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Kinetic Element


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3 stars 3.5 stars really

Kinetic Element returns after more then 5 years pause after quite good debut Powerd by light with sophomore album released in june 2015 named Travelog. Well, this is a nice symphonic/neo prog album from start to finish. Lenghty release with two monster pieces, the opening and the ending track clocking almost 40 min both, the middle of the album being little less lenghtier but still over 10 min each. So, as I said the music is good as on debut, even great in places, there are plenty of memorable passages here from acustical guitar parts to melodious inspired keyboards elements, almost jazzy druming in places but remaining of prog coordonates this Travelog is a winner from me. The music is reminescent very much from old prog school, the british one, ELP, Genesis coming in mind among others, but aswell closely to what Spock's Beard or The Tangent was offering in their glory days. Beautiful crafted pieces, lots of twists and turns all 5 tracks are worth investigated, maybe with a plus on opening track, for me their most mature tune since their forming years. All in all a very worthy second offer for this still quite unknown band in prog circles, and I think they must be discovered by many prog listners as possible. A nice candidate for top 10 for 2015. A nice intriguing art work.

Report this review (#1433514)
Posted Thursday, July 2, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars I wish to first begin by saying I am only a fan of progressive rock. I am by all means an amateur in this field. I can say this. I know what I like and what I do not. I am not nor have I ever been a musician unless playing a trombone for 3 weeks in grade school counts. Saying that accept my "review" for what it is. My first real exposure to this band was a few weeks ago on The Waiting Room, a House of Prog weekly live internet radio program. While I was trying to listen to this, chat room interruptions etc didn't give me a clear vision of what I was listening to. So I had ordered during the program and finally I had the chance to really sit and listen to this cd today. During the interview of KE on HoP it was clearly understood that this band has had some trouble getting things rolling let alone getting it finished. The good thing is they did finish up and put out a very good cd. Travelog is filled with very good music. I won't dissect each track but will comment on a few pieces along the way. War Song is filled with great bass and vocals reminding me of a mix of Benoit David and Glenn McLaughlin. The title track is a pretty patriotic track as I believe the whole cd really is at its core. Into The Lair caught me off guard a bit as it started off with a gothic sound only to calm down with the beautiful vocals of Michelle Schrotz. Visons of a New Day I believe is the most ambitious track on the entire cd. It is also my favorite track. Overall I feel this is an important cd for all prog fans to own. It marks a completion of a process that was filled with some adversity. That alone is worth a listen. These guys, the core of the band, have something special going on and hopefully they will find their way into the homes of many prog fans. One can hear the heavy ELP influence on this cd which is a good thing. Mike Visaggio is a real pro at his craft I say he ranks among the greats. If I had to rate this cd, which I will it would be a solid 4 stars.
Report this review (#1434983)
Posted Saturday, July 4, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars KINETIC ELEMENT is a US group out of Richmond, Virginia. They've just released the new opus, and it should not disappoint. Actually, CD 'Travelog' embodies the style of classic progressive rock, yet with a contemporary slant. In the first instance, I would like to name some evident references, including Yes, ELP, Genesis, Kansas, Glass Hammer, Vertical Alignment and Spock's Beard. Versus to the debut offering ('Powered by Light' - 2009), the line-up of KE has slightly changed. Mark Tupko adds his bass courtesy, while the core still consists of Mike Visaggio (keyboards), Todd Russell (guitars) and Michael Murray (drums, percussion, whistling). Granted, a huge asset for the music is the introduction of three guest vocalists who complement all proceedings. So let's elaborate... A challenging 'War Song' made the most sense as the album opener. This 20+ min. epic combines a lot of kaleidoscopic details, surprising twists and turns, signatures and instrumental parts that walk their enthralling route forward. Creating the majestic feast, Mike Visaggio integrates Korg, Mellotron and Roland, never dull to listen to. The guitar master Todd Russell is nothing short of gorgeous. The rhythm section tends to get a percolating undercurrent. Worthy of note is the languid voice of Dimetrius LaFavors. Next up, the title track which employs a degree of subtlety and launches the finger- picking acoustic guitar performance to recall Steve Hackett. The middle section is a ballad type in terms of subject matter, accompanied by the vocals. The third serving, pleasant and sensuous 'Into the Lair', can be matched with the astral moments in Yes catalogue. There are echoes of Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman for certain stretches, supported by immaculate bass a'la Chris Squire. The hypnotic chant perfectly tunes to the arrangements - Michelle Schrotz succeeds in vocal excursion, tending to evoke Jon Anderson. The band follows this up with 'Her'. The undulating keyboards find Kinetic Element in near Tony Banks mode. As the song progresses, characteristics lead to a more pompous territory. To settle back into swirling circles, sophisticated 'Vision of a New Dawn (18+ min) brings another monumental mix of floating melodic lines, transitions and chord changes. The pattern of symphonic prog rock is present throughout with excellent placement of accents. It's a great finish for the standout CD!
Report this review (#1439043)
Posted Saturday, July 11, 2015 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
5 stars Six years after their very promising debut (Powered By Light), Kinetic Element is back again with their sophmore release called Travelog. It was a long time coming, but very worth the waiting. The american quartet had some changes: now Mark Tupko replaces original bassist Tony D´Amato. And the vocal department, once courtesy of keyboardsman Mike Visaggio are now handle by three different guest singers. Other than that, the core members are the same (Visaggio on keys, Todd Russel on electric and acoustic guitars and Michael Murray on drums).

