Kaipa – Mind Revolutions
Formed originally by keyboardist Hans Lundin with guitarist Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings, Transatlantic) in the 1970s, this marks the third release by the Swedish symph prog band since their reformation in 2000. This appears largely to be Lundin’s baby musically, with Stolt focusing primarily on lyrical contributions.
Right from glancing at the cover art, a garish sci-fi comic book illustration with Magna Carta lettering conjuring up the worst of the genre, I didn’t have much confidence that I would like this album. Plopping it into the CD player, my suspicions were immediately confirmed. While I don’t know how this matches up with Kaipa’s earlier output, my ears were met with what I take to be the nowadays representation of neo-neoprog. Take retro 70s classic rock sounds — Hammond, clavinet, heavy doses of wah-wah guitar, the obligatory inclusion of mellotron crammed in there somewhere because “hey… it’s a mellotron” — and fit them together with digital keyboards and production. The rhythm section is flashy and virtuosic but fails to present much in the way of individual character. Most unsatisfactory to me are the vocals, which are melodramatic way beyond the point of reason and dispense with any attempt at subtlety. The gal vocalist, Aleena, is particularly histrionic, and the listener is placed in the crossfire of every single emotive inhale she can muster when she steps up to the mike. I have to admit, though, that as they stand here, the vocals are perfectly suited for the lyrics, which are equally overblown. The 25-minute title track is instructive in this regard: “We’re the key to the hidden tomorrow/We’re the keepers of justice and hope!/The flower that breaks through the black crust of sadness/We are the many… the proud… we’re as oooone!!!” And later we have: “What’s the shape of our dreams in the twilight?/what’s the sound of a working man’s heart?” The answer might not be blowin’ in the wind, but somewhere right now, I assure you, Bob Dylan is drinking.
What’s unfortunate is that a couple of the tunes had potential, were they not throttled to death by the bombast. “Electric Leaves” and “Shadows of Time,” for example, both have in them as songs a melodic accessibility that could have gone somewhere if they had been handled with more sensitive hands and voices.
I wish I could be more complimentary, but don’t have much (any, actually) use for this one. Those of the cult of Stolt, however, will probably devour this one voraciously. It would behoove the band greatly to rein in the vocals for future works.