KAIPA - Mindrevolutions
Of all the bands and projects Roine Stolt is involved with, Kaipa are curiously the least known. In fact they must have been his first band, and from the mid-Seventies on, they released a couple of albums, disbanded in the early Eighties. Early in the new millennium, keyboarder Hans Lundin came back together with Stolt to start a reunion, of which Mindrevolutions is already the third album.
I am not too familiar with Kaipa's beginnings, but what I heard of them back then was not so different from their new albums, except that in the beginning they had Swedish lyrics, and that today apart from Lundin and Stolt, it's in fact an all new band.
Lundin, who penned all the songs on the new album, must be relentlessly stuck in the Seventies, because apart from the dynamic production, nothing hints at this being an album from 2005 instead from 1975 when Kaipa released their very first album.
The main ingredient are of course Lundin's very diverse keyboards, and he is treating us with a wide array of instruments, from Hammond sounds to moogs and the ubiquitous mellotron. Stolt's guitar is less rock than when he plays with his main band Flower Kings or the supergroup Transatlantic, although they are not worlds apart. The vocals are shared by Patrik Lundström and Aleena whose smoky sexy voice adds a certain sizzling tension to the music. The rhythm section is taking advantage mostly of Flower Kings bassist Jonas Reingold whose fretless playing is unparalleled in the contemporary prog scene.
The album is very good from beginning to end, and as a matter of fact, since their reunion, none of their album was shorter than 78 minutes, giving you on the one hand value for money, but on the other hand, it's hard to get into the songs because everything's so long. Especially the title track in the middle of the album is taking up one third of the playing time, coming across as a journey through symphonic progressive rock of the Seventies. In the end we are left with a prog album that enemies of the genre will call reactionary, friends will talk of a timeless music, while the truth is of course lying somewhere in between. I feel mostly reminded of early Seventies Yes, with Lundin playing the role of Wakeman, Stolt being Howe, and Reingold somehow embodying the godlike Chris Squire. Except that Kaipa don't come up with such memorable melodies.
The cover artwork is a fun take at steampunk science fiction art, having probably no relationship with the music on the album, but then cover artists have to make a living too. Fans of Stolt's other bands will be delighted by the mellow progginess of Kaipa, modern prog fans will maybe understand that the warm sounds of earlier times are more charming than the more sterile contemporary bands, and prog metal fans, whose genre originated with Rush, may be delighted to learn of a new root of their favourite music. Not a classic of its style, but way above average with the potential of a musical history lesson.