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September 2012
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Album reviews

Metal reviews

Monday, September 10 2012 21:25:55


Inside Out [Release Date: out now]

What on earth are they feeding musicians in Sweden? Maybe an odd question, but one can’t ignore the number of prominent Prog Rock/Metal bands that hail from the ancient lands of Thule!

It was almost a year ago that Pain Of Salvation released their amazing opus “Road Salt Two” and literally a month between the last The Flower Kings and Kaipa albums seeing the light of day and we are once again in a presence of another amazing effort from a Swedish outfit.

The band in question is the Progressive Rock/Metal quartet Beardfish and the album whose review you are about to read is a ten track gem entitled “The Void”.

When I bought the band’s previous album “Mammoth” last year, I did so solely on the strength of a review by a fellow journalist and was truly rewarded by the band’s ‘metallic’ take on Yes- and King Crimson-influenced musical ideas.

This inspiring approach has been further developed in the ten new compositions on offer, helping Beardfish stand out as some of the few modern day Progsters whose music can be equally appealing to fans of the genre, both old and new.

Melody plays a big part here, but when these four lads decide to test their instruments, they do so with both confidence and gusto, leaving no doubt as to their impressive musical pedigree.

Following a short narrative intro the listener is introduced to a the massive Dream Theater-influenced riff of “Voluntary Slavery” – a six and a half minute varied piece that provides enough space for the members of the band to stretch their Progressive muscles. You might be thinking that Beardfish are a Stoner/Doom band after listening to the mighty riff in “Turn To Gravel” but the great collaboration between Robert Hansen (bass) and Rikard Sjoblom (vocals/keyboards) in the amazing “They Whisper” proves that nothing has inspired the music of this band more than early/mid 70s Prog Rock of the highest quality.

Both “This Matter Of Mine” and the instrumental opus “Seventeen Again” find the band testing the limits of rhythmical manipulation while the highly melodic “Ludvig & Sverker” clearly operates in “Yes” musical territory. The closing part of the album contains material that is both inspiring and impressive with “He Already Lives In You” featuring more groovy-sounding 70s riffs while the sixteen (!) minute “Note” presents an array of different influences from Jazz to orchestral music, in a way that is reminiscent of the mighty Savatage.

The closing composition of the album, namely “Where The Lights Are Low”, features a very impressive Southern Rock sounding guitar melody, adding an extra ingredient to this already unbelievably mouth-watering musical dish.

There have been many bands over the years who have attempted to bring together the worlds of Progressive Rock and Metal closer together but only a handful have managed to position themselves in such a place where they can serve both genres equally and successfully.

Simply put, “Void” is an amazing musical effort: an album that is both accessible and technically challenging – an album that will provide many hours of top quality entertainment to those who are as attracted to melodic interludes as much as they are to syncopated discordant guitar riffs.

Beardfish’s career is currently following an upward trajectory – brace yourselves and enjoy the ride!

John Stefanis

Rating: ****1/2 (4.5/5.0)

Tuesday, September 4 2012 17:48:03


Hans Lundin is a very talented multi-instrumentalist who has been providing the world of Prog Rock with albums of outstanding quality through Kaipa a group of similarly-minded musicians who have been active since the early 70s. Being mightily impressed by the bands latest studio album Vittjar, I decided to put together a few questions for Hans which he replied to swiftly and professionally. If you are interested to discover what it takes in order to create a truly inspirational Prog Rock album: the thought process behind Kaipas albums, as well as Hans general philosophy, then keep on reading.

By Yiannis (John) Stefanis.

Metal Church - The Present Wasteland

1. Hi Hans. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. First of all, let me congratulate you on the release of Vittjar which is in my humble opinion another top quality album! How would you describe the atmosphere within the Kaipa camp at the moment?
Hans: Thank you! Were overwhelmed and uplifted by all the positive reactions to the new album.

2. So far the vast majority of the reviews that I have read for Vittjar have been very positive, which I assume you will be most pleased to hear. I am curious, however, whether you did come across any which were, lets say, less favourable in nature. After almost 40 years of activity in the music business do you guys get affected by peoples opinions about your music?

Hans: Of course there are always some negative reviews, mostly from people who just dont appreciate this kind of music in general, no matter how it sounds. Thats nothing that bothers me much anymore.

3. Your previous studio effort was In The Wake Of Evolution which was released back in 2010. Do you feel that Vittjar and its predecessor share any common musical links and, if so, which would these be? How far has the band evolved musically these last two years?

Hans: Im all the time trying to take this combination of folk, fusion and rock to another level. In the 70s we just had some small parts of folk elements in the music. Today I want to incorporate it in the music and form a whole, something new that youve hopefully never heard before. I think that we, for each new album with the same line-up, have more and more developed a unique Kaipa sound making it possible for all that are familiar with the band to distinguish Kaipa from other similar bands when they hear the music. This sound is a combination of the song writing and the charismatic performance of the individual musicians.

4. Vittjar is an album that features some really lengthy compositions, with Our Silent Ballroom Band standing out as the one which exceeds the twenty minute mark! When you started working on such a song did you have any inclination as to whether it would end up being as long as it did?

Hans: The song Our silent Ballroom Band started with just one single melody and at that moment I had no idea where the inspiration should take me. I never decide in advance what I shall write and I almost never sit down trying to write a new song. I know that there are always situations, often when I dont expect it, when a small melody or idea starts to play in my head. If I have the possibility I record a small rough outline just to remember it. Then I can return later and listen to it. If it still captures my interest I start working with this basic idea. Often it leads me into a concentrated period of song writing where one thing leads to another in a very natural but sometimes also unexpected way.

5. Two of the songs that really stand out are Vittjar and Treasure-House - the former is sung in Swedish while the latter features some very interesting Reggae tunes. Have you guys agreed on any limits on what elements can be added to the bands music?

