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(70:33, Melodic Revolution Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. War Song 20:30 2. Travelog 9:51 3. Into the Lair 10:14 4. Her 11:31 5. Vision of a New Dawn 18:27 LINEUP: Mike Visaggio keyboards Todd Russell guitars Mark Tupko bass Michael Murray drums With: Mike Florio vocals Dimetrius LaFavors vocals Michelle Loose Schrotz vocals
Prolusion. The US band KINETIC ELEMENT was formed back in 2006, when composer and keyboardist Mike Visaggio was looking for musicians he could employ to perform his solo material. He found with Todd Russell (guitars), Matt Harris (bass) and Michael Murray (drums), and they worked so well together that they decided to form a regular band. They released their debut album "Powered By Light" in 2009. "Travelog" is their sophomore production, and was released through the US label Melodic Revolution Records in 2015.
Analysis. There are many musicians around the world with a life-long fascination for the giants of progressive rock, and bands like Yes, Genesis and Emerson, Lake & Palmer are among the most popular in those circles. Not as well known to the general public as a mammoth like Pink Floyd, but within progressive rock circles in general and among musicians in particular those three bands are often cited as ones that have made some of the best music ever made. I assume Mike Visaggio and his band mates would agree to this, judging from the contents of this production. An album consisting of five compositions, of which the shortest one still stretches fairly close to the ten-minute mark, is a track list that will make many progressive rock fans salivate just a little bit, and when the vintage keyboards of Visaggio hit it, I suspect many will be listening with a sheepish smile on their face, recalling decades long past. And Kinetic Element is a band that begs, borrows and possibly steals bits and pieces from the giants of progressive rock with a roguish smile on their faces. These are musicians employing those bits and pieces with a great deal of charm and a lot of affection, not speculating in replicating anything, but rather, they come across as musicians enabled to create a homage to this specific music and this stylistic tradition in the annals of rock history. The booming bass guitar that is an ongoing feature throughout brings to mind the late, great Chris Squire. Visaggio knows his way around vintage, Genesis-style, keyboards, even more so in the case of Yes, and he has a tendency to liberally flavor the compositions with more dramatic movements as well, pointing towards classical music as the foundation of these excursions and most likely with inspiration from ELP in terms of sound and execution. The interplay with the guitar is elegant, and whether we're treated to wandering acoustic motifs, atmospheric solo runs or more intricate solo movements, associations towards some of the great names are never far away. Personally I'd suspect Camels Latimer as a possible inspiration for the more atmospheric laden excursions, while Yess Steve Howe may be a possibility for the more intricate ones. The band has employed three different vocalists on this album, and at least two of them manage to succeed in the task of providing vocals that elevate the end result. The greater majority of songs here call for a vocalist by the name of Jon Anderson, and while LaFavors and Schrotz don't quite master his range and pitch, they do manage to provide vocals that suit the material, even if they don't have quite the angelic voice of Anderson. The opening half of Vision of a New Dawn is, perhaps, the least accomplished of those, as what sounds like a case of range difficulties LaFavors opts to use more power rather than to strain his voice, and while the end result isn't detrimental, this is a case where the vocals don't manage to elevate the end result either. I should also mention that the song Her didn't quite hit home with me, as the vocal parts of this piece (in particular) became too theatrical for my taste, with the constant start and stop staccato instrument bursts, although the song does feature some rather elegant keyboard solo runs in its second half.
Conclusion. If you love and cherish symphonic progressive rock as it was made and explored back in the 70s, Kinetic Element's latest album is one that merits a check. While the album as a whole contains nods in the direction of multiple bands from that era, my main impression is that fans of classic Yes will be the ones who might be most intrigued by this album, as long as they are willing to listen to another band entering that specific realm of progressive rock that is.
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