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K2 - Black Garden CD (album) cover





3.26 | 52 ratings

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4 stars I really like this album. Having never heard its predecessor, The Book of the Dead, I have nothing to compare it to. Despite this, I find the compositions very well constructed, the vocals very powerful, the instrumental performances of a very high caliber, and the sound production quite good. I first heard this album around the time that it came out, put in my queue of "wish list" items but never pushed "buy." Yet, every single time I've reviewed my wish lists I've had the nagging urge to push "buy." Finally, with my deep dive into the Neo Prog world I've singled it out to review and I am still finding myself loving this music! There are a lot of Gabriel-era Genesis-like instances and yet, as one other reviewer said, it all has a more modern feel to it. Though this could put them in competition with bands like IQ, Marillion and Spock's Beard, I come away with an almost unique and different sense than I do from those bands' albums.

1. "Black Garden" (6:25) powerful song with awesome vocal performance. (9.5/10)

2. "Passage To The Deep" (11:35) very IQ-like; great keyboards & bass (17.5/20)

3. "Widows Watch" (6:37) piano and voice. Very PG-like?perhaps even more representative of his solo era. Interesting "piccolo" bass work in the middle. (8.75/10)

4. "Encounter Or Absence" (7:11) sad to hear dated synth so prominently during the opening sequence. Once the song kicks into gear, all is fine?though the melody of the vocal gets a little lost there. I like the chunky bass being mixed so far forward. (13/15)

5. "Storm At Sunset" (11:05) the excellent PG-like vocal doesn't always fit with the music; the music often shifts tempos rather roughly and, I would argue, unnecessarily (complexity for complexity's sake?) while the vocalist just plows along as if the music doesn't matter. Amazing bass play. (16.5/20)

6. "Summer's Fall" (2:12) TD-like synth wash chords over which Josh sings quite impressively in his PG voice. It seems that Josh's skill is best displayed over very simple, quiet passages. (4.5/5)

7. "Path Of The Warrior" (10:43) nice use of effects on voice in the first minute. Then chunky bass and full YES-like ensemble break into a folk-melody-based section. Impressive! The slow, more sparsely filled section that begins at 2:40 in order to support a guitar solo is nice. Three minutes later piano announces a new section?a return to the original folk-melody and its vocal. A little King Crimson feel to the next new section in the eighth minute before several thematic transitions leads to a kind of "Iron Man" support for another Karl Johnsons solo. The "chorus" that it comes out with is good but then, surprise, another tangent into solo-support?this time a most excellent passage with a most excellent synth solo. Well done. (18/20)

Total Time 55:48

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music and an excellent representative of fine Neo Prog music. Nice work Josh, Ken, Ryo and Doug?your skills and sounds enmesh quite perfectly!

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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