Compared to their debut, Travelog is a much more symphonic affair, with a strong jazz-rock fusion influence (specially the guitar parts). The music is still melodic and accessible, but definitly more complex and elaborated now, with longer instrumental passages. For instance, the shortest song is the title track and it clocks well over the 9 minute mark. There are no fillers at all and it´s hard to say which tune is the best, but I think the opener, the 20 minute epic War Song is definitely a highlight, with many tempo and mood changes. But the whole album is very inspired, very well produced and recorded and containing some powerful playing of all involved (including newcomer Tupko who shows his skills from the start with a short, but stunning bass solo on the aforementined War Song). I just love Visgagio´s elegant keys (hints of Tony Banks, Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson abound). Russel´s guitar lines are superb too, but clearly this is a team work and everybody shines. Instrumentally speaking this album is as close to perfection as you can get, with not a wasted note to be found and everything flowing naturally thorughout the whole CD.

Vocals on the other side are not that perfect in my humble opinion. The three vocalists are very good and do a very creditable job on all tunes, but being so varied it kind of robbed some personality from the group. Mike Visaggio´s vocals on the first album showed that he was not the greatest singer, technically speaking, but he had a warm and soulful voice that suited their songs very well. While the guest singers were more professional, have stronger pipes, and most often than not they added a lot, sometimes they made the tunes sound too "clean" and less personal, if you know what I mean. It is just a detail only, of course. After all, 70 minutes of pure prog heaven is not something you find so easily nowadays!

Travelog is a fantastic CD that showed that Kinetic Element more than fulfilled its promising start. One of the best albums I heard this year and certainly a must have for any prog fan.

Rating: 4,5 stars at least,. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#1441888)
Posted Friday, July 17, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Just finished my first listen through TRAVELOG. All I can say is, "bravo." I really enjoyed POWERED BY LIGHT, but this one really takes some big steps in a very good direction. The writing and arrangements are always interesting, and the tracks develop and change in a very pleasing way. Each instrument shines in its own right, doing some cool and intricate stuff but never too much. Todd's instrumental guitar (and triangle) led section in the title track is just superb. Mike's keyboard driven, Bach-inspired fugue in the next track is one of the best things I've heard on a modern prog record in a long, long time. Drums and bass are consistently solid and interesting. Alternating between three different vocalists adds a feeling of diversity to the album that makes each track sound fresh and different from the others. The recording sounds great, and Fred and Steve's mix just sparkles...In fact, having mixed many albums myself I know the mix is of great importance, but amazingly at times I hear passages that actually SOUND like Glass Hammer. I can't wait to see what cool details emerge on subsequent listens...I have no doubt there will be many. Kudos to everyone involved, folks.
Report this review (#1446217)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US band KINETIC ELEMENT was formed back in 2006, when composer and keyboardist Mike Visaggio was looking for musicians he could employ to perform his solo material. He found with Todd Russell (guitars), Matt Harris (bass) and Michael Murray (drums), and they worked so well together that they decided to form a regular band. They released their debut album "Powered By Light" in 2009. "Travelog" is their sophomore production, and was released through the US label Melodic Revolution Records in 2015.

If you love and cherish symphonic progressive rock as it was made and explored back in the '70s, Kinetic Element's latest album is one that merits a check. While the album as a whole contains nods in the direction of multiple bands from that era, my main impression is that fans of classic Yes will be the ones who might be most intrigued by this album, as long as they are willing to listen to another band entering that specific realm of progressive rock that is.

