Kaipa- Keyhholder (Inside Out)
review by Jim Clark

Track Listing

1. Lifetime Of A Journey
2. A Complex Work Of Art
3. The Weed Of All Mankind
4. Sonic Pearls
5. End Of The Rope
6. Across The Big Uncertain
7. Distant Voices
8. Otherworldly Brights



Roine Stolt has been a pretty busy man since 1999. There have been four Flower Kings studio albums in the last five years in addition to two live discs and some heavy touring over that time. He's been involved with prog supergroup Transatlantic, recording two studio discs as well as another two live discs by that project and more touring. Last year, he was a member of another progressive supergroup, the Andy Tillison-led Tangent, which recorded The Music That Died Alone . And in 2000, he rejoined the band that gave him his start close to 30 years ago, Kaipa, to record Notes From The Past .

And last year, Kaipa, which consists of its sole original member Han Lundin on keyboards in addition to Stolt on guitars, Morgan Agren on drums, Jonas Reingold of the Flower Kings on bass, and vocalists Patrik Lundstrom and Aleena, released its second disc since reforming. Entitled Keyholder , the disc features over 78 minutes of music with varying degrees of success.

Keyholder beings with "Lifetime of a Journey," a song that's intro sounds remarkably like Queen meets ELO. Soon, though, symphonic prog takes over with lots of mellotron, Hammond organ, synthesizers, changes in time signatures and screaming guitar solos. And Lundstrom gives a solid vocal effort.   Not a bad way to start the disc.

The next number, "A Complex Work of Art," starts off well with the Hammond and Stolt's guitar upfront in the mix, but the track comes to a screeching halt as soon as Aleena starts singing. She doesn't have a bad voice, it just doesn't fit well with the music. The track is saved, though, by some excellent guitar pyrotechnics from Stolt and a veritable arsenal of keyboards put to good use by Lundin.

"The Weed of All Mankind" sees a welcome return to Lundstrom's vocals. The track is much heavier than any other on this disc, and this suits Lundstrom, who is lead singer in the Swedish hard-rock outfit Ritual, quite well. Again, Stolt and Lundin offer impressive performances on their respective instruments.

"Sonic Pearls" is up next. The track starts with a nice instrumental passage before some vocals by Lundstrom start. The song closes with an excellent two-minute guitar solo from Stolt. A good song and at six-minutes-long, the shortest track on the disc.  

Keyholder 's longest track follows. "End of the Rope" goes through quite a number of shifts in its 14 minutes. The song starts with some nice Hammond and guitar playing before the rest of the band joins in. Lundstrom gives a fine vocal before the track goes into an instrumental section which lasts for close to seven minutes. Again, Stolt's guitar and Lundin's various keyboards steal the show, though Agren adds some good, heavy drumming to this passage. Lundin's vocals return with four minutes left and the number ends with some nice, pastoral keyboards from Lundin. The highlight of Keyholder .

For a bit, "Across the Big Uncertain" starts where "End of the Rope" leaves off. The track begins with some airy, flute-like keyboards before Lundin starts singing with acoustic guitar and fretless bass backing. Again, though, the track comes crashing down as soon as Aleena starts singing. There's a decent, laid back instrumental section that follows with nice mellotron, electric piano and electric guitar before the vocals return. When Aleena sings is a backing or harmonizing role to Lundstrom's lead vocals, she sounds fine. But her lead singing sounds completely out of place.

After a brief instrumental intro, various layers of vocals take over on "Distant Voices" and the result is quite poor. The Gentle Giant effect does not work here. Thankfully, this vocal section is over within a minute and, after a brief instrumental section, the vocals return to a more pleasing role. The track goes on to feature Hammond and synthesizer solos from Lundin and more excellent guitar from Stolt.   The track ends with the same annoying vocals that it begins with.

"Otherworldly Brights" closes the disc. While a decent track, apart from more excellent guitar from Stolt, nothing really stands out.

In all, this disc would have been much better suited if it were shorter. Some of the tracks here were not strong enough to warrant a proper release. What Inside Out should have done, as it's done on a number of its other releases, is release a limited edition with a bonus disc where weaker tracks such as "Across the Big Uncertain," "Distant Voices" and "Otherworldly Brights" could have resided. Leaving those three tracks on here and worse, having them be the final three tracks on Keyholder , strongly impacted my enjoyment of this disc.

Additionally, Aleena should not sing lead vocals for Kaipa. Again, she is fine in a backing capacity, but her lead vocals really stand out on here, and not in a good way. Lundstrom's singing is much more palatable and he should be handling all of the lead vocals.

Still, if you can overcome the weaknesses mentioned above, there are rewards here, notably Lundin's keyboard and Stolt's guitar playing. Stolt shows that being involved in all of his various projects hasn't affected his playing as he delivers some of his best solos. And Lundin excels at his craft, whether he is playing synthesizers, mellotron or the Hammond organ

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