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K2 - Black Garden CD (album) cover





3.15 | 47 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review Nš 130

K2 is a project of the bassist Ken Jaquess of the L.A. based band Atlantis, formed during the 90's. He wanted to recreate the classic 70's symphonic sound, by which he is passionate. To achieve that objective Ken searched for musicians who could recreate the sound of the instruments of those times. His choice was Shaun Guerin (vocals), Allan Holdsworth (guitar), Ryo Okumoto (keyboards), Yvette Devereaux (violin), John Miner (guitar) and Doug Sanborn (drums), and thus came their debut album 'Book Of The Dead', in 2005. The album is based on 'The Book Of The Dead', the ancient Egyptian book and which tells us the rules of the ultimate journey of the souls to the afterlife.

As Jacquess has a huge fascination with the ancient world and with all their civilizations, which was instilled by his mother, he returns in 2010 with his second album 'Black Garden'. This is another conceptual album. But this time, the concept is based around ancient Oceania, whose islands were populated by the Polynesians over 2000 years ago. The concept of the story is about the journey that the ancient Polynesians undertook sailing over a third of the world before they settled on the South Pacific islands. So, this entire story took place 2000 years before Christopher Columbus set sail. This is quite another amazing story and Ken thought it would be a great subject for the music on 'Black Garden'.

But on 'Black Garden', the line up is a bit different from their previous debut album, 'Book Of The Dead'. Shaun Guerin, unfortunately passed away soon before the debut album, Allan Holdsworth, Yvette Devereaux and John Miner left the project and don't participate on this new album. Holdsworth was replaced by Ken's friend Johnson and the vocals of the late Guerin are perfectly sung by Gleason, a vocalist who had worked in a Genesis' tribute band too, like happened with Guerin. Therefore the references to Gabriel are still intact. Together with the original drummer Sanborn, Jaquess started to work on a second studio album, but it took a long while before we could finally enjoy this second recording of K2. So, about five years later, that same quintet have finally released K2's second album, 'Black Garden'.

So, the line up on 'Black Garden' is Josh Gleason (vocals), Ken Jaquess (bass and keyboards), Karl Johnson (guitar), Ryo Okumoto (piano, moog, Hammond and synthesizer) and Doug Sanborn (drums and percussion).

The album has seven tracks. The first track 'Black Garden' which gave its name to the album is a very powerful and a great song to open the album. It's a song that reminds me their previous album with a touch of an oriental Arabic music with a touch of progressive metal, as if we were in a bazaar of any North African or Eastern medina. This is really a nice exotic track. The second track 'Passage To The Deep' is one of the two lengthiest songs on the album. Despite it's a song clearly influenced by Genesis in Gabriel's era, but in a modern way, in the beginning I think we can clearly feel the influence of IQ on it. I also want to highlight the keyboard work of Okumoto which is completely amazing and that it will be maintained throughout the album. What a nice piece of music we have here, indeed. The third track 'Windows Watch' is a very simple and beautiful ballad basically sung by Gleason and perfectly well accompanied by the piano of Okumoto, with a nice keyboard solo section. This is really a very interesting song. The fourth track 'Encounter Or Absence' is one of the songs on the album with more Genesis' influences because all its elements are there. It's a song with a mysterious and dramatic cinematic sound and it has also a great keyboard work. This is a good and melodic song. The fifth track 'Storm At Sunset' is one of the other lengthiest tracks on the album. It's another song where we can see the clear influence of Genesis in Gabriel's era, probably even more pronounced than in the previous track. This is a good and powerful song. The sixth track 'Summer's Fall' is the smallest song on the album. It's a brief piece of music only with vocals and keyboards, but it's still a good track. The seventh track 'Path Of The Warrior' is a nice ending for the album. It's the epic track on the album and the guitar sound reminds me Yes. This is a song where Ken and Okumoto perform very good keyboard solos and it has some Johnson's simple and beautiful guitar solos too.

Conclusion: I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw that K2 had a new album, because as had passed five years from their debut, I was convinced that they wouldn't release another new album. In the second place, despite the departure of great musicians, the new elements complied with that replacement. Johnson brings a reasonably work with his guitar in the traditional neo-prog leanings with a touch of prog metal and Gleason, beyond the clear resemblance with Gabriel's voice, seems the perfect reincarnation of Guerin. In the third place, and despite the clear and main influence of Genesis, Yes and Marillion, with a touch of IQ, and due to their taste for recreating the classic 70's symphonic sound, with this album K2 proved they have a very own and inimitable modern sound. However, the absence of Alan Holdsworth can be felt. His unique and intricate guitar work isn't present anymore. We may say, the super group lost its 'super'. So, despite 'Black Garden' be not as good as the previous one, it still is a good album.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |


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