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Kino: Radio Voltaire

In many ways Kino was where things changed gear for guitarist John Mitchell, the talented six-stringer, singer, song writer and producer up until then often viewed as more of the sideman in Clive Nolan's Arena. Kino saw him team up with Marillion bassist Pete Trewavas, It Bites keyboard player John Beck and Porcupine Tree drummer Chris Maitland and release the album Picture some 13 years ago. Very much a collaborative affair, the album (unbeknown at the time) also ushered in what can be viewed now as the 'Mitchell sound'.

Warmly received, as was the short tour undertaken on the back of the album, Kino were through their very make-up, short lived. Although that didn't stop constant requests for their return. Mitchell joined forces with Beck as the 'replacement' for Francis Dunnery in It Bites, but in reality this It Bites were a very different beast from the Dunnery led outfit, the sound of Kino a much closer touching point for what the re-established band provided. The main focus for the ever busy musician in recent times has been his Lonely Robot solo venture, the natural progression (not Prog-ression) of Kino and It Bites finding a new, if slightly more song based focal point. Having served up a second helping of Lonely Robot last year, Mitchell's label (InsideOut) suggested that it was too soon to return to the project once more (as Mitchell planned), instead cajoling, to much celebration, the reformation of Kino.

Trewavas was keen and with him and Mitchell both having songs already in the bag that would be perfect for their much missed band, wheels were quickly set in motion, and Radio Voltaire is the result. Beck, who has recently been a lynchpin in Fish's band, is back but this time as a 'guest musician', with Mitchell also handling some keyboards. While with Maitland busier than ever, a new Steven Wilson side-man, Craig Blundell (also of Frost* and Lonely Robot) arrives behind the kit. And, in truth, it's as though Kino never went away. Again it's what's become that Mitchell signature sound that dominates here, largely song based pieces dripping with melancholic melody, while still bursting forth with broad and upbeat strokes of colour. Radio Voltaire is deep and it's thought provoking, yet it will also have you singing its choruses and humming many of the refrains you'll find along the way. That's a clever and difficult balance and even though this is a band, not a project, at times differentiating between It Bites, Lonely Robot and Kino is quite a task. And yet, if you've invested (as I have) in the previous visions of those bands, then you'll immediately be onboard here.

The title track kicks us into gear, Mitchell's ever so slightly hoarse vocal style still as intoxicating as it ever was, keyboards offering pinpricks of sparkling light against rich guitars and layered voices. Evolving through radio chatter, enigmatically string driven sections and thrumming beats and rhythms, the other undeniable aspect is that this is Prog, now with its capital 'P' intact. "The Dead Club" reasserts the point, off kilter squirms of keys almost drunkenly weaving and bobbing, and once more doing so against gyrating guitars and bitingly soothing vocals.

The more tender and gentle "Idlewild" offers one of the strongest links to Mitchell's It Bites sound, while "I Won't Break So Easily And More" does similarly in more ebullient fashion. "Temple Tudor" heads in a dreamier, looser direction, "Out Of Time" adds, dare I say it, a jazzy edge, while the sub-two minute "Warmth Of The Sun" proves that Mitchell's ethos of why take ten minutes to say what two minutes can, provides a hugely memorable aside on an album that often has more epic intentions. "Keep The Faith" on the other hand relies on the Marillion strength of start it small and build the bombastic, before "The Silent Fighter Pilot" plays a more poignant game, pinging piano slowly giving way to a wash of keys and slide of guitar, all of which head toward a fitting crescendo on an album of many.

Maybe not as cohesive as their debut album Picture, Radio Voltaire still manages to follow on from where Kino left off some 13 years ago. The connection is clear, but then so is the journey of gradual evolution over revolution. It's paid off in spades, Kino returning in quite triumphalist style and sure to please their many followers who have been pining since this band's first brief foray in 2005. Hopefully we won't have to wait until 2031 for the next instalment, but if we do, at least we now have two superb albums to see us through.


Track Listing
1. Radio Voltaire
2. The Dead Club
3. Idlewild
4. I Don't Know Why
5. I Won't Break So Easily Any More
6. Temple Tudor
7. Out of Time
8. Warmth of the Sun
9. Grey Shapes on Concrete Fields
10. Keep The Faith
11. The Silent Fighter Pilot
Bonus Tracks
12. Temple Tudor (Piano Mix)
13. The Dead Club (Berlin Headquarter Mix)
14. Keep The Faith (Orchestral Mix)
15. The Kino Funfair

Added: May 8th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Kino @ InsideOut
Hits: 2548
Language: english

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Kino: Radio Voltaire
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-05-09 03:27:17
My Score:

Kino was one of those bands that reintroduced me to progressive rock with their debut album Picture released in 2005. I grew up on ‘70s prog but during the ‘80s and ‘90s I had delved into new wave and other musical forms while still holding dear my love of ‘60s and ‘70s music. It wasn’t until my discovery of websites like SoT and a little bit of research did I get back to my progressive roots by delving into Spock’s Beard, Flower Kings, Kino, et all.

Back to Kino. John Mitchell has to be one of my favourite guitarists right now, right next to David Gilmour, Alex Lifeson, Mike Keneally, Carlos Santana, well you get the drift. I indeed hold him in very high regard. Here Mitchell (lead vocals, guitar) teams with Marillion’s Pete Trewavas (bass, backing vocals) as well as guests Craig Blundell (drums) and It Bite’s John Beck (keyboards).

The new album titled Radio Voltaire begins with the title track where radio static and subtle drums with floating keys builds around a soaring guitar solo. The chorus soars along with some nice synths and more tasty guitar work. “The Dead Club” has heavier riffs with winding synths and muted electronics making for another melodic gem. The balladic “Idlewild” begins with forlorn piano and vocals and includes another classy solo from Mitchell. A catchy riff progression and Beatles-like vocals and keyboards makes “I Don’t Know Why” another excellent track. The ending guitar solo absolutely rips. The “Won’t Get Fooled Again” keyboard in “I Won’t Break So Easily Anymore” is another highlight as is the super catchy chorus. Swells of synths and swirling soundscapes gives “Out Of Time” an orchestral feel while the pleasant “Temple Tudor” features well thought out acoustic and electric guitar. More Beatles’ flavourings can be heard on the melodic “Keep The Faith” whereas “Warmth Of The Sun” could have been a long lost Peter Gabriel tune.

Radio Voltaire is just a superb melodic prog album and one that keeps getting better with every spin. If you like John Mitchell and any of his related projects this will be an essential purchase. Another highly recommended release from the good folks at Inside Out Music.



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