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Kaipa - Notes From The Past  CD (album) cover

NOTES FROM THE PAST

Kaipa

 

Symphonic Prog

3.82 | 157 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Kaipa: Notes from the Past [2002]

Rating: 6/10

Notes from the Past was the first new Kaipa studio album in over twenty years. The terrible force of the evil 80s killed the band completely, and I imagine it was quite a shock for prog fans in the early 2000s when they learned of the band's reformation. Huns Lundin did not originally intend to resurrect the Kaipa name; however, he felt it was the most sensible thing to do after Roine Stolt joined the project. As the title suggests, this is a very nostalgic record. The lyrical themes frame its status as a reunion album. The band's style has not changed tremendously since the 70s - this is still full-blown symphonic progressive rock - but they have significantly modernized their sound. Clocking in at 79 minutes, this disc pushes the limits of the CD format. The production is distinctly 21st-century, and Lundin's synths sound state-of-the-art. Lundin and Roine are the only two original members here; bass duties have been taken over by Jonas Reingold of Flower Kings/Karmakanic fame, and Patrik Lundstrom performs lead vocals. On paper, almost everything about this album is amazing. In practice, however, I am slightly disappointed. While Notes from the Past is a very good album with a few spectacular tunes, it doesn't do a whole lot to move or compel me.

The album opens with "Notes from the Past (Part One)." This is an intro track, more or less, but Patrik Lundstrom's vocals and the Howe-inspired guitar makes it worthwhile. "Night-Bike-Ride (On Lilac Street)" picks up the pace with a funky rhythm section and bombastic guitar work. This is an excellent short instrumental. "Mirrors of Yesterday" begins with chirpy synths and melodic vocals from Lundstrom. There are some nice instrumental moments here, but it isn't particularly fascinating. "Leaving the Horizon" is the first of the album's three mini-epics. Unfortunately, it slightly disappoints. It's not a bad epic track by any stretch of the imagination, but there isn't enough here to truly compel me. "In the Space of a Twinkle" features some irritating spoken-word vocals, but Roine's guitar work saves it. "Folke's Final Decision" is one of my favorite pieces on the album. The main motif is memorable, and the guitar really sings here. The second epic "The Name Belongs to You" is an improvement over the first. Lundin's keys have a strong presence, Lundstrom's vocals are excellent, and Roine is a monster. Some fantastic retro organ tones appear on "Second Journey Inside the Green Glass." "A Road in My Mind" features female vocalist Aleena Gibson. While I recognize this woman's talent, I don't care for her voice. It sounds piercing to me. Thus, this track is not my favorite. "Morganism" is far and away the best track on the album. It's an epic instrumental with superb interplay and jazzy elements. "Notes from the Past (Part Two)" ends the album in a fairly average manner, although some nice guitar balances things out.

While Notes from the Past is a solid comeback album, it sounds a bit too by-the-numbers. Many of the songs seem to blend into each other. There are some fantastic standouts; "Morganism" and "Folke's Final Decision" are both particularly superb. However, the album as a whole lacks variety, and there aren't enough compelling compositional ideas. I am also disappointed in Jonas's small presence. He is too exceptional of a bassist to be pushed into the background. In short: This album fails to "wow" me. This is not to say that is isn't an impressive work; there isn't a moment of these 79 minutes that I do not enjoy (with the possible exception of Aleena's vocals). So, while this is indeed a very good symphonic-prog album, it is unessential. It doesn't pack enough of a punch.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |

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