Hans: Definitely not, it can be all types of elements but they have to pass through and be accepted by some kind of filter in my sub-consciousness.

Metal Church - The Present Wasteland

6. Generally speaking, how do you know that the song-writing process for any musical idea is finally over, that there are no more changes to be made? What does it take for you to finally let go and let these songs start their own life circle?

Hans: For the last two albums I wrote the basic songs and nothing more. I just said stop, this is what I want to do. Then I started to develop the arrangements which sometimes leads to some small extra passages and bridges between the different main parts of the song. I often return to the main themes in a song, repack them in one or several variations. Sometimes I change the time signature or play a new melody upon the basic chord structure just to see whats coming out of it. The song Our silent Ballroom Band is a good example of this way of working. Its built around several variations of just a few main themes.

7. On a similar note: the lengthy compositions on offer contain what one would describe as technically demanding material but they are also founded upon some pretty memorable melodies which I hope could bring the band to the attention of a much wider audience. Would you say that this dual aspect of the bands personality was evident from the beginning of the bands career?

Hans: This is something that has grown over the years. I have a lot of experience and knowledge today that I didnt have when I started my career. Nowadays Im always trying to find these memorable melodies as a starting point, they are the backbone in the songs. From this starting position I can let my imagination take me out on some unexplored paths just to discover where they lead me, thats always fascinating.

8. Is Vittjar the product of a band that shared and began working on its ideas in a common environment or did you opt for a more modern approach (file sharing etc)? I am asking this question as I am well aware of the various other musical commitments undertaken by members of the band.

Hans: KAIPA today is not a regular band, its my project. That means Im writing all the songs and Im recording a demo where I play all the instruments and do all the vocals. This is a rough outline, like a drawing in black and white. When we start recording the songs all the other members have free hands to contribute with their own ideas as long as its within the basic arrangements. They bring all the colours into my drawing and make it a work of art. In my studio we record all keyboards, vocals and acoustic instruments. Morgan, Per and Jonas have their own studios where they record their parts.

9. How much time did you guys spend in the studio when recording these eight new compositions? Was there any song whose recording posed any major challenges?

Hans: The recording of the album was spread out over a long period August 2011 Mars 2012 all depending on when the other musicians were able to spend time working with Kaipa. Theyre all involved in other bands and projects. Mostly we record the different parts of a song separately which means that a long song isnt necessarily more complicated to record.

10.Was the approach to the recording and the mixing process similar to the one followed in In The Wake Of Evolution? Were there any funny/strange incidents that took place during the recording process that you would perhaps like to share with us?

Hans: Yes it was similar. After we had finished the recording of the vocals Patrik and Aleena made some spontaneous, improvised singing which was really fun. One example is the Now now now phrase you can hear in the song Lightblue And Green.

11. Do you get at all actively involved in the production duties of your albums or do you prefer to leave such a task to other people? Are there any pros and cons related to either approach in your opinion?

Hans: Im responsible for all recordings we do in my studio and I also do the basic mix. On the two last albums Ive handed over the final mix and mastering to Martin Igelstrm who is a professional sound engineer.

Metal Church - The Present Wasteland

12. I was looking on the bands official website in the hope of finding tour dates involving the UK but no such information is yet available. Can you please fill us in with regards your future touring plans?

Hans: When I restarted Kaipa in year 2000 I decided that it should be strictly a studio project, so we never play live.

13. What would you say is the ideal live environment to perform Kaipa material: a decent size venue or an open air festival? Do you have any preferences in that respect?

Hans: This question is not applicable to a band like Kaipa.

14. DVD is a format embraced by many bands nowadays, most of which have been around not even half the number of years that Kaipa have. How is this that this approach has eluded you guys thus far? Will you be making amends any time soon?
Hans: No I dont think so. The only chance to see Kaipa in action is on the two films on the Kaipamusic channel on Youtube: KAIPA: Vittjar An introduction to the album and KAIPA: Short clips from the recording of the album In the wake of evolution

15. There have been are many top quality musicians offering their services to Kaipa over the years, Roine Stolt (of The Flower Kings) being the most high profile amongst them. Do you see the two parties joining again forces sometime in the future, something that I am sure that many Kaipa fans would be more than happy to see happening?

Hans: No plans for that. Kaipas present line-up is my all time favourite band. I worked with Roine 1974 1978 and on the albums Notes from the past 2002, Keyholder 2003 and Mindrevolutions 2005. After that album we decided to go separate ways and I asked my old friend Per Nilsson to join Kaipa. I met Per in the late 90s when we recorded the album Hagen: Corridors of time.

16. Hans, you have been recording music since 1974. How do you manage to continue motivating yourself after so many years? Would you say that Kaipa have reached their true potential as yet or are there many more goals to be set and results to be achieved?

Hans: I recorded my first single with my first band S:t Michael Sect in 1965 and I also recorded two albums with San Michaels 19711972 before I started Kaipa 1973. Ive been on a long and fascinating journey starting with simple pop songs, going into a more elaborated music with Kaipa in the 70s. When Im writing music today I think the inspiration is coming from a huge library of music, experiences, influences and ideas collected throughout all these years and hidden somewhere in my sub-consciousness. After finishing a new album I always use to think this is the last album, what more is possible to do within the Kaipa frame. But for some reason there always use to come up some new ideas especially during the autumn when darkness comes, days are getting shorter and I still have the energy from the summer in my blood. So if I find inspiration and can write something that feels new and fresh, and not just a copy of what weve done so far, maybe there will be some new Kaipa music, time will tell.

17. Hans, I want to complete this interview by wishing you every success and reiterate the hope to see the band performing live in the UK in the near future. The last words are yours.
Hans: Thank you for your interest in Kaipa.