(updated 02 November 2003) The second album from Swedish progressive rock sensation Kaipa (since their reunion, but actually their seventh overall) is comprised of eight epic-length tracks. Entitled Keyholder (InsideOut Music (Germany/USA) IOMCD 132 / IOMACD2064, 2003), the album features contributions from the same lineup as their eleven track offering from 2002 Notes From The Past.
The band has been built up from the electric and acoustic guitar work of Roine Stolt (Flower Kings, Transatlantic) as well as keyboards and vocals by Hans Lundin. On the new album, Morgan Agren (drums), Jonas Reingold (bass), Patrik Lundstrom (vocals) and Aleena (vocals) are more prominently listed on the album's artwork as band members.
Aleena's vocal work is substantially greater--she emerges from the backing vocal role on the band's prior album to lead vocalist on several of the tracks of this new project. And her contributions will draw more of our visitors to Kaipa's material than before. Aleena's website (under construction at this writing) is the definitive online resource for the singer.
Kaipa's sound reflects upon the artists' various musical heritages and blends them into accessible progressive rock. While the instrumental excursions are frequent and individually virtuous, they are well arranged, and will please even new entrants to the genre. Allusions to the band members' heritages as well as other major progressive influences, including frequent-but-brief Yes-like passages, are evident throughout the album.
Notes From The Past received tremendous critical acclaim for the sound, structure and production of the material. Sung primarily by Patrick Lundstrom, the album included an occasional whisp of Aleena on backing vocals. When we heard that she would play a larger role on the band's follow-up, our editors pursued the material with more vigor. And it was indeed worth it.
While the lyrical passages of Keyholder are still principally sung by Patrick Lundstrom, Aleena is given the opportunity to perform the lead role on several of the tracks. The songs across the board are excellent, but those with Aleena on lead will to draw more attention to the band. Her voice will remind some of Tracy Hitchings (feature) and, for those familiar with her work, Andrea Corr (reviews 1 | 2).
The album highlights include "A Complex Work Of Art," adramatic progressive number with Aleena singing lead, the Yes-styled duet "Across The Big Uncertain" and the dramatically lush piece "Distant Voices." The robust instrumental arrangements perfectly support the sung parts and instrumental excursions demonstrate the individuals' talents and add a critical element to the progressive sound. Aleena's backing vocalise parts within "End Of The Rope" contrasted against Stolt's vast guitar excursions are also especially memorable.
Outstanding production quality, superb arrangements and evocative vocals characterise the second Kaipa album after their reburth. Further information on the band and various downloads are available from the band's website. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Keyholder is worth a trans-Atlantic journey and is certainly a must listen!