher level of arty-ness, perhaps; but also something with a lot more percussion in the arrangements. Though, now knowing what they do sound like, it’s hard to really say what I thought before since I didn’t give all that much thought before. I do know that I thought maybe they’d be a little too abstract for me, maybe a little too arty.

The bands or artists that came to mind whilst listening to Petrophonics (their most recent) were King Crimson, ELP, Supersister, early Steve Roach, and Djam Karet. The Supersister thought came to me with “Nevergreen,” a Lindgren composed piece – there is a sense of humour and playfulness in the arrangement, even if there are also some very serious passages, as there is about 4 minutes in when saxophonist Ken Fields takes the lead. This moment of serious reflection is slowly subsumed by a pulsating guitar tone, snappy and crisp percussion, which takes the track out. In contrast, you get the very moody, atmospheric, and dark “Study Of Unintended Consuences” (composed by Rick Scott) – think of a collaboration between Steve Roach and Robert Fripp, though with added sax honks and bleets, there’d be one other element to add. There are moments of experimentalism, too, or at least how I think of experimentalism – a combination of sounds that don’t, on the surface, go together, but of ultimately do.

I mentioned ELP above, but really it is more just E part of that acronym, as there are plenty of very percussive keyboard parts here. By which we can name Tarkus as a touchstone, but don’t think that if you listen to this you’ll find a copped riffs or anything. And speaking of percussion, there is some very interesting sounding electronic percussion on “Birdhead,” a song that band say was “composed around the pre-recorded track ‘Autobody’ which appears on Drumhead’s 1998 CD release” (Drumhead are Sheila McCarthy and Josh Matthews on percussion and Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu) on bass).

Another contrast is “Allswell That Endswell In Roswell” is a gentle keyboard and flute piece composed by guitarist Michael Bierylo. It is the kind of piece one might find on a Miramar or Narada soundtrack to some digital film or documentary. I though of such synthesists as James Reynolds, pieces from a Paul Speer/David Lanz collaboration, or even a touch of Tangerine Dream. The analog instruments add a warmth that is often lacking in Tangerine Dream, but certainly felt very much in Speer/Lanz. All of which means you can’t simply say Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic are a jazz-rock band, as the opening track and bits elsewhere suggest.

Tracks 8 – 11 are pieces that form the “Music Inspired By 1001 Real Apes.” The suite opens with “Time Marches On Theme” which is a gentle, lilting acoustic based piece of guitar, flute, and piano. There is a sound texture to it that makes it feel like a live performance on a warm summer evening. “Dinosaurs Theme” is a darkly, churning piece, with a percussive edge. Bierylo’s jagged guitar adds a bit of menace. Maybe I’ve been watching too many dinosaur specials, but there comes a point where things are a bit more relaxed and I see a curious dinosaur watching, head cocked, not quite sure if we’re harmless or harmful. “Gravity Theme” has loping southwestern flavour. The last part is “Quincy Sore Throat Theme.” Jack Klugman, TV’s Quincy, had throat cancer and now has a very harsh and rough voice as a result – it is to this that Lingren refers. There are echoes of the show’s theme here, too — well, at least I think so, it’s been quite a long time since I heard the theme, but something sounds familiar (other than I’ve been playing this nearly everyday since NEARfest). As the liner notes explain, “‘Music Inspired By 1001 Real Apes’ came out of a collaboration between David Greenburger and Birdsongs […] The original sixty-five minute work consists of thirty stories drawn from Greenburger’s publication The Duplex Planet. This suite expands upon the musical direction taken by four of the selections from the soundtrack composed by Birdsongs.”

Tracks 12 – 14 form a three part suite called “The Insidious Revenge Of Ultima Thule,” also all composed by Lindgren, which at times sound like very warm, smooth jazz (not, however “smooth jazz”).

Well, I can tell you was very impressed by their live performance at NEARFest to pick up this and their Dancing On A’A CD, and have been impressed enough by this to just other day pick up Faultline and Pyroclatics). So this is another band I recommend.

The Last Witcher

The Last Wish (Saga o Wiedźminie #1)
by Andrzej Sapkowski

Geralt of Rivia is a witcher.
A cunning sorcerer.
A merciless assassin.
And a cold-blooded killer.

His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world.

But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good. . . and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

The international hit that inspired the video game: The Witcher.


Review:

The only reason I am reading this is because it’s the Sword and Lazer pick for the month. I have never played the game and don’t intend to.
The author is Polish and the book has been translated to English. It’s a good translation, the prose is easy reading and despite large sections of story-telling by some characters, the plot moves nicely.

The book is a series of episodes where the Witcher encounters a situation or problem with a new set of characters, fixes things and moves on. Because of this there is no story arc or change to the character from start to end. Interesting, but not very satisfying.

 

 

Martian Monsters

Monsters of Mars
by Edmond Hamilton (1931)

So Mars has a civilization of man-like reptiles living on it (who knew). Our heroes have found a way of communicating with it the enables them to make a transporter device that moves things and people using radio waves. It sounds ridiculous, but this is from a 1930’s pulp magazine. In a strange way this is a precursor of the Star Trek Transporters, but without dilithium and a matter/anti-matter reactor. It all makes sense eventually and is a key plot point later in the story. You will be pleased to know that Mars has a breathable atmosphere and a gravity similar to earth. The shaky science doesn’t really detract from the story, as it’s all about how humans can out-wit those pesky aliens, plan a rescue and come home safely with 0.5 seconds to spare.

The novelette is about 15,000 words and moves at a brisk pace, keeping up the adventure aspect prominent and would surely appeal to the teenagers of the time.

Ichor Well

Ichor Well
by Joseph Lallo (2016)

Ichor Well is the third adventure in the Free-Wrench Series of Steampunk novels. Ever since Nita Graus left her homeland and joined the crew of the Wind Breaker, the reputation of the airship and its crew has been growing. The destruction of the mighty dreadnought, the escape from the legendary Skykeep, and  the inexplicable ability to remain hidden from the ever-watchful eye of the Fug Folk have combined to make her and her fellow crew the stuff of legend.

Alas, legendary heroes cannot exist for long without attracting a worthy villain. Luscious P. Alabaster strives to be just that foe. While he works his nefarious plans, the crew itself is not without turmoil. Captain Mack, already having survived far more years in the hostile skies than he had any right to expect, is making plans for his golden years. The crew is gradually learning all that Nita can teach them, leaving her with the looming decision of whether or not she still has a place among the crew.

Before the matter of the future can be settled, the crew has the problems at hand to solve. And in escaping the webs woven by the cunning and eccentric Alabaster, they may discover the darkest secrets the churning and toxic Fug has to hide.


Review:

The first book of the series (Free-Wrench) I rated a five star book, the second got a four star and this one gets three stars. Things seem to be heading downwards faster than a deflated airship.

The problem is that the first half of the book was just too slowly paced. Things pick up in the second half when the action finally happens. What this book needs is a good editor to trim the excessive talking as there is rather a lot of it in the first half.

The story is just OK, but suffers from not enough plot to make it interesting. The best part of the story is the mustache twirling villain of Luscious P. Alabaster. Maybe over the top and without depth, he gives the book a fun tone and offsets the darker themes.

Overall it feels like a novella stretched out to novel length, an average read.