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Thieves' Kitchen - The Water Road CD (album) cover

THE WATER ROAD

Thieves' Kitchen

 

Eclectic Prog

3.63 | 89 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Fourth album from this UK group, after an interminable wait (almost 5 years) to their previous opus, but it seems worth it. TK seems to have grown from the eternal UK neo-prog clichés to the much more enviable Scandinavian-sounding retro prog clichés, this by adding real drums (Mark Robotham) and also adding Anglagard's Thomas Johnson on keyboards, but flautist Anna Holmgren and even Matthias Olsson on loops for one track as guests.

Right from the opening piano notes of the 21-mins Fianchetto opening epic track, you can feel the different feel of this album, with a full-blown AnglaBerkDotian sound that includes trons of melo, some cello (played by yet another Swedish guest Stina Pettersen), flutes, crimsonoïd songwriting and the whole shebang. Expertly done, credible personification of drooling Vikings ready to abandon drakkars and conquer for Thor and Odin's glory and such. Am I getting a little carried away here??? Possibly! I don't even know what a Fianchetto is, and frankly don't care to find out, really! Anyway, it's nit that this track is bad, far from it, but like most of the album, it's really nothing new under the sun, using the typical 70's atmospheres and sounds, and it's not refreshing, even if it pleases the ears of most progheads, yours truly included.

The following Returglas starts out folky, nearly turns into a jig, steels a starless guitar solo, and would be an instrumental if it wasn't for some scats, while the 9-mins aptly-titled Chameleon has few things for itself outside being nearly audibly indiscernible in the mass of the album - unnecessarily filled to the brim. A couple of tracks seem to slightly alter the "formula with Om Tare and Tacenda, both laced with some jazz and jazz-rock roots. Probably my fave track on this album, the ultra-quiet When The Moon has some real hidden powers as it slowly builds up emotionally and dies down serenely. The short interlude Plaint is a cool change of pace, but the title track brings us back to some of the earlier tracks that didn't move this reviewer.

Well after the first generation (Anglagard) that was truly groundbreaking, and its followers (Sinkadus) and third wave (Wobbler & Beardfish) that were both retreading the barren lands, we've had some out- of-Scandic pole group like Discipline and now the hybrid SwUK Thieves' Kitchen to flog the dead horse to a pulp. Again, this is hardly a bad album if you consider all of the efforts involved, the love to carry it through, etc.. but it is hardly anything you've not heard at least a couple of dozen times before.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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