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K2 - Book Of The Dead CD (album) cover

BOOK OF THE DEAD

K2

 

Neo-Prog

3.48 | 70 ratings

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Squire Jaco
4 stars This is a very good concept album with the feel of early Genesis (Fountain of Salmacis, Firth of Fifth, The Lamia), but contains more punch and variety with the violin and thicker bass lines. The Genesis comparisons are obvious because of the late Shaun Guerin's vocals, which bear an unmistakable likeness to Peter Gabriel (especially when Guerin is moodily singing phrases like "sands of time", "god of kings", "bones and flesh", etc). In fact, I'm surprised that none of the songwriting is credited to Guerin as some of these passages sure bear similitudes with music from his great solo work. (Hint: Buy THOSE albums too.)

This is my first exposure to Ken Jaquess, the leader/songwriter/bass player in this group, K-Squared. His bass playing is very melodic, almost athletic in places, with sophisticated lines laid down with a rich, deep tone. He uses bass pedals too a lot on this album, perhaps to enhance some of the dark mystery of the subject matter. The fourth song, "Aten", is a pleasant 3-minute bass solo with synth accompaniment.

I bought this CD primarily because of the presence of Allan Holdsworth. (By the way, this band sounds VERY LITTLE like the great U.K. - no jazz fusion here, no attention- deficit time changes, different vocals, different sound...so don't buy this solely for any references to U.K.) Allan's guitar sounds great - a bit deeper and "smokier" than the 1970's sound. It's so refreshing to hear his trademark phrasing and tone in the prog format again. There are two minutes beginning around the 11:30 mark of the first track that are just classic Holdsworth, and one of the highlights of the CD.

With only 46 minutes of music on the entire CD, the heart of this album defaults to the 23-minute opener "Infinite Voyage". Much of the music on this disc is mid-tempo (almost plodding), which fits the theme of the album very well; the opening song is no exception. Sort of a "suite" of 4 or 5 variations on a central theme, the opener is an excellent work with great keyboards, guitar, bass, drums and lyrics. A great way to set the tone of the CD. (And that Holdsworth solo! Mmmm..Mmmm!)

The three shorter tracks I haven't mentioned yet (2,3 & 5) are all very good, and include some very tasteful and interesting keys from Ryo Okumoto - almost Tony Banks-like here, with none of the bombast that you might see in some of Ryo's playing with Spock's Beard. Doug Sanborn's drums are also impressive throughout - fast and innovative, yet jazzy at times too.

I actually would have liked to have heard more of the violin, which was used somewhat sparingly on the cd. Devereaux's playing is not nearly as angular or frenetic as U.K.'s Jobson (or Ponty or Goodman, for that matter), but she's obviously talented, and the violin is a great sound for this type of music.

I do wish the CD was longer. I know, I know - if you can complete your musical statement on a concept album in 46 minutes, then that's how long the album should be. Still, in a world of 60-minute standards (and 80-minutes available!), another 15- minute epic to close the album would have been PERFECT. So I'm going to take half a star away for brevity, folks. Sorry.

Overall, a very good album ("4-1/2 stars"), decent artwork, and good production. It's nice to see a bunch of virtuosos from different bands get together and make it all click in a one-off project like this. Perhaps they'll find a worthy replacement to Shaun Guerin and do it again!

If you're a fan of early Genesis, you'll love it.

Squire Jaco | 4/5 |

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