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The kings and queens of Scandinavian folklore are back!
Thundering in on a north wind from the ancient forests and Scandinavian skies full of fire and mystery. Once lost inside ice and snowcapped mountains and forbidden islands, where you cannot remove a stone, lest you face the curse of bad tidings forever…returns the wonder of Kaipa, with their latest effort: "Vittjar". This time they return to inject wonder into the dog days of summer, much as they did for the springtime with their last album, "In the Wake of Evolution".
Kaipa, in case you are new to the band, includes such well-known artists and composers as Hans Lundin, on electric and acoustic keyboards and vocals; Per Nilsson, from Scar Symmetry, on electric and acoustic guitars; Morgan Ågren, from Mats & Morgan and Zappa on drums; Jonas Reingold, from The Flower Kings and Karmakanic, on electric basses; Patrik Lundström, from Ritual; on vocals, and Aleena Gibson on vocals.
Hans Lundin is the leader of the band and has been making music since 1965. The band's discography dates back to the mid – 1970s, so these are old pros venturing into new uncharted territory, with music that combines inspiration from the folklore of their past. It makes for a wonderful combination that will provide hours of listening pleasure. I didn't stop playing their last album until deep into the summer after receiving it in early spring. "Vittjar" will be available in the USA on August 28th, 2012.
The opening, "First Distraction" is a Renaissance – like, triumphant march, full of flutes, keys, and later lead guitar and strong drums. You can almost visualize the musicians emerging from an opening in the forest to join the field of play. Off to a nice start.
Then the action truly begins. "Lightblue and Green" opens with firepower from keys, heavy drums and power lead guitar…just like…yes…one of your favorite Yes songs from the past. Lundström begins the story, "painting my morning in light blue and green…a nice picture indeed. You can visualize early morning sunbeams and the feeling of awakening from some interesting dreams. The power drums, bass, and keys set an excellent tone and build a strong soundscape to surround Lundström's "visions". An awakening from winter and its frigid surroundings, into the fullness of spring. The heavier guitar licks and drums separate this album from the golden charm of the last, with its spring – tinged softness.
"Our Silent Ballroom Band" is the epic and longest track at 22:11 minutes, on the album. Few bands can pull off the epics. And even fewer can do it well by adding a great story that raps you into the theme like Kaipa. This track brings the return of Aleena Gibson, reprising her role, singing as a little girl sharing her experiences and reflections of the world around her. The flutes that surround her take you right to Scandinavia and a field, where she is "dancing in the misty summer grass…in a deafening dance of her life". Lundström's vocals return to compliment Gibson's. The keyboard and guitar instrumentals add even more wonder to this, my favorite track." "Reach for the stars"… and they do. The Yes – like power of this journey – filled track will bring back memories of the power of the 70s.
"Vittjar", the title track is up next and it features Lundström's vocals, in native language providing a violin filled, Renaissance – like track which is easily the second best track on the album. Even if you don't understand the lyrics you can feel the emotion in the vocals and the strings, guitars, keys, bass, and drums. The instrumentation helps create that magic environment we fans remember so well, from all of their albums.
"Treasure House" is a good track full of amazing guitar.
"A Universe of Tinyness" is another of the best songs on the album. The violin work so compliments Gibson's careful vocal delivery that holds the listener spellbound to the story. "Tiny soldiers reach my shore"…"I'm moving back in time…in search of missing lines...I'm moving in reverse in my own universe".
The violin is back in "The Crowded Hillsides", and this time it and the cool lead guitar play a major role. Simply spectacular music. The track is full of great Squire-like bass reminders that really help make this track an instant classic like some of the best tracks off "In the Wake". "All of the wonders that hide in the sky…the sky is the limit"…yeh!
"Second Distraction" is a great closer full of fantastic lead guitar, bass, mysterious keys and explosive drums.
This is a great follow up album to "In the Wale…" This band is expanding its abilities and delivering on the promise of mixing modern rock music with the folklore, music and traditions of the past.
1. First Distraction
2. Lightblue and Green
3. Our Silent Ballroom Band
5. Treasure House
6. A Universe of Tinyness
7. The Crowded Hillsides
8. Second Distraction
Added: August 18th 2012
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link: Kaipa.info
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Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-08-18 09:49:30
While many bands pertain to blending genres, eras and styles, few really do it well. One such example of a band capable of expertly doing just that is the Swedeish progressive act Kaipa, who over their long history have taken a progressive framework and weaved traditional Scandinavian folk music, baroque motifs and unusual instrumentation into remarkably captivating and cohesive music. Even more impressively the mixture of sounds never come across as contrived or twee, instead proving that those involved are blurring genre boundaries because they love the music they are making and the influences that we hear here on Vittjar.
If you've never experienced the beautiful organic sounds of Kaipa, there's still a good chance that you'll know at least one or two of the protagonists, with Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry providing guitars, Jonas Reingold of The Flower Kings bringing bass, Morgan Agren of Mats & Morgan playing drums and Patrik Lundstrom from Ritual providing one of the voices that embellishes the wonderful music. Rounding out the band is the stunning voice of Aleena Gibson, and of course Kaipa mainman Hans Lundin who plays keyboards as well as adding a third voice to the mix. Those blending voices really are one of the most striking elements of the Kaipa sound, with the two male vocals counterpointing Aleena's beautiful soaring tones superbly. Also impressive is that rather than shove the different voices in your face at every available opportunity, each vocalist is allowed time to shine, with long solo sections being embellished by counterpoint backing vocals and the occasional joining of all three.
The overriding vibe of Vittjar is one of laid back and gentle moods, but in truth a lot of that arrives through the comfort in which the music sits, with assured performances making even the harder hitting sections, of which there are a few, flow in an impressively relaxing style. That's not to say that everything on show meanders, or feels less than vital, as nothing could be further from the truth, with the over 22 minute "Our Silent Ballroom Band" soothing and stinging in equal measure, whether it be through strings, guitars, or more traditional instrumentation. The songs itself is an absolute triumph, with it given the time to truly ebb and flow from measured acoustic passages to full on guitar assaults and keyboard chaos. All this via sumptuous, varied vocal attacks. However the real masterstroke comes in following up that monster of a song with the short violin and Swedish lyric of the title track, spinning the mood of the album on its head, without ever feeling forced, or over analysed.
That said, there aren't any dips in quality across the whole album and while in places things do sometimes take just ever so slightly too long to get to the point, you really can dip into Vittjar at any point and be truly captured by the majesty and skill on show and the breadth of the ideas illustrated at ever twisting turn.
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