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(97:01 2CD, Progressive Promotion Records)
TRACK LIST: CD 1 – The Fragments: 1. Distant Movements 1:44 2. Holophinium 6:06 3. EGO 11:28 4. Victims of Light 6:55 5. Some Will Fall 4:07 6. Connection Refused 4:35 7. River 6:04 8. Angel Scent 5:59 9. King 5:04 10. Quantum Leap 8:59 CD 2 – Letter from the White Room: 1. Moon 2:15 2. Walk on Water 7:35 3. Orbital Spirits 5:04 4. Eden 6:39 5. Lifelong 7:53 6. Part of the Century 2:52 7. Plutonian 3:52 LINEUP: Oliver Rusing – vocals; drums; guitars, bass; keyboards With: Jorg Eschrig – mandolin; vocals Markus Bergen – keyboards Sean Timms – keyboards Chris Thomas – guitars Colin Tench – guitars Daniel Neustad – bass Karsten Stiers – vocals Michael Sadler – vocals
Prolusion. The German project KARIBOW is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Oliver Rusing. It has been an ongoing venture ever since 1996, and so far, more than a dozen Karibow albums have been released, although the greater majority of them appear to have been low-key productions in terms of PR and marketing. But from 2011 and onward this project has risen in stature due to recognition from the music industry in Germany, to the point that Karibow in 2016 for the first time has also been expanded from a one-man studio project into a real band for live purposes. "Holophinium" is the album most heavily promoted for these live events. This double CD was released through the German label Progressive Promotion Records in the spring of 2016.
Analysis. Among all the artists exploring progressive rock in one manner or another, the ones that tend to draw most of a commercial interest are the ones who opt to create music of a more melodic and accessible nature. The German project Karibow, at least as they come across on this most recent production released under this moniker, comes across as a good and quality example of just that. I guess that, by and large, most people would place this double CD inside a neo-progressive context. It is a contemporary example of the genre, however, an album obviously created a few decades after the description neo-progressive rock was originally coined, and all the more interesting for it. Especially the first of the two CDs exemplifies this. Electronic sounds and mood pieces are used to good effect to create something of a futuristic atmosphere on select occasions, while the compositions themselves alternate quite nicely between gentle, wandering and plucked guitar arrangements, liberally flavored with floating keyboard textures, richer and at times more majestic themes dominated by tight keyboard and guitar riff combinations, and occasional feistier guitar -riven passages with something of a progressive metal intent at its most aggressive. The compositions stay melodic and accessible however, even when a handful or so of themes and interludes are played out in the course of a single song, and the clear, controlled and most of all melodic lead vocals of Rusing emphasize the accessible aspect of the material quite nicely. Some of the tracks venture into more of an AOR-oriented landscape at times, like the brilliantly captivating piece King, but, by and large, those with a taste for the accessible side of modern neo-progressive rock should feel right at home here. The second disc on this double feature continues in a fairly similar overall vein, but with a few marked differences. First and foremost is the fact that this second CD is an epic seven-part suite, which does make the listener experience somewhat different. The AOR tendencies have also been toned down more on this second part, while a few direct nods to the Marillion-style neo-progressive rock have been included.
Conclusion. What Karibow/Oliver Rusing has in common with many contemporary artists of a similar kind is that he's good at incorporating minor details in the arrangements, effective in incorporating multiple themes and arrangements into his compositions and manages to do this without the material becoming any less accessible by it. Music that is easy to listen to, and deceivingly so, but with liberal amounts of ear-candy to be uncovered by the avid listener, which, presumably, should make this production interesting to a fairly broad audience. As far as comparisons and references go, I'd suggest that those who enjoy listening to bands such as RPWL and Sylvan should have a go at this album. I'd expect the greater majority of them to appreciate the qualities of this double feature.
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