Report this review (#1501946)
Posted Monday, December 21, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars When Mike Visaggio of Kinetic Element set me up with the album Travelog I was in a state a anticipation I had not been in quite some time. After my review of Anuryzm's All Is Not For All off Melodic Revolution Records I spotted the making of a great progressive rock/metal label. Now with Kinetic Element's Travelog it has only served to reinforce and confirm that Melodic Revolution Records is postioning itself to contend as a great prog label. First of all, if you are a progressive rock purist this album will be a sonic paradise for your listening pleasure. The band lists Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson, Kansas, IQ, Transatlantic, Renaissance as some of their influences. When I listen to Travelog I hear those and so much more. Throughout this review I will point those out. War Song is the 'perfect' progressive rock track to open Travelog as it clocks in at 20:29. The intro beckons the epics of the past such as Yes' Close To The Edge and Revealing Science Of God - Dance Of The Dawn from Tales Of Topographic Oceans crossed with Genesis' Suppers Ready and Emerson Lake And Palmers Tarkus. There is some great atmospheric keyboards tuned to mellotron and hammond organ standards, with rich rhythm sections between bass and drums. The vocals are like a cross of Jon Anderson of Yes meets Donald Faegen of Steely Dan. Between the 12:50 to 13:00 marks there is a great yet subtle fuzzy distorted guitar to match the keys in perfect harmony. The vocals really explode at the 14:00 mark and work with the atmospheric background the keyboards continue to carry in this track. Travelog opens up with a plush 16th century style acoustic renaissance vibe. It has shades of the prog band Renaissance meets Al Di Meola . Then a plush harmonic vocal of the opening to the USA's National Anthem. It reminds me of how Yes would use items like Roundabout's from their homeland or Genesis' Selling England By The Pound, as classy patriotic inuendoe's. Into The Lair is a defining track. It seems as if the band have taken their influences along with their own arsenal and formed their own sound out of thise fires. With the female vocal on it I am often reminded of Annie Halsam of Renaissance and Renate Knaupf of Amon Duul ii , the 2 first ladies of progressive rock for sure. Into The Lair completely reminds me of Renaissance's track like Mother Russia crossed with epic power of Amon Duul ii Phallaus Dei . It also presents a wide cross section of time signatures where every instrument stands out as a collective thus tightening Travelog even more. Her begins with a lush gorgeous orchestral piano style passage. This is followed with a very deep rhythm section. The intro most definitely reminds me of the jazz style employed on Steely Dan's Aja album with some Alan Holdsworth sprinkled over it for flavour. Her is a prog version of a Steely Dan's Kid Charlemagne meets Yes' Heart Of The Sunrise both lyrically and instrumentally. Vision Of A New Dawn definitely opens up like more a jazz symphonic progressive rock assembly. Heavy in keyboards building a tapestry for the deeper colours of shade with the rhythm section between drums and bass. The keyboards at times have flute effects reminding me of Ian Anderson at some points throughout the track. At 18:26, Vision Of A New Dawn is perfectly arranged on the album. Much like War Song was a great epic to open the album, Vision Of A New Dawn eloquently and properly closes the album. After a few listens Travelog grew on me and I understood where the band was taking the listener. If you are a prog rock purist that loves a few 20 minute tracks and a journey in your mind Travelog is that album for you. Nick Katona and Melodic Revolution Records have found a great live band and festival band. Kinetic Element are one of those bands that can be a label staple anywhere in the industry. I give Travelog a 5/5 for grace and purity of the heritage of symphonic prog's past, present and future.
Report this review (#1581343)
Posted Tuesday, June 21, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Review originally published in

After two years, I am finally writing a review of this great 2015 album released by Kinetic Element, a band led by Mike Visaggio who shares here a 5-song record full of symphonic elements that make the listener have a good time. It opens with the challenging "War Song", a 20-minute epic that doesn't hide the inspiration Visaggio took from some keyboard icons such as Wakeman or Emerson. The rhythmic section is great, bass and drums always accurate doing a good job, while guitars help a lot with its different figures. As you can imagine, the song has quite a lot of changes in mood and time, it brings both, instrumental passages and the ones with vocals, being the first one found at minute five. I must say that LeFavors voice is not my favorite, which doesn't mean could be anyone's favorite, of course. The flavor of the music is quite from the 70s, in spite the album is from this millennium, and it actually shows a sneak peek of what the sound of Kinetic Element will be in the rest of the album.

"Travelog" is a 10-minute track and it is actually the shortest one, go figure. It starts with a soft passage with acoustic guitar, then vocals appear as well as the other instruments and begin to built up a structure with a pastoral sound, very gentle but if you push me, it could turn a bit boring after some minutes. "Into the Lair" brings a more dramatic sound, a much more interesting mood (in my opinion, of course) than the previous track, creating a neo-prog sound that later is nicely joined by a sweet female voice. In this song we can notice how good musicians they are, their skills can be highlighted here, which in my opinion, is a nice example of what an excellent progressive rock song is. "Her" is a pretty nice song that doesn't have a bombastic symphonic sound, but a soft one, accompanied by a different singer that has a beautiful colour. Keyboards always create the background; there is a passage where guitar appears with a nice solo, so in the end one can easily enjoy this track.

The album finishes with another long epic entitled "Vision of a New Dawn" which is another good example of a great progressive rock song, developed with ambitious instrumental passages that show the musician's skills as composers and performers. After five minutes the song changes, vocals enter and together with piano create a tender sound tht later will be complemented by strings and drums, in fact, guitars have a special Howe-sque feeling. Some changes in the song and in the end the 18 minutes pass fast, which let us know the music is good. Now I am eagerly waiting to see Kinetic Element next Progtoberfest at Chicago.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#1790545)
Posted Wednesday, October 4, 2017 | Review Permalink

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