Monday 19th April: It doesn’t take much to get me to try out new music and, in the case of In The Wake Of Evolution – the tenth studio album by Swedish band Kaipa – it was nothing more than an advert on the back of Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine. Kaipa have a long history, having been around since the mid 70’s but they are currently in their second incarnation – they originally split in the 80’s but were reformed by keyboard player Hans Lundin in the early 2000s. Lundin, the only original member, has put together a band featuring some of Sweden’s best prog musicians, including members of The Flower Kings, Ritual, Karmakanic (great name) and an ex-Zappa drummer. (Roine Stolt of The Flower Kings and Transatlantic has been a past member of both incarnations.)
Weighing in at over 70 minutes of music in just 8 tracks, In The Wake Of Evolution is a CD of mixed styles, fusing folk and prog rock with some heavy guitar and drum work to produce an exciting, engrossing and, it has to be said, at times meandering album of superb music.
At times, the vocals, both from Patrik Lundstrom and Aleena Gibson, across as a bit theatrical. Lundstrom often sounds a bit like a snarly villainous figure, especially during the opening title track and Gibson comes across as a Swedish Bonnie Tyler during The Words Are Like Leaves, a track where her vocals are almost drowned by the music anyway. But that can be forgiven and, I suspect is at least partly due to them singing in what I assume is their second language.
There is, however, nothing to forgive in the music which is at times whimsical in its use of keyboards and recorder, at others orchestral and at others a lot heavier than most of the prog in my collection. In true prog style, however, there are some incredible variations, not just between individual tracks but within them. Tracks such as In The Heart Of Her Own Magical Field and Folkia’s First Decision (the shortest track and only instrumental on the album) start of lightly before bursting into energetic life. There’s some unusual drumming two thirds of the way through the epic (obligatory, it is prog) eighteen minute Electric Power Water Notes, when it sounds as though the drums have been stuffed with pillows to deaden the sound. This track also stand out for some wonderful surrealism towards the end.
The addition of Fredrik Lindquist on recorder and Elin Rubinsztein on violin through the album only adds to the pleasant folky feel of some of the tracks. It is, however, Lundin’s keyboards and Per Nilsson’s guitars which stand out throughout the album. Both have some incredible solo’s and work together to produce some very complex tracks. It is Nilsson’s work, especially, that adds to the heaviness of the music to be found here.
Strangely, despite opening in a very similar way to the title track, Arcs Of Sound features for most of its length vocals over drums and some very strange whistle sounds that bear little resemblance to a tune but somehow manage to work very well. Smoke From A Secret Source, on the other hand, manages to be interesting for the way that different instruments are used to produce the same (or very similar) passages of music in a very lively introduction which mixes keyboard, violin, guitar and rums to spectacular effect. Album closer The Seven Oceans Of Our Mind, at times almost operatic in its delivery, is also the album’s weirdest track in terms of lyrics (not that many of the lyrics made sense to me at all). “Why do rocks always survive, on their journey through the motions? Why do they not grow old, in the mystery of time?” Brilliant stuff!
Throughout the album, there are hints of Yes (particularly in some very Anderson-like vocals during the title track) and even a little bit of Queen in some of the guitar playing. However, while a sticker on the case proudly proclaims, “For fans of Yes, Transatlantic, The Flower Kings” this album is pretty unique in my collection. It may not end up in my top five for this year, but I’m guessing it will be fairly close.
1: In The Wake Of Evolution
2: In The Heart Of Her Own Magic Field
3: Electric Power Water Notes
4: Folkia’s First Decision
5: The Word’s Are Like Leaves
6: Arcs Of Sound
7: Smoke From A Secret Source
8: The Seven Oceans Of Our Mind
Hans Lundin – Electric & acoustic keyboards, vocals
Per Nilsson – Electric & acoustic guitars
Morgan Agren – Drums
Jonas Reingold – Electric basses
Patrik Lundstrom – Vocals
Aleena Gibson – Vocals
Fredrik Lindqvist – Recorder (tracks, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8)
Elin Rubinsztein – Violin (tracks 1, 4, 5 and 7)