K2 - Book Of The Dead // a prog rock review
I've had this for a couple of weeks now. My first impression was that this was the best sounding CD I've heard from PRR, though I think I've heard others lament the preponderance of bass. It is quite keyboard/bass driven and my lament is that any guitar is lost in the mix, while the keys can be a tad strident. This is however, a bass player's delite. I'm not a bass player, but I do like this style of playing: dare I say "Squire-ish"...the instrumental track 4 while we're at it; while provoking me into thinking that yet someone else was ripping off YES's G4T1 (i.e. Glass Hammer), it is hypnotic and it does gets better with every listen. Ryo Okumoto of Spock's Beard is in the mix as well, though I didn't hear anything that really drove that home for me.
And now for a first in the PRR catalog. There is a violinist on this CD, not named David Ragsdale!?! (he must have been home sick that day). However, Yvette Devereaux has her own unique style and prevents this album from sounding like a Kansas tribute band. Actually, she could have featured a little bit more acoustic violin for my money. I do like the fiddle, but am not crazy about electric violin. Electrifying the guitar was genius; but the guy who invented electric violin was barking mad.
The music and lyrics are based on the Egyptian 'Book Of The Dead'. The music is appropriately etherial and evocative of both Genesis (natch) and (now hold on a minute) Andreas Vollenwieder's White Winds, which was also based on Egyptian themes and Egyptian styled music. (BTW: If you haven't heard White Winds and you like this K2 album, you should hear it; Its AV's best effort IMO)
From a lyrical standpoint, its rather dense, and shouldn't flow very well, but the singer does an admiral Peter Gabriel-esq turn and does perform passionate emotional inflexions without over emoting (i.e. Steve Walsh impersonation). Unfortunately, this album will remain unique in this regard due to the fact that the lead singer, Shaun Guerin, past away shortly after this release, lending some unintentional irony to some of the lyrics.
This is also a good example of an artist showing some prudence and keeping the album at a relatively short length at just under 47 minutes. Given the density of the lyrics and over all heaviness of mood, going much longer would have been a mistake.
Prog Rock Records have been a real find for me. A diverse stable of like-minded artists with different approaches. While I do notice that they all sound like they're mixed by the same person (I'm not crazy about the sound quality), the artists here are far more interesting and original than other minor lables in this genre, like Magna Carta, where everyone sounds the same.
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